I’m less bothered by Portman’s switch and his reasons for making it, than I am by his implication that love can exist without truth, and that those who oppose gay marriage believe in truth without love.
No matter where you stand on the issue (religion, atheism, etc.), it is inherently impossible for homosexuality to be “equal” to heterosexuality: heterosexuality is responsible for the existence of literally everything that is human, including homosexuals. The two can be no more equal than a leaf can be equal to the tree from which it hangs. Equating gay marriage with hetero marriage is a deliberate contradiction of what is universally known, in the hopes that that falsehood will not cost anyone anything. That’s the truth of the matter.
But it will cost, and that’s where the question of love comes in. Whether heteros have children or not, we all know where children come from. More importantly, children know where children come from. They grow up into adults who know where children come from. It is an intimate part of every human being’s identity (including orphans). Or, at least, it was. With abortion, we’ve already begun teaching those who survive into humanity that their survival was due SOLELY to the election of another; that their lives were optional. “From a mom and a dad? Why, no, I came solely from my mother’s free will, like Minerva splitting Zeus’s skull. I am little more than someone else’s idea of their own freedom.” But that’s abortion. With gay marriage, by implication we are teaching children (and they will learn it to their bones) that even their birth is negligible: it is connected to humanity by a relationship that is no more essential to humanity than homosexuality. Relationships in which fertility never comes into play are equal to those in which it does come into play. Consequently, fertility and infertility are the same thing as a-fertility. Life is the same as not-life. This is isn’t alarmism. These are the absolutely necessary and logical lessons we are teaching children, even at the same time that we say we “love” them.
So what is the cost, when we have taught this generation and those who come after that one may “safely” ignore the obvious connections between obviously connected things? Conception from birth, birth from live, conception from mom and dad, and therefore the child from mom and dad, and therefore ourselves from humanity? These connections are all there for a reason, whether you see that as religious or humanist. But we don’t want those connections anymore. Because some are orphaned, all are to be orphaned. Because some cannot beget children, all are to relinquish their children, to treat them as accidents. We are opting to take something of themselves from literally everyone, in order that a few might not be insecure. And how is that loving or compassionate–to anybody, including the homosexuals? We are busy taking away from folks the ability to make obvious connections between things that are obviously connected. Good lord. How can this not cost us? And how did reducing heterosexuality and childhood and birth and life, to things that they are not, grant anybody equality of any sort?
Bottom line: Portman and Cheney and their kind are wrong. Love and truth go hand in hand every single time. When you kill one, you necessarily kill the other. But, by all means, let’s all be “nice” about this and let people have what they want. What could possibly go wrong? We’ve got our hearts in the right place.
(Some folks will inevitably ask, “What about infertile couples?” Here’s the problem with comparing homosexuals to infertile heteros. The marriage contract is not a contract on goods to be delivered, but an agreement on what should be done if those goods (children) are delivered. The marriage contract does not say that heteros have to have children. It DOES say that in order for children to be born, they need to have heterosexual parents, one damn way or another, and that parents need to recognize the child’s dependency on them. For all the equation of infertile heterosexuals with homosexuals, in defense of gay marriage, the two are not the same. The POSSIBILITY of children is an absolutely essential and necessary and empirically verifiable part of marriage as it now exists, whether or not each couple produces children. That possibility does not exist for homosexuals. Even for those heterosexual couples who know they are infertile before getting married: 1) too many “infertile” couples have “miraculously” had children, and 2) even if they don’t have children, they still represent the relationship that produces children. Homosexual couples do not represent that relationship, even those that adopt. The reason they don’t represent it is because of something they themselves regularly insist on: that our lives cannot be divorced from our inherent biology. They say that they didn’t have a choice as to what they were born as. Very well. Then it also stands to reason that none of us has a choice as to how we came into the world. Why gay-marriage proponents can’t grant biological necessity (and all that that means) to all children, rather than just homosexuals, is beyond me. As is obvious for those of us who can still connect obviously connected things, it can’t really have anything to do with “equality”: it is mind-bogglingly elitist and undemocratic.)