Focus attention on what is more important

Marriage is an ancient institution that evolved with the species from the mating habits of earlier primates, to become the basic contract in a series of prohibitions by which societies protect themselves from the unintended consequences of unrestrained heterosexual behavior. Societies evolve those institutions needed to regulate their business. The reason people do not have the option of same-sex marriage is not that stuffy old men want to deny some people happiness, ostensibly their rights. It is that nobody ever thought of such an intellectually indefensible notion until recently.

I have encountered varieties of marriages, from plural marriages (both polygynous and polyandrous) to western sequential monogamy. There have been those arranged by couples, parents, fortune tellers, and astrologers. I have seen no anthropological precedent in the entire history of mankind or of any culture for marriage between people of the same sex.

“Loving and committed” is a phrase used quite often in these discussions. But why should society concern itself with mere feelings. The proper question is not whether anybody has standing to oppose “equality” of marriage by virtue of having been injured by it. Rather, do parties have legal standing to demand the alteration of a utilitarian social institution merely to suit something so transitory as their individual feelings? What social purpose would be served by such an unprecedented institution? And what harm to society would same-sex marriage prevent?

I am weary to death with having this discussed so earnestly on the media, and would not write if it were not so irritating and incessant. I actually don’t know who is most irrational in this matter: the hillbilly preachers on TV or those who consider this a matter of human rights. Good grief, there are serious matters to be dealt with. Why mess with this nonsense.

Bob Greene