-"Gay Marriage", Jonathan RauchNow, the fundamental question in the gay-marriage debate is: Who is similarly situated? One school of thought, which I just alluded to, holds that same-sex couples are not at all similar to opposite-sex couples. "Of course, the law applies the same way to everyone," goes the thinking. "The rule says that everyone can marry someone of the opposite sex. Homosexuals are perfectly free to do that. The law is certainly fair, even if perhaps nature is not."
It is nature, however, which has made this view untenable. More specifically, it is the realization that homosexuals do indeed exist. Like it or not, homosexual men need the love and touch of men, and homosexual women need the love and touch of women; and until the reality of homosexuality is accepted by law, it will gnaw at marriage's legitimacy. For it is increasingly clear that homosexuals are not comparably treated by today's marriage law, at least not if you think sex, love, and marriage go together. In the United States, homosexuals cannot legally marry anyone they love. There is no heterosexual in this position. True, not all heterosexuals find someone to marry. But every heterosexual, without exception, is given the opportunity to marry for love (and for sex); and most regard the hope of a love marriage as sine qua non of the pursuit of happiness--ahead of career, money, fame, even children. Under the law as it stands, not one homosexual can pursue this dream.
Sex, love, and marriage go together to form integrated lives and integrated unions. A marriage which cannot satisfy the heart and flesh is not a marriage which is likely to work. IF I belabor the point, it is because some same-sex-marriage opponents really do say, "Look, marriage is about children, not love, and if homosexuals want to marry, let them just find someone of the opposite gender and skip the sex." Never mind the cruelty of pretending to love someone so he or she will marry you, or the crassness of forming a marriage as a kind of loveless business arrangement. Never mind the irony of hearing conservative insist that gay men should not be allowed to marry because they will cheat on each other, only to hear them suggest in the very next breath that gay men marry women to whom they will almost inevitably cheat on. (As Benjamin Franklin quipped: "Where there's marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.") The core problem here is that no one would ever dream of telling heterosexuals they could marry only people they did not love. It would be insane. Yet that is the position in which homosexuals now find themselves.