Culture,  Politics

A gay man comes out against same-sex marriage

I just read one of the most remarkable stories I’ve ever seen. It’s an article by Doug Mainwaring, and its title captures the gist of his surprising testimony, “I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage.” In a nutshell, this man has been gay for as long as he can remember. Nevertheless, he married a woman as an adult and adopted two children with her. After their marriage ended, he spent ten years finally exploring homosexual relationships while raising his children. He writes:

At first, I felt liberated. I dated some great guys, and was in a couple of long-term relationships. Over several years, intellectual honesty led me to some unexpected conclusions: (1) Creating a family with another man is not completely equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

He elaborates:

There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week. Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold from them someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch “deprivation” on their hearts.

Mainwaring also reflects on the experiences of others in a similar situation to his own. Here’s what he concludes about them:

Here’s a very sad fact of life that never gets portrayed on Glee or Modern Family: I find that men I know who have left their wives as they’ve come out of the closet often lead diminished, and in some cases nearly bankrupt, lives—socially, familially, emotionally, and intellectually. They adjust their entire view of the world and their role within it in order to accommodate what has become the dominant aspect of their lives: their homosexuality. In doing so, they trade rich lives for one-dimensional lives. Yet this is what our post-modern world has taught us to do. I went along with it for a long while, but slowly turned back when I witnessed my life shrinking and not growing.

This is a fascinating article. I don’t agree with all of it. Nor do I think it’s written from a Christian perspective. It’s just written by a gay man who’s convinced that having same-sex parents is not equal to having a mom and a dad. That is an unusual and significant admission in our day—indeed, a nearly impossible one.

Wisdom cries aloud in the streets (Prov. 1:20), and I am sometimes surprised by those who hear her.

Read the rest here.


  • Lauren Bertrand

    I definitely agree that a life defined by sexuality–which presumably means a life defined by sex–is one-dimensional and unhealthy, whether hetero or homo. But, Denny, I hope you find his assertion that a his life as a gay man with a wife as being “rich” to seem as questionable as I do. If man and women in mixed-orientation marriages are both frank about their relationship and the role sex plays in it (which is presumably very little), I suppose they should be as capable of raising psychologically healthy children as anyone. But it almost seems as though he’s implying that it would have been better for gay men (or women too–why is always just the men?!) to have remained in sham, unloving, dishonest marriages for the sake of kids “who need and yearn for both [mother and father]” simply to preserve the pageantry. But is a household run by mother and father who do not love one another automatically hierarchically ahead of a household run by a psychologically in-control, happy single parent? Under every circumstance? What about mother and father who can barely contain their antipathy toward one another? Or, at the very least, sleep in separate rooms, as Mainwaring has claimed he and his female partner do? Some people on this website will no doubt disagree with me, but that is just as much an “alternative family structure” as a same-sex parenting built on love, monogamy, and defined roles.

    I’m glad Mainwaring feels comfortable voicing his opinion, but it certainly is an eccentric one. That said, a counter-argument might be the hundreds of thousands of gay men (and women!) who don’t wear their sexualities on their sleeves. These people don’t throw nearly as much skin in the game of the culture wars and function well beyond the self-loathing phase. In short, they’re monogamous, multi-dimensional, and generally psychologically well-adjusted (against all odds). When kids are raised in households such as these, the only thing saying that their two parents (male male or female female) are deprived is the heaps of contextualized social disapprobation–which further manifests itself in family-stabilizing institutions denied to them (except, right now, in nine states). And, in an era where foster homes are overcrowded, the disapproving glances of some just ain’t enough to justify poo-pooing on those families.

  • Nathan Cesal

    Mainwaring’s acknowledgment is not at all an unusual admission. Just watch the Sullivan / Wilson debate you posted earlier. Sullivan said that same-sex relationships are not the same as opposite sex ones and he would probably agree that the parenting dynamic is different as well. Having two dads is different than have a mom and a dad. It is different from having two moms as well. These are different than having only one parent. They are also different than raising children in two separate households.

    The risks of poor outcomes vary between each of those parenting scenarios. The reality is there are children in those scenarios. It is silly to withhold support, the legal rights and responsibilities that help strengthen family units, from those that you say are automatically weak to begin with.

    Do you care about the children or are you just against marriage equality?

  • Joseph Schmall

    Lauren Bertrand,
    Why do you assume love between spouses has to have liberal sexual encounters in order to be healthy? Healthy marriage is grounded in faithfulness. Love is patient and kind…I don’t recall complete, selfish sexual fulfillment a listed prerequisite for marriage.

    • Lauren Bertrand

      Thanks for the comment, Joseph. I wasn’t aware that I advocated “liberal sexual encounters”. Sure, there’s the possibility of children being raised successfully by a loveless or platonic mother and father (and I’m not trying to equate those two adjectives), but one where they operate as parents, live together, but live in separate rooms is still undeniably an aberration.

      Incidentally, sexual fulfillment (or at least completion of the act) seems to be an a priori basis for heterosexual marriage in the book “What Is Marriage? A Man and Woman” by Girgis, Anderson, and George, cited on this blog. The book, which has quickly become the most broadly persuasive anti-gay marriage argument in circulation, presumes that a marriage is not official until it is consummated, in keeping with English common law. Under those conditions, Mainwaring’s household would essentially be a pseudo-family.

  • Larry Geiger


    Don’t throw out the good in pursuit of perfection. Or something like that. Just because a couple live together in a less than perfect sexual relationship (oh and by the way, who does?) doesn’t mean that they aren’t good for their children. As they say, as good as it gets? In this world anyway. Both of your comments seem to assume that there are only two states: loveless and platonic or Cinderella like Happily Ever After.

    The point is that what’s best for children, is to be raised by their parents. Mom and dad. Period. That’s what’s best. Parents aren’t always perfect, their relationships aren’t perfect, and this world does not allow every child to have mom and dad at home. But that’s the goal. The ideal that we strive towards. We seek the light and we turn from the darkness.

  • Joseph Schmall

    Here you go again: holding to the claim that the act of sex is synonymous with and essential to love between spouses, yet it seems that you believe homosexual sex is not inferior to heterosexual union. Now, now Mrs. Bertrand. I am sure you know how the children got there in the first place. Let’s not pretend that Mainwaring has a sexless marriage. My point is that he is married to the woman who is mother to his children. Or are you trying to suggest that homosexuals can have biological children with their same sex partner?

  • Lauren Bertrand

    You might care to read the original article in full. Mainwaring still refers to the woman he co-raises his ADOPTED kids with as his “ex-wife”. About halfway through the article, he says: “Because of my predilections, we deny our own sexual impulses. Has this led to depressing, claustrophobic repression? No. We enjoy each other’s company immensely. It has actually led to psychological health and a flourishing of our family. Did we do this for the sake of tradition? For the sake of religion? No. We did it because reason led us to resist selfish impulses and to seek the best for our children.” Yes, it appears, if we are to take his word, that he has a sexless relationship and that the children are not biological.

    I wish his family the best. He and his ex-wife feel a shared duty to raise their kids that keeps them bonded. But this family arrangement remains very unusual–no doubt much rarer than kids raised by same-sex partners and much MUCH rarer than single parent households. Do we expect, out of concern for the preservation of the mother/father relationship, to shoehorn something like the Mainwaring household for gays who hope to raise children? Or a single mother who cannot find a new spouse? And what about the widows and widowers?

    I would never suggest, as Larry seems to think, that there is no middle ground between platonic and perfect amatory love. By all means, the integrity of the contentedly married heterosexual couple remains supreme and should continue to serve as the dominant structure for raising children. There is no reason to suggest that it won’t, even if it is now a mere plurality rather than an overwhelming majority. But, if it should come between children being raised by heterosexuals whose marriage is characterized by deception, substance abuse, or violence, and children raised by homosexuals whose relationship (perhaps marriage) lack those hostile features, the same-sex household unabashedly wins. So does the single-parent household.

    Nathan Cesal puts it succinctly: “The risks of poor outcomes vary between each of those parenting scenarios. The reality is there are children in those scenarios.”

    • buddyglass

      I suspect the stats would support Lauren’s claim. Stable/loving same-sex parents > dysfunctional heterosexual parents in terms of generating better outcomes for children.

      The issue of children is in some ways beside the point w.r.t. the marriage debate, though, because same-sex couples can already adopt (or conceive) children. Unless it were shown that broadening same-sex marriage would lead to a higher rate of child-rearing by same-sex couples then the issue of children is a big non sequitur.

    • Lauren Bertrand

      Hi Larry. If the best you can come up with is “no” and “faux science” when asked if a dysfunctional, violent, or negligent heterosexual couple is STILL better at raising a child than a functional homosexual couple, then you need look no further in wondering why it appears your side is losing this aspect of the culture war.

      I’m generally far more sympathetic to the Evangelical pro-life initiative. But clearly even the “rape abortion” analogy you use isn’t working, as was indicated when candidates lost broadly last November in Missouri and Indiana. Whether its 99% or 1%, the letter of the law obviously has to account for this, or virtually everything would fall into the hands of the judiciary. In the case of same-sex parenting, most US Census bureau stats would suggest the numbers are in the six figures–not just one or two couples.

  • Larry Geiger

    I suspect that the “stats” would be wrong. Just like the faux science used to justify this type of thing.

    The first argument is that, hey we won, now shut up. It’s legal so it’s good. You know, you couldn’t even say this 20 or 30 years ago and somehow we managed to get along pretty good. Our families found a way.

    The second argument is more insidious. Lauren is using the same argument the abortionist use. 99% of abortions are done because of promiscuity. But because a minuscule number are for rape or something, then we must have a law that permits it in any case right on up to the time just before the baby’s head pops out.

    Since there might possibly be one or two of these couples in the entire country that might possibly be able to raise a child better than the child’s parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, adoptive parents, or a foster home, then we need to allow any and all of them to adopt young children at will. This is patently and obviously ridiculous but we are dead set on doing it so it will happen. To the detriment of our children.

    • buddyglass

      Out of curiosity, do you know any gay couples with kids?

      btw, I think you may have misunderstood the point I was trying to make in the second paragraph there. It seems that often this logic is invoked in the debate surrounding same-sex marriage, “We shouldn’t recognize same-sex marriage because same-sex couples aren’t as good for kids as heterosexual couples.” The second thing is only relevant to the first thing if recognizing same-sex marriage will somehow result in more same-sex couples raising kids.

      • Larry Geiger

        “Out of curiosity, do you know any gay couples with kids?” Relevance?

        I know quite a few kids who have been abused and molested by these folks. Is that relevant? Doesn’t seem to be these days.

        • buddyglass

          If it could be shown that same-sex couples were much more likely to abuse children then it would certainly be relevant for the purposes of deciding whether to allow them to adopt. Not so much with respect to the marriage issue though.

          For what it’s worth, the children I know who’re being raised by same-sex couples (exclusively female-female) seem to be normal, well-adjusted kids.

        • Lauren Bertrand

          Interestingly, I have witnessed quite a bit of testimony from teenagers growing up in Evangelical households who explained the dissolution of family relations after they came out of the closet. In nearly all these cases, the children were quite young (early teens) and pre-sexual. Responses from the SBC parents in particular nearly always involved being kicked out of the house, disownment, accompanied in a few cases by physical violence against the teen.

          If we were to take this evidence and elevate it to a policy/activist level, it would seem appropriate to apply Department of Child/Family Services to remove potential vulnerable children from Evangelical parents in the interest of their own welfare. Obviously no one is suggesting such a ridiculous initiative.

          But since so many Evangelicals maintain these notions of homosexual “perversion” from the 1950s that the remaining 60-70% have long since dismissed (thanks to abundant evidence suggesting those 1950s reports were bogus), the trend in recent years suggests their diminishing relevance on the broader cultural sphere–quite a shame, since the Evangelical culture also has perfectly good points to make in many other aspects of familial integrity.

      • Larry Geiger

        And so of course we fall right back into the logic of “Do you know someone?”. I know an axe murderer and he’s very serious about it. Born this way, you know. Always been irresponsible. Smoking. Tatoos. 32oz Cokes. And real coke, too. Just a real rebel. Doesn’t like authority, you know. Promiscuous that way. I’m still not too fond of axe murderers, even with all that friendly, get to know you stuff at the Axe Blade Parade.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.