Bias confession: I’ve been leaning more to the left lately, so that may be one of the drivers of my opinion.

This issue has been important to me since I first heard about it, but I’m not really sure why. I don’t think that homosexuals are suppressed anything like the way blacks were 30 years ago, and I don’t think that homosexuals need any kind of assistance succeeding in society, as far as economics or political influence are concerned. I don’t think we need affirmative action for homosexuals.

But the whole idea of outlawing homosexual marriage, in particular changing the Constitution of the United States of America strikes me as ludicrous and hurtful.

Laws are created to protect people and their rights, not to restrict them. In any case where the laws seem particularly designed to restrict activities, for example drug use, the overall goal is to protect society from wrecklessly intoxicated people and the costs the accrue in recovery, hospitals, insurance, etc.

The first question, then, should be: Who or what would the Defense of Marriage protect? The obvious answer is: the sacred institution of marriage.

Let’s leave the word “sacred” aside for a moment – we’ll have to deal with that seperately. But does marriage really need protection? If two homosexual people marry, will it somehow lessen or affect existing or future individual marriages? I cannot imagine how, personally – their vows are no less binding, and their emotions, feelings, and relationships are not likely to change in any way either. Is the institution itself somehow lessened? By broadening the pool of applicants, future marriages by heterosexual individuals won’t mean any less or more than they already do now. God and man will look alike upon their marriages with favor (or displeasure – who am I to judge?) whether or not a homosexual couple is also marrying down the street.

If no damage is being done to current or future heterosexual marriages, it would seem that the intention of the act would be to ensure that homosexuality is not given the same stamp of approval and public acceptance that is given to heterosexuality. Not many of the people who would approve of the Defense of Marriage Act would be opposed to allowing Civil Unions to homosexuals – thus it’s not the legal benefits that should be denied, it’s the peculiar state of “marriage”, the social rite more than the legal act.

I can think of only one serious reason for allowing homosexuals this social rite, and that is a religious one. I’ve also been told we should not approve of homosexual marriage because it will diminish our supply of new children, but this is easily dismissed: the world is in no shortage of heterosexual couples or children, and homosexual people are no more likely to produce children whether or not they are allowed to marry.

More realistically, homosexuals should not marry because homosexuality is a morally reprehensible or sinful state, and marriage is a moral or blessed state, and it would be wrong to encourage the merger of one with the other. Let’s completely leave aside the problem of basing laws on religion, though this is a very serious issue. (We’re not talking about something like abortion here, which is potentially a sin and a violent crime; this is only potentially a personal sin.) If marriage is such a blessed state, then surely divorce, prostitution, and pornography are much more serious issues. Each of these issues are addressed specifically in the Bible, and in many other moral and ethical systems – they are universally abhorred, and obviously are of a much greater danger to marriages individually and in general. But where are they addressed in the defense of marriage act? I’ve heard it said that politics are politics, and moral politicians should concentrate on issues they have a chance of passing. But no-one believes the amendment has a chance of passing. How much more likely would be an amendment banning prostitution, which is illegal everywhere in the United States except a portion of one state? Perhaps politicians are simply trading in the goodwill generated by defending marriage, but they don’t seem to want to generate goodwill by defending it from divorce, which Jesus himself villified.

Nowhere in the Bible, especially not the New Testament, is homosexuality itself specifically addressed. Yet homosexuality was much more prevalent in the Roman Empire in the time of Paul and the apostles than it is today; if it was an issue of such moral imperative, one would have expected Paul to spend at least half a chapter of one epistle discussing it.

There is a legitimate argument that churches should not have to marry any couple of whose union they do not approve, but I don’t see how legalizing homosexual marriage would cause a problem there. The churches who do not approve of homosexual marriage need not marry homosexuals. Those that do approve, as well as judges, would suffice, and would allow the legal status that no one seems to mind without overstepping religious stances. Moreover, those churches who do not approve of couples living in sin should seriously consider banishing members who have had divorces or annulments, or who maintain a collection of pornography or regularly watch R-rated movies. Certainly they should not allow such people to marry within their church.

I hesitate to use the word or idea of “homophobia” – that card has been well overplayed. But I can’t find any good reason for the Defense of Marriage Act, as it stands, except to maintain a distance between mainstream heterosexual America and the ever-increasing acceptance of homosexuality. Marriage, one of the last universally accepted social customs, is a point of differentiation that is soon to be overrun, and this worries people who would still much prefer the “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t know” policy. This kind of fear, which can fairly be called small-minded without undue insult, is an awful reason for passing a law that infringes upon the happiness and well-being of others.