Is same-sex marriage (SSM) a bad idea?
Reasons #8 to 14 why SSMs
undesirable, with rebuttals
8. Homosexual activity is a capital offense in the Bible:
Assertion: There are at least a half-dozen references to homosexuality scattered
throughout the Bible. All are negative. Leviticus 20:13 states that "The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both
parties. They have brought it upon themselves." (Living Bible):
The New Living Translation says: "The penalty for homosexual acts is death
to both parties. They have committed a detestable act, and are guilty of a capital
offense." How can we allow gays and lesbians to marry if the Bible
calls on them to be executed?
||Those are accurate quotations from two of the more popular English
translations of the Bible. However, they are also excellent examples of
how translators allow their own personal prejudices to affect their
judgment. The Living Bible and New Living Translation refer to homosexuals -- i.e. to male gays and lesbians. But the original
Hebrew refers only to two men having sex. Lesbians do not appear in the
Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament). So, based on this passage,
there would be no objection to two lesbians marrying.
||There are many similar verses in Leviticus which describe the Mosaic
Code and use the Hebrew word "to'ebah" to condemn certain
behaviors: sharing a meal with a person of another religion, eating
shrimp or lobster, getting a tattoo, wearing a cotton and polyester shirt,
planting a mixture of grass seeds in your front lawn, etc.
None of these behavior are still considered "ritually impure" today. The
passage may well be null and void.
||There is a lack of consensus on the meaning of the verse. Some
believe that it prohibits two men from having sex on a woman's bed, but
not in other locations.
||This passage is interpreted by many mainline and liberal theologians
as referring only to ritual sex between two men in a Pagan temple.
||A denomination which interprets this passage as condemning all
sexual acts between two men could certainly use it as a justification to
refuse to marry a same-sex male couple. But the U.S. and Canada are not
theocracies. What the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), Torah,
Qur'an, or any other holy book says about homosexuality is immaterial
when government create legislation on marriage. The Constitutions must
be adhered to.
||More information about the Bible and same-sex behavior is available.
9. Almost everyone agrees that homosexuality is immoral:
Assertion: The vast majority of the faith groups in North America -- over 1,500 strong
-- condemn homosexual behavior as a serious sin, hated by God. We cannot reward
such behavior by allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
||While it is true that conservative religious groups condemn homosexual
behavior, refuse to conduct union or marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples,
and refuse to ordain active homosexuals to the clergy, this is not true of all
faith groups. In fact liberal groups such as the Unitarian Universalist
Association, United Church of Christ, American Humanist
Association, American Atheists, etc. promote equal rights for
persons and couples of all sexual orientations. Many mainline churches are
actively debating their stand on these matters.
||Neither the United States nor Canada is a theocracy. Thus legislation
cannot be based on a particular religious faith's concept of morality and
correctness, or their belief in what their God expects. The recent,
2003-JUN-26, decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in
the Lawrence v. Texas case implied that the state has no business in
making laws that enforce religious concepts of morality by restricting
private, consensual sexual behavior by adults. That ruling may indicate that
laws giving special privileges to opposite-sex couples may be
||The State of Hawaii's "Report of the Commission on Sexual Orientation and the
Law" studied this issue and wrote: "Under our constitutional
government the fact that some religions or churches condemn same-gender
marriages does not mean that those religious beliefs can be imposed on others.
Our separation of church and state prevents
religious enforcement through state institutions, such as the Department of
Health. Furthermore, the Constitution prohibits any religious group from
having to perform the marriage of a couple that is not recognized by that
10. Same sex marriage would be a radical change to society:
Assertion: When same-sex marriages were considered in Hawaii, a conservative Christian
organization, Hawaii's Future Today (HFT), filed a brief with the court
in opposition. They said, in part, that same-sex marriage would introduce "a radical reform in the basic institution of marriage,
jettisoning long-recognized cultural values and drastically redefining the
fundamental structure of our society..." They stated that the
government has a compelling interest in "the
historical and time-honored protection of traditional marriage as the
fundamental structure in Hawaiian society that advances basic societal goals and
|| The essence of this argument is that because we have not allowed same-sex
couples to marry in the past, that we should not allow them to marry in the
future. If this logic were followed, slavery would still be practiced, men
would be able to rape their wives with impunity, women would be prohibited
from entering many professions, and non-virgin brides would be stoned to death
today in North America.
||Author Andrew Sullivan wrote: "The introduction of gay marriage
would not be some sort of leap in the dark, a massive societal risk.
Homosexual marriages have always existed, in a variety of forms; they have
just been euphemized. Increasingly they exist in every sense but the legal
one. As it has become more acceptable for homosexuals to acknowledge their
loves and commitments publicly, more and more have committed themselves to
one another for life in full view of their families and friends. A law
institutionalizing gay marriage would merely reinforce a healthy trend." 10
||As noted elsewhere on this website, significant changes to the institution
of marriage have occurred in the past as injustices were overcome. Society
survived. In fact, if we were to reinstate the laws of an earlier time, and
reintroduce polygyny, ban marriage for African-Americans, and prohibit mixed race
couples from marrying, there would be a wall of opposition from the public.
||Like all institutions, marriage must change and adapt to meet the needs and
values of the society. In their 2003-JUN-10 ruling which allowed same-sex
couples to marry, the Court of Appeal for Ontario stated that: "...to
freeze the definition of marriage to whatever meaning it had in 1867 [the date
of Canada's confederation] is contrary to this country’s jurisprudence of
progressive constitutional interpretation....The task of expounding a
constitution is crucially different from that of construing a statute. A statute
defines present rights and obligations. It is easily enacted and as easily
repealed. A constitution, by contrast, is drafted with an eye to the future. Its
function is to provide a continuing framework for the legitimate exercise of
governmental power and, when joined by a Bill or a Charter of Rights, for the unremitting protection of individual rights
and liberties. Once enacted, its provisions cannot easily be repealed or
amended. It must, therefore, be capable of growth and development over time to
meet new social, political and historical realities often unimagined by its
framers. The judiciary is the guardian of the constitution and must, in
interpreting its provisions, bear these considerations in mind."
11. The government has an interest in preserving the status quo:
Assertion: The government has a compelling interest to preserve the status quo in
marriage -- to reserve it as a special privilege of opposite-sex couples
and to deny it to same-sex couples. The brief by Hawaii's Future Today, also stated that the
government has a compelling interest in "the
historical and time-honored protection of traditional marriage as the
fundamental structure in Hawaiian society that advances basic societal
goals and values." 6
||The status quo in North America has shifted since 2003-JUN-10. On
that date, a court in Ontario Canada declared that marriage licenses
could be obtained by any adult couple -- same sex or opposite sex. So,
in Ontario at lest, the status quo allows same-sex marriage. British
Columbia followed suit on JUL-9.
||The report of the Hawaiian Sexual Orientation and the Law
Committee stated that: "The Hawaii Supreme Court has found that
denial of same-gender marriage was presumed to be a violation of equal
protection of the law unless the State could show a 'compelling state
interest' for such denial. The Commission finds that the various reasons
advanced for denying same-gender marriages, including religious, moral
and public health and safety, are similar to the Loving [v. Virginia] case and do not
constitute a 'compelling state interest' and, as a matter of public
policy, should not be used to deny equal rights under the law to
same-gender couples." 7 The Loving case
involved an interracial couple who pleaded guilty to the "crime" of
marrying a person of another race and were sentenced to a one year jail
sentence by a Virginia court.
||The ruling of the Court of
Appeal for Ontario referred to the Attorney General of Canada's
assertion "...that marriage relates to the capacities, needs and
circumstances of opposite-sex couples. The concept of marriage - across
time, societies and legal cultures - is that of an institution to
facilitate, shelter and nurture the unique union of a man and woman who,
together, have the possibility to bear children from their relationship
and shelter them within it." The court rejected this argument for
several reasons, including:
||Laws must always be viewed by the court from the perspective of the
claimant. The existing marriage legislation clearly discriminated
against the same-sex couples who brought the lawsuit.
||The government's duty is to justify a breach of human dignity, not
to explain it or deny its existence. This the government failed to do.
||"Denying same-sex couples the right to marry perpetuates
the...view...that same-sex couples are not capable of forming loving and
lasting relationships, and thus same-sex relationships are not worthy of
the same respect and recognition as opposite-sex relationships
The court concluded that: "Accordingly, in our view, the common law
requirement that marriage be between persons of the opposite sex does not
accord with the needs, capacities and circumstances of same-sex couples.
This factor weighs in favour of a finding of discrimination."
12. Giving preferential treatment to opposite-sex couples is justified:
Assertion: In the ruling of the Court of
Appeal for Ontario, the Justices referred to an assertion by the Attorney General of Canada (AGC). He correctly pointed out that
opposite-sex couples raise the vast majority of children. Thus the
government is justified in giving preferential treatment to opposite-sex
couples by allowing them to marry and granting them many financial
||The court rejected the AGC's submission. They wrote: "The
critical question to be asked...is whether opposite-sex couples are in a
more disadvantaged position than same-sex couples....same-sex couples
are a group who have experienced historical discrimination and
disadvantages. There is no question that opposite-sex couples are the
more advantaged group....In our view, any economic disadvantage that may
arise from raising children is only one of many factors to be considered
in the context of marriage. Persons do not marry solely for the purpose
of raising children. Furthermore, since same-sex couples also raise
children, it cannot be assumed that they do not share that economic
disadvantage. Accordingly, if alleviating economic disadvantages for
opposite-sex couples due to childrearing were to be considered an
ameliorative purpose for the opposite-sex requirement in marriage, we
would find the law to be underinclusive. The principle from Law that '[u]nderinclusive ameliorative legislation that excludes from its
scope the members of a historically disadvantaged group will rarely
escape the charge of discrimination' would be applicable."
13: Marriage has always been between one man and one women:
Assertion: Every society down through history has defined marriage as between a man
and a woman. We don't want to mess with an institution that has as old a
heritage as marriage.
||This is a surprisingly widespread belief. But it is wrong. "Evidence
from other cultures and other times demonstrates that same-sex marriages
are neither unprecedented nor unnatural." In fact, they were
||"Same-sex unions in ancient Egypt were recognized as marriages."
||"Same-sex unions were an integral part of the cultures of
classical Greece and republican Rome and imperial Rome..."
||Many African tribes have recognize lesbian marriages.
||Native Americans opened marriage to same-sex couples before the
arrival of the Christian missionaries. 9
|| The HFT report also implied that that marriage in Hawaii has always meant one
man and one woman. Yet Aikane, close male societal and sexual
relationships, were an accepted part of ancient Hawaiian culture, before the
arrival of the Christian missionaries in the 19th century. 6
||The Hebrew Scriptures describe eight different
family structures, of which only one is a one-man one-woman marriage.
None of these were criticized in the biblical text.
||Mr. Justice Harry Laforme
of the Ontario Superior Court wrote: "The restriction against
same-sex marriage is an offence to the dignity of lesbians and gays
because it limits the range of relationship options available to them. The
result is they are denied the autonomy to choose whether they wish to
marry. This in turn conveys the ominous message that they are unworthy of
14: Same-sex marriage is just plain disgusting.
Assertion: The thoughts of a man engaging in sex with another man makes my stomach
heave and skin crawl. It is disgusting. I feel the same way about two
lesbians having sex. Nobody in the world will respect our country if we
allow this behavior to be institutionalized.
||The feelings of revulsion at same-sex behavior is widespread in our
culture. That is because over 90% of the population is heterosexual. i.e.
they are attracted to members of the opposite sex. A side-effect of
heterosexual orientation is often an intense aversion to thoughts of
||But that is only part of the story. Revulsion at same-sex behavior is
not an absolute response found universally throughout our culture. Persons
with a homosexual orientation are sexually attracted to members of the
same gender. Many have a strong aversion to the thoughts of opposite-sex
||Making a commitment to each other, deciding to live together, engaging
in sexual behavior are very personal matters about which people differ
greatly. It is important that we comprehend the diversity of people's
- Ken Connor, "A final word..." Ken Connor, Family Research Council
Washington Update, 2003-JUL-11.
Washington Post, 2001-SEP-4, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Mentioned in a letter to the editor of First Things magazine,
1999-DEC, by reader Mark Peterson. Issue 98, Page 5.
- Anon, "Acceptance Of Homosexual Marriage," at: http://www.freeessays.cc/
- "Courts Poised to Decide Lawsuits on Same-Sex Marriage," Human
Rights Campaign, 2003, at: http://www.hrc.org/
- Roxanne Nelson, "Financing infertility," 1999-MAY-19, CNN.com, at: http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/
- Amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief by Hawaii's Future Today circa 1996-OCT. See our essay on the brief.
- The State of Hawaii's "Report of the Commission on Sexual Orientation and the
Law" is available at: http://www.state.hi.us/lrb/rpts95/sol/cpt4.html
- "Docket: C39172 and C39174, Between Hedy Halpern...." Court of
Appeal for Ontario, 2003-JUN-10, at: http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/
- William Eskridge, "Case for same-sex marriage," Free Press, (1996),
Page 5. Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
- Andrew Sullivan, "Virtually Normal," Alfred A. Knopf, (1995), Page
- The judgment of the court, dated 2002-JUL 12, is reported at 60 O.R. (3d)
Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2003-JUL-12
Latest update: 2003-JUL-14
Author: B.A. Robinson