During one of his recent radio shows, Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason made an important observation about the debate over same-sex marriage (SSM) that virtually all advocates of SSM miss: the debate over SSM has virtually nothing to do with what same-sex couples (SSCs) do, and everything to do with what we (society) do.

No one is regulating the behavior, love, living situation, or commitments of SSCs.  SSCs are free to live with one another, have sex with one another, create legal contracts with one another, and even engage in public ceremonies to celebrate their love and commitment to one another.  Being granted access to the institution of marriage would not give SSCs any additional freedoms.  What it would give them is a new social standing.  Why?  Because marriage is society’s way of putting their stamp of approval on a particular kind of relationship.  It’s society’s way of declaring what a family is.  To say SSCs can participate in the institution of marriage would be a social declaration that there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual unions.  Whether society should make such a declaration stands at the heart of the debate over SSM.  Do we, as a society, want to declare same-sex relationships to be socially equivalent to heterosexual relationships?

It is more than obvious that the two kinds of relationship are not socially equivalent (the morality of homosex is irrelevant to the debate over SSM).  The very survival of society depends on heterosexual relationships.  As a rule, heterosexual couples produce and prepare the next generation of society.  The same cannot be said of same-sex relationships.  If the two kinds of relationships do not function the same way in society, there is no reason for society to declare them to be equal.  Indeed, to legally declare two unequal things to be equal is unjust.  Put another way, not only is there no compelling social interest in regulating same-sex relationships, but to treat same-sex relationships as if they were equal to marital relationships would be to act unjustly.  Since marriage is a social declaration, society has both the right and responsibility to limit the institution of marriage to those who, in principle, are capable of forming families, which is what the institution of marriage has always been about.