Maggie: Part 2 of ‘The Harms of Same-Sex Marriage’

Rob Tisinai

May 13th, 2012

Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), has answered the question:

In states where same-sex couples have been allowed to marry, what harm has been brought to individuals or society at large?

I already knocked apart a portion of her answer here. Now I’d like to deal with this bit:

I think we’re in the early stages of seeing my primary concern, which is a transformation of the public understanding of marriage and the separation of it from its roots in the natural family…Gay marriage is not just adding a couple of people onto an existing institution. It requires re-norming the whole institution and making it serve new purposes, instead of its classic purpose across time and culture and history, which is to bring together male and female so children have a mom and a dad.

In other words, same-sex marriage will obscure the purpose of marriage. She hits this theme a lot, and I’ve previously pointed out the problems that arise when you talk about the purpose of marriage. So now let me hit something else — let me point out that her answer suggests this isn’t about marriage at all. It’s about gays.

See, in 2009 over 110,000 women aged 55 and older got married. That accounted for 5.1% of all marriages that year. The birth rate of women in this group is so small that the Census Bureau and the CDC don’t even report it. For these women, “the” purpose of marriage is not procreation, not about bringing together moms and dads. And by the way, when women in this group do conceive, it’s generally through an egg donor, so even that is contrary to Maggie’s repugnant, repetitive rhetoric about marriage uniting children with “their own mother and father” (that is, repugnant to adoptive parents, at least, who apparently cannot count their children as “their own”).

Now, that 5.1% figure is a bit higher than the 4.1% of adults willing to tell the government they’re gay or bisexual (which itself is different from the fraction who actually are gay or bisexual, but we’re concerned here with people willing to go on the record, as marriage requires).

So this is what Maggie needs to resolve:  We’ve got two groups, both of whom wish to marry, neither of whom can conceive on their own. According to Maggie that’s a bad combination. Yet she’s willing to let them marry as long as they’re not same-sex couples. At this point it takes some real tap dancing to avoid the idea that it’s really just all about gays.

Still, I invite Maggie to explain.

A preemptory note: Our opponents have two common responses to this:

  • It would be a terrible invasion of privacy to investigate the fertility of an opposite-sex couple before granting a marriage license! If you hear this, then ask: “So if we could somehow know their fertility, you’d be fine with denying them marriage?” You’ll likely get back something about not wanting to deal in hypotheticals (which are entirely within the realm of possibility!), and that means they’re not willing to follow their reasoning to its logical conclusion.
  • We don’t define laws according to the exceptions. In other words, opposite-sex infertile couples are merely “exceptions” that the law can’t be bothered to address. To begin with, what a dismissive insult! Can you imagine telling a heartbroken couple who has struggled and failed to conceive: We would take away your marriage rights but we simply can’t be bothered. Further, it’s not true; the law carves out exceptions constantly — consider killing as murder vs. self-defense. But most of all, if we don’t base laws on exceptions, then why do our opponents spend millions trying to rob one small exception — one small group of couples — of their marriage rights simply because they cannot conceive on their own?

So be ready for those responses. You’re likely to hear them, and they’re easy to deal with.

Here’s another way of seeing how ridicu-ludicrous Maggie’s statement is. She warns us away from making marriage “serve new purposes.” Presumably she means something other than just uniting two people of the same sex — something more than “just adding a couple of people onto an existing institution.” No, Maggie’s new purposes consist of that which goes beyond marriage’s “classic purpose…which is to bring together male and female so children have a mom and a dad.”

Do you believe that? If so, then imagine this conversation between Maggie and a new NOM intern:

Intern: Hey Maggie, get this: in 2009, more than 30,000 women aged 65 and older got married.

Maggie: No, that can’t be. That’s ridiculous. I should fire you.

Intern: Fire — wait — what?

Maggie: You’re trying to fool me into believing that 30,000 elderly women thought they could procreate!

Intern: But I didn’t — wait — what?

Maggie: Because that’s the only reason they would marry.

Intern: The only — wait — what?

Maggie: Why else would they marry?

Intern: Um…because that’s what people in love do? When they want to build a life together? As one?

Maggie: Nonsense. That would be an entirely new purpose for marriage!

Intern: It would?

Maggie: It’s so obvious, only a fool would need that explained.

Intern: Can you explain it?

Maggie: Oh…

Intern: Oh?

Maggie: Oh…you are so fired!

Personally, I don’t believe this conversation would ever happen. I don’t think Maggie, confronted with a 65-year-old bride, would find herself baffled. She wouldn’t investigate whether this woman thinks she can conceive. And Maggie’s head wouldn’t explode at the prospect of a new purpose for marriage. I bet Maggie would congratulate this woman on having another go at happiness.

As long as she’s marrying a man.

Maggie also offered this as a harm of same-sex marriage:

You see the idea and the ideal that children need a mother and father beginning to be redefined as the equivalent of a racist or mean or hateful idea. That’s on top of the problem of the silencing or the — which I’ve already talked about — the way religious institutions and religious people who in good conscience can’t treat same-sex unions as marriages begin to be treated as pariahs.

As you recall, I’ve written already how Maggie herself shares responsibility for this quandary. At that time, I promised to write more on it, but others anticipated me by pointing out the circular nature of her argument: Legalizing same-sex marriage is bad because it makes people who are opposed to same-sex marriage officially bad. So let me take a moment and extend that a bit.

First, Maggie is wrong in her circular argument. Legalizing same-sex marriage doesn’t mean the government is calling opponents bigots; after all, the government hires Jewish military chaplains, but that doesn’t mean it’s designating as “bigots” anyone who thinks Christ is the only path to salvation. As I’ve written before, compare these two statements:

The government is not taking a position on whether your religion’s view of salvation is correct when it gives equal support to multiple views. The government is not taking a position on whether your religion’s view of marriage is correct when it gives equal support to multiple views.

If the statement on the left is correct, then so is the one on the right. Government neutrality is not an accusation of “bigotry.”

But there’s another response to Maggie’s argument. Suppose you spin it around like a hula hoop and turn it against her. During NOM’s ill-fated bus tour across the country, Brian Brown staked NOM’s worth on the character of its supporters. These are the same supporters who have a hard time commenting on NOM’s blog without speaking of abomination and perverts. So if we hijack NOM’s reasoning, we can say that same-sex marriage must be legalized; anything else would reinforce the idea of gays as abominable perverts who shall surely be put to death.

But of course that’s ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as Maggie’s notion that we must ban same-sex marriage to keep people from saying mean things about its opponents.

revchicoucc

May 13th, 2012

When applying for a marriage license in my state, a one man / one woman state, the applicants are not asked if they are biologically capable of having children, nor if they even plan to have children, nor, for that matter, if they are in love.

Under our state’s marriage laws, the applicants must be of a certain age, not relatives by blood to one another, not married to someone else, and capable of giving consent to the marriage.

Any two people who meet the statutory qualifications on these questions can be married, as long as they are of opposite gender.

To be consistent with their own arguments, the opponents of marriage equality should also be trying to amend state marriage laws to require these questions — ability to have children, intent to have children, and emotional commitment — be asked before a marriage license is issued. A license would be denied for a “no” on any of the three. Otherwise, it’s not a traditional, natural marriage.

Hyhybt

May 13th, 2012

At the root, they don’t really care about any of the stuff they argue. It’s not about procreation, or benefitting or harming anyone, or the supposed danger of more people being gay, as such. It’s just that the one thing that matters most doesn’t work as an argument. It’s too intangible, and to many audiences sounds bad when spoken aloud. The one thing they absolutely cannot stand is the mere thought of our *being perceived as* normal.

Andrew

May 14th, 2012

I have to say I was appalled that the Diane Riehm show — someone I normally consider to be a pretty decent journalist — not only gave 15 minutes of solo time to Bryan Fischer last week, but also included Gallagher on a panel without referencing her unethical behaviors – she continues to be regarded as an acceptable person to have on some shows.

I called NPR to complain about the DR show, and urge everyone else to as well. It is unacceptable that my donor dollars go to this, and I’m letting my local station know that I may not be able to renew my pledge.

Jarred

May 14th, 2012

It requires re-norming the whole institution and making it serve new purposes, instead of its classic purpose across time and culture and history, which is to bring together male and female so children have a mom and a dad.

Yeah, all marriages everywhere have been about providing a mom and dad for children.

Except for those political marriages that were arranged to ensure peace between two families or nations. Or those arrange marriages that were meant as a way of improving one family’s societal and/or financial status. Or those rich men who have married trophy wives. Or…well, I think everyone gets my point.

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

It requires re-norming the whole institution and making it serve new purposes, instead of its classic purpose across time and culture and history, which is to bring together male and female so children have a mom and a dad.

Further to what Jarred said:

If allowing same sex couples who can’t have their own children to marry “re-norms” marriage and makes it serve a new purpose(joining two individuals for their own love) then marriage has always been normed in this way and always served this additional purpose because its always allowed infertile couples to marry.

Rob Tisinai

May 14th, 2012

In accordance with Box Turtle Bulletin’s commenting policy, comments containing terms which demean Maggie Gallagher’s personal appearance or mannerisms have been deleted.

Timothy Kincaid

May 14th, 2012

I certainly don’t want this to be perceived as a defense for Maggie’s views, but I think there is an argument which is not addressed above. (But knowing Rob’s thoroughness and thoughtfulness, it may be coming).

If one accepts the premise that the purpose of marriage is to create a legal and social unit of a father and mother so as to best care for children, then not all marriages must meet this goal so long as they reinforce and advance the goal.

Thus when a widower and widow beyond conception years marry, they are unlikely to have children of their own. However, their marriage reinforces the model of marriage: man – woman, sexually exclusive, til death do us part. It advances the picture of marriage that Maggie wishes to instill to the next generation.

So too does adoption. It may not place a child into a unit consisting of its natural parents and its siblings, but it models that unit.

But same-sex marriage does not advance this model. To Maggie’s thinking it presents a competing model: marriage as something other than the safest unit for children: their natural parents. It says that marriage has some other purpose, some other goal.

I disagree with Maggie, but I think we are best served by understanding what her thinking is on the matter.

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

Its highly debatable whether or not old people marrying advances the model of marriage as a vehicle for having children. One can just as easily say their marrying when they’re unable to have children competes with the model of marriage as a vehicle to have children.

It is also highly debatable that adoption models a marriage where children are with their natural parents. The children are not with their parents in that marriage so one can just as easily argue that it does not model that kind of marriage.

Further many gay couples have children and one of them is the biological parent of the children. One can just as easily argue that that better models the idea of marriage as a vehicle for raising children than the marriage of an infertile couple.

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

In fact, in thinking more about it, there is no way one can rationally argue that an infertile couple marrying better models marriage as a vehicle for raising children than a gay couple’s marriage that has children – the gay couple IS raising children and the infertile couple is NOT. Hands down the gay couple’s marriage with children better models the idea of marriage as a vehicle for raising children.

Jarred

May 14th, 2012

The argument also is based on the fallacious notion that different models must inevitably be seen as being “in competition” with one another.

Granted, that’s a fallacious notion that underlies the vast majority of “culture war” positions and the “culture war” mentality in general. The idea that differing viewpoints or models can coexist without one necessarily dominating or obliterating the others completely undermines to such an outlook and approach to life and its various issues.

Rob Tisinai

May 14th, 2012

Hey Timothy, great comment, and another response we definitely need to be ready for. Here’s what I would say:

1. Maggie’s complete model of marriage is not “man – woman, sexually exclusive, til death do us part.” You need to add, “for the purpose of making sure children can know and be known by, and love and be loved by, their own mother and father.” Maggie calls this “the essential public purpose of marriage.”

2. Maggie’s big fear is that same-sex relationships will send the wrong message about that purpose of marriage.

3. But if senior citizens marry, they are making the point that there are other reasons to marry — reasons strong enough to justify marriage.

4. So if Maggie says they reinforce her preferred model, I’d have to ask, what is that model? Not man and woman coming together to become Mom and Dad, but man and woman coming together to commit to each other, with no connection to parenting.

5. So Maggie is okay with couples marrying, even though they undercut her message about the purpose of marriage and her model of the function marriage serves in society. As long as they’re an opposite sex couple.

I need to make that pithier and update the post, but feel free to play devil’s advocate.

The pithier version will be something along the lines of:

When our opponents put forth the ‘reinforcing the model of marriage’ argument, they’re leaving a key component out their model — the very component that they used to deny marriage to same-sex couples in the first place. Either children are essential to their model, in which case their ‘reinforcment’ argument falls apart and senior citizen should not marry, OR children are not essential to their model, in which case both senior citizens and same-sex couples can marry.

(I suppose “pithy” is a relative term. Hopefully version 2 will improve on it.)

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

And Rob, if childen are essential to their model then gay couples with children should be allowed to marry and senior citizens should not – can’t have it both ways.

Timothy Kincaid

May 14th, 2012

I’ll be devil’s advocate:

The purpose for marriage is that society adopt and enforce the social structure in the best interest of children. Or, in Maggie’s words, “the purpose of making sure children can know and be known by, and love and be loved by, their own mother and father.”

One man – one woman (fertile) best meets that objective.

However, there is no societal advantage to that couple splitting up once the kids are out of the nest, and a great deal of advantage to them remaining together – the impact being on the well being of their adult children and their grandchildren.

That this couple remains together presents to children the lesson that this is what they are to do: meet their mate (of the opposite sex) and commit to that person for life, thus ensuring the best outcome of their offspring.

Thus older couples who have become married present a picture to children that is consistent with grandma and grandpa. And as children are not generally well informed in matters of conception, the picture is more important to them than the reasons behind it.

A little boy grows up believing that he will marry a woman some day. This belief is reinforced by all male-female marriages whether fertile or not.

And when this little boy marries, he will be part of the preferred model and conceive children within that social unit. Thus the infertile couples who marry play a positive roll in causing his children to be raised in the best structure.

However, a male-male or female-female marriage introduces another option and thus weakens the presumption. If the little boy thinks “I can marry a woman or I can marry a man” then he may also conceptualize that the social expectation of marriage to a woman is not an absolute.

And while he may have no desire to marry a man, he may now believe “I don’t need to marry a woman”. And yet he will want to engage in sex with a woman. And thus the result of his being presented with the option of not marrying a woman may well lead to children being born outside of this social structure.

Timothy Kincaid

May 14th, 2012

(To any newcomers, this is not my belief. I would counter that in today’s culture the idea of non-marriage is already dominant. The model of “everyone should marry” would lead to more children being born inside a marriage rather than less.)

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

However, a male-male or female-female marriage introduces another option and thus weakens the presumption. If the little boy thinks “I can marry a woman or I can marry a man” then he may also conceptualize that the social expectation of marriage to a woman is not an absolute.

And while he may have no desire to marry a man, he may now believe “I don’t need to marry a woman”. And yet he will want to engage in sex with a woman. And thus the result of his being presented with the option of not marrying a woman may well lead to children being born outside of this social structure.

But the male/male or female/female marriage still models the idea that one will get married regardless of gender so it does not model the idea that he need not marry at all. And once again, given that many male/male and female/female marriages have children the connection between marriage and rearing children is maintained and those marriages models maggies concept of marriage better than the infertile heterosexual couple’s marriage does.

As Timothy said, given that children are not generally well informed in matters of conception, the infertile heterosexual couple getting married doesn’t reinforce the model of marriage being a vehicle for raising children any better than the male/male or female/female childless marriage does.

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

Once again, the idea that an infertile and childless heterosexual couple better models maggie’s purpose of marriage than a same sex couple with children is nonsensical. When modeling marriage as a vehicle for raising children the presence of children is far, far more significant than the presence of a childless heteroesexual couple.

Timothy would probably then argue that Maggie’s ideal model of marriage is not just that it be see as a vehicle for raising children but that it be seen as a vehicle for heteroesxual biological parents raising children in which case given that we allow adoptive parents to marry one is using the circular argument that marriage should have a male and female because marriage has a male and female.

MJC

May 14th, 2012

Maggie is, therefore, a genital fundamentalist.

Rob Tisinai

May 14th, 2012

Priya, keep in mind that Timothy wants us to understand Maggie’s argument as she sees it — which is exactly what we should be able to do.

Now, Maggie thinks it’s clear that the best situation for children is to be raised by their biological mother and father. So her argument is not: “the purpose of marriage is to raise children.” No, it’s: “The purpose of marriage is to unite children with their biological mother and father.”

Certainly we can dispute the notion that married bio-parents are better than same-sex adoptive parents (and dispute it I have!). But in this part of our exchange, I’m making the point that even if you ACCEPT Maggie’s basic premises, they still lead her to contradictory conclusions.

And I think that’s valuable: it’s good to be able to demolish your opponents’ premises, but it’s also good to be able to show that their reasoning is wrong even if you accept those premises.

Timothy’s pointed out way she might respond to this, and I’m trying to figure out if I can demolish her argument from the inside, showing that her premises — even if true — lead to a conclusion she wouldn’t accept.

If I can’t, then either I need to think about it harder, or I need to fall back on one of the other counterarguments (e.g., disputing one of her premises by arguing it’s ludicrous to talk about “the” purpose of marriage, as if there’s only one that provides sufficient reason). But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the challenge.

chiMaxx

May 14th, 2012

One thing I notice: The opponents of same-sex marriage always want to keep the discussion at a certain level of abstraction–abstract mothers and fathers in marriages abstract enough to look the same. The whole argument takes place 50 miles off the ground at the level of “modeling” and “norms” and inspecific “complementarity.”

Those who embrace same-sex marriage–including Obama last week–tend talk about real people: couples they know, international couples separated by immigration laws, same-sex parenting couples they know or have met.

It makes the opponents seem procrustean: The models are inflexible–unchanging and eternal–and people must be stretched or cropped to fit into them.

Clayton

May 14th, 2012

I wish somebody would ask Maggie this: if childbearing and parenting are so central to marriage, they why is it that children are NEVER MENTIONED in traditional marriage ceremonies. Couples promise to stay with each other for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, in good times and bad, blah blah blah, but there is absolutely no mention of children.

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

Rob, even if Maggie’s belief is “The purpose of marriage is to unite children with their biological mother and father.” a same sex couple with children models that better than an infertile heterosexual couple with no children. The presence of children in the model is a far far more significant feature than the presence of heterosexual couple. To suggest a childless infertile couple in anyway models marriage as the union of a biological mother and father and their children is a huge stretch.

Timothy Kincaid

May 14th, 2012

same sex couple with children models that better than an infertile heterosexual couple with no children

I think Maggie would disagree. From her perspective, each child should, if at all possible, be raised by its natural father and mother.

So an infertile couple would have no children who are so unfortunate, while every child raised in a same-sex family misses out on having that mom+dad=family structure that best benefits them.

A childless infertile couple models the possibility and hope of a child raised in such a family.

In many ways it comes down to what you believe. Many people think the benefit is in the number: having two parents that love and nurture you is the key. Maggie believes that it is in the genes: a child’s natural parents will love and nurture more than anyone else.

Personally, I think absolutes about such things are nonsense. Is two the magic number? It is “gender complimentarity”? Is is a good Christian family – or a good family that rejects religious myth? Is it values or education or genetics or social structure or society?

We can find exceptions to every claim.

Priya Lynn

May 14th, 2012

I’m sure Maggie would disagree with me but not because I’m wrong but because she would never concede the obvious truth. She wouldn’t prevent adoptive parents from marrying so once again there is no basis for her to say same sex couples with children shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

A childless infertile couple does not model the possibility of children because there is no possibility and again no children whatsoever.

If 12 year old Tommy is raised by his married biological father and mother and sees a childless couple too old to have children and a same sex couple raising children who are his playmates he’s going to think his family has a lot more in common with the family headed by the same sex couple than he will with the old childless couple.

When asking which marriage best models a biological mother and biological father raising their children there is no comparison, the one with children is more similar to that marriage than the one without even if the one with children is headed by a same sex couple

An infertile childless couple in no significant way models a family with children. The absence of children is a blatant and irreconcilable flaw in the claim that this reasonably models married biological parents and children

Reed

May 14th, 2012

Rob Tisinai and Timothy Kincaid and Priya Lynn collaborating and discussing things. *sigh*
All’s right with the world, and I’m feeling a great upsurge in the Force (of the good kind, not that nasty “blowing up planets” sort).
Remember this moment.
I’ll be in the kitchen making cucumber sandwiches.

P.S. LOVED the last two links in the article (frequency searches on “abominations and perverts,” etc.).

Richard Rush

May 14th, 2012

This whole marriage issue often seems far more complicated/convoluted than it really needs to be.

Fact: marriage does not require procreation, and procreation does not require marriage.

Fact: Marriage provides tangible benefits to children, and many same-sex couples are raising children. Therefore, same-sex marriage benefits children.

Fact: If opposite-sex married couples without children benefit from marriage, then same-sex couples without children also benefit from marriage.

Quandary: If marriage provides tangible benefits for all the families involved, whether or not they have children, why is marriage right for opposite-sex couples, but wrong for same-sex couples? How does society benefit from one, but not the other? Aren’t the benefits to society calculated by adding up the number of families that are benefiting? If we add married same-sex couples to the mix, a larger percentage of society is receiving the benefits of marriage, so how is it possible that society is not benefiting?

Conclusion: I acknowledge that same-sex marriage may seem a radical change from what people have perceived as the way it’s always been. But people can and do adjust to change, but seem to have the most difficulty with change that benefits people that they don’t like. Nowadays, for the most part, I think we are dealing with people, such as Maggie, who are certain we are inferior, and therefore we should be denied the good things in life that they are privileged to enjoy. They are, after all, the good righteous people who deserve special rewards and rights for being superior. All the noise they generate about children, moms, dads, “protecting” marriage, and the worry about man/goat marriage, etc. is designed to assure the common people that they really are superior, and they need to protect themselves from the threat posed by inferiors. If conservatives were not blinded by their deep animus, they would (or should) be insisting on the availability of same-sex marriage.

Patricia Kayden

May 15th, 2012

My husband and I were both 31 when we got married. No children and no desire to adopt. Ms. Gallagher needs to dream up a valid reason for how SSM will damage marriage. So far, she has come up with zilch.

Regan DuCasse

May 15th, 2012

She and her ilk wax so terribly romantic about the history of marriage and it’s guiding principles about the compatibility of man and woman.
I left a message at TH to answer this question:
Then why all the brutality against females, to this day?
In fundamentally religious cultures, identity, individual character and public independence are nearly invisible, because they are cruelly enforced.
Poverty, domestic violence, disease and illiteracy are feminized globally. And I’ve noticed that the committed anti gay, leave the female victims of sexual abuse from the conversation. And omit the fact that it’s alpha male hetero sexual abuse of boys perceived as weaker that occurs. The abuser, much less often, is a male that’s openly and identifies as gay.
Gay males in fact, have less access than people like to believe.

The irrefutable fact is, that females, even in our modern society have less value, and therefore those thought to have non gender conforming characteristics (homosexuality) do as well.
The meme is still pushed that gender MUST be enforced. And the fact that gender characteristics are constructed artificially. Especially by religious communities.

So it’s not hard to see or point out the contradictions all over the place about the compatibility of men and women.
What is claimed as ‘natural law’ is anything but, when it comes our dissenters think they know or are willing to admit about gender.

wj

May 15th, 2012

Let’s see here.
– We must structure marriage laws based on what is best for children.
– Children do best when they are raised by a mother and father.
– Therefore we must not allow a couple which has children to divorce. (Stipulate minor children, on the grounds that adult children are no longer being raised.) To do so would be bad for the children, because they would no longer be being raised by a mother and father.

Why do I suspect that restructuring the divorce parts of the current marriage laws like this is not going to get embraced by NOM?

Alex

May 16th, 2012

I’d just like to make a factual correction.

Clayton asks:

“I wish somebody would ask Maggie this: if childbearing and parenting are so central to marriage, they why is it that children are NEVER MENTIONED in traditional marriage ceremonies. Couples promise to stay with each other for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, in good times and bad, blah blah blah, but there is absolutely no mention of children.”

This isn’t entirely true, at least in the Catholic Church. At a Catholic wedding the priest asks the couple something along the lines of, “Are you prepared to accept children as a gift from God?” or something along those lines. Theoretically, if they said no, the priest wouldn’t be allowed to continue with the ceremony.

Lymis

May 16th, 2012

Timothy, sorry but it doesn’t work. I won’t even begin to guess whether what you propose might be what Maggie is thinking – which I honestly can’t credit, because that sort of thing only works when you aren’t presented with working alternatives to your view.

Someone who hasn’t thought about it might well believe what you are proposing as Maggie’s view, but she has certainly thought about it, and certainly knows better.

Anyhoo.

Your example that the infertile older couple models the ideal for the child who is sufficiently uninformed about biology doesn’t hold up without bigotry being involved.

If you aren’t informed enough about biology to notice that Aunt Sally and Uncle Joe don’t have kids, or to know just how kids come about, then it’s not going to explode little Johnny’s world that Aunt Cindy and Aunt Barb DO have kids.

What’s being modeled by gay couples with kids is “people grow up, get married and have kids.” If you don’t know where kids come from, Aunt Cindy and Aunt Barb are modeling that FAR better than Aunt Sally and Uncle Joe.

Honestly, have you ever even MET a 5 year old whose response to “all married people have kids, that’s what marriage is for” wouldn’t instantly say “What about Aunt Sally and Uncle Joe? They don’t have kids.”

The absurdity is that the only reason to prefer the Sally/Joe couple as a proxy model for marriage to the Cindy/Barb couple is if you not only want to encourage procreation, but want to mandate heterosexuality.

Make a compelling case that marriage is only for having kids, and when they grow up and the hormones kick in, they’ll naturally choose to have kids with whoever it is that they are sexually compatible with – and that’s another member of the same sex, if they are gay.

Present Cindy and Barb to a young straight kid, and they’ll get the idea that grownups who marry have kids, and when they grow up, they’l expect to have kids with whoever they marry. A young straight kid isn’t going to turn gay because gay people have kids.

Present Sally and Joe and all you present is the idea that grownups get married.

Present Sally and Joe as validly married and Cindy, Barb and the kids as not being a valid family, and what you present is the idea that heterosexuality in any form is better then homosexuality, and that gay people and their kids are not as good as straight families.

Which is exactly Maggie’s goal. And she knows it.

Priya Lynn

May 16th, 2012

Lymis said “What’s being modeled by gay couples with kids is “people grow up, get married and have kids.” If you don’t know where kids come from, Aunt Cindy and Aunt Barb are modeling that FAR better than Aunt Sally and Uncle Joe.”.

Exactly. And even if Maggie says what needs to be modeled is a married father and mother raising their biological children a same sex couple with children still models that better than an infertile couple that does not and will never have children. No way you can say a family without children better models a family with children than a family with children.

Rob Tisinai

May 16th, 2012

Everyone here agrees that married biological parents are not inherently better than same-sex parents.

Everyone here agrees that we can knock a “modeling” argument apart on those grounds.

But not everyone in the world agrees with that. So what I tried to do in the article — and what Timothy followed up with in his comments — is to show that even if Maggie’s premise IS correct (even if same-sex parenting is NOT a model to be encouraged in any way), then Maggie is STILL being internally inconsistent with her policy positions.

Basically, in other words there are (at least) two ways to knock an argument apart:

1. Knock down the premises of the argument and show one or more of them to be false. That’s what we’re doing when we say Aunt Cindy and Aunt Barb are a great model for parenting, and elsewhere on this site we’ve made that case.

2. You can also destroy an argument by showing that its logic is wrong, that even if you accept all of a person’s premises, their conclusions are still flawed.

#2 isn’t just a logic game. It’s a good approach, partly because the more ways we can demonstrate flaws in an argument, the better, and partly because not everyone will agree with your assertion that your opponents’ premises are wrong.

Priya Lynn

May 16th, 2012

Okay Rob, assuming we accept that same sex couples with children aren’t good models of children prioritized marriages and marriage equality becomes the law of the land its unlikely that same sex marriages will account for more than 5% of all marriages, and probably a good deal less than that.

That being the case 19 times out of 20 marriage will be exactly what Maggie wants to see and children witnessing marriages will overwhelmingly see heterosexual marriages and it isn’t credible that the rare time they are aware of a gay marriage its going to have any significant impact on what they view marriage as.

If it weren’t for the anti-gays making a big deal out of same sex marriage its societal visibility would be near zero, it’d be a non-issue and everyone would continue to think of marriage in exactly the way they almost always see it happening.

I put this to Maggie a few years back and her response was “I hope you’re right.”.

Rob Tisinai

May 16th, 2012

Priya, you do have a point there. During the ballot initiative fights and all the controversy over what will happen in the classroom, our opponents have put commercials on TV saying children are too young to be exposed to issues like this — thus ensuring that children will be exposed to issues like this.

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