5 August 2003
I now pronounce you
I've mostly stayed out of the gay-marriage brouhaha so far. Way back in 1996, I complained about the Defense of Marriage Act, and got a tad hyperbolic in so doing; subsequently I figured it might not be a bad idea to lower my profile on this issue.
But while I haven't exactly recanted, I would rather avoid demonizing the opposition. And along these lines, Moira Breen has precisely the argument I'd been unable to come up with on my own:
I believe most people who are uneasy about gay marriage are not so because they are hateful bigots, but because they are looking back over forty years of trends in marriage, divorce, and sexual behavior that (righly) disturb them serial marriage, high divorce rates, contempt for concepts of duty and loyalty toward spouse and family, the view that children's lives are secondary in importance to the ever-shifting desires of adults. They see the push for gay marriage not as a separate argument revolving around fairness and justice, but as an extension of those deplorable trends and they are encouraged in that perception by many of [same-sex marriage's] proponents, who do make the argument in those terms.
Emphasis in the original. Regardless of the hardware possessed by Heather's, um, parental units, marriage is fundamentally about children, about providing them a structure within which they can grow and develop; the partners themselves, like it or not, are secondary players. This is not to say that childless couples don't deserve to have their unions sanctified by church or state or whatever, but the fact remains: marriage is fundamentally about children. Moira again:
As state and society we don't poke our noses into people's reproductive plans or fertility status before they marry, but this (quite proper) delicacy and respect for privacy cannot negate the fact that societies institute marriage because of the existence of children. If children did not exist, we would not be arguing this issue at all, for an institution of marriage would never have arisen to fulfill a non-existent need.
Of course, if children did not exist, we would probably not exist either as the story goes, if your parents didn't have children, neither will you but since they do, any plan to redefine marriage that doesn't focus primarily on children is going to draw opposition, and, I think, rightfully so. I still don't like DOMA or its preemptive-strike motivation, but proponents of same-sex marriage have yet to offer an alternative that puts the emphasis back where it belongs: on the kids.
(Update, 6 August, 9:30 pm: Bruce at This Is Class Warfare takes exception to this reasoning.)Posted at 1:02 AM to Almost Yogurt
TrackBack: 7:37 AM, 5 August 2003
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