May 22, 2012 (HLIAmerica.org) - The May 11, 2012 editorial of the Toronto Star offers high praise for President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage. The editor credits the U.S. president with showing “rare courage,” while at the same time advancing the cause for “civil rights.” In approving the legalization of marriage between a man and a man, and a woman and a woman, according to the editorial, Obama is affirming the “full humanity of gays and lesbians.” He is “weighing in on the side of compassion, inclusion and equal rights for all.” How could millennia of diverse cultures, until recently, have missed issues of such fundamental importance? Has society now undergone a quantum leap of moral courage and perspicacity?
The editorial serves as a text-book example of how a rhetorician can maintain his ground while blithely ignoring the issue, ignoring the facts, and ignoring the consequences of the position he is advocating. Plato’s Gorgias comes to mind in which sophists seek to persuade others without giving them a basis or justification for their being persuaded. For Socrates, these sophists are manipulators, not educators.
Ignoring the Issue
The issue in question is marriage, the nature of which places definable limits on its personal and social expressions. Marriage is not a political issue, like civil rights. The traditions of virtually every culture in history has recognized that marriage is an institution based on the union of a man and a woman who are not married to another and not blood-related to each other, ordered by the very nature of the spouses to the begetting and rearing of children.
Is Obama being “courageous” or iconoclastic? Is he widening the area of human rights or is he recklessly opposing one of human history’s most natural, most honored and most indispensable institutions? To treat marriage between a man and a woman as something purely political is to ignore the very nature of marriage and exemplifies one of the most common of all errors, the inability or unwillingness to deal directly with the question at hand. Identifying traditional marriage with something that it cannot be demeans marriage. If someone thinks that a goat is a human being, he is not thereby honoring the goat, but disparaging human beings.
Furthermore, the issue is most certainly not whether people with a homosexual orientation are full human beings. A two-year-old is a full human being even though, at that age, he is not eligible for marriage. The “right” to marry whomever one chooses is not what makes a person a human being. Nature precedes politics. Obama had to be born before he went into politics. Putting politics before nature is preposterous (prae + posterius = putting “before” that which should come “after”).
Appearing in the same newspaper is a brief description of a pro-life march in Ottawa: “MARCH AGAINST ABORTION: Thousands hit the streets to support the rights of fetus [sic].” After misidentifying the purpose of the pro-life movement, and depersonalizing unborn human beings as “fetus,” it is not surprising the Star is not praising pro-life advocates for showing rare courage in widening the frontiers of human rights. While this description may not ignore the facts, exactly, it does compromise both the truth of pro-life goals and the nature of the unborn human being.
Ignoring the Facts
Mr. Obama, the most pro-abortion president in American history, is adamantly opposed to the rights of the unborn. In addition, it is clear from his recent actions, that he is staunchly opposed to people’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion when it is a barrier to pro-choice ideology. President Obama is an enemy of freedom. He deserves criticism, not praise. He is like a careless art critic who praises the play without bothering to witness its performance. Obama seems to think that the right to marry (which is conditional) is unconditional, whereas the right to life (which is unconditional) is conditional, as conditioned by the mother’s choice.
The Star editorial’s use of “compassion” and “inclusion” and “equal” is purely rhetorical. “Compassion” shares another’s pain, but by no means does it justify same-sex marriage. “Inclusion” is much too vague to have any moral significance. It does not denote what is included. A punch bowl that includes a frog is both inclusive and revolting at the same time. The union of male and female has a procreative potential that same-sex relations do not have at all. The former ensures the continuation of the species; the latter is a genetic dead end. In this regard there is no equality.
Ignoring the Consequences
The editorial ignores the consequences of legalizing “same-sex marriages .” The quixotic attempt to show that traditional marriage and same sex marriage are equal has divisive consequences that are already apparent. It is a serious affront to decent people who married well and worked hard to raise their children properly to accuse them of being some kind of misanthropes who are opposed to human rights. It is also an affront to religious people who see the Bible as being the Word of God. According to the editorialist, either they or God himself are against human rights. To stigmatize people who have good reasons for upholding traditional marriage as being “homophobic,” and other misplaced and offensive terms, is to invite consequences that are inevitably divisive, painful and irresolvable.
The kindest thing one can say about a person who ignores the issue, ignores the facts and ignores the consequences is that he is a misguided ignoramus. It is probably more realistic to say that he is dishonest, unscrupulous and manipulative. If the best reason for legalizing same-sex marriages is no reason at all, then it is only through coercion and intimidation that it can be maintained. The Star editorial is clearly in the dark.
Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. He is Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He writes for the Truth and Charity Forum, where this article first appeared..