Q: What is the greatest threat posed by allowing gays and lesbians to marry?
I can illustrate my point with a personal example. When I was Bishop of Oakland, I lived at a residence at the Cathedral, overlooking Lake Merritt. It's very beautiful. But across the lake, as the streets go from 1st Avenue to the city limits at 100th Avenue, those 100 blocks consist entirely of inner city neighborhoods plagued by fatherlessness and all the suffering it produces: youth violence, poverty, drugs, crime, gangs, school dropouts, and incredibly high murder rates. Walk those blocks and you can see with your own eyes: A society that is careless about getting fathers and mothers together to raise their children in one loving family is causing enormous heartache.
To legalize marriage between two people of the same sex would enshrine in the law the principle that mothers and fathers are interchangeable or irrelevant, and that marriage is essentially an institution about adults, not children; marriage would mean nothing more than giving adults recognition and benefits in their most significant relationship.
How can we do this to our children?
Q: If the Supreme Court opens the floodgates to gay marriage in California (or beyond), what will be the result?
A: If the Supreme Court overturns Prop 8, this will not go down in history as the Loving v. Virginia but as the Roe v. Wade decision of our generation.
No matter what the Supreme Court rules, this debate is not over. Marriage is too important and the issues raised by treating same-gender unions as marriages are too fundamental to just go away. Just as Roe v. Wade did not end the conversation about abortion, so a ruling that tries to import same-sex marriage into our Constitution is not going to end the marriage debate, but intensify it.
We will have a bitterly polarized country divided on the marriage issue for years if not generations to come.
Q: Why is this of such importance to children?
A: Why has virtually every known civilization across time and history recognized the need to bring together men and women to make and raise the next generation together? Clearly something important is at stake, or human beings of such different cultures, histories and religions would not come up with the basic idea of marriage as a male-female union over and over again.
... When we as a culture abandon that idea and ideal, children suffer, communities suffer, women suffer, and men are dehumanized by being told they aren't important to the project of family life.
Modern social science evidence generally supports the idea that the ideal for a child is a married mother and father. The scientific study of children raised by two men or two women is in its infancy ... several recent studies ... are painting a less sanguine portrait thatsome professional organizations have yet acknowledged about whether two dads can make up for the absence of a mom, or vice versa.
We all know heroic single mothers who do a great job raising their kids (just as there are gay people who take good care of their children). But the question of the definition of marriage is not about success or failure in parenting in any particular case.
The job of single mothers is hard precisely because we aren't as a society raising boys to believe they need to become faithful husbands and fathers, men who care for and protect their children, and the mother of their children, in marriage. And we aren't raising girls to be the kind of young women with the high standards and the self-worth to expect and appreciate such men, and not to settle for less.
Q: How would the allegation that opponents are bigoted lead to their rights being abridged?
A: Notice the first right being taken away: the right of 7 million Californians who devoted time and treasure to the democratic process, to vote for our shared vision of marriage. Taking away people's right to vote on marriage is not in itself a small thing.
But the larger picture that's becoming increasingly clear is that this is not just a debate about what two people do in their private life, it's a debate about a new public norm: Either you support redefining marriage to include two people of the same sex or you stand accused by law and culture of bigotry and discrimination.
If you want to know what this new public legal and social norm stigmatizing traditional believers will mean for real people, ask David and Tanya Parker, who objected to their kindergarten son being taught about same sex marriage after the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized it in that state and wanted to pull him out of class for that lesson. He was arrested and handcuffed for trying to protect his son's education, and they were told they had no right to do so.
Ask the good people of Ocean Grove Methodist camp in New Jersey that had part of its tax-exempt status rescinded because they don't allow same-sex civil union ceremonies on their grounds. Ask Tammy Schulz of Illinois, who adopted four children (including a sibling group) through Evangelical Child Family Services — which was shut down because it refuses to place children with same-sex couples. (The same thing has happened in Illinois, Boston and Washington, D.C., to Catholic Charities adoption services). ... Ask the doctor in San Diego County who did not want to personally create a fatherless child through artificial insemination, and was punished by the courts.... Ask Amy Rudnicki who testified in the Colorado Legislature recently that if Catholic Charities is shut out of the adoption business by new legislation, her family will lose the child they expected to adopt this year. ... Nobody is better off if religious adoption agencies are excluded from helping find good homes for abused and neglected children, but governments are doing this because the principle of "anti-discrimination" is trumping liberty and compassion. ...
When people say that opposition to gay marriage is discriminatory, like opposition to interracial marriage, they cannot also say their views won't hurt anybody else. They seek to create and enforce a new moral and legal norm that stigmatizes those who view marriage as the union of husband and wife. ... It's not kind, and it doesn't seem to lead to a "live and let live" pluralism.
Q: You have spoken of gay marriage as a "natural impossibility." But in terms of procreation, how does it differ from opposite-sex couples who are elderly or infertile?
A: Our bodies have meaning. The conjugal union of a man and a woman is not a factory to produce babies; marriage seeks to create a total community of love, a "one flesh" union of mind, heart and body that includes a willingness to care for any children their bodily union makes together.
Two men and two women can certainly have a close loving committed emotional relationship, but they can never ever join as one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do.
Infertility is, as you point out, part of the natural life cycle of marriage (people age!), as well as a challenge and disappointment some husbands and wives have to go through. People who have been married for 50 years are no less married because they can no longer have children.
Adoption can be a wonderful happy ending for children who lack even one parent able or willing to care for them. But notice, when a man and woman cannot have children together, that's an accident of circumstances, the exception to the rule. When a husband and wife adopt, they are mirroring the pattern set in nature itself. ...
Treating same-sex relationships as marriage is the final severing by government of the natural link between marriage and the great task of bringing together male and female to make and raise the next generation together in love.
There's much more at the link.
This one would be handy to point to when confronted with your "bigotry" and "hatred" when standing up for traditional marriage.