Same-sex marriage has societal benefits

With just a few days left to register to vote for the upcoming November elections, and only weeks left before Referendum 74 hits state ballots, the issue of marriage equality has become a common debate. However, the arguments against R74 have proven invalid.

On the supporting side, we hear cries for social justice. On the opposing side, we hear pleas for the well-being of children and the maintenance of moral tradition.

Regarding the welfare of children in same-sex families, conservatives enjoy touting the findings of the recent “New Family Structures” survey, which claimed that children of parents who engage in same-sex relationships often suffer long-term psychological consequences.

If protecting children is not reason for restricting loving, committed couples from getting married, then what is? However, experts argue that this study and others like it are methodologically flawed.

For example, Debra Umberson, University of Texas social science professor and a colleague of the primary author of the research, went so far as to call the study an “irresponsible and reckless representation of social science research.” Anecdotal evidence from children of same-sex couples shows us that these children can be just as happy and healthy as those from traditional households.

This is where we come to moral and faith-based arguments. The American Family Association, a self-proclaimed “pro-family organization,” captures a common argument against same-sex marriage in its statement that, “The homosexual movement’s promotion of same-sex marriage undermines the God-ordained institution of marriage and family.”

But this type of religion-based argument doesn’t work in the pluralistic U.S. culture, where the law has no place in determining individual citizens’ choices to, or not to, follow ideals of any given faith.

In other words, the law should not restrict marriage based on religious definitions for the same reasons that denial of the Messiah shouldn’t be taught in public schools.

The same statement from the AFA also claims that Christians must oppose marriage equality because, “The scripture declares that homosexuality is unnatural and sinful.” Later in their argument, they state that same-sex marriage will “lead to the normalization of even more deviant behavior.”

Arguments of sin, along the same lines of the traditional marriage argument, should be excused due to their basis in religion. This is especially true when many progressive denominations condone same-sex marriage.

Even with plurality of the population’s beliefs regarding homosexuality, those who oppose equality would have us hold conservative religious beliefs above all else. But do we really want the law involved in deciding which religion’s ideals we must follow?

We must retain the sweet American freedom which allows us to practice the ideals of whatever faith one believes in, including no faith at all.

By allowing religion to govern on this issue, we open ourselves up to further  legislation based on religious definitions, whether those definitions be Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist or otherwise.

To preserve the spirit of the Constitution, which advocates for unrestricted choice of religion, we must reject faith-based arguments when considering issues of the law.

We must separate faith from government through our vote.

Without proof showing that same-sex marriage harms children, and without faith as a foundation to stand on, there’s no reason not to approve marriage equality in Washington and throughout the United States.

Lindsie Trego

Trego is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication and English. Comments can be sent to lwagner14@my.whitworth.edu.