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Argument: Gays can only undermine marriage if seen as morally depraved

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Andrew Sullivan. "Why 'civil union' isn't marriage." The New Republic. May 8, 2000: "there is no moral reason to support civil unions and not same-sex marriage unless you believe that admitting homosexuals would weaken a vital civil institution. This was the underlying argument for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which implied that allowing homosexuals to marry constituted an "attack" on the existing institution. Both Gore and Bush take this position. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have endorsed it. In fact, it is by far the most popular line of argument in the debate. But how, exactly, does the freedom of a gay couple to marry weaken a straight couple's commitment to the same institution? The obvious answer is that since homosexuals are inherently depraved and immoral, allowing them to marry would inevitably spoil, even defame, the institution of marriage. It would wreck the marital neighborhood, so to speak, and fewer people would want to live there. Part of the attraction of marriage for some heterosexual males, the argument goes, is that it confers status. One of the ways it does this is by distinguishing such males from despised homosexuals. If you remove that social status, you further weaken an already beleaguered institution. [...] This argument is rarely made explicitly, but I think it exists in the minds of many who supported the DOMA. One wonders, for example, what Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich, both conducting or about to conduct extramarital affairs at the time, thought they were achieving by passing the DOMA. But, whatever its rationalization, this particular argument can only be described as an expression of pure animus. To base the prestige of marriage not on its virtues, responsibilities, and joys but on the fact that it keeps gays out is to engage in the crudest demagoguery. As a political matter, to secure the rights of a majority by eviscerating the rights of a minority is the opposite of what a liberal democracy is supposed to be about. It certainly should be inimical to anyone with even a vaguely liberal temperament."

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