Like many people I know, I am planning on voting against Question 6 this November, the amendment to Maryland law that would fundamentally change the definition of marriage in our state. I am planning on doing so because I believe marriage is a special relationship that biology, human history and our identities as man or woman tell us is reserved for one man and one woman. I believe this without animosity or hatred, but instead with a desire to protect that sacred institution in which I was raised, and in which I now live out my calling as husband and father.
Men and women are equal, but they are different, and each brings forth unique gifts to a marriage that the other gender cannot. A relationship between a man and woman has a special quality that makes it the exclusive relationship for bringing forth life naturally. It also brings forth complementary love in a unique and inimitable way that has been built into human beings from the beginning.
An analogy may be helpful in describing why I think redefining marriage would be a wrong decision. I am a vegetarian (who also happens to be a self-described environmentalist, driving a hybrid car and living in a solar house). While I am not offended by those who eat meat, from time to time I like going into vegetarian restaurants to be with others who eat as I do.
Now, imagine if I went into my favorite vegetarian restaurant tomorrow and found out that there was a movement under way to start selling hamburgers there, while still calling the restaurant vegetarian. I go up to the manager and protest: "Hamburgers are not a vegetarian food — they're meat! How can you serve this in a vegetarian restaurant?" He replies: "I am redefining what it means to be a vegetarian." To which I would respond, emphatically: "But being a vegetarian is something special, something different from being someone who eats meat. It's been this way ever since the term vegetarian was invented! If you want to serve hamburgers, then you can do it, but you're not a vegetarian restaurant anymore." Says he: "I don't care about what you think vegetarianism is, or what anyone else throughout history thinks; I am redefining it because I want to, for my own reasons. Vegetarians should stop discriminating and accept meat eaters as being vegetarian too. I think you should stop hating meat eaters and let them have the equal right of being vegetarian — after all, what makes you so special?"
In the conversation above, the vegetarian wants to keep the definition of vegetarianism special, in part so that people can see the unique goodness in being a vegetarian and in the vegetarian diet. So, too, does the supporter of traditional marriage want to keep the definition of marriage special, in part to show the world the special beauty of a committed love relationship between a man and a woman. Just as the vegetarian does not have to hate meat eaters in wanting them not to call themselves vegetarians too, neither does the supporter of traditional marriage today have to hate people with homosexual tendencies when he wants them to not call themselves married.
What I and other traditional marriage supporters are standing for is the uniqueness and goodness that by nature manifest themselves only in a marriage between a man and a woman.
So if you see this vegetarian driving his hybrid car with a little bumper sticker supporting traditional marriage, please know that I do not hate you, even if you are planning on voting the opposite way from me on Question 6. I hope you will return the "no hate" favor to me as well. I am also asking, before you cast your vote, that you please try to understand how those opposed to redefining marriage think. Please understand that we are very much hoping to keep the definition of marriage as the beautiful institution it is now in my family, the way it was for me growing up, and the way it has been from time immemorial as the basis of human society.
This is why I am going to vote against Question 6 — in order to uphold and support marriage as an exclusive, loving relationship between one man and one woman.
Eric Lee is a Catholic schoolteacher and Maryland resident. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.