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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Kentucky.

Part 1: Circa 1995 to 2014:
A brief look at 25 years of arguments used by
conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage.

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The term "SSM" refers to marriage by same-sex couples.

The term "GLB" refers to Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals. We usually avoid
using the more common term "LGB" because it can be confused with the
European manufacturer of high quality model trains.

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LGBT symbol A quotation by Senior Federal District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II in Kentucky:

We repeat it here because it captures so succinctly the conflict between:

  • Religious, social and political conservatives who argue against marriage equality on the basis of past public opinion, and

  • Religious, social and political liberals who argue in favor of marriage equality on the basis of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the federal Constitution.

Judge Heyburn wrote:

"In America, even sincere and long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted." 1

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A quarter century of conservative opposition to marriages by same-sex couples:

The following are brief discussions of arguments used by religious, political, and social conservatives to justify banning marriage of same-sex couples. They have gone through a gradual evolution in North America since the mid-1990's:

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An argument based on the purpose of marriage:

Back in the 1990's, the standard anti-SSM argument was that the only purpose -- or at least the main purpose -- of marriage was procreation. The core purpose of marriage was to bring children into the world so that the human race will continue into the future and not die out. Proponents of same-sex marriage bans said or implied that only opposite-sex couples can conceive and bear children. Thus, same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry.

In competition with this belief was -- and continues to be -- that marriage is a voluntary commitment by two people to live, support, and care for each other for the rest of their lives. They may have children, they may be infertile, or they may be fertile but elect to remain without children. Back in 2011-MAR, Mark Ira Kaufman wrote in

"As for marriage's "purpose,' that is specific to the couple getting married. Some heterosexual couples plan to have children and do so. Some plan to have children and cannot, so they adopt, or they remain childless. Some couples marry without any intention of making children a part of their lives.

The United States has never limited the institution of marriage to those who procreate or, at the very least, who adopt a child.

Therefore, if the mandate for having children is removed from the discourse, what remains is a legal union of two consenting adults. Even if such a union is between two adults of the same sex, to not recognize such a union as a marriage would be like refusing to recognize a marriage between a man and a woman who choose to not have children." 8

The belief that same-sex couples are physically unable to have children came to an embarrassing, sudden termination one day in a Canadian court. The attorneys for the federal government had just argued against marriage equality on the basis that only opposite-sex couples can procreate. An attorney for the plaintiffs then rose to explain the plaintiffs' argument in favor of marriage equality. She really did not have to say a word in order to completely demolish the federal case: she was a lesbian, in a loving committed relationship of long duration, and she was about 8 months pregnant! She and her same-sex partner had decided to start raising a family. Each presumably had a supply of ova, ovaries, fallopian tubes and an uterus by which they could bring a child into the world. All they needed to conceive was for one of them to be inseminated with donated human spermatozoa. Needless to say, the federal government lost the case.

The belief that the core purpose of marriage is procreation is staging a comeback during mid-2014. It is a difficult concept to sell because couples have a wide variety of reasons why they marry.

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An argument based on Bible passages:

An argument that has been constantly used for more than 25 years is that same-gender sexual behavior is condemned throughout the Bible. If it is condemned for all such behavior for women and men, regardless of the nature of the relationship, then God must not approve of it, and also would not approve of same-sex marriage. Opponents of SSM often referred to six or seven "clobber"passages which, in English translations of the Bible, appear to condemn homosexual activity. Among the most commonly cited passages, are the following:

  • Genesis 1 contains the story of God's extermination of all of the female and male fetuses, newborns, babies, children, youths, adults, and seniors in four Canaanite cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim.

    • Religious conservatives often interpret this passage as God's punishment for the sinful behavior by male inhabitants of Sodom who were all homosexual and wanted to enjoy sex with visitors to the city.

    • Religious liberals generally interpret the same passage as condemning same-sex rape. Many suggest that the text is totally silent on consensual sexual activity by loving, committed same-sex couples. Some liberals suggest that rape might not have been the prime reason for God's punishment. Jude 1 seems to condemn the men in Sodom because they committed bestiality -- engaging in sexual activity with a non-human species. The intended rape victims in Genesis 19 were described as angels, not humans.

  • Leviticus 18:2 and 20:13 contain a condemnation of at least one form of same-gender sexual behavior by Jewish males.

    • Conservatives generally interpret these passages as banning all same-gender sexual behavior, irrespective of the nature of the relationship or of the gender of the participants.

    • Some religious liberals base their interpretation on a literal interpretation of the original Hebrew text which seems to condemn such behavior only if it is performed by Jewish men on a bed that belongs to a woman. They suggest that the text is silent about sexual behavior by two women. A more common liberal interpretation is that it forbids only same-gender ritual sexual behavior by Jews with temple prostitutes in Pagan temples.

  • Romans 1:26-27 contains a condemnation of activity by a group of former Christians who had reconverted back to Paganism and were involved in a religious sexual orgy. Although they were all heterosexual, some of the men and women violated their personal sexual nature by engaging in what was for them unnatural same-gender sexual activity: women with women, and men with men.

    • Religious conservatives typically interpret this passage as condemning all same-gender sexual behavior, both by men and women.

    • Religious liberals often interpret this passages as referring only to heterosexuals engaging in same-gender sex. They note that this passage could be interpreted as implying that since a person with a homosexual orientation is sexually attracted only towards members of the same-gender, that the passage would condemn gays and lesbians if they engaged in sex with members of the opposite-sex. For the GLB community, the passage might be interpreted as implying that same-sex behavior is acceptable.

Needless to say, these biblical arguments are not particularly useful in U.S. Courts because of the principle of separation between church and stat as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents their use.

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An argument based on the historical meaning of marriage:

An argument that is commonly used even today is that marriage has always been restricted to one man and one woman everywhere on Earth over many millennia in the past. Further, opponents of SSM often claim that the Bible restricts marriage to one man and one woman. In reality, marriages are described in the Bible as having taken many forms, including: nuclear marriage, levirate marriage and six additional types. Only one of these resembled consensual modern-day marriage by opposite-sex couples.

Of particular interest are polygamous marriages between a man and more than one woman. Solomon, among all the men mentioned in the Bible, appears to have had the record number: 700 wives. He also had 300 concubines which were sort of second-class wives. But other men in polygamous marriages involving more modest numbers of wives were:

    • Ashur, Elkanah, Jacob, and Lamech a mere with two wives each;

    • Esau and Rehaboam with three,

    • Abijah with 14;

    • David and Gideon with "many;" and

    • Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar with an unspecified number of multiple wives.

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Judge John G. Heyburn II, "Memorandum Opinion and Order," Federal District Court for the¬ Western District of Kentucky, 2014-JUL-01, at:
  2. Zack Ford, "Mark Regnerus‚€™ Own Sociology Department Calls His Anti-Gay Conclusions ‚€˜Fundamentally Flawed',"Think Progress, 2014-MAR-04, at:
  3. ""The Regnerus Fallout," The Human Rights Campaign, at:
  4. Mark Regnerus, Abstract, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study," Social Science Research, Vol. 41, #4, 2012-JUL, Pages 752-770. Access to the full article costs U.S. $35.95!
  5. Judd Legum, Major New Study Finds Kids Raised By Same-Sex Couples Are "'Healthier And Happier''," Think Progress, 2014-JUL-05, at:
  6. Zack Ford, "Michigan Officials Will Defend Discrimination With Showcase Of Gay Parenting Pseudoscience," Think Progress, 2013-NOV-18, at:
  7. "Videos," The Regnerus Fallout," 2013-OCT-23, at:
  8. Mark Ira Faufmann, "The fake threat of gay marriage," Salon, 2011-MAR-19, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM sub-menu here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-JUL-10
Latest update: 2014-AUG-12
Author: B.A. Robinson
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