Nothing these days seems more controversial than gay marriage. In recent days and weeks Minnesota and Delaware have legalized gay marriage. In less than two months the Supreme Court is set to rule on California’s Prop 8. A lot will come to a head on the issue soon. But that is merely background. This article will be an illustration of why I, a social conservative who opposes abortion and supports traditional values, is rooting for the gay marriage movement to continue to succeed.
The idea of equality is firmly rooted in American culture. As a result it should come as no surprise that many gay Americans who get to watch the Mark Sanford’s of the country get political redemption wonder why they are not allowed to marry those they love. They have committed no crime, have not squandered tax dollars nor been unfaithful to the one they love. Yet, they must watch the Sanford’s of this country get salvation and fervently say he believes in traditional values.
So if Mark Sanford can be forgiven for such actions why cannot gays be allowed to marry? In a country where marriage is increasingly taking place at a later age and fewer are getting hitched it only seems to make sense to support monogamous marriage. It has been well established by research that a stable two-parent family has psychological benefits for both parents and children. In a study of heterosexual couples it was found that men who were married and had kids worked harder than single men. The same phenomenon in a more recent study was found among married, working women in a household with kids. It does not seem a stretch to say that future research may find the same thing in gay, married couples. In the African-American community, the drop in marriage rates and more out-of-wedlock babies has coincided with stagnant income levels and increases in violence and drug use. Thus, the importance of marriage cannot be overstated.
While many gays will identify as agnostic or atheist that should come as no shock. Many of the most ardent opponents of gay marriage claim it goes against God’s word. The socially conservative right has been the strongest voice against gay marriage. But these social conservatives should realize that gays may not have the same religious beliefs but their views on tradition and the importance of marriage matches with theirs. In the Bible-Belt, many states have higher divorce rates than states such as Massachusetts, New York State and Delaware indicting that legalizing gay marriage will not lead to higher overall divorce rates.
Unlike Time Magazine I do not believe the gay marriage debate is over. It may take decades for the movement to see marriage equality in all fifty states if the Supreme Court does not rule it so in June. But that may give gay marriage more legitimacy than ever. It would allow younger social conservatives such as myself to explain why gay marriage is a good thing for this country (currently a majority of all Americans and almost half of all social conservatives under 25 support gay marriage). It would also give the public a chance to see the societal benefits of allowing gay marriage. These benefits would be the strengthening of the institution of marriage, more two-parent families and rising incomes. All these things are positives and in time I believe the American people will see it as well.