Jeff, to quote Tina Turner, what’s love got to do with it?
In order to understand if we are harming marriage, we need to understand what marriage is, what the purpose of it is, what function does it serve. Love is not central to the concept of marriage. Love has never been a requirement for marriage. People get married who are not in love, people fall out of love and stay married, and people can fall in love while they are married. Falling out of love has never been legal grounds for divorce. However, the inability or unwillingness to consummate the union has always been grounds for divorce or annulment. And to consummate a marriage, you need a functioning man and a woman. You ask “without love, what kind of marriage do you have?” The answer is simple: a loveless marriage. But it is still a marriage. Without a man and woman, there is not a marriage at all. A man, a woman, and children are central to marriage, not love. As I wrote above children are the very reason marriage exists at all.
(Another reason we know that marriage is about children is that same-sex marriage advocates were not satisfied with civic unions that gave them every legal benefit of marriage except adoption. We could have created new contracts - “love unions” - that were identical to marriage in every way except for children, and this would not have been satisfactory.)
Why is marriage a permanent contract? Why don’t we have term-limited marriage contracts? Why is marriage an exclusive contract? Why is infidelity grounds for divorce? If marriage is about love between consulting adults, why should it be permanent? Why should it be limited to two people? Are you against plural marriage? If so, are you denying happiness to people who love more than one person? These questions and many more must be thought about and answered before we can honestly say what will or will not harm marriage.
Now regardless of what marriage is, perhaps you don’t care about it and its purpose, only the desires of consenting adults. As you stated, you come down on the “side of real human beings” over the institution of marriage. This is a fine sentiment, but there are other human beings you have forgotten about: children. Children are the reason marriage exists in the first place, not the emotional well-being or self-actualization of adults. Same-sex marriage necessarily entails same-sex adoption, and worse, the production of children to specifically satisfy the emotional needs, the happiness, of same-sex couples – the commodification of children. To knowingly, willfully, purposefully deprive a child of his natural mother or father is, to put it mildly, not a nice thing to do. It is certainly not “treating a fellow human being with respect and dignity.”
It takes nothing away from the nobility of adoptive parents or single parents to recognize this. No single mother looking out for the best interests of her child, is pleased the child does not have a father in his life. Adoptive parents recognize that their child has experienced a loss, the very reason the child is available to be adopted. To purposely create that loss, however, is a morally suspect act – unless – unless one believes that men and women, as male and female members of the species bring nothing to the table, and furthermore that blood relationship is meaningless – that a mother is as happy to take home a random baby from the hospital nursery as she is her own blood.
And it is not only the produced children of same-sex couples that are harmed. By undermining marriage itself, by necessarily destroying motherhood and fatherhood, same-sex marriage harms all children. Broadcasting that fathers are dispensable leads to more divorce, more single parents, more fatherless boys.
As for “my God will see your God on the playground”, reason, logic, history and biology are more than sufficient to make the case that same-sex marriage changes everything. The implications of same-sex marriage cannot be logically denied. The destruction of motherhood and fatherhood, the destruction of the concept of male and female, the commodification of children, the acceptance of plural marriage, all follow inexorably. These implications may be welcomed or feared, but they cannot be logically denied.