September 09, 2007

GLBT People CAN Believe In the Sanctity of Marriage

I ran across a refreshing essay in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel written by a young gay man who extols the virtues of marriage and wants to enjoy that blessing himself. I'm posting the entire article here in the hope that the views he expresses can resonate with my readers. God showed us in the Bible that words and traditions can matter and that they are available to all who believe in Him. Such should be the case in our society with marriage.

I have always dreamed of growing up and becoming a father. I fantasized about meeting that perfect someone, having kids, watching them grow up - the whole works. There is only one problem: I'm gay.

I have been told by the State of Wisconsin and a resounding majority of Americans that I am unfit for this dream. As became clear with the results of Wisconsin's referendum on the issue last year, marriage, according to most Wisconsinites, is restricted to the union of one man and one woman.

A common argument claims that marriage is an inherently religious institution. Thus, it is not the state's place to determine who can and who cannot be married. If this is the case, then all state and federal law should be altered to refer to civil unions, whether for homosexual or heterosexual couples. If marriage is a wholly religious concept, it has no place in the workings of the state.

But I think it would be a mistake to abandon the word. No one dreams of having a civil union. I am not even sure what a civil union is.

Like any other kid, I grew up with the image and concept of marriage. I saw married couples in movies and on TV, read about them in books and witnessed them in real life. All of my most admired adult role models, most notably my parents, were married.

I believe in the sanctity of marriage; in fact, it's a tradition I aspire to emulate. For me, marriage is more than just a word; it's the embodiment of an idea to which I am deeply loyal. Marriage sanctifies the love and commitment that form the basis of a strong, morally upright family.

"Civil union," by contrast, is a sterile and relatively meaningless term. Those who support civil unions and oppose gay marriage, including nearly all of the Democratic presidential candidates, fail to understand that nobody views marriage in terms of government benefits.

Marriage is really about carrying on an honorable and meaningful tradition. The benefits are superfluous. The word is indispensable.

It is shameful that so many gay youth are presented with a false choice: Live an unsettled, promiscuous and risky life or repress natural feelings and follow an inevitably unfulfilling, heterosexual lifestyle.

It is sad and ironic that the same society that deems homosexuals unfit for commitment and family life condemns them for promiscuity and frivolity.

For nearly five years, from early adolescence until my sophomore year in high school, I lived with constant loneliness, guilt and anxiety. The first friend I told immediately began crying and told me he didn't know if we could be friends anymore.

It has taken nearly two years since then for me to fully come out. Perhaps one reason I found it so difficult was that there was no model to follow. I knew no gay people personally and saw only undeveloped stock characters in movies and on TV. Breaking with heterosexuality, it seemed, meant breaking with marriage and any hope of having a family.

I am not trying to convince opponents of gay marriage to drastically change their moral or religious beliefs, but I'm asking them to consider the enormous amount of pain and inner turmoil gay people have endured and to recognize that we share the same aspirations, goals and morals as most heterosexuals.

Promiscuity or repression should not be the only choice for gay teens and young adults. There could be a third way.

Society should embrace the word "marriage" wholeheartedly but make it more inclusive. Like interracial marriage, gay marriage would not harm the sanctity of marriage but expand its benefits, uniting Americans under a word and a tradition we all hold dear.

Jonathan Erwin-Frank graduated this year from Whitefish Bay High School and will attend Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania this fall. His e-mail address is

1 comment:

  1. Jim, thanks so much for reprinting this essay on your blog. He presents a very moving point of view, and puts into words many of the thoughts I have had about being disqualified by society from a morally committed relationship because I am gay. Great find! Thanks!