Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gay marriage as a fundamental right should not be seen as counter to "the common good"


As I noted on my main  (“Bill Bousha”) blog today, a liberal pastor in Arlington VA Sunday, speaking in part about the recent school tragedy in Newtown, CT, said that people should give up some of their “cherished rights” (or “fundamental rights”) for the good of others, or at least deploy their rights in a way that doesn’t harm others.

In the LGBT area, I have some reservations when I hear a statement like this, at least in its first formulation.  Social “conservatives” use the “common good” to shoot down the idea of equal rights of gays and lesbians to marry the adult partners of their (consenting) choice.  They say that if heterosexual marriage is not revered in a special way as an institution (to the point that the unmarried sometimes sacrifice for it), then men and women will have less incentive to marry or to stay married long enough to raise children.

Younger heterosexual adults are certainly backing away from that view.  But we should remember that in earlier decades, there was a similar attitude to allowing gays to engage in their own chosen sexual behaviors with other adults in private.

Given the modern debate on sustainability (ranging from climate change to “demographic winter” and an aging population), we may see a renewed emphasis on the idea that raising children is everyone’s responsibility.  President Obama has even hinted at this interpretation in his remarks about Newtown. Given that the evidence of biological explanations for same-sex attractions in otherwise fully “normal” (I hate to punt to that word) adults, the policy debate will have to gravitate to looking at how gay people should be involved in family responsibility, ranging from eldercare to adopting children or helping raise other people’s children.  This debate is coming and needs to happen.  I don’t think we should deliberately conceive children (in surrogacy) with the intention of taking them from their mothers.  

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