Equality is one of those interesting words that everyone claims to want, but no one is quite sure what it means. W.C. Fields once proclaimed himself to be free of all prejudices, “I hate everyone equally,” he remarked. Barry Goldwater, no opponent of “gay rights” himself remarked that “equality... as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty, wrongly understood as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.” I am not entirely certain what Goldwater meant, but as our society debates the question of marriage rights and equality, a man may be hardly certain what he ought to think about it. Nonetheless, whatever he may think, what a person ought to think is clear enough: He ought to support marriage equality.
As a Catholic, I strongly support marriage equality. I support the right of all men to marry women and the right of all women to marry men. A man should never be prevented from marrying a woman by the color of his skin, nor should a woman be prevented from marrying a man because of the color of hers, or her social or economic status. An Italian man should not be denied the right to marry an Irish woman if she will have him, though he may do so at his own peril. As a Catholic, I recognize that there is no basis in natural law (or history) to deny a black man the right to marry a white woman and that those who until recently would have denied this marriage equality were creating a new and artificial definition of marriage where it required spouses to have the same skin color. Nonetheless, this unequality was an artificial novelty creating a new definition of marriage with no basis in natual or common law. As such, it was a violation of marriage equality.
Just as a I support marriage equality, I support the right of all children to have a father and a mother. I support a marriage equality that attaches mothers and fathers for the purposes of raising children, providing each child with a father and mother. Regardless of the child’s social and economic status, his religion, his race, or any other factor, each child has an equal right to be raised by a father and mother. This provides children with greater stability than those denied a father and mother, as well as models for the development of their own sexuality (1). Children all have the equal right to be raised by a father and a mother for their own sakes, not to become tools for the fulfillment of adult desires.
Just as I support marriage equality, I support the right of those with homosexual inclinations to be supported in their struggle with those inclinations. I support their right to be loved and not merely tolerated, “which parodies love as flippacy parodies merriment” (C.S. Lewis). No one who loves anyone ever merely tolerates them. A wife who loves her husband would never merely tolerate his alcoholism, not even were he born that way. Mere tolerance is always easier than real love. It is always easier to give alcohol to an alcoholic than to support him in giving it up. It is always easier to tell a person he is fine with the way he is, than that he needs to change. This may be tolerance, but it is not love.
Finally, because I support marriage equality, I do not support changing the definition of marriage to include sexual relationships by members of the same sex. There is no basis for it in natural law, common law, or history. It is a modern, artificial creation, created by the state and needing a state to defend it, just like laws that changed the definition of marriage so that it only included members of the same race. But changing the definition of a thing, never changes its nature. Because I support marriage equality I support the right of persons with homosexual inclinations to be supported in their struggle with those inclinations so that they too may be able to enjoy true marriage in fact, not merely by redefinition. To do otherwise would be like claiming to help a blind man “see” by changing the definition of “sight.”
For more on the benefits of a father and mother on a child’s upbringing see the above study by Regnerus and another article responding to debate of it.