Why Gay Marriage is Seen as a Rights Issue

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Feb 09, 2012

In light of today’s report that support for gay marriage is growing in the United States, with most self-identified Catholics supporting it, we do well to remember how we got into this fix. It isn’t because most people like the idea of two people of the same sex living together as if they were married. It is because, given the way we conceive of marriage today, it seems unfair to deny it to anyone.

And how does our culture conceive of marriage? We view it as a convenient arrangement providing sexual satisfaction, companionship and certain financial and social benefits. We do not regard it as permanent. And we do not regard it as necessarily connected with the procreation of children and the raising of families.

This attitude toward marriage is the inescapable result of the two enormous sins committed by heterosexual couples against what the natural law tells us about marriage: divorce and contraception. Compared with what marriage has come to mean through these endemic practices, and considering their impact on children and society as a whole, even the idea of adoptive children being raised by two mommies or two daddies just doesn't seem so bad.

Of course, compared to a proper understanding of marriage, none of this makes sense. But compared to what marriage has become, it is just plain hard for many people to see why the sexual satisfaction, companionship and financial and social benefits of marriage should be denied to anyone who would like those benefits.

I’m hardly the first to notice this, but it bears repeating.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Patrick1933 - Feb. 11, 2012 4:55 PM ET USA

    The state has always had a valid interest in marriage, because the family is the fundamental building block of society. Dr. Mirus is quite correct, that society's current view of marriage, which he succinctly states above, gives to the notion, shared by many Catholics, that it's only fair--a matter of civil rights--that gays, lesbians, etc. should be able to marry. This, of course, is the reason that the Bishops and all the clergy, need to preach the whole Truth about sex, among other things.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 10, 2012 2:56 PM ET USA

    The state has been involved in marriage for way too long and there was no way around this inevitability. "By the authority invested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife." If California can recognize two random characters walking into the courthouse with no preparation, no faith, and no plan or understanding of what exactly is going on, it's not a far cry for different variations of this formula to seem perfectly reasonable.