You would be amazed at how often I hear some version of this one: “You say marriage is about attaching mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. What about adoption?” Or, “you say kids need a mom and a dad. I had a stepfather who was better than my biological dad.” Or the worst version of this I ever heard, “you broke the bonds between your adopted son and his biological parents. How can you say biology is important?” This last comment is particularly idiotic because my son was in a Romanian orphanage for over two years before we had ever heard of him. The bond with his biological parents had Read more…
We let infertile couples get married: why shouldn’t we allow same sex couples to get married? Why should a 65 year old opposite sex couple be allowed to marry, and a 65 year old same sex couple not be allowed to marry?
The essential public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. These two questions are addressing the situations where no children are likely to result from the union.
First, there is a clear difference between what same sex couples do and what infertile married couples do. No one could have children by performing same sex sexual acts. Yet, this is not true of the type of act performed by sterile married couples when they engage in vaginal intercourse. The lack of complementarity in same sex couples is a condition that renders it impossible for them to perform the kind of act that makes them organically one. If a married couple discovers that they are infertile, this obviously does not change what they have been doing in bed. They still perform the same kind of act they have been doing, perhaps for years. The difference is not in what they do—the kind of act—but in a condition that is accidental or extrinsic to what they do, namely the fact of having become sterile.
In fact, married couples who live a normal lifespan will all become infertile eventually, just through old age. This obviously does not take anything away Read more…
Governor Rick Perry made news with his comments about the definition of marriage at an event in Aspen:
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me….That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”
Now, I have been involved in the marriage debate long enough to know that people often take words out of context, distort their meaning, and flat out lie. Whatever Gov Perry may have said or intended to say, the sentiments attributed to him are actually pretty common. So, without passing judgment on Gov Perry, let’s take this opportunity to analyze this statement. As it happens, these very common sentiments fit nicely into my continuing series: “Intelligent Replies to Idiotic Comments.”
There are at least two idiotic ideas embedded in this statement attributed to Gov Perry. First, the idea that the marriage issue is or ought to be a “state’s rights” simply doesn’t work. Read more…
“But same sex couples already have children!” This is not, strictly speaking, an idiotic comment, since it is a statement of fact. However, I want to call your attention to the exasperated gasp (EG for short) that usually accompanies this comment. The EG is designed to intimidate the listener into believing that some deeply important conclusion follows instantly and obviously from the observation that same sex couples already have children in their homes. The Exasperated Gasp is supposed to convey that the whole issue is a done deal, and we shouldn’t offer any resistance to further social change. Let’s examine this. What exactly is it that supposedly follows automatically and obviously?
Same sex couples should be encouraged to have more children. No, that doesn’t follow. You’d have to make an argument to support that conclusion.
Same sex couples will continue to have more children, no matter what the law does or doesn’t do. No, that doesn’t follow either. As a matter of fact, the law can, if it chooses, make it quite difficult for same sex couples to share parenting rights.
Same sex couples have children the same way opposite sex couples do. No, that is manifestly untrue. The Exasperated Gasp is meant to divert attention from the fact that same sex couples can only have a child if someone gives them one, or at least one of the gametes needed to create a child. Same sex couples need assistance from the legal, social and medical establishments in order to give birth to children, and to have legal parenting rights to those children. No where in the Exasperated Gasp is there any explanation at all, or even any attempt at an explanation, as to why anyone ought to assist same sex couples to achieve their reproductive goals or whether anyone has a moral duty to assist them.
Same sex couples should be allowed to marry so “their” children can have all the benefits of marriage. No, this doesn’t follow either. This assumes that the “marriage” of a same sex couple will work in the same way as the marriage of a man and a woman. This is highly doubtful. We already know that in terms of economic behavior, male couples are different from female couples, and both are different from married couples. We also know that separation rates (ie divorces) are different for male couples and for female couples and both are different (higher, like way higher) than for married couples. We have no reason to assume that same sex “marriage” will function in the same way, and convey all the same benefits to children, as natural, conjugal marriage does.
So, to answer our opening question, What exactly is it that supposedly follows automatically and obviously? Answer: Absolutely nothing follows automatically and obviously. The points that we are meant to infer are either not obviously true, (and hence require an actual argument) or not true at all.
The true statement, But same sex couples already have children!” accompanied by an Exasperated Gasp, is either an intimidation tactic, or another idiotic comment. Take your pick.
“Nothing so terrible has happened in Massachusetts or Canada, so let’s just have same sex marriage.”
Marriage is the social institution that connects generations to each other. Redefining marriage changes the basic structure by which the generations relate to one another, including who counts as a parent. We will not experience the most significant consequences of redefining marriage in the first five years. The most significant consequences may not be the most immediately obvious. It will take a full generation, a full thirty years or more, before society will feel the full impact of redefining marriage.
People making this argument don’t understand the full social significance of marriage. They are ignorant of how social systems actually work.
“Nothing so terrible has happened” is truly an idiotic comment.