Home > "Marriage Equality", Jennifer Roback Morse, Marriage Equality, Newsletter articles, Politics & Marriage, Same Sex Marriage > Prepared remarks for the Washington state legislature hearings on the definition of marriage

Prepared remarks for the Washington state legislature hearings on the definition of marriage

January 30th, 2012

Delivered January 23, 2012 in Olympia, Washington

by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

I am here today to address those of you who have already made up your minds to redefine marriage.  History will not be kind to you.  Previous generations of social experimenters have caused unimaginable misery for millions of people.  Particular people advocated the policies that led to today’s 50% divorce rate and 40% out of wedlock childbearing rate. None of these people has ever been held accountable.

I am here today to hold you to account, for the predictable harms you have already caused and will continue to cause by redefining marriage.

Let me remind you of the essential public purpose of marriage. Marriage attaches mothers and fathers to their children, and to one another.  Once you replace that essential public purpose with inessential, even frivolous private purposes, marriage will not be able to do its job.  But children will still need secure attachments to their mothers and fathers, a need which will go unfulfilled.

You are redefining parenthood, as a side effect of redefining marriage, without even considering what you are about to do.  Until now, marriage makes legal parenthood track biological parenthood.  The legal presumption of paternity means that children born to a married woman are presumed to be the children of her husband.  With this legal rule, and the social practice of sexual exclusivity, marriage attaches children to their biological parents.

Same sex couples of course, do not procreate together. “Marriage equality” requires a slippery move from “presumption of paternity” to the gender neutral “presumption of parentage.”  This sleight of hand transforms parenthood.  The same sex partner of a biological parent is never the other biological parent. Rather than attaching children to their biological parents, same sex marriage is the vehicle that separates children from a parent.

No longer will the law hold that children need a mother and a father. Under the inspiration and guidance of people like you in other states, courts are saying silly things like, “the traditional notion that children need a mother and a father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else.”[1]

This statement made by the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum v Brien, is false as a general statement. Mountains of data show that children do need their mothers and their fathers,[2] and that children care deeply about biological connections.[3]  The gay community is not responsible for today’s generation of fatherless children. But they will be responsible for the next such generation.

And don’t tell me that we already have lots of children unattached to their parents.  We should be taking steps to place responsible limits on things like divorce, rather than careening headlong into further and more institutionalized injustices to children.

Are you really prepared to accept responsibility for the consequences of detaching legal parenthood from the natural moorings of biology?  Do you really want a world in which children may have three or four legal parents?[4]  Are you ready for contract parenting, in which adults parcel out parental responsibilities amongst themselves?  Should the state insist that children never care about their origins? [5]  Ready or not, these are the consequences of redefining marriage and parenthood as genderless institutions.

The next generation of children of divorce may be shuttling between 3 or 4 households, with their backpacks and their sleeping bags. Whether you’re ready or not, I hold you accountable.

And don’t try to tell me “nothing so terrible has happened in Massachusetts.”  Redefining marriage redefines the way in which generations relate to one another. It is ludicrous to believe that we would feel the full impact of such a change in a few years.  It will take at least a generation, a full thirty years or more, before the full effects of redefining marriage work themselves out throughout the social system.[6]

The only argument you have is so-called “equality.”  You have taken a venerable American concept and twisted it out of recognition.  Equality used to mean limiting the power of the state to make irrelevant distinctions among citizens.  In your hands, equality has become a battering ram for smashing every aspect of social life that has any hint of sexual differentiation. No more mothers and fathers, only Parent 1 and Parent 2.

And what about those people who decline to participate in your war against nature?  What is in store for them?

Far from limiting the power of the state, your version of equality has become a tool for the hostile takeover of civil society by the state. Churches are already under attack for daring to dissent from the new state-imposed Orthodoxy that marriage is whatever the government says it is.[7]

Parents are losing the right to direct the education of their own children.[8] Foster parents in the UK must submit to the state’s views about marriage.[9]  Reputable adoption agencies have been put out of business.

And the pettiness of some of the complaints brought by same sex couples is simply staggering.  Christian bed and breakfast owners have been sued for not allowing unmarried couples to stay in double rooms.  They would have gladly rented them separate rooms, but that was not good enough for the thought police.[10]  Same sex couples have brought legal complaints against wedding photographers, as if there were a constitutional right to have your picture taken by the person of your choice.[11]  All in the name of “civil rights.”

Let me remind you that a vast majority of African Americans completely reject same sex marriage. They are deeply offended by the high-jacking of the moral authority of their civil rights movement.

When slavery was abolished, all slaves became free men and women.  When women obtained the right to vote, the discrimination ended with the very next election. But for children of same sex marriage, the situation will be different. When we come to our senses 30 years from now and realize that we have perpetrated a grotesque injustice, not a single child born fatherless or motherless within a same sex marriage will get his missing parent back. Only prevention will protect children’s rights.

The thin disguise of marriage equality will not mislead anyone, nor will it atone for the wrong this day done.[12]

And to those of you who plan to vote for man/woman marriage, I say: stay strong!  History is on your side.

 

Full text, with updated footnotes, of testimony delivered on January 23, 2012 in Olympia WA

 


[1] Varnum v Brien Supreme Court of Iowa, No. 07–1499, Filed April 3, 2009, pg 54, footnote 26

[2] Among the many citations that could be given, “Why Marriage Matters: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” (NY: Institute for American Values, 2005), summarizes some of the most important research.

[3] See Elizabeth Marquardt, Norvell Glenn and Karen Clark, “My Daddy’s Name is Donor: A Pathbreaking Study of Young Adults Conceived through Sperm Donation,” (NY: Institute for American Values, 2010).

[4]  Three people vie for parental rights in this Canadian case: http://www.calgarysun.com/2011/10/19/groundbreaking-ruling-in-gay-custody-case  Four people vie for parental rights in this British case: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2047671/High-Court-judges-blast-gay-parents-fighting-little-sisters.html#ixzz1buTCawCX  In Iowa, two women want to be put on the birth certificate, even though “it is a biological impossibility for a woman to establish legal paternity:” http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012120104026  In Florida, courts had to rule on a custody dispute in which one woman is the gestational mother, the other is the genetic mother. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-lesbian-custody-battle-20120103,0,3890777.story “Pennsylvania Court finds three Adults Can Have Parental Rights,” http://newyorklawschool.typepad.com/leonardlink/2007/05/pennsylvania_co.html (quoting Superior Court case, Jacob v Shultz-Jacob, 2007 Westlaw 1240885 , 2007 PA Super 118),  “Canadian court rules boy has a dad and two moms,” http://www.religioustolerance.org/hommarr3par.htm

[5] For examples of law professors who applaud this trend, see Melanie B. Jacobs, “Why Just Two? Disaggregating Traditional Parental Rights and Responsibilities to Recognize Multiple Parents,” 9 Journal of Law and Family Studies 309 (2007) and Katharine K. Baker, Bionormativity and the Construction of Parenthood, 42 Georgia Law Review 649 (2008  “Johnny has two mommies—and four dads,” Boston Globe, October 24, 2010, http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/10/24/johnny_has_two_mommies__and_four_dads/

[6] Quoting divorce statistics in Massachusetts is frankly ridiculous, since the divorce rate rose by 4.5% in MA between 2004 and 2007, while the divorce rate across the whole of the US fell by 2.7%. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvss/Divorce%20Rates%2090%2095%20and%2099-07.pdf (Divorce Rate by State, 1990- 2007, Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC. Page last updated, November 19, 2010), and http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm National Marriage and Divorce Trends, National Vital Statistics System. Provisional number of divorces and annulments and rates, United States, 2000-2007, page last updated, November 19, 2010.

[7] For a general discussion of the likely impact of same sex marriage on a variety of church-related activities, see Douglas Laycock, Anthony R. Picarello, Jr. and Robin Fretwell Wilson, Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2008).

[8] See in Massachusetts for instance, Parker v. Hurley, 514 F.3d 87, 92-93 (1st Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 2008 WL 1926813 (Oct. 6, 2008), and in California, SB 777 requires “non-discrimination” in instruction, for private as well as public schools. Senate Floor Analysis of S.B. 777, Senate Rules Committee, Office of Senate Floor Analysis 2 (Sept. 19, 2007) (internal quotations omitted), available at http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_0751-0800
/sb_777_cfa_20070919_103650_sen_floor.html
. See S.B. 777, 2007-2008 Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2007), available at http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_0751-0800/sb_777_bill_20071012_chaptered.pdf;

[10] A UK couple who runs a bed and breakfast out of their own home is being sued by a same sex couple because they were denied a double room. http://wn.com/Christian_B&B_owners_sued_by_homosexual_couple

[11] The New Mexico Human Rights Commission fined a Christian wedding photographer because she declined to take photos of a lesbian commitment ceremony. http://media.npr.org/documents/2008/jun/photography.pdf

[12] Slight paraphrase of Justice Harlan’s dissent in Plessey v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537,562

Be Sociable, Share!
  1. No comments yet.
Comments are closed.