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Monday, October 07, 2013

An Answer to a Gay Conservative's Opposition to Gay Marriage

In a request by the editors of 10 Thousand Couples for people to evaluate a commentary by Mr. Doug Mainwaring, found here:, I offered the following statement.  Please read his statement before continuing on.


For someone who claims to be led by reason, Mr. Mainwaring contradicts himself throughout and offers specious arguments. His lead assertion that “Neither religion nor tradition has played a significant role in forming my stance” is undermined by his statement that “marriage is immutable,” and his fear of the weakening of traditional marriage.

Throughout, he makes unsupportable assertions, each one demonstrably false. 

1.      False assertion #1: Philia love between men is far better, far stronger, and far more fulfilling than erotic love can ever be.

His assertion that “eros is promoted in its stead,” fails to note that when Plato and other early Greek philosophers praised philia, they included eros in the equation.  According to the influential journal Psychology Today, “Whereas Aristotle is not nearly as interested in erotic love (erôs) as he is in friendship (philia), for Plato the best kind of friendship is that which lovers can have for each other. It is a philia that is born out of erôs, and that in turn feeds back into erôs to strengthen and to develop it.”  Non-erotic love between friends is truly beautiful, but they will likely be heterosexuals who find eros in other relationships.

I wonder why he leaves out “love between women”? 

2.      False assertion #2: “To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.”

This assertion goes against prevailing psychological and sociological conclusions. Here’s just one example: The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry approved the following statement in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender parenting in 2009:
All decisions relating to custody and parental rights should rest on the interest of the child. There is no evidence to suggest or support that parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are per se superior or inferior from or deficient in parenting skills, child-centered concerns, and parent-child attachments when compared with heterosexual parents. There is no credible evidence that shows that a parent's sexual orientation or gender identity will adversely affect the development of the child.
The real “deprivation” here is that Mr. Mainwaring is withholding from his children the kiss of philia that every parent owes his or her children.

3.      False assertion #3: “Marriage is not an elastic term; it is immutable.”

Just a cursory exploration of the history of marriage demonstrates how marriage has evolved over the centuries from polygamy, including polyandry as practiced in Britain in Julius Caesar’s time, the acceptance of concubines and more recently mistresses as part of the family, eras of no religious significance until 1000 AD in the Roman Catholic west, and, of course, common law marriages throughout time.  So what makes marriage “immutable”?  Certainly not society, or tradition, or religion which have shown themselves remarkably flexible in honoring changing arrangements over the millenniums.

4.      False assertion #4: Gay and lesbian activists, and more importantly, the progressives urging them on, seek to redefine marriage in order to achieve an ideological agenda that ultimately seeks to undefine (sic) families as nothing more than one of an array of equally desirable “social units,” and thus open the door to the increase of government’s role in our lives. [Emphasis mine]

Mr. Mainwaring is not simply a gay man with a personal opinion. He is a right wing activist with an agenda.  This observation is fair game as he opines at length against liberals and gay rights activists.  He is merely a social conservative who happens to be gay.  His politics is not the issue; his claims of objectivity and reason are and they just don’t hold water. At best, one may say that his opinions are right for him, and he is entitled to them, and we wish him well.  But to draw from personal insight and make them universal is asking too much in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

10 Thousand Couples offers a unique approach to gay issues, especially for gay families, on their website:  Check it out and let me know what you think.  You will find my first article for them, "But My Bible Says...Pt. 1" here:

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