Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Michael and Jenet Erickson: Being for traditional marriage does not mean being against anyone

By Michael Erickson and Jenet Jacob Erickson, For the Deseret News

Published: Sun, Jan. 5 12:00 a.m. MST

 Contrary to popular portrayals, supporters of traditional marriage are not the angry, hate-filled bigots they have been stereotyped to be.

Contrary to popular portrayals, supporters of traditional marriage are not the angry, hate-filled bigots they have been stereotyped to be.

(Getty Images/Huntstock)

In the days since Utah’s Amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman was struck down, Utah voters have not taken to the streets in angry protest. Some national media are concluding that Utahns are not “too upset about it” and that even “in a red state, even in a state that’s the second most religious in the country, people are OK with this.” But there’s a better explanation.

Contrary to popular portrayals, supporters of traditional marriage are not the angry, hate-filled bigots they have been stereotyped to be. Utahns have shown in word and deed that you do not have to be against anyone to affirm the purpose of marriage — to unite children with the man and woman who made them. As one Utahn told the LA Times, “we have a message to the gay and lesbian people who live among us—we don’t hate you, it’s nothing like that. But we believe what we believe. And our conviction is strong.”

Contrast that respectful response to the angry mob that hurled insults and threats at 6-year old Ruby Bridges while U.S. Marshals escorted her to an all-white elementary school after federal courts ruled that “separate but equal” schools were unconstitutionally discriminatory. Although the gay-marriage movement is often analogized as the “civil rights issue of our day,” Utahns did not support Amendment 3 to discriminate against gays and lesbians, and their response to it being struck down shows that.

Rather than taking to the streets during the Christmas holiday, supporters of traditional marriage gathered with their families. And for most of them, the overwhelming reaction to the news about Amendment 3 was one of sadness, not anger at gays and lesbians.

Sadness for what it means to redefine — to change — the meaning of marriage from its transcendent roots across cultures and time as the union of complementary halves — the Biblical “one flesh” — to a fundamentally genderless institution.

Sadness for children, who rely on marriage as the only means to tie their fathers to their mothers and to themselves, preserving their “historical and genealogical identity in this world”

Sadness that society would assume children don’t need a mother and a father. This, in spite of the fact that decades of our best research show that children not raised by their married biological parents (e.g., divorced, step-parent, cohabiting) have, on average, twice the levels of risk for problems. And though there are few scientifically rigorous studies of same-sex parenting, larger sample studies suggest similar cause for concern.

Sadness that in changing the age-old purpose of marriage from uniting men and women, society undermines the pillars of marital prevalence, permanence and monogamy, each vital to creating a bond strong enough that “a child’s heart can rely upon it.” For though many gay and lesbian couples earnestly desire a marriage of fidelity and commitment, some advocates admit, “We lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change

Sadness that we who are concerned about redefining marriage are publicly branded as bigots whose sole motivations are animus and malice against gays and lesbians.

Sadness that as a result, religious believers must violate their conscience or have civil claims brought against them. Take Cynthia Gifford, who rents her farm for private events. She has gay employees and once hosted a birthday party for a young man with lesbian parents. She is clearly not prejudiced. But Gifford is now being sued because she politely declined, for religious reasons, to host a same-sex marriage. Other business owners have already been punished in other states, including, for example, Oregon, New Mexico, and Colorado. A judge in New Mexico called it the “price of citizenship.”

We are conscious in writing that some may read these words and ask, “But what about the sadness that I have felt for so many years? For my loneliness and fear of being rejected before I told my family and friends that I felt attracted to the same sex? For the insults and the jokes and the careless insensitivity at school, at church, at work, and, worst of all, at home? For the noisy harangue that ‘those people’ — me — were destroying society? For tempting, debilitating thoughts that I was never good enough and that God did not love me?”

To any who may ask such questions themselves or on behalf of a loved one, we emphatically agree that must change. You or your loved ones deserve better. All are owed dignity and respect. We are grateful that much of the prejudice and mean-spirited attitudes we witnessed in our youth have diminished significantly. We also recognize that there is a long way to go.

But changing marriage is not the way. Let us work together and find the path that is. With all of the love that we can muster, we say with a clear conscience: To be for marriage, you do not have to be against anyone. There is something unique, special, and sacred about the legal union of a man and a woman. Amendment 3 codified that principle in Utah’s Constitution. To be for it, Utahans need not be against anyone.

Michael Erickson is an attorney. Jenet Erickson is family science researcher. They live in Salt Lake City.

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1. dwayne
Provo, UT,
Jan. 5, 2014

"Utahns have shown in word and deed that you do not have to be against anyone to affirm the purpose of marriage; to unite children with the man and woman who made them"

The purpose of marriage isnt to unite children with the man and woman who made them for several reasons. First, marriage should and most frequently does occur before children become involved, if at all. Second, the purpose of marriage isnt procreation nor is the sexual act debased to the bearing of children. It serves a much higher and noble purpose. The expression of love and an intimate bond between two people who have joined together. An expression that is only a small part of that bond. It isnt the substance nor end of that relationship. Its the human need to have someone. One doesnt sit at home singly thinking "I want children to spend my life with" instead they long for that someone to spend life with. Third, legal marriage recognizes the legal commitment of two people by a contract. Children/dogs/houses are a result of that intimate relationship and not party to it.

2. Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT,
Jan. 5, 2014

Being for opposite-sex marriages doesn't involve being against anyone... but being against same-sex marriages does involve being against someone.

3. dwayne
Provo, UT,
Jan. 5, 2014

Sadness for what it means to redefine — to change — the meaning of marriage from its transcendent roots across cultures and time as the union of complementary halves — the Biblical “one flesh” — to a fundamentally genderless institution.

This comment is vulgar, obscene and demeaning. Lets be honest about their real statement here and what it truly means because if we do not call it what it is then we ignore the fundamentally sick thinking that it derives from. Its predicated on the idea that its not love that makes two people complementary halves but their gender. Those who make marriage about gender are saying "its about sex and babies. It doesnt matter who people love. If you love a man and are a man stop loving him, go find yourself a woman, have sex with her and make babies."

They talk a lot about sadness. What do they really find sad? That my son may fall in love with a man and not have sex with a woman he doesn't love? That love is not contingent on sex or on those who love one another having children but instead on an intimate bond, sex being only one component.

4. Hutterite
American Fork, UT,
Jan. 5, 2014

Instead of experiencing sadness, you should be happy. A whole bunch of people made a commitment to marriage in the last week and a half. And individual rights and freedoms have been strengthened. This is a great time for Utah.

5. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
Jan. 5, 2014

Comments about ‘Being for traditional marriage does not mean being against anyone’

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What are people supposed to believe when the main argument against gay marriage is that allowing gay marriage would hurt traditional marriages? The two aren't correlated, and people intelligent enough to see this are consequently led to believe there is some other hidden agenda.

Gay marriage is only for people who are wired differently. The institution of traditional marriage doesn't suit them. The reality of nature is that some people are homosexual. I wish it weren't so, but this is the reality.

All this said, children ought to have a mother and a father. Gay marriage if it ever becomes allowed permanently ought not mean that children who otherwise could have had a mother and a father become stuck with two mothers or two fathers instead.

Civil unions with all the rights of marriage other than the right to adopt children who otherwise would have a chance to have a mother and a father would seem to be in order.