Monday, May 19, 2008
I've been listening to conservative talk radio again, and after hearing another caller announce his plan to move out of California so his marriage is not associated with what the California Supreme Court hath wrought, it can be hard to keep sight of the line where reasonable argument ends and irrational prejudice begins. I'm trying to separate out the various strands of opposition to the ruling. I understand (and am highly sympathetic to) the democratic legitimacy argument, so let's put that to the side for now. Let's flash forward in time.
Imagine it's the year 2038. Same-sex marriage has been legalized by a combination of judicial rulings and legislation in every state except Kansas, and now Kansas voters face a referendum on the issue. Let's assume, for the sake of this exercise, that many studies conducted over the previous 30 years have established, to a reasonable degree of certainty, that:
- children raised in households headed by same-sex couples are indistinguishable from children raised in traditional households in terms of emotional and intellectual development, rates of physical and sexual abuse, self-esteem, and other measures of well-being;
- children raised in households headed by same-sex couples are no more likely to exhibit same-gender attraction than the general population is, and that the overall percentage of gays and lesbians in society has remained fairly constant;
- rates of sexual promiscuity among gays and lesbians have been reduced in states legalizing same-sex marriage, and rates of committed, monogamous relationships have correspondingly increased in the GLBT community;
- marriage and divorce rates in the general population have not been impacted by the legalization of same-sex marriage;
- state legislatures and courts legalizing same-sex marriage have uniformly rejected calls to extend the concept of marriage to encompass multiple partners.
These are big assumptions, I realize. But if the experience of same-sex marriage ends up eviscerating the usual consequentialist arguments against same-sex marriage, what are the reasons why the Catholic voter in Kansas should reject same-sex marriage? Is the ontological argument the only fall-back? If so, what does that ontological argument look like -- given ancient societies' embrace of polygamy and 2038 America's apparently successful embrace of same-sex marriage -- and why should a Catholic voter find it persuasive? Does it come down to Church authority, or is there something else?
UPDATE: Just to be clear, I'm not asking why the Catholic voter should support the Church's understanding of marriage. I'm asking why the Catholic voter should vote to extend the Church's understanding of marriage to the entire society through the civil law, assuming the state of knowledge as it might exist in 2038.