There's an episode of The Office from a couple years ago (Season 3) where the boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carell), calls a meeting to reveal that one of the other employees is gay. Predictably, he uses the opportunity to lecture the office about homosexuality, and he says this:
MICHAEL: Gay marriage currently is not legal, under U.S. law. I bet a lot of straight men wish that applied to them -- so they could go out there and have some torrid, unabashed monkey sex, as much as they could. You know, that sounds pretty good, right?I've watched that episode many times, and I've always laughed at that interchange because of how cheerfully Michael has become convinced of his own fallacious reasoning. But no one would say something so dumb in real life, right?
KEVIN: That sounds great.
Well, the Weekly Standard saw fit to print this argument by Sam Schulman, in a piece entitled, "The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage":
[M]arriage changes the nature of sexual relations between a man and a woman. Sexual intercourse between a married couple is licit; sexual intercourse before marriage, or adulterous sex during marriage, is not. Illicit sex is not necessarily a crime, but licit sexual intercourse enjoys a sanction in the moral universe, however we understand it, from which premarital and extramarital copulation is excluded. More important, the illicit or licit nature of heterosexual copulation is transmitted to the child, who is deemed legitimate or illegitimate based on the metaphysical category of its parents’ coition.How do you think his wife -- or his ex-wives -- feel about this article?
Now to live in such a system, in which sexual intercourse can be illicit, is a great nuisance. Many of us feel that licit sexuality loses, moreover, a bit of its oomph. Gay lovers live merrily free of this system. Can we imagine Frank’s family and friends warning him that “If Joe were serious, he would put a ring on your finger”? Do we ask Vera to stop stringing Sally along? Gay sexual practice is not sortable into these categories—licit-if-married but illicit-if-not (children adopted by a gay man or hygienically conceived by a lesbian mom can never be regarded as illegitimate). Neither does gay copulation become in any way more permissible, more noble after marriage. It is a scandal that homosexual intercourse should ever have been illegal, but having become legal, there remains no extra sanction—the kind which fathers with shotguns enforce upon heterosexual lovers. I am not aware of any gay marriage activist who suggests that gay men and women should create a new category of disapproval for their own sexual relationships, after so recently having been freed from the onerous and bigoted legal blight on homosexual acts. But without social disapproval of unmarried sex—what kind of madman would seek marriage? ...
Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage—much less three, as I have done—were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom. There would be very few flowerings of domestic ecstasy were it not for the granite underpinnings of marriage. Gay couples who marry are bound to be disappointed in marriage’s impotence without these ghosts of past authority....
Every day thousands of ordinary heterosexual men surrender the dream of gratifying our immediate erotic desires. Instead, heroically, resignedly, we march up the aisle with our new brides, starting out upon what that cad poet Shelley called the longest journey, attired in the chains of the kinship system—a system from which you have been spared. Imitate our self-surrender. If gay men and women could see the price that humanity—particularly the women and children among us—will pay, simply in order that a gay person can say of someone she already loves with perfect competence, “Hey, meet the missus!”—no doubt they will think again.
To be clear, the above block quote is not a parody. The Weekly Standard is one of the most respected conservative periodicals, and it published this in all seriousness.
(Thanks to Isaac Chotiner for pointing out the Weekly Standard article in TNR, and this site for The Office dialogue.)
UPDATE: A comment on my mom's blog pointed out that I never actually explained my objection to Michael Scott and Sam Schulman's reasoning. Here's my response, for those who'd like to see this spelled out:
Let's concede the point that there are a whole lot of men out there (of all sexual orientations) who would rather have unrestrained, promiscuous sex than be tied down by being married. Does it follow that men are more fortunate if they're gay? Of course not, because straight men aren't forced to get married! Men who want promiscuous sex so much that they'd rather not be married are in the same position whether they're gay, straight, or bisexual: they just shouldn't get married. For those men, the legality of marriage is a wash. But there are still plenty of men, of all sexual orientations, who would rather be married. Among that group of men, the ones who want to legally marry a woman are in a more fortunate situation than the ones who want to legally marry a man, since the former but not the latter are allowed to do what they want.