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DANA PARSONS / ORANGE COUNTY

Same-sex marriages do not pose threat to society

May 17, 2008|DANA PARSONS

Being a heterosexual male -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- the gay-marriage debate doesn't hit me where I live. If I had half a brain, I'd just leave the subject alone because you know how some people get when the topic is raised.

Nonetheless . . .

In overturning a ban against same-sex marriages, the California Supreme Court this week has put the hot potato back on the table, so there's no use in hiding from it.

I'm trying to figure how the decision will make my life worse. And, almost as important, how it will make society worse.

So far, I'm coming up empty on both counts.

Perhaps you're thinking, Yeah, but you're a wild-eyed radical who doesn't care about traditional social institutions.

Ha, shows what you know.

I'm a social order freak. Even if my politics liberalized as I grew up, my sense of traditional values didn't. Unlike Thomas Jefferson, I don't want to have a social rebellion every 20 years. How about some peace and quiet instead?

And gay marriage will disrupt the social order by doing what exactly?

In collating the various things I've heard over the years from gay-marriage opponents, including friends and relatives, what it seems to boil down to is that they just don't like the sound of it.

Opposing it seems easiest for those with religious beliefs. Though many of them are buffet-style believers much of the time, they turn immutably steadfast in their certainty that homosexuality is a sin and that condoning gay marriage is an apostasy.

Easy solution. If gay marriage is against God's will, let him handle the punishment. Why should mere mortals be the ones dispensing the judgment?

The more secular opponents tell me that marriage is for men and women and that some indefinable sense of what society stands for would be compromised if gays married each other.

There probably are various other arguments, but none make much sense to me -- and I went to college for four years.

I keep thinking that if same-sex marriage posed such a threat, why isn't it clear to me or millions of others? We understand other obvious threats, such as disease or armed robbers or sour milk.

If gay marriage is so inherently threatening to society, and if we're telling the truth when we say we want to preserve that social order, why isn't the gay-marriage "threat" obvious? I grew up in the church; how come gay marriage doesn't threaten me?

Because it isn't a threat.

There, I said it.

There's a way to prove it. Let's authorize same-sex marriage for five years, then see whether the country is in worse shape. See if society has noticeably worsened and if traditional marriage has suffered. If they have, in ways that are indisputably true, and if same-sex marriage is the clear culprit, then we can ban it again.

I'm not claiming a profound philosophy on the matter. As a formerly married man, I probably did more harm to the institution than any gay couple ever could.

Nor do I put same-sex marriage in the processional of classic human rights, such as female suffrage or racial discrimination. Lots of people do, but it doesn't hit me on that level. By the way, a number of gay people have told me they aren't particularly hung up on the issue, either.

No, my support of it is simple: We all get one life. It's natural for people who love each other to want to marry. It's a personal, societal and legal validation that means something to them.

As such, how dare other people tell two adults that they can't marry? How dare other people, who it just so happens aren't gay, decide that those who are get relegated to secondary social status?

Our laws are meant to protect us from people who do us harm -- robbers, cheats, assaulters.

Gays and lesbians, it seems to me, have been consigned to a separate "criminal" category by their opponents: people whose sexual practices they don't like. It's the argument made a couple generations back against whites and blacks marrying -- other people just didn't like the idea.

It ought to take a little bit more than that to deny people the same shot at what I will now trot out as a radical notion: that we're all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Dana Parsons' column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He can be reached at (714) 966-7821 or at dana.parsons@latimes.com. An archive of his recent columns is at www.latimes.com/parsons.

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