Now that a Federal judge has struck down California's ban on gay marriage, Americans should prepare for the psychological fallout and for other landmark decisions that will drastically change our view of marriage and relationships.
The California court that found gay marriage the equivalent of marriage between a man and a woman enshrined--knowingly or unknowingly-- certain principles, while obliterating others. It honored the emotional bond between human beings, regardless of gender and found no compelling reason that the benefits and rights of matrimony should be withheld from two men or two women who wish to be joined, simply because they are both male or both female. Human love and commitment were the winners in California, not social convention or scripture or cultural tradition or the dictates of reproductive biology.
From a psychological perspective, the ruling encourages adolescents and young adults to consider whether they may be heterosexual or homosexual, simply because it shows no favor toward either sexual orientation. Many, many citizens believe this is as it should be, but very few of us have thought about how to address the myriad psychosexual questions that inevitably will be on the minds of more and more of our sons and daughters. The Federal judiciary embracing gay marriage, with the media in tow, doesn't simply "allow" people to express their sexuality. For the first time, it puts the idea of choosing a same-gender or opposite-gender life partner squarely in front of those emerging into adulthood. This will bring up many more questions about romance and sexuality and artificial insemination and child-rearing, sooner. We should prepare.
Since love and commitment emerged victorious in California, I also believe that the Federal court could not legitimately restrict marriage only to two people. From a psychological perspective, three people can all love each other and all commit to one another. It's a fact. I've seen it. So the inevitable question (and test case) will probably arise as to why two men and a woman cannot codify their bonds in matrimony as any couple might. Or perhaps the test case will be five people--say, three men and two women. There is no legitimate emotional reason to believe that children cannot be raised as well by three men and two women, after all, as by two men.
The California ruling strikes down the right of the state to show preference for who should marry, based on gender. So how can the basis for extending marital rights be the number of people forming a family? It makes no sense.
It is a brave new world we are entering. Entering it having not prepared at all for the psychological forces and fallout is sheer folly.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for Fox News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life Through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement including www.livingthetruth.com.Dr. Ablow can be reached at email@example.com.