The GOP presidential race will shift to New Hampshire after today’s Iowa caucuses, where Republicans in the legislature and Catholic leaders have pledged to repeal the state’s 2009 marriage equality law — despite overwhelming public support for the measure. This morning, the state’s leading newspaper, the Concord Monitor, debunks the arguments against same-sex marriage and calls on lawmakers to “leave the law alone”:
• Marriage is between one man and one woman. This is more of a declaration than an actual argument. In fact, it’s a declaration of bigotry. After all, who gets to define marriage? Those already married? Without a compelling reason to deny marriage to gay people, a statement like this is hard to take seriously.
• But marriage has been restricted to heterosexuals for thousands of years. Many traditions outlive their usefulness. Slavery was an ancient practice too, after all. So was barring women from participation in politics. Once upon a time, people with disabilities were routinely locked away in institutions. Mercifully, times change.
• Marriage is for procreation. In many cases, yes. But infertile, straight couples marry all the time. So do those uninterested in having kids. Those past their child-bearing years aren’t forced to divorce. Having children isn’t the only thing that brings couples together.
• Same-sex couples don’t do as good a job raising children. There are all sorts of good parents and, alas, a wide variety of bad ones, too. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. Nor is there a legislative push to ban other sorts of truly bad parents — child molesters, bank robbers — from marrying. No doubt each of New Hampshire’s 424 legislators has among his or her constituents gay couples raising children just fine. Examples that disprove this worry are easy to find.
• Same-sex marriage will start us down a slippery slope toward legalized polygamy and incest. No sign of this so far — in New Hampshire or in the places where gay marriage has a longer history. This is simply a scare tactic. In the off chance that they are actually presented with legislation proposing such notions, lawmakers could simply vote no.
• Gay relationships are immoral. Some religions do preach that. But lawmakers must represent all their constituents, not just those who share their religious beliefs. And they must not impose their own religious beliefs on their constituents. Freedom from religion is just as important as the freedom of religion.
• Same-sex marriage threatens the institution of marriage. In fact, encouraging marriage simply . . . encourages marriage. Hard to see how the gay marriage next-door threatens the straight marriage under your roof. Hard to imagine that the legalization of gay marriage is dissuading straight people from getting married or encouraging them to split up.
The House Judiciary Committee advanced the repeal measure in October, and the full House is expected to take it up later this month. Curiously, the legislation — which is also supported by the GOP presidential frontrunners — would replace marriage with civil unions and allow anyone to refuse to recognize the relationships and discriminate against such couples in employment, housing, and public accommodations.