Editor’s Note: This is the third column in a Doublethink debate about marriage and government. In the second column, The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson argued that “Big Government Should Not Redefine Marriage.”
Ryan Anderson has clearly studied the marriage debate. He has simply come to a conclusion at odds with the position I took. In refuting my article here on Doublethink (In Marriage Business, Government is Picking Winners and Losers), Anderson has missed and distorted my central argument by focusing on the word “monogamous.” He has obfuscated the issue by bringing in a host of other human connections, including polyamorous relationships, to the argument. The issue that I am addressing in my article is a narrow one, and that is simply this: the government should not regulate which combinations of couples should be able to make legally binding commitments to each other based on sexual orientation. That is the debate currently raging in this country, not whether three or four people can get married, or whether a person can marry a goat. Those are debates for another time.
Mr. Anderson seems to have two main points. He first argues that marriage is inherently a male-female relationship for “natural” reasons. But that argument assumes that procreation and marriage are synonymous. Because state-issued marriage licenses do not include a “must procreate clause,” his point is obviously off the topic of my column and could be considered false. Heterosexual married couples are not required to have children, and many choose not to. Furthermore, Mr. Anderson’s belief that because “the sexual acts that unite a man and a woman are the same acts that bring forth new life, the state has an interest in channeling sexual desire toward a stable relationship,” marriage should be singularly defined as a heterosexual relationship. But I can honestly think of nothing more offensive. The state has an interest in its citizen’s sexual desires? Mr. Anderson’s remark ignores totally the fact that millions of people (gay and straight) have children outside of marriage. It also presumes that homosexual relationships are not stable. However, in a 2010 review of virtually every study on gay parenting, researchers Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz found no developmental differences (mental health, educational attainments and quality of parent-child relationships) between children raised in homes with two heterosexual parents and children raised with lesbian parents. Mr. Anderson also completely overlooks the fact that many homosexual couples have children from previous heterosexual relationships (married and non-married), adopt children, and foster needy children.
Anderson’s second argument centers on the idea that marriage serves the “common good.” But what is the common good and how is it defined? If the common good is defined as good child outcomes, that again assumes that marriage and child-rearing are one in the same. It also (again) makes the incorrect aforementioned assumptions that all children are brought up by a father and mother in a heterosexual marriage and that gay relationships are unstable. Clearly, Mr. Anderson wants to make his case outside of the modern world as we know it to be.
Despite what he might claim, Mr. Anderson is not as “liberty-loving” and supportive of “limited government” as he claims. Promoting marriage as a conjugal union between a man and a woman is denying a sought-after right (that is entangled with an array of benefits) to gay couples around the country. There is nothing liberty-loving about discrimination, and a true limited government supporter would find discrimination in the use of state powers (and protections of commitments) abhorrent, wouldn’t you think?
Kathryn Shelton is a research associate at SMU Cox’s O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom. She is most recently co-author of Hybrids and Hype, published in the May edition of The Freeman.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Kathlyn Ehl
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Jacob Hayutin