My first argument is that the traditional definition of marriage is not discriminatory. Marriage, as defined traditionally between a man and a woman, is simply a description (and no more) of the natural union between a man and a woman who are in love and want to commit to a lifetime together. This is the only union that can naturally produce the fundamental unit of all societies since the dawn of civilization: the family. This is in accord with natural law in that it is a readily and naturally apprehensible concept, as it is marriage and the family that provides the underpinnings of any society. Families build communities. Communities build cities. Cities make up states. States make up a nation. Regardless of whether one accepts the traditional definition of marriage, they must acknowledge the historical role of the family and the fact that this has always been the natural order and always will be the natural order until such a time that homosexual sex can produce children naturally. From my understanding of the design of the human body, I don’t see that happening any time in the near or far-flung future.
Second, advocates of same-sex marriage desire this definition change in a discriminatory manner, which I think is the most powerful argument against as currently proposed. I believe same-sex marriage advocates have a low view of marriage and the family, because they see it as some type of exclusive club that allows a specific group to join while rejecting those who don’t fit their definition. Specifically, same-sex marriage advocates believe that marriage is just about coupling. In other words, it is about two people coming together in a loving, committed relationship. Yet they don’t seem to feel that these same relational attributes should also apply when the committed parties are greater than two in number. If they are willing to redefine the definition of marriage beyond its natural description, then shouldn’t any arrangement be acceptable as long as the arrangement is declared to be a loving, committed relationship, regardless of the number of parties involved? To willfully exclude three or more people of any gender combination from participating in the marriage bond is inherently discriminatory, and should not be accepted if traditional marriage is deemed discriminatory itself.
Third, same-sex marriage advocates always seem to want a federal solution instead of a state solution, arguing that when it comes to marriage, the laws must be uniform since people need freedom of movement and it would be discriminatory if they were to move from a state that allows same-sex marriage to a state that doesn’t recognize it, thus nullifying their union. Just as with Roe v. Wade, when liberals want something, they want to force it down the throat of every American instead of allowing states to decide individually how marriage will be defined. So they use this red herring as a reason for same-sex marriage to be recognized and made legal by the federal government. First, the federal government does not license or regulate marriage. States license and regulate marriage. So the federal government has no constitutional stake in marriage, whether traditional or same-sex. Second, just because two people move from one state to another does not void their “contract” in the original state. While a couple might move to another state, they may not receive certain marriage benefits in that state, but that does not in any way dissolve their marriage in the other.
Fourth, government did not create the institution of marriage. As Congressman Ron Paul points out in an article arguing against a federal marriage amendment several years ago, the institution of marriage most likely pre-dates government (I would argue that it does). State recognition of marriage, according to Paul, is based on practices and customs that have been formulated by individuals in civil society, but to those getting married it is associated with the requirements of their religious faith, not with being joined by the state. So if marriage is truly a religious institution, then ultimately it is not truly a state matter either. However, marriage and the law have always been bound together because the virtues that our founders felt were necessary to ensure the success of our republic had to come from the family. And thus, it has been incumbent upon government to promote traditional marriage. In fact, the notion of the traditional family as being a vital part of civic culture stretches back to the Greeks, who were the first to consider the connection between virtue and a healthy process of civil government. As promiscuous as the Greeks (and the Romans) may have been, they did not adopt an alternative definition of marriage.
Finally, I would argue that a critical issue in the debate over same-sex marriage is the short-term “rights” oriented thinking of the debate. There has been no discussion of future generations, and how this will impact them, which I think is self-centered on the part of same-sex marriage advocates who provide no working model for what they propose. Changing the definition of marriage is not the same as deciding whether to have corn flakes vs. raisin bran for breakfast. There will be long-term effects and long term consequences. Some scholars have argued that the family is perhaps the only social institution capable of achieving “intergenerational and intertemporal equity,” in that a living generation’s concern for the future of society is tied up in its concern for the prospects of its own children. The institution of the family molds and shapes the next generation, and in this regard, should eschew the narrow self-regard of the present in view of selfless regard for the future. Fundamentally changing the family structure could have devastating, unforeseen consequences that affect law, government, and society as a whole. And that is why we must address this issue with the seriousness it demands.