As a writer, I’m always interested in how people use (and abuse) words. I’m especially interested in what I call magic words — the kind used not to promote calm, clear thought, but to cast a spell and move an audience to fall in line with the speaker’s desires.
For Americans, “equality” can be one of those words. If someone demands it, we’re not supposed to ask questions or draw distinctions — to ask, “Equality between what and what?,” to carefully consider whether those things are, in fact, of equal worth. We’re just supposed to agree that the demand is just and that to deny it is not only unjust but cruel — a type of personal assault against those making the demand. To deny it, then, is to risk putting your own motives under suspicion. (Are you a bigot? A “hater?”)
So I can see why supporters of same-sex marriage have taken to calling their cause “marriage equality” — insisting that their unions must be considered every bit as good as those of men and women, in every way. But this begs the question: Are they equal? Truly?
To believe that they are, you have to overlook some pretty huge stuff.
The really remarkable thing about men and women is that they’re so different, yet so complementary. As J. Budziszewski put it in “The Seeker,” “They’re not just different, they match. There is something in male emotional design to which only the female can give completion, and something in female emotional design to which only the male can give completion.” Together, they’re far more than the sum of their parts and more than any two people of the same sex can ever be. Among other things, as Budzisewski also said in “Homophobia: An Unfinished Story,” “One of the purposes of marital sex is to get you outside your Self and its concerns, to achieve intimacy with someone who is Really Other.” Homosexuality simply can’t do that: “It’s too much like loving your reflection.” (Surely the main reason so many gay male couples routinely cheat on each other by mutual consent is that they are both men.)
The benefits of marriage for husband and wife are too numerous to list. But the most important benefits are for the children. Mom and Dad together bring far more to the table than two “Moms” or two “Dads” ever could. More than that, both Mom and Dad are essential to showing the child what it’s like to be of his or her own gender, and to relate to the other. A boy learns to be a man through his father, learns about women through his mother, and learns about how men and women interact by watching both of them together. There’s no way he can do without either Mom or Dad without missing out on so many valuable, precious things.
We can’t always prevent this tragedy for every child. But we certainly shouldn’t pretend that it’s not a tragedy. Yet by the iron logic of “equality,” that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do. By that logic, for example, an adoption agency that can place a child with a Mom and a Dad would be forbidden to give them any preference over a same-sex couple: That would be “discrimination.” The result is a kind of child sacrifice. The child must be deprived of either a Mom or a Dad in order to satisfy the demands of the ideological gods of our
Enough already: Let’s break the spell and think clearly. “Equality” is not necessarily good. “Discrimination” is not necessarily bad. Indeed, to “discriminate” — in the proper sense of the word — simply means to make distinctions between things that are, in fact, different. That’s not bigotry. That’s sanity.