||Gay "Marriage": Why?|
Marriage exists as a social contract for one reason: to protect children
Thomas Sowell has called the debate over gay marriage “one of the many signs of the sloppy thinking of our times.” I agree, and I’d like to take a little time here to examine some of that “sloppy thinking.”
I think that, for the average person, something about gay marriage doesn’t “seem right,” but it’s difficult to articulate an argument to back up that position. After all, we want to be “fair.” Even if we believe homosexual activity to be immoral, we can’t quite explain exactly why it’s immoral, or why society shouldn’t recognize their love when it does so for heterosexual couples.
I’ve addressed the immorality of homosexual activity in this column many times before, but I haven’t specifically discussed the issue of gay marriage. So today I want to still with discussing the marriage issue specifically. (Knowing, of course, that I’ll be receiving a flood of letters calling me a heretic or worse for ignoring the issue of homosexual acts themselves -- and another flood of letters calling me a homophobe for opposing gay marriage in the first place.)
In the swirl of discussion on the issue, much has been made about the argument from “tradition” -- that is to day, we traditionally haven’t recognized gay marriages. Many, if not most, people immediately pooh-pooh this argument, dismissing it as merely an example of “this is the way it’s always been done, so we’ll keep doing it that way.” But they’re missing the primary point of the argument -- why has it always been done this way.
To me, the central issue hinges on this question: why does society recognize marriage in the first place? Why do we legally obligate these two people to each other? Why do they have to petition the state if they wish to be relieved of that obligation before the “death” upon which they were scheduled to part? Why does the state regulate who can get married and who can’t? Why the blood tests and the licenses and all of the other hoops we make a couple jump through?
Why does the state bother itself with marriage at all? Is it because we think love is so wonderful that we want to recognize it publicly? Is the government really just a romantic one at heart, getting a thrill out of seeing two people who care about each other?
No and no. Marriage exists for one simple reason -- because marriages produce children. Children are the future of our society. Children are helpless and vulnerable. Children have certain needs that they cannot by themselves fulfill -- needs like shelter, protection, support and love. When those needs are not met, the children don’t’ grow up healthy, either physically or emotionally. And then, a generation later, we’re left with a society of unhealthy citizens, and we become an unhealthy society. That’s the state’s concern.
One of the primary needs a child has is the need for two parents. Now, before I invite another flood of letter accusing me of a bias against single parents, let me say that, in my experience, single parents are the first to affirm that a child needs two parents. Raising children is a two person job. And not just any two persons will do. First of all, more and more evidence is coming to the fore suggesting that children need one male and one female parent. Men and women “parent” differently. Women tend to be more nurturing, whereas men tend to be more encouraging of risk-taking, etc. It’s in that balance of the two that we find our balance. And moreover, increasing evidence shows that children need love and acceptance from a primary male and a primary female ( read: mother and father) in order to develop into healthy adults, psycho-sexually. For example, young girls without father figures are exponentially more likely to be involved in promiscuous behavior than those who have healthy father-daughter relationships. Unconditional father-love and mother-love are two separate needs, and when they aren’t fulfilled, kids are in trouble.
And one more thing. Kids need those primary people to stay primary.
They can’t just “switch” parents in mid-stream. Those attachments are permanent. Not just any man or woman will do. Once the attachment forms, that’s the person whose acceptance and love they need. Sometimes, when a parent turns out to be a felon or an abuser or some other horrible person, a certain amount of transfer to a surrogate (i.e. stepparent) can occur. But that’s the exception, and it doesn’t happen easily or smoothly.
Homosexual unions fill none of these requirements. They don’t, by their very nature, produce children. I realize, of course, that with the state of reproductive technology today, anything is possible. But is that reproductive technology always in the best interest of the child, and should society be promoting it by creating “marriages” between two people of the same sex? Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not saying that homosexually oriented people can’t be good parents. In fact, some of the gay men I know would, in many ways, make absolutely wonderful fathers. (Of course, I don’t like the idea of a child growing up in an atmosphere where immoral acts are treated as moral. But then again, that happens in a lot of heterosexual households as well.) But that’s all beside the point. Kids need a father and a mother. Heather Has Two Mommies is fiction. And in the households where it’s fact, Heather is being deliberately deprived of the father she most desperately needs.
So why sanction gay marriages? Why legally obligate these people to each other “‘til death do us part”? There is, quite simply, no need.. As of now, society has no formal interest in whether or not these unions stay together. If we did create a formal contract between these individuals, we’d just be getting the government involved for no reason, clogging the courts with their “divorces” and “remarriages” with absolutely no up-side for society.
What’s the point?