BY LAWRENCE VANDYKE
IN ANSWERING PROFESSOR Glendon’s recent Wall Street Journal editorial asking why homosexual relationships should receive the benefits of marriage when other worthy relationships don’t, 167 Harvard students approvingly insisted that “intimate associations … receive significantly more constitutional protection than other associations suggested by Glendon.” Other than the fact that this doesn’t answer Glendon’s question – basically saying “that’s just the way it is” – it also conflates intimate relationships with sexual relationships in the same manner the Goodridge and Lawrence courts have done. This confusion simply empowers Glendon’s point – something is wrong when some intimate relationships are singled out for special treatment and their only differentiating characteristic is that they are sexual.
The Op-Ed also accuses Glendon of ignoring the “social science research recited in Goodridge.” The most significant collection of research in Goodridge is contained in Justice Cordy’s dissent (fns. 22-27 and text thereafter) and, as we would expect with regard to such a new social institution as gay parenting, is somewhat inconclusive (although many studies raise concerns about gay parenting). What is quite settled, however, is that children on average fare best in stable, two parent families (fn. 23-24). This, combined with the correlative evidence of the decline in the family unit in Scandinavia, where de facto same-sex marriage has been around for about a decade, does provide ample reason for concern that same-sex marriage will hurt families, and consequentially children and society (see Kurtz, Weekly Standard, 2/2/04).
As for characterizing Professor Glendon’s concerns that gay marriage may impinge on religious freedom as “absurd,” all I can respectfully say in reply is that such a characterization is, well, absurd. In Canada, where their courts are forcing same-sex marriage on the populace, a Saskatchewan newspaper and a private citizen were fined for simply publishing a newspaper ad listing Bible verses about homosexuality. In Ontario, police visited the home of a Christian because homosexuals complained about his defense of marriage website.
In London, England, police investigated a bishop for his advocacy of the view that homosexuals can leave the homosexual lifestyle (substantiated, incidentally, in a recent study by Robert Spitzner, the man who led the charge in the 1970’s to delist homosexuality as a mental disorder). Harry Hammond, an English pastor, was beaten by a group of homosexuals because he carried a sign urging homosexuals to repent. What happened? Harry was fined and had to pay legal costs for “inciting violence and disturbing the peace.” His appeal was rejected.
Sweden has just passed a sweeping “hate crimes” law forbidding criticism of homosexuality – just in time to coincide with their renaming state-sanctioned “partnerships” (which for almost 10 years have enjoyed all the same rights as marriage) as marriage (by making marriage officially gender-neutral). Pastor Green has already been arrested at his church for a sermon about homosexuality. The prosecutor quipped, “Collecting Bible cites on this topic . . . does make this hate speech.” Given the recent fad in our highest court to look to other “enlightened” nations for guidance, these anecdotes are quite disturbing. Especially when the trend is so uniform.
While critics might counter that this would never happen in good ol’ America, keep in mind that this is exactly what citizens of the above countries certainly would have said only a few years ago. But the trend of intolerance towards religion as homosexual “rights” become legally entrenched is not merely an overseas phenomenon. In San Francisco, the state bar association forbids their judges to associate with the Boy Scouts. As early as the 1980s, Georgetown, a Jesuit school, was forced by the courts to extend “university recognition” to gay student groups. Sexual orientation antidiscrimination laws are currently being used as effective weapons against religious landlords. It isn’t “absurd” to be concerned about threats to religious freedom given the chimera of “tolerance” affiliated with homosexual rights.
Finally, I must confess a certain amount of indignation regarding the Op-Ed’s characterization of the debate over gay marriage as “characterized by epithets and indignation.” I must be reading the wrong articles, which is quite plausible since I read mostly the conservative ones, because almost all of the articles I’ve read opposing gay marriage, like Professor Glendon’s, are markedly absent of vitriol and express genuine concern for the effect on the institution of marriage, families, children, society, and homosexuals. Inferring nefarious motives is a classic but elementary way to avoid a fair critique of arguments on their merits – and often is more telling about those doing the accusing than the actual arguments themselves.
Lawrence VanDyke is an HLS 2L.