Pro-Marriage, not anti-gay
Some of our commenters seem to be surprised that the Ruth Institute is “transitioning away from its anti-gay advocacy…. Why is there an article about abortion here?” Actually, if you look over the life of this blog, you will see a lot of discussion about abortion, contraception and artificial reproductive technology. You will also see discussions of divorce, cohabitation, out of wedlock childbearing, abstinence education, adultery, the demographic winter, what makes for a happy marriage, welfare policy and much else. The common thread is marriage: the significance of marriage to society and to children, and all the social, legal and cultural practices that affect marriage. You will see very little about homosexuality per se.
No offense to you all, but we’re just not all that interested in you all.
I wrote two books, one in 2001 (Love and Economics) and one is 2005 (Smart Sex: Finding Lifelong Love in a Hookup World) (both available at the Ruth Store.) Neither of those books say a single word about same sex marriage or homosexuality. I wrote a chapter for a book called The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, And Morals. My chapter was called, “Why unilateral divorce has no place in a free society.” I personally have been concerned about divorce, out of wedlock childbearing, cohabitation and abortion for a long time. Maggie Gallagher has written several books on similar topics. David Blankenhorn’s book Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem, had a huge impact on the public discussion about the family in America.
We (Maggie, David, and others more so than me) just about had people convinced that kids needed their dads, and that marriage is a social good. Then same sex marriage errupted onto the public stage and took up all the air in the room. And incidently, same sex marriage advocates called into question all the arguments and data about the significance of marriage for childern and society.
Look for instance, at the number of people who answered my question about whether kids need a mom and a dad: the advocates of same sex marriage inevitably said, “no.” Sometimes they were restrained enough to say, “no, not necessarily.” But all too many of them just made a blanket statement on the basis of personal experience, “no, kids don’t need a mom and a dad. In fact, my dad was such a jerk, kids are better off without their natural fathers.” A far more humane response to those personal experiences would be to call wayward dads to greater accountability, and to reform the laws to encourage and support fatherhood. But, all too many advocates of same sex marriage have argued themselves into a corner of denying all significance to biological fatherhood or even motherhood.
We, Maggie, David and I, got dragged into the debate over same sex marriage kicking and screaming. We care about same sex marriage because we believe that redefining marriage as the union of any two persons will harm the institution of marriage, not particularly because of anything same sex couples do or don’t do. In the past, the legal and social institution of marriage has provided structure to people’s lives, helping them to avoid some socially destructive actions and steering them toward socially constructive actions. We think that the legal redefinition and all the social practices that will inevitably follow, will reduce to near nothing the capacity of marriage to structure people’s lives and shape their decision-making.
It is very revealing, and I must say, troubling to me, that whenever I make arguments along those lines, same sex marriage advocates seem to change the subject rather than deal with it. But that is a subject for another time.