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Religious Tolerance logo

Is same-sex marriage (SSM) a bad idea?

Overview of SSM. Reasons #1 to 3 why
SSMs are undesirable, with rebuttals

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Overview of Same-Sex Marriage (SSM):

Polls during the late 1990s and up to the present time found that the topic of greatest concern for conservative Christians, and for many other North Americans, was that gays and lesbians might achieve rights and protections in law that had previously been reserved as special privileges only for heterosexuals. Perhaps the most important of these rights is for homosexuals to be able to marry the partner that they love and to whom they are committed for the rest of their life.

Since the first attempts to legalize same-sex marriage were launched in Hawaii, same-sex marriage and civil unions have remained on the "front burner." Concern increased during 2003-JUN and JUL when same-sex marriages were legalized in both Ontario and British Columbia in Canada. Some same-sex adult couples from Canada, the U.S., and other countries started to travel to these provinces to marry.

Essentially all conservative Christian groups and leaders describe SSM and civil unions as a threat to society. They often consider the nature of this menace to be self-evident, and do not give an in-depth analysis of the reasons for their concerns. For example:

bullet Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council (FRC) wrote: "The growing attack on family and marriage is unprecedented in American history. Forces of radicalism are laboring night and day to deconstruct marriage, legitimize counterfeits, and re-define family in ways that would make it unrecognizable as the foundational social institution." 1

bullet Gerard V. Bradley, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame and president of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars went further. He was quoted as saying that same-sex marriage would mean "the demolition of marriage." 2

On the other hand, many gay-positive, religious liberal, therapist, and mental health news sources stress that SSM and/or civil unions should be promoted as civil liberty issues. The right to marry the person with whom you have made a lifetime commitment is of paramount importance to many couples -- a major human rights issue. For example:

bullet "Because our country has been founded on the Constitution, in which all men [sic] are created equal; we cannot deny the basic human and legal right of marriage to a class of individuals due to their sexual preference." 3

bullet "GLAAD contended that the right to choose whom a person marries is a fundamental right protected by the Massachusetts Constitution. The group argued that the emotional bonds for same- and opposite-sex couples are identical and so should be the legal rights, responsibilities and benefits that come from marriage." 4

These groups often don't consider possible negative effects that SSM may have on society.

This essay considers arguments that SSM are undesirable -- that they might damage North American culture. Some were derived from the presentation by the State of Hawaii during the hearing in the Baehr v. Miike lawsuit in the Hawaiian Circuit Court in 1996. Some  were derived from the ruling in the Hedy Halpern et al...." case by the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Other points were extracted from a variety of conservative Christians' E-mails and web sites.

We hope to add additional points in the future. If you have any to suggest, please Email them to us.

Rebuttals are listed after each point. They are based on the assumptions that homosexuality is a fixed, unchosen, sexual orientation that is normal and natural for a minority of adults. This are the beliefs of most gays, lesbians, religious liberals, mental health therapists and human sexuality researchers. Religious conservatives generally believe that homosexuality is a changeable, chosen, addictive, abnormal and unnatural lifestyle behavior; they will probably disagree with most of the rebuttals.

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1. Gays & lesbians make poor parents.

Assertion: The State of Hawaii and court petitioners representing the Roman Catholic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claimed that gays and lesbians in committed relationships make inferior parents. The best way to assure that children get the best possible upbringing is to require spouses to be of different genders.


bullet All of the witnesses in Baehr v. Miike -- both for the plaintiffs and the defense -- said that, on average, gay and lesbian couples are as loving as are opposite sex couples, and are equally as competent as parents. Since that court hearing, there have been many additional studies of the competency of gay and lesbian parents. Those conducted by groups opposed to same-sex marriage have generally found that homosexual parents are inferior; those conducted by groups that support same-sex marriage, or which have no preconceived position have generally found that gay and lesbian couples are equal or superior to opposite-sex parents. 5 Children parented by lesbians or gays have been found to be no different from those raised in an opposite-sex household "...on measures of popularity, social adjustment, gender role behavior, gender identity, intelligence, self-concept, emotional problems, interest in marriage and parenting, locus of control, moral development, independence, ego functions, object relations, or self esteem." Also, no significant differences have been observed in regard to "teachers' and parents' evaluations of emotional and social behavior, fears, sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, and conduct differences." 6
bullet It is true that a child in a same-sex household could lack contact with adults of the opposite gender from their parents. However, this can easily be compensated for by intentionally involving other adults of the appropriate gender in family activities.

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2. Children need to be raised by their biological parents:

Assertion: Children are better off when raised by their biological parents. In a same-sex marriage, at least one parent would be genetically unrelated to the child.


bullet With a divorce rate approaching 50%, a large minority of children are parented by a genetically-unrelated adult at some time in their lives. This inevitably happens in the case of a step family. If the state is to deny gays and lesbians, on this basis, the right to marry the partner that they love and have made a commitment to, then the state should logically deny divorced persons with children the right to remarry the person that they love.

bullet Child adoption is based on the belief that genetically-unrelated adults can love a child as their own, and do a good job raising the child. Millennia of experience has shown that this system works.

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3. A child with same-sex parents will be subjected to hate:

Assertion: Raising a child in a home with gay or lesbian parents in effect punishes the child,  because they would be exposed to homophobia by the public. Hatred directed at the child's parents would spread to the child.


bullet Using the same argument, one could suggest that all inter-racial marriages should be banned and that all individuals of mixed-race ancestry should not be allowed to marry because their children will be of mixed racial ancestry and may experience racism from racial bigots. Other people's racism or homophobia should not be used to deny fundamental human rights to gays, lesbians, inter-racial couples and persons of mixed-race ancestry .

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Arguments 4 to 7 are located in the next essay

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  1. Ken Connor, "A final word..." Ken Connor, Family Research Council Washington Update, 2003-JUL-11.  Washington Post, 2001-SEP-4, at:
  2. Mentioned in a letter to the editor of First Things magazine, 1999-DEC, by reader Mark Peterson. Issue 98, Page 5.
  3. Anon, "Acceptance Of Homosexual Marriage," at:
  4. "Courts Poised to Decide Lawsuits on Same-Sex Marriage," Human Rights Campaign, 2003, at:
  5. Eileen Durgin-Clinchard, "Bibliography of articles on gay and lesbian parenting," at:
  6. Meyer, "Legal, Psychological, and Medical Considerations in Lesbian Parenting," Law & Sexuality: Rev. Lesbian & Gay Legal Issues. Pages 239 & 240 (1992)

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Copyright © 2003 yo 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-JUL-12
Latest update: 2013-JAN-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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