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In Defense of Gay Marriage, from a Pro-Life Republican

The following was submitted by a friend, Phil Van Treuren. I don’t agree with same-sex marriage, but this is certainly a thoughtful counter-argument and thought it a worthy addition to the debate.

I may be the first Republican who tells you that I’ve become an advocate for legalizing gay marriage because of my pro-life philosophy…but I hope I’m not the last.

I admit that I’ve never been one who cared much either way about the gay marriage issue, and had no desire to join the debate. Then a pro-life group called Cleveland Right to Life decided to (bizarrely) chastise Cleveland area Republicans for being too friendly with gays. They didn’t like the fact that the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County was supportive of the Gay Games being held in Cleveland, and sent out a clumsy email in protest.

A married gay couple and their adopted daughter. (Photo: AP)

A married gay couple and their adopted daughter. (Photo: AP)

The email from Cleveland Right to Life, which accused the Cuyahoga County Republicans of supporting gay marriage with their acceptance of the “homosexual lifestyle,” turned off a lot of people like me. Sure, I’m proudly pro-life and supportive of CRTL’s goal of decreasing the number of abortions in greater Cleveland. But what does gay marriage have to do with that?

As an organization, CRTL obviously has a problem with scope creep. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that these two issues really are relevant to each other . . . although for different reasons than CRTL thinks.

CRTL seems to be operating under the confused assumption that more gay marriage will somehow result in more abortions. The reality could be very different, though, if groups like theirs would realize that legal gay marriage only results in more couples who would gladly raise an unwanted child.

Simply put: gay marriage creates more committed relationships between couples who can’t conceive and who are legally allowed to adopt children. If that larger pool of potential adoptive parents leads to even a miniscule decrease in the number of abortions, it should be enthusiastically embraced by any group that calls itself pro-life.

CaptureYes, it’s true that single gays are already allowed to adopt in most states, and that same-sex couples are prohibited from adopting in only Mississippi and Utah. But married couples, who make up around 70 percent of adoptive parents in the U.S., are much more likely to both pursue the opportunity and be approved. And in states where gay couples can’t legally marry, they face intimidating legal obstacles if they want to adopt.

So does gay marriage–even if it were legal in all 50 states–have the potential to put a big dent in the number of abortions in our country? Probably not. There have only been about 70,000 gay marriages in the United States since 2004, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize them. In contrast, there are more than 1.2 million abortions in our country annually.

But even if gay marriage prevented only a few hundred abortions a year in the United States, shouldn’t that be reason enough for pro-life groups to jump on board?

Imagine what a powerful moment it would be if groups like Cleveland Right to Life illustrated their commitment to saving unborn lives by embracing gay marriage as a way to place more unwanted children with loving parents.

Imagine the support and publicity the pro-life movement would receive if these same groups created programs to encourage gay couples to marry and help them adopt children who might otherwise fall victim to abortion.

Adoptive parents and children at the National Adoption Day celebration in Springfield, Massachusetts (photo: MARE)

Adoptive parents and children at the National Adoption Day celebration in Springfield, Massachusetts (photo: MARE)

Admittedly, we need to do a lot more to raise adoption awareness across the board before it ever becomes an option that significantly decreases the number of abortions in this country. Women considering abortion are given little counseling to explore private adoption placements, whether with straight or gay couples.

But a multipronged approach–to include both promoting adoption in all of its forms and supporting gay couples as a legitimate option for unwanted children–has the potential to be a viable solution to abortion that people on both sides of the aisle could support.

Roman Catholic bishops and other religious organizations have stated that they will stop providing adoption services in many states if the feds force them to place children with gay parents, and I think it’s their right to do so. Government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing churches to compromise on their beliefs.

But if you’re a genuine pro-life advocate, ask yourself this question: can you really argue that aborting a child is better than letting it be raised by a loving gay couple, regardless of how immoral you think their union is?

It’s a question I asked myself . . . and the answer was easy.

Phil Van Treuren is a city councilman in Amherst, Ohio. He writes about campaign strategy at

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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