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August 12, 2013 Print

Commentary: What Tennessee’s Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Must Explain

by Guest Author

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by David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee

Same-sex couples in at least four Tennessee counties – Davidson, Shelby, Sullivan, and Wilson – applied for and were denied marriage licenses this week.  And last Monday, the City of Collegedale, in conservative Hamilton County (Chattanooga), voted to recognize same-sex marriages for certain purposes.  Having now pushed their agenda to the forefront in Tennessee, same-sex marriage advocates have some explaining to do.  And that creates a dilemma both for those advocates and the City of Collegedale.

The activity of this week makes it clear that lawsuits to force same-sex marriage on Tennessee will be filed sooner rather than later, and that will force Tennesseans to get serious about the issue.

But what is the issue?  The issue is not whether homosexual conduct is good or bad.  It is not whether those who engage in homosexual relations can be productive members of society.  And it is not about benefits.  That is what same-sex marriage advocates want people to think.  But those are not the issue.

The issue is whether our society should continue to embrace natural marriage – the union of a man and woman — or embrace other forms of relationships as marriages.  

However, the burden of proving that this change will improve our common good is on same-sex marriage advocates, not on those who support the long-standing meaning and value of natural marriage.

Those who support change just can’t be the “party of no” because they are against natural marriage.  They need to tell Tennesseans what they are for so that Tennesseans can see how it “stacks up” in comparison to natural marriage.

And if same-sex marriage advocates want equality, then the burden is on them to prove that a same-sex union is essentially the same as a heterosexual union in all regards. Otherwise, everyone knows that there is nothing “unequal” or “unfair” about treating two different things two different ways.

If they can’t meet their burden of proof, then the whole “marriage equality” argument falls to the ground.

So what is the definition of marriage that same sex-marriage advocates want?  As I understand it, they say that “love” and “commitment” between two people define marriage.  Okay, to know if we believe that assertion, we need to know what beliefs underlie this definition.  I see two.

First, to the extent that same-sex couples want to bring children into their relationship, they must believe the sexual, emotional, and psychological complementariness of the two sexes and the value of that complementariness to children are irrelevant.

Second, that belief rests upon another belief, namely, that men and women are the same, that there are no distinct characteristics apart from anatomy.  If you doubt me, then you haven’t given much thought to what is behind all the gender identity arguments that have arisen since the same-sex marriage debate began.

Seen in its true light, I don’t think that most Tennesseans would agree with these two beliefs that underlie same-sex marriage.  Any man who has been in a relationship with a woman – either as mother or lover – knows the two sexes are different in several regards and the same is true for a woman who has ever had a relationship with a man.

So, the first dilemma same-sex marriage advocates face is whether they are willing to come right out and say for all to hear that (i) they believe men and women are interchangeable when it comes to what a child needs and (ii) they believe that because they also believe there are no differences between the sexes.

I don’t think they will want to talk too much about that because they know most people, at least in Tennessee, will not share their beliefs.

The second dilemma is Collegedale’s.  Having embraced same-sex marriage, the City of has to explain why, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the recent marriage decision, it is willing to “humiliate” the children of certain types of employees.

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