Why are some individuals and groups opposed to
marriage while others favor legalizing it?
Since the topic of same-sex marriage in the U.S. first surfaced in Hawaii during the mid-1990's, strong opposition to SSM has been widespread throughout the U.S. It has been mainly driven by religious and social conservatives. By the end of 2012, about a dozen national polls had confirmed that most American adults support marriage equality. This involves changing the state marriage laws to permit all loving, committed couples to marry, whether they be of the same-sex or opposite-sex.
One of the more interesting, yet rarely noticed, aspects of same-sex marriage (SSM) since about 2010 has been the rise in the percentage of adults who not only support SSM, but support it strongly. This is occurring in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, where many couples are involved in loving, committed relationships and hope to marry when it becomes legal. Strong support is also seen among civil libertarians and within the general population, the vast majority of whom have a heterosexual orientation and thus can never personally benefit from SSM.
This web site and other information sources have had to guess at the motivation for this opposition and support. Then, in late 2012-NOV, a USA Today/Gallup® poll interviewed a national sample of 1,015 American adults to determine why they believe as they do. They estimate the margin of error is within ±4 percentage points., 11
Why some organizations oppose same-sex marriage:
The main opposition to SSM in North American and other predominately Christian countries comes from religious groups:
Wikipedia reports: 12
- "U.S. Roman Catholic bishops contend that:
'a same-sex union contradicts the nature of marriage: It is not based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to create new life; and the natural purpose of sexual union cannot be achieved by a same-sex union. Persons in same-sex unions cannot enter into a true conjugal union. Therefore, it is wrong to equate their relationship to a marriage.' 1
- The Southern Baptist Convention claims that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples would undercut the conventional purpose of marriage. 2
- Other religious opponents of same-sex marriage hold that same-sex relationships should not be recognized as marriages on the grounds that same-gender sexual activity is contrary to God's will, 3 is unnatural, 4 and subverts God's creative intent for human sexuality. 5
- Some same-sex marriage opponents raise parenting concerns; they argue that having and raising children is the underlying purpose of marriage, that homosexual unions implicitly lack the ability of heterosexual couples to produce and raise offspring by natural means, that children raised by same-sex partners are disadvantaged in various ways, 6 and that homosexual unions thus cannot be recognized within the scope of marriage.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Southern Baptist Convention, and National Organization for Marriage argue that children do best when raised by a mother and father, and that legalizing same-sex marriage is, therefore, contrary to the best interests of children." 1,7,8,9
There has been some criticism of the conservatives' belief that loving, committed same-sex couples should be disqualified from marriage because they cannot procreate by "natural means." That belief can equally be used to attack opposite-sex couples in which one spouse is infertile. Like a same-sex couple, an infertile opposite-sex couple must also make use of assisted reproduction techniques or surrogate parenthood if they wish to have children. The conservatives' stand has also been viewed as an attack on opposite-sex parents who adopt children, for any reason.
It is important to realize that by prohibiting SSM, state and federal governments will consider same-sex parents to be "legal strangers" in the eyes of the legal system -- i.e. as simple roommates. The parents, their relationship and their children will then receive none of the state and federal recognitions, benefits, and protections that are automatically given to all opposite-sex married couples. That situation would certainly appear to be very harmful to children and hardly in their "best interests."
Why those people who oppose same-sex marriage think as they do:
USA Today/Gallup asked an open-ended question of those opposed to SSM: "What are some of the reasons why you oppose legal same-sex marriage?" Multiple responses were permitted. Results were:
- 47%: Their religion, or the Bible says it is wrong.
- 20%: Marriage should be between a man and a woman.
- 16%: It is morally wrong; respondent has traditional beliefs.
- 6%: Civil unions are sufficient.
- 5%: It is unnatural; against the laws of nature.
- 5%: Undermines the traditional family structure; mother & father as parents.
- 7%: Other opinion.
- 4%: No opinion.
Why some organizations support same-sex marriage:
The main organized support for SSM in North American comes from:
- LGBT-positive groups,
- Liberal and some mainline religious groups,
- Professional mental health associations,
- Therapists & counselors,
- Human sexuality researchers,
- Professional social workers associations,
- Educational associations, and
- Other groups.
Since about the middle of 2011, national polls have consistently shown that most adults in the U.S. also support SSM. In Canada, there has been growing substantial support for SSM by the majority of adults, even before 2005-JUL when SSMs first became legal in that country.
Wikipedia reports that the above negative views of conservative religious organizations:
"... differ from the professional consensus of social scientists and other experts that children raised by lesbian or gay parents do not differ in any important respects from those raised by heterosexual parents and that no credible empirical research suggests otherwise." 12
Supporting groups generally view SSM as a human rights concern. They consider opposition to SSM to be homophobia, and analogous to other forms of discrimination such as racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. They generally accept the findings of human sexuality researchers that a person's sexual orientation is discovered, not chosen, and that it is fixed, not changeable. Supporting Christian groups generally interpret biblical passages that may relate to same-gender sexual behavior very differently than conservative denominations and parachurch groups.
Why those people who support same-sex marriage think as they do:
USA Today/Gallup asked an open-ended question of those supportive of SSM: "What are some of the reasons why you favor legal same-sex marriage?" Multiple responses were permitted. Results were:
- 32% Everyone should have the same rights and freedoms.
- 32% Personal choice; Love, happiness matters, not sexual orientation.
- 14% Not my business or not government's business to decide who can marry.
- 9%: Have friends or family who are gay or lesbian.
- 5%: Everyone is equal in God's eyes.
- 4%: Lesbians and gays are born that way.
- 3%: Medical, insurance, financial purposes.
- 2%: Need to separate state and church.
- 5%: Other.
- 5%: No opinion.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions," United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2003-NOV-12, at: http://old.usccb.org/
- Resolution: "On same-sex marriage," Southern Baptist Conference, 2003, at: http://www.sbc.net/
- "The Religious Right and Anti-Gay Speech: Messengers of Love or Purveyors of Hate?," Wired Strategies, undated, at: http://web.archive.org/
- Timothy Egan, "THE NATION; Anti-Gay Backlashes Are on 3 States' Ballots," New York Times, 1992-OCT-04, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Cited from the Exodus International web site. However, they had a major change in their belief structure during 2012 and apparently deleted the essay.
- Robert Benne and Gerald McDermott, "Why Gay Marriage Would Be Harmful," Christianity Today, 2004-FEB-01, at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/
- "The divine institution of marriage," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2008-AUG-13, at: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/
- "Obama celebrates gay dads on Father's Day," Florida Baptist Witness, 2010-JUL-02, at: http://www.gofbw.com/
- "Why marriage matters: Seven scientific reasons,"National Organization for Marriage
- "Brief of the American Psychological Association, the Massachusetts Psychological Association, The National Association of Social Workers and its Massachusetts Chapter, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics as Amici Curiae in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees and in Support of Affirmance - Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts Civil Action Nos. 1:09-cv-11156-JLT, 1:09-cv-10309-JLT (Honorable Joseph L. Tauro)," American Psychological Association, 2011-NOV-03, at: http://www.apa.org/
- Frank Newport, "Religion Big Factor for Americans Against Same-Sex Marriage," Gallup, 2012-DEC-05, at: http://www.gallup.com
- "List of opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States," Wikipedia, as on 2012-DEC-04, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Survey questions & data Copyright © 2012 by Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.
Originally posted: 2012-DEC-06
Latest update: 2012-DEC-06
Author: B.A. Robinson.