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Why I have deep misgivings about same sex marriage because of my deep Catholic faith. Photo by: Getty

Does opposing gay marriage in America make me anti-gay?

\"Why

Why I have deep misgivings about same sex marriage because of my deep Catholic faith. Photo by: Getty

I have misgivings about gay marriage. I have misgivings from a personal, professional and political perspective. As a Christian, there are more misgivings.

My initial misgiving is about writing on this topic in the first place. Talking heads used to describe reducing social security and Medicare benefits for retirees  as the ‘third rail’ of American politics. Opposition to gay marriage may have taken its place.

I have misgivings writing on this topic for personal reasons. Some of my relatives and friends are gay, one a prominent gay activist, and  articulating my views may adversely affect these relationships.

That is not my wish, but we must have adult discussions about these difficult issues.

I also have misgivings for this reason: over the past 75 years, conservatives have lost, almost totally, two important battles, first over the hearts and minds of the media, and second, over the hearts and minds  of post-secondary educators and administrators.

As a result, there are few young people even willing to discuss the issue, framed by the left as one of civil rights.  The only question from the  point-of-view of most people under 30 is whether you are a brachiosaurus, or a triceratops.

My misgivings extend a little bit to the science, the biology, of human homosexuality.  Some people claim that choice is not involved in human sexuality.  I am sure that is so, for most gay and straight people.

But one of my close friends from younger days was involved in a long-term monogamous gay relationship which ended with the death of his partner;  he then married, had a child, divorced, remarried, then divorced again.  He lives life now as a heterosexual.

As I have written before, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” but I do believe two things about this: first, human beings are complicated, biologically and psychologically, and simple explanations either way are likely to be wrong; and second, there is free will.

{As an anecdote about humans, and their complexity and free will, I remember as a young man reading an article about the observed phenomenon that when entering a room for an event with open seating, 90% of right-handed people instinctively head to the right side of the room. 

Ever since I read that article, faced with that situation, I veer left. Now my children (2 of 3 righties) do the same.}

There is free will.

I have misgivings about what is happening in the United States, because so much of the change is being wrought by the judiciary, and administrators, rather than by voters or their direct representatives in Congress and state legislatures.

Changing the definition of marriage is a big deal. Until the past couple of years, most plebiscites that would have legalized gay marriage were defeated and often soundly. 

We have a political system designed to make any big changes the result of real consensus. 

As was the case with the Affordable Care Act, hasty change without consensus is going to make a mess.

Think of Roe v. Wade, which even Justice Ginsburg acknowledges moved the abortion issue from the legislatures, where the issue belonged, to federal courts.

My misgivings about the media extend to news reports of support for gay marriage, and polling reports.

I am tired of hearing about polling reports. What are we to do if 57% of Americans support gay marriage in 2013, and only 47% support it in 2015?

We have learned from recent foreign policy matters that following poll results is no way to lead a country.

Further, the press, as I mentioned, is generally ‘in the tank’ for gay marriage.  One need look no further than the February 9 edition of Irish Central to see one of our writers say, without support (regarding Mayor DeBlasio’s decision not to attend the main NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade), that “most Irish people here actually support inclusion and equality, for all.”

If ‘here’ means the writer’s neighborhood, or NYC in general, or that particular proposition thrown out without context, he is probably correct.

If more than that, who knows?

I certainly don’t.  But we read such statements without backup frequently as gospel.

Speaking of gospel, gay marriage really doesn’t mesh with the old and new testaments of the Jewish and Christian gospels.

I am aware that some denominations have squared that circle, and reconciled acceptance of gay marriage with what is written there.

Many other denominations, Roman Catholics prominent among them, cannot.  Most Americans are Christians.

Two final misgivings: first, if two people of the same sex may marry, what is the limiting principle for marriage?

Why just two? If they are happy, consenting adults, why not siblings or first cousins?

Second, what if gay marriage, on the whole, works less well over time than heterosexual marriage?

What if divorce rates are significantly worse than (or the same as, or better than) straight marriages?

What if the children of gay marriages do worse, generally, than do the children of straight marriages?

If 50 years later gay marriages cause more problems than they resolve, how would one propose to get that toothpaste back in the tube?

Thankfully, our American experiment called federalism gives us a laboratory for such issues on a state by state basis, which permits the blue states to experiment with this and the red states not to.

My misgivings about honoring gay marriages to the same extent as heterosexual marriages do not extend to civil unions. In states that do not recognize gay marriages, I would permit civil unions for monogamous gay pairs and extend many, if not all, legal rights to them.

But I would permit states to retain, as a preferred family relationship, the traditional Judeo-Christian nuclear family.

Kevin Conboy is a retired lawyer, who served most recently as a partner with the global firm of Paul Hastings LLP. He has taught on an adjunct basis at Emory University and the University of Georgia Schools of Law, and at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He is also a member of the Global Irish Network and has served for eight years as the President of the Irish Chamber of Atlanta. The opinions expressed are of his own. The author may be reached at kevinpatrickconboy@gmail.com.

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