Thursday, October 20, 2005

Same-Sex "Marriage"

UPDATED BELOW AT 5:12 PM (CT) 10/20/05

Maggie Gallagher is guest-blogging at The Volokh Conspiracy on the topic of same-sex marriage (SSM). As a service to myself and others, below I list chronologically the titles of and links to the posts in the series. I include related posts by other Volokh bloggers (denoted by naming the blogger parenthetically).

Maggie Gallagher Guest-Blogging About Same-Sex Marriage (Eugene Volokh)The Marriage Debate (1)
The Marriage Debate (2)The Marriage Debate (3)
The Marriage Debate, Round 3 (or 4, but who’s counting?)
Marriage Debate Digression
Question for Maggie About Marriage (Todd Zywicki)The Legal Marriage Debate
Answer from Maggie About MarriageMaggie Answer on Marriage, P.S.
Two Reactions to the Gay Marriage Discussion (Eugene Volokh)
The Marriage Debate and ReproTech
Marriage Debate DataDump
The Marriage Debates: What's the Harm?
Question on the Marriage Debates (Orin Kerr)
The Marriage Debate, What's the Harm? (cont.)
Marriage Debate and Motives
Understanding the Argument (Orin Kerr)Gay Marriage for Some, or Unisex Marriage for All?
Is Marriage Innate? More Reply to Orin
A Frank Concession
Brief Rebuttals
The Marriage Debate, a few last thoughts


A few key points thus far:

[M]arriage serves many private and individual purposes. But its great public purpose, the thing that justifies its . . . unique legal status, is protecting children and society by creating sexual unions in which children are (practically) guaranteed the love and care of their own mother and father.
The vast majority of children born to married couples begin life with their own mother and fathers committed to jointly caring for them. Only a minority of children in other sexual unions (and none in same-sex unions) get this benefit.
Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies need fathers as well as mothers. That's the heart of marriage as a universal human institution.
[Different post]
[F]undamentally marriage is sustained by culture, not biology. Why then is it universal? Because it is the answer to an urgent problem that is biological and innate: sex makes babies. Nature alone won’t connect fathers to children. Children need a society in which both men and women are committed to their care.
And thus to the socialization of those children and their fathers, without which a civil, self-regulating society in which we enjoy the fruits of liberty would be even more difficult if not impossible to realize. But that is all threatened if heterosexual marriage's status is threatened:

[T]he most important remaining way the legal institution of marriage supports the social institution of marriage is in fact definitional.
Marriage’s unique status at law helps draw clear public boundaries that distinguish between those who are married and who is not, allowing the more important actors who support the social institution to do their work.
Redrawing the definitional boundaries of marriage, is thus fiddling with the law’s core remaining support for marriage (and we’ve withdrawn quite a few legal supports in recent years).
I really do think, btw, that this is what bothers most ordinary people: an instinct that their government, against their will, is telling them (and will re-educate their children) that everything they know about marriage (like the first ingredient is a husband and a wife, duh) is wrong and must now change. Upon penalty of being officially labelled bigots by their government. And everyone knows its open season on bigots in our society. . . .
If the principle behind SSM is institutionalized in law, and the law is able (as it is really pretty good at) to impose its values on the American people, then people like me who think marriage is the union of husband and wife importantly related to the idea that children need moms and dads will be treated in society and at law like bigots
And you are asking me why I think that might affect marriage?
I’ve sat in rooms where some of the most famous architects of gay marriage have made this analogy (the Christians who oppose gay marriage are just like those poor southern folks who favored segregation. We’ll be re-educating them soon, and they will cave.)
The conjugal vision of marriage itself is being stamped as discriminatory and bigoted. Well, under these circumstnaces, I’m pretty sure fewer people will hold it, speak for it, try to transmit it to the kids (over the interference of government schools, who will teach the next generation that SSM was a great civil rights victory over bigots like your parents). Perhaps, under these circumstances, very few people indeed will speak up for this conjugal view.
In sum, the recognition of SSM will legitimate the attacks on traditional marriage, weaken its allure, and thus weaken (further) its indispensible socializing role, which already has been weakened by another liberal desideratum: pushing mothers out of the home.

UPDATE 2: From the final post in the series:
[I]f you are advocating for SSM, you really do know that social meanings matter. You've made passionately clear that an identical institution called “civil unions” that delivered all the legal incidents of marriage just wouldn't be good enough, because it doesn’t mean the same thing. You seek to use the power of government to take all those accumulated meanings of marriage (which were not created by the government) and re-direct them to same-sex relations, and many of you clearly also want to discipline those who don’t accept your moral view. . . . And so many want to do this in the name of liberty, without even acknowledging what SSM is: the use [of] government power to impose a new morality on a reluctant people.
After SSM, the law will be committed to reclassfying the once-privileged conjugal vision of marriage—with its deep roots in the reality that humanity comes in two halves, male and female, who are called to join together in love, not only as a private satisfaction, but in order to make the future actually happen—as at best a private understanding and most likely a discouraged, discriminatory understanding of marriage.
If two men are married, then marriage as a public act is clearly no longer related at all to generativity, and the government declares as well it has no further interest in whether children are connected to their own mom and dad. So long as they have love, money and stability, fathers (or mothers) are equally dispensable. That's what "no difference" means. The institutions of government, including public schools, will begin to enforce this new concept of marriage. This is not a conservative case for marriage; it is the final triumph of the family diversity argument.
Related posts:

A Century of Progress?
Libertarianism, Marriage, and the True Meaning of Family Values (04/06/05)