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06/25/2007

Trying to keep 'USA Tomorrow' looking like 'USA Antiquated'

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images  Good As You Images Picture-8-45We've written about the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg on a number of occasions. Earlier this month, we responded to his lashing out against companies who throw their support to gay pride parades. Back in October, we set him straight regarding the type of judges that the pro-gay team is actually seeking. And in that same month, we also were left in disbelief after he claimed that "putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse." That's just to name a few instances.

Well, the good folks at USA Today have now given the "pro-family" personality a forum to espouse his anti-gay marriage sentiment, publishing a Sprigg-penned Op-Ed in today's edition. Here now, a sample:

Society gives "benefits" to marriage because marriage gives benefits to society. Therefore, when those who are not married, such as people in homosexual or cohabiting relationships, seek to receive such public benefits, they bear the burden of proof. They must show that such relationships benefit society (not just themselves) in the same way and to the same degree that authentic marriage between a man and a woman does.

This is a burden they cannot meet. Only the union of a man and a woman can result in the natural reproduction that is essential literally to continue the human race. And research clearly demonstrates that married men and women — and children raised by their married, biological mother and father — are happier, healthier and more prosperous than people in any other living situation. These are the true benefits of marriage.

The legal and financial benefits of marriage are not an entitlement for every citizen regardless of lifestyle. They give an incentive to enter into the socially beneficial relationship of authentic marriage and give protection to the social institution of marriage.
...

Wait a minute -- proving same-sex marriage provides a benefit to society is a "a burden [gay marriage advocates] cannot meet"? Well, maybe that's how it appears to the sort of person who refers only to opposite-sex nuptials as "authentic marriage." However, to those of us who see the bigger picture, we can cite LOADS of benefits that marriage equality would provide:

- With equal marriage access a viable option, gay kids are given the message that they are just as deserving as a loving, stable home environment as their hetero peers (if that is what they want). As the situation currently stands -- and as it stood even more so in the past -- gay kids are given the message that their courtships and relationships would never culminate in the same sort of legally-wedded happiness as their straight siblings and friends. This marginalized treatment can and does lead some to live their lives on the margins. If you view society for its whole makeup, then this is a bad thing.

- Despite Mr. Spriggs claims that "research clearly demonstrates that married men and women — and children raised by their married, biological mother and father — are happier, healthier and more prosperous than people in any other living situation," he doesn't have the means to cash this verbal check! As for the happiness of married men/men or women/women -- well, we don't really have the means to adequately study that yet, as (at least here in America) such is pretty much a foreign concept. But as for the nature of bringing up kids, there is much evidence to suggest that same-sex parents raise just as well-adjusted children (if not more well-adjusted). So this being the case, marriage for same-sex couples only encourages a stable home environment for child rearing. After all, gay couples are not going to stop having, adopting, and raising little ones. Granting these families more protections is productive to everyone's welfare!

- Two words: Gift registry. Two more words: Open bar. Both are great. Both would be more plentiful if we could all take part.

- Marriage equality sends a strong message to society that all of its citizens are valued equally. While folks like Mr. Sprigg think we are just "choosing" our "lifestyles," the vast majority of gay people (and many heteros) have a very strong belief that we're the way we are because of factors that were completely out of our hands. If we are right about that, then it is beyond offensive for our government to deny the same sort of legal protections for our lives and loves. We pay the same taxes and make the same contributions to society. We deserve to have our monogamous, long-term arrangements recognized and granted the same benefits as our straight pals. In doing so, the government would, by extension, greatly help to weaken the disgusting bias that has already plagued far too many generations.

- Same-sex marriage protects the mental welfare of gay couples. Heterosexual duos take for granted things like medical decisions, inheritance, insurance coverage, end-of-life choices, etc. For gay people, these things can weigh heavily on the mind. Imagine being told after 25 years of life together that you do not have the legal right to control your dying partner's destiny, with those decisions instead going to your partner's estranged brother in Kentucky. While most gay couples have been able to shore up such protections through domestic partnerships and other legal wranglings, there is always a fear that your unmarried status may leave you in a gut-wrenching, life-altering, helpless predicament like the one just mentioned. The only way to grant same-sex couples the peace of mind they deserve is to allow for full marriage equality.

- Honeymoons are fun.

And there are obviously scores of other benefits that come along with marriage to which same-sex couples deserve to be entitled. Though instead of acknowledging life for its whole spectrum and marriage for its whole legal makeup, folks like Mr. Sprigg instead act as if the institution is nothing more than a child-making factory. They also act as if by considering what marriage rights do for our own lives, we are somehow being solispisitic. It is a standpoint that is beyond myopic and beyond offensive! We look at marriage for what it can do for its participants because that's what it is -- A LEGAL CONTRACT BETWEEN TWO PARTICIPANTS! If it is truly intended to be child-focused, then the traditional line should be changed to, "I now pronounce you man, wife, and uterus -- your baby-producing countdown begins now."

Later in his piece, as a means of condemning alternate arrangements like domestic partnerships, Sprigg says: "Awarding such benefits to the unmarried makes no more sense than giving veterans' benefits to people who never served in the military." To which we only have to say:

"Well, presenting marriage as if it is intrinsically connected to new life makes no more sense than talking about a driver's license in terms of the non-required car. While yes, many who obtain drivers licenses do go on to get a car, they have no legal responsibility to do so. Some want the license simply for ID purposes or for emergency situations where they might need to pilot an automobile. However, the institution of legalized driver's licensing is not defined by the product that may or may not come after it's granting."

Now, we're not saying that human lives are equal to cars. We're also not refuting that reproduction is essential to society. We're merely saying that within all of those new births, there is a percentage of itty bitty diaper-clad gays. We don't wish to see even more generation of gays to grow up and be told by people like Mr. Sprigg that their way of loving is suitable only for the junk yard!

Opposing view: No wedding, no benefits [USA Today]

**The flip side to Sprigg's Op-Ed: Our view on same-sex marriage: When states bar gay unions, domestic couples lose perks [USA Today editorial]

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Your thoughts

Gee. Would Mr. Spriggs deny a marriage license to a 60-year-old woman who wants to marry a 59-year-old-man? She can't have kids. Or how about a thirty-something mixed couple who want to get married and would tell him outright they intend to remain childless? Or what about a mixed couple in which one of the partners is sterile? Do all these people get the "benefits" he would give to any mixed-couple marriage? If so, then why not to a same-sex couple?

The man needs to rub a few more gray cells together before he puts pen to paper in the future.

Posted by: robin reardon | Jun 25, 2007 6:46:47 PM

But you know, Robin, you have to almost feel badly for those who have the job of arguing that side of this issue. They simply have no real leg to stand on, so they have to rely on these ridiculous claims.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 25, 2007 6:59:43 PM

Just brilliant! Right On!

Posted by: johnozed | Jun 25, 2007 11:30:24 PM

you rightly point out that Mr Spriggs opinion of gay parenting will not stop gay couples from having and raising children. And therefore gays should be given the benefits of marriage.

But, the stopping of gays having and raising children is exactly what Mr Spriggs does want. Spriggs doesn't just oppose gay marriage. He opposes gays being allowed to raise children at all. I'm sure he would like to have gays and lesbians legally sterilized along with outlawing gay adoptions. This would bring him to his vision of what the world should be. Once he accomplishes this, he can set about to get inter-racial marriages re-criminalized and have us all go back to living in the 1950's with "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver"

Posted by: anon-no-more | Jun 27, 2007 10:00:35 AM

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