Late last month a Georgia judge struck down an amendment banning same-sex marriage.  The ruling turned on a technicality which limits amendments to one topic. The constitutional change, approved by three-fourths of the State electorate, defined marriage as between one man and one woman, while also   banning gay civil unions.  But, according to Judge Constance C. Russell, that was a disservice to voters "who believe marriages between men and women should have a unique and privileged place in our society [and] also believe that same-sex relationships should have some place, although not marriage."


While I believe the judge was wrong to overrule the will of the people by the power of the bench, I believe his assessment of popular sentiment is sadly right. According to a 2004 poll, whilethere is nearly a 2-to-1 opposition to same-sex marriage, popular support of civil unions is 54 percent--up from a 43 percent in July 2003.


Consequently, as the U. S. Senate prepares to vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment in the next couple of weeks, the question on many people's minds is "Why shouldn't gays be given the benefits of marriage?"


Threat, what threat?

One of those is Karl Giberson, editor of Science & Theology News and a self-described conservative who values marriage.   In an editorial last year, Giberson shared his hopes for his eldest daughter to: find the "right person"; have a long, happy marriage; and provide grandchildren. At the same time, Giberson said he didn't understand why gay "marriage" was a threat to those hopes: "I don't understand how heterosexual marriage is 'protected' by denying gays the right to marry."   


Giberson is not alone. One of my life-long friends, who is a practicing physician with a traditional Catholic upbringing, believes that since "gays can't help it, we should let them's the right thing, the compassionate thing. Any way, what harm could come of it?"


My friend and Giberson are like others I've talked with who can't understand how gay inclusion would adversely affect heterosexual marriage or the common good. A few even consider gay "marriage" a good thing for society.


For instance, before leaving the "lifestyle," one friend of mine became troubled over the morality of his long-term partnership, only to be told by more than one pastor that a committed relationship was a gift from God to be received with thanksgiving, not guilt. On another occasion, a pastor advised a gay man to seek a committed homosexual partner in order to avoid the hazards of single gay life. One wonders how the pastor would have counseled a pedophile.


Sympathizers for gay "marriage" generally offer one of several arguments: Jesus never proscribed homosexuality, so neither should we; since homosexuality is "how some people are born" it would be unfair and heartless to deny them the benefits of marriage; marriage is about love and commitment, not sexual orientation; and finally, as Giberson implies in his editorial, allowing committed gays to marry wouldn't hurt society, but likely improve an institution marred by heterosexual divorce and infidelity.