View Point

By James Hochberg
and Marie A. Sheldon


Gay marriage threatens social order



Editor's note: This commentary is taken in large part from the minority report of the Governor's Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law.



The state of Hawaii should move quickly to assure that the Hawaii Supreme Court does not grant legal recognition to homosexual relationships via domestic partnership or same-sex marriages. The overwhelming credible evidence requires that the state not recognize homosexual unions as equivalent to traditional, heterosexual marriage.

This evidence includes the very reason the state holds marriage in such a special position, as well as the likely impact of domestic partnerships and/or same-sex marriage on children and the family, on the overall health of the community and the vitality and preservation of our society.

The legal and economic benefits of marriage that Sen. Rey Graulty relied on in passing the domestic partnership bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee were outlined in a list of statutes compiled by the majority of the Governor's Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law. Graulty is now unilaterally holding the constitutional amendment bill in his committee.

Real vs. perceived benefits

An objective evaluation of the major legal and economic benefits that same-sex partners can only receive through state-sanctioned marriage, and an actual review of these statutes, revealed that at least 205 statutes should not be listed as "extending major legal or economic benefits to married opposite-sex couples, but not to same-sex couples" for several reasons.

These reasons include: (1) the statutes do not extend any benefit whatsoever; (2) the benefit extended is not a "marriage" benefit, but a "family" benefit; (3) the benefit is not a spouse or marriage benefit, but a benefit relating to biological parenthood; (4) the benefit, although a marriage benefit, is too small to be considered a major legal or economic benefit; (5) the statute actually extends a marriage burden, not benefit; (6) the benefit extended by the statute is not withheld from same-sex people; (7) although a marriage benefit is extended to the spouse of a service person, when a same-sex couple seeks the benefit, the burden on the same-sex couple far outweighs the benefit; and (8) the basis for finding that the benefit is not extended to same-sex couples is based on the majority's very restrictive definition of "family," which is not contained in the legislation.

Most of the statutes on the list simply do not extend major legal or economic benefits to married couples.

Moheb Ghali, retired professor of economics at the University of Hawaii and author of studies on tourism and the economy, instructed the commission on Oct. 11, 1995, that only four of the legal or economic benefits contained in the list of statutes merit investing the resources to research their value. Those benefits are: retirement health insurance benefits, non-retirement health insurance, ERS death benefits and Hawaiian Home Lands leases.

The cost to society of extending marital benefits to all unmarried adults would possibly crush the economy of Hawaii. No study has been done to determine the effect of these domestic partnerships in our state.

Destruction of family unit

Homosexual activists themselves espouse the destruction of the family unit. Paula Ettelbrick, a lesbian activist and now the policy director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, supports the "right" of homosexuals to marry, but opposes marriage as oppressive. According to Ettelbrick, homosexual marriage does not go far enough to transform society.

"Being queer is more than setting up house, sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so vxxx Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality and family, and in the process, transforming the very fabric of society vxxx As a lesbian, I am fundamentally different from non-lesbian women vxxx In arguing for the right to legal marriage, lesbians and gay men would be forced to claim that we are just like heterosexual couples, have the same goals and purposes, and vow to structure our lives similarly vxxx We must keep our eyes on the goals of providing true alternatives to marriage and of radically reordering society's views of reality."

The negative impact of domestic partnerships and/or same-sex marriage on children and the family was explained to the commission in October by Dan Kehoe, a clinical psychologist, who testified

concerning his more than 20 years experience as a school psychologist counseling school children. He said "homosexuality is in part a pathological condition and can derive directly from disturbed childhood development. Homosexuality is often the result in large measure of a flawed confusion regarding psychosexual cross identifications. Clearly, a developing child will be deprived of this most elemental process when reared by a homosexual couple vxxx Social science data has long documented numerous studies showing detrimental effects of homosexual parenting on children."

Means to an end - family

Dr. Charles Socarides, a recognized international expert on homosexual pathology, opined in 1994 that "The institutions of heterosexuality and heterosexual marriage are created for family structure. To introduce homosexuality as a valid psychosexual institution is to destroy the function of heterosexuality as the last place in our society where affectivity can still be cultivated. Homosexuals cannot make a society, nor keep ours going for very long. It operates against the cohesive elements of society in the name of a fictitious freedom. It drives the opposite sex in a similar direction and no society can long endure when the child is neglected or when the sexes war upon each other."

The impact of same-sex marriage or domestic partnerships on the overall health of the community also mandates that Hawaii not give legal recognition to homosexual relationships. In recent years, rising health-care costs attracted and maintained the attention of the media, politicians, as well as people in the public and private sectors. Much discussion has occurred generally on how to reduce rising health-care costs in order to gain control over growing government budgets in times of shrinking public funds. We must address these issues in relation to the significant health-care issues in the homosexual community.

Social purposes of marriage

To justify giving similar preferred legal protection to same-sex couples, it is necessary to consider the social purposes of marriage, and to compare heterosexual unions with same-sex unions in terms of how each furthers these purposes. It is important to not oversimplify and distort the heterosexual-marriage position. We acknowledge that two men or two women may share a deep, meaningful personal relationship with each other (usually called "friendship"), support each other, develop and pursue mutually fulfilling, socially beneficial common interests, make strong commitments to each other, and in many ways be as good citizens as persons in heterosexual marriages. However, we believe that same-sex unions simply do not equate with heterosexual union of husband and wife in terms of the purposes of marriage.

There are numerous social purposes of marriage. Heterosexual marriages provide tremendous benefits to society that are unequaled by homosexual unions. They are: (1) protecting safe sexual relations, (2) satisfying social concerns regarding procreation and child-rearing, (3) protecting the status of women, (4) fostering marital stability, (5) promoting economic security for parents and children, (6) providing for recognition of Hawaii marriages in other jurisdictions, and (7) protecting the foundations of self-government.

Clearly, the marriage statute itself regulates who may marry in order to prevent incest, to protect children, to prevent the spread of venereal disease on public health grounds and to prevent bigamy. Not all marriages and families "work," but it is unwise to let pathology and failure, rather than a vision of what is normative and ideal, guide us in the development of social policy.



Marie A. Sheldon is a Honolulu attorney. James Hochberg is former director of the Rutherford Institute. Both were members of the Governor's Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law. The opinions in View Point columns are the authors and are not necessarily shared by the Star-Bulletin.




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