George W. Bush was asked about same-sex marriage by a Zambian journalist last week, and his response exemplifies a common mistake that people of good heart and conscience often make. He said that he “shouldn’t be taking a speck out of someone else’s eye when I have a log in my own.” That was interpreted as “softened opposition” by some sites, but really it has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, it’s just tiredness, and this is not the time to be tired.
I agree with President Bush that, as he later clarified, “it’s very important for people not to be overly critical of someone else until you’ve examined your own heart.”
But he wasn’t asked about criticizing people’s personal behavior, or judging the goodness of their hearts, he was asked about same-sex marriage. Marriage is a legal term that has had a consistent legal meaning for all of history. It means being officially approved and allowed to have sex and procreate offspring together, and taking on all the obligations and responsibilities and benefits that come with that. Allowing people to marry someone of the same sex means allowing and approving them not just to have intimate relations but more importantly, to procreate genetic offspring together, and that is something that we should not just let same-sex couples do just because we are embarrassed about our own logs in our eyes.
Prohibiting people to marry someone of the same sex may seem mean-spirited and judgmental, especially to snatch it away and void all their marriages after they seemed to have been so happy to be declared to be married, so lots of people are going to feel the way George Bush does and not want to be a mean person or self-righteous. But prohibiting marriage to someone of the same sex isn’t saying anything mean or judging anyone or their lifestyle of behavior or how they lived their lives, it is just saying that attempting to create offspring with someone of the same sex would be an unethical and frivolous and dangerous experiment, and is not a right and is not approved and allowed.