Last edited: May 29, 2004

Adultery a Far Greater Threat to Matrimony than Gay Marriages

Chattanooga Times Free Press, May 20, 2004
400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
Tel: 423-756-6900

Given the hoopla that accompanied Massachusetts’ spate of gay marriages on the first day that same-sex marriage became legal in that state, it was hardly surprising that Tennessee’s state senators would be spurred on to approve a resolution to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

They did so by a 28-1 vote. Their action follows an earlier 86-5 vote by the House in approval of the companion bill, and clears the way for the bill to go the governor and possibly a 2006 state referendum.

Still, it is more than a little ironical that state senators first had to explain why, in their zeal to protect the sanctity of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, they could not countenance a constitutional amendment also to ban adultery.

State Sen. Steve Cohen, the sole brave opponent of the amendment to ban gay marriage, proposed the amendment to ban adultery, he said, because it is a much greater threat to the sanctity of marriage than gay marriage.

Its hard to argue with that. The U.S. Bureau of Census has found that roughly 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce. And Tennessee, though it already has a Defense of Marriage statute on the books, also has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.

What’s more, adultery is often the reason for divorce. And as Sen. Cohen pointed out, it’s also prohibited by one of the Ten Commandments, a document that many lawmakers also advocate posting in public buildings.

Gay marriage, on the other hand, would allow same-sex couples the right to abandon an unmarried lifestyle and enter into a legally binding married relationship.

A lot of advocates argue, with some logic, that such legally binding relationships actually would reinforce the concept of marriage, as well as give equal property rights and legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Sen. Cohen obviously did not expect the amendment to pass. Lawmakers surely support the sanctity of marriage rhetorically, but few would attempt to outlaw commonplace adultery regardless of much it undermines marriage. The senator’s apparent intention was to illustrate the inconsistency in the application of principles of marriage, as opposed to the rhetoric.

Same-sex couples may yearn for the ceremony that symbolizes enduring commitment and the deepest profession of love, but they are wrongly deemed unfit for that social privilege. Heterosexual couples, on the other hand, may enjoy the ceremony without any binding stricture against violation of the privilege through adultery, the most common cause for shattered marriages.

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