Earlier this month, the city of Collegedale, Tennessee became the first in the state to offer any sort of benefits to same-sex couples. Despite the fact that same-sex couples have been denied marriage licenses as recently as last week, conservatives in Tennessee are still anxious that their home state will soon join the growing list of states that allow marriage equality.
Among those conservatives is David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, who recently authored an op-ed piece for Focus on the Family's Citizenlink. In his piece, Fowler attempts to shift the burden of proof on to marriage equality advocates. More specifically, he calls for them to respond to two specific concerns of his:
"First, to the extent that same-sex couples want to bring children into their relationship, they must believe the sexual, emotional, and psychological complementariness of the two sexes and the value of that complementariness to children are irrelevant.
"Second, that belief rests upon another belief, namely, that men and women are the same, that there are no distinct characteristics apart from anatomy. If you doubt me, then you haven’t given much thought to what is behind all the gender identity arguments that have arisen since the same-sex marriage debate began…
"So, the first dilemma same-sex marriage advocates face is whether they are willing to come right out and say for all to hear that (i) they believe men and women are interchangeable when it comes to what a child needs and (ii) they believe that because they also believe there are no differences between the sexes."
What Fowler fails to explain, however, is exactly how a parent's ability to compliment their partner is at all tied to their gender. He also fails to pinpoint any specific instance of LGBT rights advocates arguing that men and women are, in fact, interchangeable in any sense. Let's also not forget that researchers have found no significant developmental or psychological difference between children raised by gay parents and children raised by straight parents. Some even suggest that kids of same-sex couples are actually better off in certain categories. Fowler's op-ed conveniently overlooks that data.
Instead, Fowler chose to cherry-pick a word from Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy, claiming that same-sex parents "humiliate" children. Once again, his statements make a key omission, mainly that Justice Kennedy was referring to the humiliation inflicted on families with same-sex parents by opponents of marriage equality.
It is not yet known precisely how well-founded Fowler's fears of marriage equality are. At present, the ACLU and other groups have marriage equality lawsuits pending in states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Tennessee does not seem to be lining up at present. That said, perhaps marriage equality advocates in the state could take Fowler's comments as a good sign–since the opposition is already scared.