At the conclusion of a meeting some years ago I asked a real estate tycoon for his card. It simply provided his name, phone number and the words "Liberal Capitalist." I had to ask.
The fellow explained that he had started as an apartment complex manager, to supplement his low pay as a school teacher. One time he was talking with the chair of his department, who was a member of the John Birch society. They often disagreed.
This time it started when my acquaintance mentioned that one of his apartments was rented to a lesbian couple (this was in the 70s, in Orange County); his supervisor immediately began fulminating over how horrible that was, a violation of God's order, and so on.
The teacher replied calmly that they were wonderful tenants. One or the other regularly swept the sidewalk in front of their apartment and frequently even swept the whole row, remarkable diligence. These were great tenants, superb tenants and the rest was immaterial. Frustrated beyond control, unable to contradict this logic, the chair bellowed, "You know what your problem is??? You're too liberal to be a capitalist!!!"
This story illustrates a basic problem with conservative arguments against same-sex marriage, that they don't recognize the difference between traditional couples and strong couples. Just as in the anecdote, the tenants were far from traditional, but they were very good people to have in your housing complex.
The point here is that there is a difference between traditional families and good families, strong families. We should be in favor of the later, exclusive of the kind of relationship.
Put another way, traditional marriages are not necessarily ones we should support. They might be, but the criteria should be the quality of the relationship, not some easy formula of males and females. Sometimes traditional marriages can be quite harmful. According to "Women and Violence," Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands or male lovers. The FBI reports that one woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the United States (just for the record, there are 3,800 animal shelters). Women with disabilities are 40 percent more likely to experience intimate partner violence--especially severe violence--than women without disabilities. Children are affected too, shaped by domestic violence. One estimate is that as many as seven million live in families in which severe partner violence has occurred. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
The point is not a simple alpha and omega, that traditional families are bad and the new version is good. That kind of simplistic analysis is claptrap. Rather, it is the reverse, the notion that traditional families are inherently good and non-traditional families doomed to failure, is just as erroneous. There are strong families and there are traditional families. Sometimes they exist in the same households, and these should be applauded. But sometimes they do not, and sometimes the strong families, the families with love, for both spouse and offspring, are the new ones. We should support both these good families. Always.