Civil marriage equality will benefit society by encouraging stable relationships, strengthening the institution of marriage and providing important protection for gay and lesbian families. Let's take a look at some of the specific reasons why civil marriage will advance the cause of fairness and liberty.
Gay civil marriage will lead to more stable relationships. This is a conservative argument that the religious right should support. You will often hear those on the right rail against homosexuality because they say gay men are more promiscuous than heterosexuals. Marriage is an institution that will encourage monogamy and long term committed relationships. That is a good thing. How can the religious right disagree with this point?
Gay civil marriage will not threaten the institution of marriage. The religious right talks about "defending marriage" or "protecting marriage." From what? If gay people could marry tomorrow, that would not harm heterosexual marriage. This would only "threaten" heterosexual marriage if gay marriage was a viable alternative for straight people. Of course, this is patently absurd. You cannot "make" someone become gay or lesbian, just as you cannot make someone be heterosexual. Look at Vermont. Civil unions became legal there in 1999, but the sky has not fallen. Heterosexual marriage has not been adversely affected. In fact, one could argue, because this is something we have been denied, gay and lesbian couples will take the contract of marriage more seriously. Preliminary data from countries with civil unions supports this thesis.
Throughout history, marriage has changed with society. Those opposed to gay civil marriage often talk about the "tradition" of marriage. Most have trouble articulating a good reason not to have it so they are left only with the flimsy argument that, "It has always been this way." If this argument sounds familiar, it is. Segregationists used to say the same thing during the Civil Rights struggle four decades ago. Those opposed to gay marriage never mention how the institution of marriage has changed during the last 2,000 years. As society has evolved, becoming better educated and more tolerant, the traditions and acceptable definitions of marriage have been altered. If marriage had not changed throughout human history:
An adult man would be allowed to marry a 12 year-old girl.
Someone could be forced into a marriage arranged by their parents.
A person would not be allowed to marry someone of another race.
Men could treat their wives as property to be disposed of at will.
A husband would be allowed to have multiple wives.
A person could not marry someone of a different religion.
A person could not marry someone from a different economic class.
It would be impossible to divorce, no matter how physically or emotionally abusive your spouse.
As society has changed, so too has the institution of marriage. With a better understanding of gays and lesbians, the time has come for another change to this institution.
Committed gay and lesbian couples are being used as a scapegoat for the weakened institution of marriage. What is a bigger threat to marriage: Britney Spears' 55 hour marriage or a committed lesbian couple pledging to spend their lives together? You cannot blame gay and lesbian Americans for a divorce rate approaching 50 There are many complicated reasons for the high rate of failed marriages. Instead of examining those causes, some on the radical right find it easier to blame gay and lesbian families. If those on the extreme right were really interested in "strengthening" marriage, they would be proposing a Constitutional amendment to prohibit no-fault divorce. Or they would be looking for ways to eliminate adultery.