On CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning, Candy Crowley pressed GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on the issue of same-sex marriage. She was polite and respectful, but insistent. The governor was equally pleasant, but utterly unconvincing.
Crowley asked several times, in several different ways, “how does same-sex marriage harm traditional marriage?” The question was never adequately answered. Because there is no adequate answer. The legalization of gay marriage does not in any way harm or threaten or affect anyone else’s marriage. I can marry anyone I want to marry, with the exception of minors. I can marry a foreigner, I can marry someone older or younger, I can marry someone of another race. I can marry any eligible man I want to marry. And finally, belatedly, in six states, I can, if I want to, marry an eligible woman. Other adults have the same rights. Who they marry in no way affects my marriage, nor does my marriage in any way affect theirs.
Pawlenty cited custom as a defense of traditional marriage. He also made reference to procreation and family. Custom is not law; it’s habit and personal preference. In the case of same-sex marriage, the only reason it isn’t part of our society and custom is because it has been illegal, a deliberate denial of equal rights. Procreation and family aren’t valid defenses either. Plenty of traditional marriages do not or cannot produce children. Even when they do, there’s no guarantee the result will be a stable, loving family. Furthermore, plenty of children are born to unwed parents.
Pawlenty wisely did not refer to religious or biblical edicts on marriage. After all, there are a lot of voters out there to whom such things are meaningless. Religion is not law in this country, and someone else’s religious beliefs have no legal bearing on my rights.
That leaves little more than personal preference and prejudice as grounds for opposing same-sex marriage. And that’s not good enough.