The real reason some people oppose gay marriage

I am a supporter of gay marriage. Lots of people disagree. I start with an assumption that the people I disagree with are rational, but in this case, I was having a hard time understanding them. Why do people feel that marriage is under “attack” and that it needs “defending.” I thought about it a lot – still assuming rationality.

I started demolishing the stated arguments point by point, but many people had already done that and I didn’t really add anything new. I knew there had to be more than the stated arguments. Homophobia is one explanation, but it can’t be a reason by itself. Then I recognized that there is a huge overlap between groups who oppose gay marriage and those who support a male dominated hierarchical world view.

I think I figured it out. Gay marriage DOES threaten society, if you have an old definition of marriage.

If one believes that in a marriage:

  • roles are defined based gender, or
  • that men must have a leadership role and women must have a submissive role, or
  • that the family is a patriarchal, ownership institution, or
  • that the man is the master and his wife and children are chattel,
then a marriage between two people of the same gender is impossible.

A marriage between equals means that those traditional views of marriage can not true. How can two women marry? There would be no leader. How could two men marry? There would be two leaders. In the traditional view, where roles are decided based purely on each person’s sex, there is no room for two people of the same sex.

If such a marriage can succeed, the traditional view of marriage must be wrong. If sex roles are flexible, how does a man know his place? How does a woman know her place? How does a man remain the king of his castle and keep his woman in her place?

If gay marriage is allowed, the whole hierarchical structure of society is under attack. If I depended on such a structure, I would feel like I am under attack. I find that those who most depend on a hierarchical society, who have the most to lose if their positions are threatened are also those with the greatest objection to gay marriage.

I wish this lead to a strategy, but at least right now, I don't see one.