I am a huge fan of the Catholic legal theory blog, Mirror of Justice. On that blog, Rob Vischer of St. Thomas tries to tease out the Catholic objection to same sex marriage if the consequentialist objections to it were to be disproved. In posing the question, he does a nice job of summarizing those objections. He imagines it is 2038, same sex marriage is widely adopted and the following has not come to pass:
-children raised in households headed by same-sex couples are indistinguishable from children raised in traditional households in terms of emotional and intellectual development, rates of physical and sexual abuse, self-esteem, and other measures of well-being;
-children raised in households headed by same-sex couples are no more likely to exhibit same-gender attraction than the general population is, and that the overall percentage of gays and lesbians in society has remained fairly constant;
-rates of sexual promiscuity among gays and lesbians have been reduced in states legalizing same-sex marriage, and rates of committed, monogamous relationships have correspondingly increased in the GLBT community;
-marriage and divorce rates in the general population have not been impacted by the legalization of same-sex marriage;
-state legislatures and courts legalizing same-sex marriage have uniformly rejected calls to extend the concept of marriage to encompass multiple partners.
It is, of course, precisely the possibility that these things may come to pass that consequentialist opponents of same-sex marriage (like me) worry about. I can't guarantee that they will come to pass, but the risk of them - particularly given the existence of alternative solutions to most of the practical problems for same sex couples - and the essential nature of marriage, along with its somewhat embattled state, cause me to oppose redefining it to include same sex relationships.
Would there still be, for Catholics at least, a reason to oppose same sex marriage if we could know that these things we worry about won't happen?
Rob (who I do not know to be an opponent of same sex marriage) excerpts a passage from Princeton legal scholar Robbie George in which George, borrowing on Catholic theology, argues that the union of a man and woman in a potentially procreative relationship is an intrinsic good and that - not its instrumental benefits - is the rationale for legal protection of marriage.