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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Reasons #4 to 7 why SSMs
are undesirable, with rebuttals

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See reasons 1 to 3 in a previous essay

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4. Marriage is only feasible if the couple is monogamous; same-sex couples cannot be:

Assertion: Because of monogamy, marriage is an stable institution. This apparently refers to the belief that homosexual couples cannot be monogamous.


bullet It is important to realize that most opposite-sex marriages are not monogamous. The percentage of heterosexual spouses who engage in at least one extra-marital "fling" approaches 50%. The percentage of opposite-sex marriages in which both partners are monogamous is less than 50%.

bullet The belief that same-sex partners cannot be monogamous appears to be based on a misuse of statistical data. A "lifestyle" is a way of life that an individual chooses for themselves. Examples are whether to live in the country or city; whether to work for a company or be self employed; whether to be married or remain single, etc. There is a general consensus among gays, lesbians, religious liberals, human sexuality researchers, and therapists that sexual orientation is fixed and not chosen. So, homosexuality itself cannot legitimately be referred to as a "lifestyle" for the simple reason that it is not chosen. However, within the gay and lesbian community, as within the heterosexual community, there do exist two main, identifiable lifestyles: married couples and singles. Various surveys have shown that the average adult single gay man does have many sexual partners per year. However, the average gay or lesbian in a committed relationships have few, if any, sexual experiences other than with their spouse.

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5. Same-sex spouses cannot bring children into the world by themselves:

Assertion: The purpose of marriage is procreation. Same-sex couples cannot procreate by themselves.


The Hon. Marisa Ferretti Barth, a Canadian Member of Parliament  stated:

"Unfortunately, society has a tendency today to forget the importance of marriage. It is more than the simple union between two people. Marriage is the public joining together of a man and a woman who want to found a family, to have children and so ensure that the family will continue into future generations....Long before the founding of Canada, both the Protestant and the Catholic churches had established that marriage was an exclusive union between a man and a woman who freely agreed to become one flesh so that they could have children and provide each other with 'mutual society, help and comfort.' Throughout Canadian history, the Christian concept of marriage has occupied an important place, and still today is one of the foundation stones of Canadian society." 1

This is an argument from Natural Law: Opposite-sex couples can have children but no same-sex couples can have their own children. Because the latter cannot achieve the sole purpose of marriage -- to procreate -- they have no right to be married.

As Joe Volpe, Canadian Member of Parliament wrote:

"...marriage cannot be treated like any other invention or program of government. Marriage serves as the basis for social organization; it is not a consequence of it. Marriage signifies a particular relationship among the many unions that individuals freely enter; it's the one between a man and a woman that has two obvious goals: mutual support and procreation of children (barring a medical anomaly or will). No other type of relationship, by definition, can fulfill both goals without the direct or indirect involvement of a third party....for most MPs, marriage remains the cornerstone of society, not some government response to the most recent lobby." 2

bullet A lesbian or a male gay couple cannot procreate. But then, neither can a man and woman where one is infertile, either for a medical reason or because of age. Some opposite-gender couples marry and decide to never have a child between them. Many infertile couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex can become pregnant if they attend a fertility clinic.

bullet According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of infertile married couples of childbearing age in the U.S. was 2.1 million. 3 Some of these couples are able to have children of their own through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), artificial insemination, etc. However, many are not. If the state feels that couples should not be able to marry unless they can produce children, then they should logically require fertility tests before a marriage license is issued.

bullet A very substantial minority of married heterosexual couples can no longer conceive because the wife is past menopause, or the husband has had a vasectomy, or for some other reason. Many heterosexual couples get married later in life when conception is not an option. If the state feels that the purpose of marriage is procreation, it would be logical to not allow these couples to remain married or to marry.

bullet Many heterosexual couples decide to remain childless when they marry. They may be heavily involved in their careers; they may realize that they carry poor genes that they would not want to pass on to a child; etc. There are many reasons why they might make this lifestyle choice. If the state asserts that procreation is the purpose of marriage, then they should logically extract a promise from each potential bride and groom that they will seriously have attempt to have children in the future.

bullet Many gay and lesbian partners do have children. Some bring children from former marriages into their new partnership. Many lesbian spouses are becoming pregnant with donated sperm. Some gay couples are having children via surrogate motherhood. These couples would presumably fulfill the states insistence that the purpose of marriage is procreation.


The State of Hawaii's "Report of the Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law" studied this issue and wrote:

"The argument that same-sex marriage should be barred because it cannot lead to procreation is invalid, inconsistent, and discriminatory. Public policy should not deny same-sex couples the right to marriage and the right to raise a family if they wish to do so, on the excuse that they, between themselves, cannot procreate, when this reason is not applied to opposite-gender couples. State law does not require that opposite-sex couples prove that they are capable of procreation before they can be married, and many are obviously not, because of age, medical or other reasons. Individuals in a same- gender marriage may have children from a prior opposite-gender marriage, or can adopt children if they desire a family." 4


Mr. Justice Robert Blair of the Superior Court of Ontario wrote:

"There is much more to marriage as a societal institution, in my view, than the act of heterosexual intercourse leading to the birth of children. Moreover, the authorities are clear that marriage is not dependent upon the presence of children." 5

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6. The "slippery slope" concern:

Assertion: If same-sex marriages are legalized, then decriminalization of prostitution, polygyny, polyandry, and incest will necessarily follow. Men will marry two or more women; women will marry multiple men; multiple women and multiple men will form group marriages; men will want to marry their dogs, whom they dearly love; etc. Once the floodgates are opened, there will be no stopping the changes.


bullet Prior to 1840, the only legal marriages in the U.S. were between one man and one woman. Then, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (a.k.a. LDS and the Mormons) introduced polygyny. This involves one man marrying multiple wives, and was legal in Utah before it was admitted as a state to the Union. In 1890, their President received a revelation from God to suspend polygyny for an indefinite period. However, during the half century that polygyny was legally practiced, the other practices mentioned above never developed.

bullet A Fundamentalist Mormon group settled in Bountiful, British Columbia, Canada in the 1940s. It was excommunicated decades ago by the main LDS church because they follow Joseph Smith's original teachings in the practice of polygyny. They still live in plural marriages today. The Attorney General of the province decided that Canada's constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guarantees complete religious freedom in Canada, including the right to practice polygamy. Their practice never expanded into other parts of British Columbia society even though there has been, until recently, no opposition from the provincial government. Other marital structures simply never developed.

bullet The goal of the groups promoting same-sex marriage is very specific and limited. They assert that a man should have the same right to marry a man that a woman already has. Likewise, a woman should have an equal right to marry a woman. This does not have to imply that any other right not expressly granted is up for grabs.

bullet Marriage is precisely what the courts and legislatures choose to define it to be. Legislation can define it to be "the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman. In that case, same sex couples would be denied the opportunity to marry. But, a law can also be written to define marriage as "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others." This was suggested by the Ontario Court of Appeal on 2003-JUN-10 when they legalized same-sex marriage for the first time. 6 Legislatures can then define circumstances in which two people might not be allowed to marry -- e.g. they are two closely related genetically, or if they are too young.

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7. Children raised by gay or lesbian parents will become homosexuals adults:

Assertion: Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle. Children raised in families headed by gay or lesbian parents will be immersed in the gay lifestyle and be more likely to choose to become homosexuals themselves when they grow up.


bullet Gays, lesbians, religious liberals, human sexuality researchers and mental health therapists have essentially reached a consensus that a person does not choose their sexual orientation, whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Studies have shown that children raised in gay or lesbian homes share a number of behaviors as adults:

bullet They tend to discriminate less on matters of race, gender or sexual orientation.

bullet They tend to be more sexually experimental before marriage.

bullet The percentage of children who grow up to be gay or lesbian is the same as in the general population.

bullet Of course, if society accepts persons of all sexual orientations as full human beings deserving of respect, then it would not matter whether the children of gay and lesbian-led families became homosexuals later in life.

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Arguments 8 to 14 are located in a separate essay

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References used:

  1. "Bill to remove certain doubts regarding the meaning of marriage," 2002-JUN-13,
  2. Joe Volpe, "We're for due process, not against gay rights," The Globe and Mail, 2003-AUG-12, at:
  3. Roxanne Nelson, "Financing infertility," 1999-MAY-19,, at:
  4. "Docket: C39172 and C39174, Between Hedy Halpern...." Court of Appeal for Ontario, 2003-JUN-10, at:
  5. The judgment of the court, dated 2002-JUL 12, is reported at 60 O.R. (3d) 321.
  6. Eileen Durgin-Clinchard, "Bibliography of articles on gay and lesbian parenting," at:

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Copyright © 2003 to 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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