If the shoe were on the other foot, would you give up views?
"It is important to note that the redefinition of marriage results in reordering society, restructuring the family unit and radical cultural change. Redefining marriage leads to an avalanche of enormous cultural change that infiltrates various areas of society.”
The above quote is sourced from one of Preserve Marriage's brochures about civil unions and same-sex marriage.
Following that passage is a list of nine vaguely worded cultural changes that have allegedly occurred in the United States since the passing of same-sex marriage in June 2015.
The first thing that struck me about the list is that many of the “changes” cited are really about ending the discrimination that already exists in society.
For example: “State education boards are being pressured to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sex education in their curriculum.”
If Preserve Marriage does not support this, then by default it believes that only heterosexual sex education should be taught in the classroom, and that argument is discriminatory to those who identify as LGBT. So why shouldn't LGBT education be taught? In Preserve Marriage's own words, marriage is “a special union ordained by God”, and that, “this union celebrates the natural differences between male and female to procreate, fosters moral integrity, strengthens the family unit and therefore our society”.
Unless I've misunderstood, Preserve Marriage therefore believes that homosexuality is unnatural and is against God's will. Additionally, it believes that same-sex marriage is a threat to moral integrity, weakens the family unit and therefore corrupts society. Despite Preserve Marriage's claim to the contrary, this is textbook bigotry.
To further strengthen its case, Preserve Marriage warns that enacting civil union legislation ultimately leads to the granting of same-sex marriage. On this I would agree.
Preserve Marriage provides a list of 18 countries that enacted civil union legislation, which subsequently granted same-sex marriage rights. But it is here that Preserve Marriage undermines its own argument. When you look at the list of countries that have enacted same-sex marriage laws, you do not get a list of countries that have undergone the horrific reordering of society that Preserve Marriage warns of. Canada, for example, enacted SSM laws in 2005. Despite this, Canada is ranked No 2 in the University of Pennsylvania's inaugural list of “Best Countries”.
Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, England, France, Ireland and the United States are on Preserve Marriage's list, but all of them are in the top 20 countries on Penn's list. To further emphasise the point, 50 per cent of the countries on the list have enacted SSM laws between 2005 and 2015. Who would argue that those countries have undergone a reordering of society or radical cultural change since then?
Preserve Marriage points to the New Family Structures Study by sociologist Mark Regnerus for “conclusive evidence” that “children do better when raised by a married mother and father”. What Preserve Marriage fails to mention is that both the American Psychology Association and the American Sociological Association, to which Regnerus belongs, dismissed his research. These organisations concluded that the flawed study “did not specifically examine children raised by same-sex parents and provides no support for the conclusions that same-sex parents are inferior parents or that the children of same-sex parents experience worse outcomes”.
There is another common sense counterargument that gets ignored: for obvious reasons, SSM parents would represent the most minute fraction of global families. By default, the “evil” we see in society today should not be laid at the feet of SSM families, but at the feet of opposite-sex marriage families.
This, of course, begs the questions, why are those vehemently opposed to SSM not threatened by: the divorce rate; incidents of spousal abuse or child abuse; out-of-wedlock births; irresponsible, absentee fathers; irresponsible, child-dependent mothers; promiscuity or infidelity?
Why are they not praying at our violence-engulfed sports clubs instead of the House of Assembly? Surely, there are other social problems far more worthy of attention? Even from a purely religious perspective, we should be asking why is it that atheist and agnostic parents are not seen as greater threats to society?
Although Preserve Marriage is the most vocal organisation to speak out against SSM, they are not alone. One certainly doesn't have to be part of Preserve Bermuda to hold homophobic views on same-sex marriage. Sadly, our political leadership is found wanting on this issue. It's also incredibly disappointing that those who argue for equal rights for women and people of colour can be found among those who are willing to deny rights for the LGBT community.
The homosexuals I know aren't trying to tell anyone else how to live their lives. Instead, they just want to go about living their lives as they see fit. They want equal rights like the rest of us, and I've yet to hear a reasonable answer for why they should be denied them.
The question, therefore, isn't so much are you for same-sex marriage, but are you against equal rights for those who don't share your religious or sociological views?
• To reach out to Bryant Trew, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org