As Maryland votes on Question 6, I often have to reiterate my stance on the topic of Same-Sex Marriage. Everyone has an argument for or against Question 6 and often times they are fueled by misunderstanding. To those who have not made a decision, or may be confused by often conflicting information, I give my reasons for support of Question 6 and hopefully clarify a few points.
1) The word “marriage” did not appear in the Old or New Testament until they were translated into English at the end of the 7th century. The Old Testament, which defines acceptable unions according to Abrahamic law, was written in Hebrew and used different words to represent said unions. Nowhere is the term “marriage”, nor its Latin predecessor “maritus”, written in the original language of the Bible.
2) The terms “maritus” and “matrimonium” originated in Ancient Rome and were used to represent a variety of unions. According to historical researchers and studies, the majority of marriages were secular; they were unions performed as legal contracts for a variety of reasons (breeding, politics, etc.). Although most marriages were between man and woman, there were occasional exceptions. At one point, there was even a marriage of a Head of State to his male lover that used all the pomp and ritual of any other marriage.
3) Moving forward to the modern use of the term “marriage”, we find that unions from almost every culture and religion use the term when translating their practices into English. The combined populations of Hindus, Buddhists, European Pagans, and the indigenous faiths of all the Continents vastly outnumber Christians. This means that Christians do not have sole ownership of the term “marriage” on a global scale.
4) The United States government does not define "marriage" in a religious form and is strictly forbidden from doing so by the Constitution. In the eyes of the federal government, a Christian marriage is no different from a Hindu marriage, a Wiccan marriage, a Universalist Unitarian marriage, or a non-religious marriage. The government’s definition of marriage, in keeping with the origins of Western society, is simply a legal contract that provides benefits for those who have signed it. For the government to define marriage solely by a select group of Christians (not even representative of every Christian in the U.S., let alone the world) would be illegal according to the laws of this country.
5) Moving on from the history, definition, and usage of the term “marriage”, there are arguments about homosexuality from social and psychological views. Despite claims, the practice of homosexuality has never been proven to lead to the destruction of society. Many ancient cultures, at some point in their history, accepted homosexual or bisexual behavior without it being a contributing factor to their downfall. Even to this day there are indigenous cultures that accept these same practices as has been part of their tradition since long before the presence of Westerners.
6) On an individual level, there is no evidence that homosexual practices directly cause negative effects in the individuals involved. Some studies of the psychosocial health of homosexual individuals have shown a high correlation with stress, depression, suicidal tendencies, and a variety of psychological disorders. However, correlation is not causation and the larger context must be understood. In a society that is hostile to LGBT individuals, where abuse, oppression, and even assault occurs, it would be completely understandable why members of this minority group experience these negative psychosocial effects.
7) In addition, there is no evidence that homosexual parents negatively affect their children's development. The last major study (by Mark Regnerus from the University of Texas) was severely criticized because the sample population was almost solely children of previously heterosexual divorced parents who later entered homosexual relationships. A child from a broken home (of any kind) is going to show a higher rate of negative psychosocial factors than those who grow up in a consistent and stable home (of any kind). Without a broad, longitudinal study of children raised by homosexual parents from a variety of backgrounds, no conclusive evidence can be drawn on the effect.
8) Despite what some groups claim, there is evidence that homosexual tendencies are an inherent trait rather than learned behavior. Although Dean Hamer's "gay gene" study has been criticized, repeat studies of twins and homosexual behaviors have shown that heritability is a factor. Even more-so, studies of the general population show that, although strictly homosexual individuals are a minority, bisexual thoughts are far more prevalent than expected. This suggests that the concept of homosexuality or bisexuality as an "unnatural" and learned behavior is fallacious at best.
Using this information, my logical progression follows:
- If Christianity does not define or own the term "marriage”…
- If government recognition of marriage is secular and does not support any given faith...
- If homosexuality does not directly harm society, the individuals, or any children they raise..
- If sexual orientation and/or gender identity are likely inherent traits rather than learned..
…then the only conclusion I can make is to let people be who they are and enjoy the same benefits as everyone else. This is not only a moral and ethical conclusion, but a legal one as well as the laws of this country prevent discrimination and do not support a "separate but equal" mentality. Thus, I will vote for Question 6 in the coming election and I hope others can see the logic in doing so themselves.