Although I have had reservations about the use of "marriage" to refer to the legal union of two people of the same sex who love one another and might wish to be legally joined, I have never felt that these civil unions, or marriages, if that is the legal term, threaten my marriage or anyone else's. Many of these same-sex couples adopt children and apparently raise them successfully.
Gay marriage, which the Cardinal Archbishop of New York recently called "the defining issue of our time," concerns about one percent of the population. He and most of the others on the right insist that it undermines marriage. But are they right?
As Eugene Cullen Kennedy, the Loyola University psychologist, writes in National Catholic Reporter, the bishops might be better advised to look at the facts, which are often inconvenient: co-habitation and illegitmate births have been soaring in recent decades. Since 1970, marriage has been declining in this country quite apart from the divorce rate. Kennedy gives the full statistical picture, which is not pretty.
The conclusion: if we want to focus on a threat to marriage, let us focus on the social conditions that lead so many, especially in the lower socioeconomic class, into relationships that produce off-spring but little stability. The family unit is indeed under threat, but it is not coming, in my view, from those gays and lesbians who wish to be treated as equals.