It seems to me that homosexual couples should have the right to marry but the social consequences of all such endowments of “rights” should be considered (Marriage is a social construct and I therefore have trouble conferring the word “right” upon it). The obvious corollary question would be, should the “social consequences” have been considered when extending the right of African-American children to attend segregated public schools? I would argue that education is not a social construct but a fundamental right and it is therefore not an appropriate analogy but would submit that the process of desegregation should have been much better researched in terms of the consequences to the African-American students. This is not to say that the desegregation should have been delayed in order to make time for the correct policies to be fashioned; indeed the fact that our schools were ever segregated is a yet another black-eye in the history of racism in our country. It does seem though that in the rush to make the “responsible” choice on gay marriage the social consequences which may ensue should be considered and the appropriate policy changes effected.
For example, African-American students at the time of segregation were well behind their similarly aged white counterparts due to the insufficient quality of education provided by the “black” schools. It would have been advantageous if the schools had put in place an accelerated program over the summers to allow the black students to “catch up” academically to fellow classmates. This would have addressed the stigma attached to those students when they were found to perform at a level below that of their classmates due to the past injustice (Which was then attributed to the notion of their “genetic inferiority”). I would argue that marriage has always been defined to maximize the likelihood of producing socially viable citizens (i.e. raising children. Of course, there are already heterosexual couples who decide to remain childless, but they are still a small, but growing, minority). I do not disagree in principle with altering this definition but it must be done with care. For example, if the majority of homosexuals do not have children how will it affect the stability of their marriages? Will high divorce rates of childless homosexual couples result (as in their heterosexual counterparts) and if so, how will this change societies view on the viability of long-term homosexual relationships? Adoption is a viable alternative (and advisable as there are many loving, financially secure homosexual couples) to the normal process of procreation (I am deliberately ignoring in vitro fertilization procedures as they are prohibitively expensive and it is doubtful that they would be widespread among homosexual couples). The addition of children to the family may help to better fashion the homosexual household into the heterosexual equivalent (Not that it must be their “equivalent” but it seems that family structure is best supported, and solidified, by the presence of a necessity other than mutual support namely, raising children).
Perhaps adoption laws should be revisited concomitantly to the efforts to allow gay marriage? It may even be advisable to strengthen existing divorce laws to buttress marriages which may not be held together by the “glue” of children. My point is that although it does seem to me that gays should have the “right” to marry it does not follow that we should ignore the social consequences of that endowment or simply assume that they will all be positive.