Forces pushing for genderless marriage are a wellspring of fallacies and unanswered questions about the consequences. Let’s explore some of them.
1. What’s love got to do with it?
Nothing. Romanticizing this debate by claiming that any two people in love should have a civil right to civil marriage is a foolish distraction. Neither judges nor legislators have any business discussing “affection” as a factor in defining civil marriage. Clergy who bless marriages have a legitimate and separate role in discerning the internal dynamics of couples. But not the state.
2. What is the state’s interest in marriage?
First, to recognize the union that produces the state’s citizens. Second, to encourage those who sire and bear the citizens to take responsibility for rearing them together. That’s all, folks. Proponents of genderless marriage often answer this question with non sequiturs such as property rights (irrelevant), civil rights (extraneous to the question), and “love and stability” (not a function of state involvement).
3. Why should state interest in marriage be about children if not all marriages produce children?
It’s thoroughly irrelevant that many heterosexual couples lack children because of intent, infertility, age, or health. Claiming that this is relevant to the case for genderless marriage suggests the “fallacy of composition“: inferring that something must be true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole. Citizens of the state can exist only through the female-male union, no matter how the union occurs — whether traditionally, artificially, or in a petri dish. That’s the only fact that provides any grounds for state interest in marriage.
4. What about marriage for the sake of same-sex households with children?
We just don’t have the right to deliberately deprive children of knowing their biological mothers or fathers. But genderless marriage ultimately requires us to do this. It requires society to sanction the refashioning of familial bonds in alienating and experimental ways. Use of surrogates and egg or sperm markets put children at ever-increasing risk of being treated more as commodities than as human beings. Laws supporting genderless marriage cannot help but ramp up these trends to newer and crueler levels.
5. Won’t biological parents continue to have a default legal right to rear the children they sire and bear together?
See Question 4. The rights of biological parents to raise their own children will necessarily diminish in the wake of legalization of same-sex marriage, because changing the definition of marriage results in changing presumptions about who the legal parents are. Recognizing marriage as the union of one man and one woman is the only sustainable basis upon which a biological mother and father are legally and by default recognized as the primary caregivers of their children. But today there’s a new push for the state to require special licensing of all family configurations as “care-giving units.”
6. How can legalization of same sex marriage affect my own marriage?
It is the vehicle by which all civil marriages may soon be abolished, including yours. When children are no longer considered central to state purpose, marriage becomes nothing more than a contract between any two (or more) people. A reversal of DOMA could give force to an emerging movement called “singlism,” which argues that the state should cease recognition of marriage because it is discriminatory against those who do not have partners.
Furthermore, the un-defining of marriage is only one part of a package deal that includes the transgender push for the un-defining of gender. This is already happening under the radar through laws that define gender identity only on self-perception: seeing yourself on any given day as male, female, both, or neither. If that goal is achieved, the reduction of your “marriage” to social and legal gibberish will be complete. And as we become more isolated from family bonds in the eyes of the state, the state becomes freer to define our humanity.
7. How about we just “get the state out of the marriage business” altogether?
This is a silly slogan that actually invites the government to regulate our personal associations on a scale we’ve never before witnessed. Libertarians like to discuss “privatizing” marriage, but we should smell a big fat government trap here.
State recognition of marriage serves to ensure the autonomy of the family, which in turn serves as the greatest buffer zone between the individual and the power of the state. If civil marriage is abolished, all families instead become partnerships subject to contract law, with the state ever more aggressively defining and regulating those contracts. And how can we expect the government to respect family autonomy if we no longer require the government to recognize it?
8. Isn’t it relevant that public opinion is shifting in favor of same sex marriage?
No. Poll numbers reflect only what people are willing to say. People consistently falsify their preferences when confronted with the likelihood of being smeared, isolated, and punished if they express “incorrect” views. The echo chambers of media, academia, and Hollywood serve as enforcers. Constant repetition of views, no matter how implausible they may seem at first, combined with the suppression of dissent, often results in an availability cascade that leads to shifts in public opinion.
9. What about all those conservative politicians and pundits now reversing course and supporting same sex marriage?
See #8. Politics as usual. The self-reinforcing opinion cascade is having its intended effect on them. None offer substantive arguments. The fear of losing turf, power, and connections leaves them more susceptible than most to the forces of preference falsification and the suppression of dissent.
10. What about equal rights for gays? Doesn’t restricting marriage to union of a man and woman infringe on their civil rights?
Civil societies recognize and respect the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. But marriage is what it is, rooted in sexual complementarity and biology. This fact makes some people sad. And angry. So in the interests of fairness, public officials are changing the meaning on paper to make the emotionally afflicted feel better.
The reality is that this disrespectful hijacking of the civil rights movement in order to co-opt the definition of marriage reduces everybody’s civil rights.
It violates the rights of children by serving to deprive them deliberately of biological parents. It violates everybody’s civil right to religious freedom by setting up a collision course in which conscience protections will be trumped by a nonsensical legal definition of marriage. It violates our freedom of association by removing the buffer zone of family (and all mediating institutions) that insulate all individuals in society from abuses of state power. It violates freedom of expression by requiring Orwellian Newspeak of everyone, especially those accused of hate for objecting to same-sex marriage.
In the end, the primary beneficiary of this social experiment is a tyrannical minority hell-bent on controlling every aspect of our lives and eventually dictating all of our personal relationships.
Stella Morabito has published several op-eds on same-sex marriage in The Washington Examiner.