The Hidden Message of Same-Sex Marriage

 

shutterstock_219219871The four dissenters in Obergefell v. Hodges lucidly expressed the profound offense against constitutional law and representative democracy the ruling represents. In short, five lawyers, accountable to no one, chose to legislate on a profoundly consequential matter that the people were just beginning to address through democratic means. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “Who do we think we are?” If justices cannot resist the urge to legislate, let’s drop the pretense that constitutional law is guided by neutral principles and at least give the people the option to vote justices in (and out).

That the court has struck a blow for gay rights is true enough (and treating homosexuals with respect is long overdue). Unfortunately, the claim that this ruling also strengthens marriage is almost certainly false. To understand why is also to answer the question so often pressed as a taunt by gay marriage supporters: How can extending marriage to gays possibly affect your marriage? The answer lies in the hidden message.

The road to gay marriage began with feminism. Feminists argued that there were no important differences between the sexes. Thus, mothering and fathering were interchangeable. The word ‘parent’ became a verb. If mothers and fathers bring nothing unique or complementary to their roles, then it logically follows that two mothers or two fathers should be just as good. Talk of three or more parents misses the mark. The relevant number is one. If fathers are no different from mothers, then single women needn’t pause before embarking on “parenthood” solo – and they aren’t.

Along with feminism, the past few decades have featured a widespread retreat from the idea of family duty. Long before gay marriage was spoken of, we had already enshrined the idea of marriage as a matter of personal fulfillment for adults rather than first and foremost as a stable environment for children. Because marriage came to be seen as primarily about adult happiness, divorce boomed in 1960s and 70s. It has drifted down in the 21st century, but remains double what it was in 1960.

At the same time, the idea that marriage is a necessary precondition for parenthood is withering. Marriage today is treated as optional by many parents, just one of many available paths. As Justice Alito noted in his dissent, fully 40 percent of American births are now to unmarried women. Additionally, more than half of all children will spend some part of their childhoods in a non-nuclear family.

Heterosexuals managed this assault on marital stability without any help from homosexuals, but gay marriage ratifies it.

Requiring that same-sex unions be treated exactly the same as traditional marriages carries an implicit message: It confirms the view that the sexes are interchangeable. Every homosexual couple that raises a child together is choosing to deny that child a parent of the other sex. How will that social experiment turn out?

We have no idea. The social science literature is no help, because same-sex couples have not been studied long enough to make fair comparisons. (The cases studied so far are usually children whose same-sex parents began their married lives in different, heterosexual families.)

What the literature does show unequivocally is that children do best when raised by their married, biological parents. No other family structure, including stepfamilies, comes close. While death and divorce sometimes deny one or both parents to children; and while many single parents are able to raise happy, healthy citizens notwithstanding this hardship; we cannot honestly claim that it makes no difference. Children who lose their mothers or fathers grieve for the loss – often even when they never knew the missing parent. Some children raised by same-sex couples have written of their pain at being separated from one biological parent, despite their love for their same-sex parents.

Adoption is probably the most successful social program we’ve managed to devise, and most adoptees grow up healthy and happy (my husband and I raised one ourselves). Yet few would argue that adoption makes no difference. An adopted child must grapple with feelings of abandonment. We wouldn’t impose adoption on a child if it were possible for his natural parents to raise him, would we?

When a man and a woman marry, the natural outcome is biological children related to both parents. When homosexuals marry, any child raised must lose one natural parent. With gay marriage now the law, the message to heterosexuals is to continue to devalue the biological and social importance of mothers and fathers, and to discount the needs of children.

If there’s a way, post-Obergefell. to convince heterosexuals that, on the contrary, mothers and fathers are indispensable, I’d love to hear about it.

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  1. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    All too true. After the feel good SJW gang has had their little fantasy, we will be left with the cold reality of social destruction.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
  2. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Then should we ban adoptions? Should we ban re-marriage? Should we ban everything that “studies” don’t show to produce the ideal solution?

    “Conservatives” are trying very hard to figure out “when” this whole dissolution of the cosmic order happened. The culprit is found everywhere, under every rock. Feminism, no fault divorce, welfare etc. Always its some nefarious “government intrusion” or some “Left wing” multi-decadal  conspiracy.

    Did any…and I mean this sincerely…did any “conservative” ever think that maybe, perhaps, fundamental conditions in society changes in such a way as to no longer necessitate or pressure people to engage in this “traditional” form of relationship?

    I.e., did anyone ever consider that maybe people…chose…and actually prefer this way better, when given the choice to do so?

    I can think of about 6 different theories about economic changes alone…which would have allowed individuals to make more preferable choices in regards to marriage or its longevity.

    So “conservatives”, on the one side are the sort of people who are for “free markets” and “people ought to be free to chose”…but on the other side are saying “people are making the wrong choices!

    Obviously, these are usually two different kinds of “conservatives” (and often irreconcilable kinds)

    So I asked this before: are “conservatives” interested in “tradition” simply for its sake? Regardless of the reasons it existed, and regardless of changing circumstances which no longer require it? So it stubbornness, or an examination of reality?

    • #2
  3. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    Mona, there are a few conversations on the member feed that deals with this subject matter.

    • #3
  4. Mona Charen Contributor
    Mona Charen
    @MonaCharen

    To urge that people are making the wrong choices is very different from coercing them into making choices you prefer. The left coerces. We argue.

    There is always tension between tradition and change. Ideally, change should be gradual, organic, and freely chosen, not imposed by others.

    But regarding family structure, this is not a mere preference for tradition. All of the concrete data show that children are suffering from the decline of the nuclear family. It isn’t nostalgia to say that, it’s very real, and the children of the poor, who need structure the most, are paying the highest price.

    • #4
  5. Nick Stuart Member
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    It’s only perplexing if you don’t understand the process. Now for the first time the Secret SCOTUS Decision Maker is revealed.

    • #5
  6. CandE Member
    CandE
    @CandE

    Well said, Mona.

    Mona Charen: Requiring that same-sex unions be treated exactly the same as traditional marriages carries an implicit message: It confirms the view that the sexes are interchangeable. Every homosexual couple that raises a child together is choosing to deny that child a parent of the other sex. How will that social experiment turn out?

    The particular passage made something click for me.  It clarifies the answer to the inane, yet constantly repeated question “How does homosexual marriage harm heterosexual marriages?”  The harm comes the same way that no-fault divorce does: by devaluing my role as a father and my wife’s role as a mother in society.

    -E

    • #6
  7. Herbert Woodbery Member
    Herbert Woodbery
    @Herbert

    (((To urge that people are making the wrong choices is very different from coercing them into making choices you prefer. The left coerces. We argue.)))

    Passing laws that forbid gays from getting married would be coercion or is it urging and arguing?

    • #7
  8. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    To me there are two issues.

    From the states’s point of view one procreates taxPAYERS to support Medicare the other doesn’t. Like it or not, the state is running out of money so it needs to feed the beast some how. THEY AREN’T THE SAME THING FROM THE GOVERNMENT’S POINT OF VIEW.

    Officially homogenizing every damn thing related to this stuff is not going to make for a better world. No way. The differences are real and they are additive, every thing else being equal.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The idea that parents are interchangeable–that is, anyone can be a successful parent to anyone else regardless of biological ties between the parents and the children–is so widely promulgated that it has taken on the mantle of truth. It should be this way; therefore it is.

    I’ve seen adoptions in two families go horribly wrong, and I would prefer to keep biological families together whenever possible. Adoption can be a great and wonderful thing as long as parents don’t look at their adopted children’s problems and ascribe them to “the genes.”

    We are living in strange times: our interest in genetics is running headlong into our interest in making them not matter. Some adopted kids are going to suffer confusion about whether genes matter or not.

    And not a moment goes by these days without some discussion or other taking place in the mass media about genetics. Genetics is not something adopted kids can avoid thinking about.

    In the absence of studies of quantifiable known outcomes for adopted kids, for the moment it will have to be your experience versus mine, I guess.

    I read a story a while back in the New York Times about children of divorce trying really hard to avoid divorce for their own kids. I read another story years before that about kids who had been put in daycare centers avoiding them for their own kids. I’m predicting adoptees will be avoiding it for their own children.

    • #9
  10. BThompson Member
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    I agree that showing preference for natural parents is the ideal. In the current political climate I don’t know that is possible. And unless or until sociologists and psychologists discover truly compelling evidence that natural heterosexual parenthood is far superior to an artificial homosexual parental arrangement, I don’t know that we can expect the government and the law to discriminate between the two forms of parenthood. To effectively stop the artificial arrangement in gay households the government would have to outlaw surrogacy and gay adoption. Good luck trying to accomplish that.

    I wrote some ideas on the member feed about a new alternate form of civil marriage that would resemble traditional marriage better than what we have now and put children back at the center of officially recognized parental unions. Take a look if you are interested.

    It basically requires creating a two-tier system of civil marriage, with one tier involving certain rights and obligations for childless families, and stronger benefits and more rigorous obligations for families with children.

    Short of implementing something like that, I think we will see marriage continue to lose all meaning and for families to continue to break down.

    • #10
  11. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    If I stretched the definition of a dog to include a furry, four-legged mammal that has sharp claws and goes “meow”, does that now mean a cat is a dog?  Absolutely not.  So when homosexual couples get these legal documents that say they are “married”, it doesn’t change the reality that they are not.

    The left (or any other group) uses adjectives to change the meaning of the root noun in order to weaken the base definition of the root noun.  The noun “marriage” is the latest example, but my guess is that the strategy started with the word “rights”.

    Example:  Let’s take the noun “house”.  There are a ton of adjectives that can be used to describe the house, but they don’t change the basic definition of the word “house”.  For example, we refer to a brown house (color), a brick house (structural), a large house (spatial), and a nut house (my place when the whole family is together).

    Now watch the change is done.  If marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman, then terms such as “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage” are true oxymorons (aside: dictionaries are now changing the definition of marriage to “get in line with the times”).  However, once we start using the new terms, that opens the door for the argument “Gay marriage is just another type of marriage”—when it’s not.  I’m looking for “multiple-partner marriage”, or “interspecies marriage” to come next.

    A Convention of the States is looking better and better.  Who would have thought we actually needed a Constitutional amendment to make things normal again . . .

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    First things  just sent out a symposium on the decision.  Jews, Protestants, Catholics, gay and straight writing critically and briefly on the subject.

    • #12
  13. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Nick Stuart:It’s only perplexing if you don’t understand the process. Now for the first time the Secret SCOTUS Decision Maker is revealed.

    Nick,

    Astounding!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #13
  14. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Mona Charen:To urge that people are making the wrong choices is very different from coercing them into making choices you prefer. The left coerces. We argue.

    There is always tension between tradition and change. Ideally, change should be gradual, organic, and freely chosen, not imposed by others.

    I don’t see any evidence of imposition, however. I see evidence that when given the choice, more and more people seem to be taking choices which “we” may disagree with.

    But some analysis as to why people chose what they chose seems needed here. It can’t possibly be that 50% of people end up getting divorced, or that marriages last less, simply because some sociologist that no one pays attention to says so.

    I.e., when one can equally make an argument that this all “organic” and “freely chosen”, then there’s no reason to assume malice.

    As for it being “gradual”, that needs further justification. Why gradual, and how long is gradual? For example, women’s increasing level of education, job participation and incomes have not been very gradual. They have been rather fast. All those are very good explanations why the “traditional” relationships from the past may no longer be viewed as necessary (even if they may be viewed favorably) by more people.

    • #14
  15. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    BThompson: And unless or until sociologists and psychologists discover truly compelling evidence that natural heterosexual parenthood is far superior to an artificial homosexual parental arrangement, I don’t know that we can expect the government and the law to discriminate between the two forms of parenthood.

    But ultimately there can never be such a thing in sociology or psychology or any social science. There can only be absolutes (imagined ones) on Denis Prager’s radio show. Not in actual science.

    And even if there were, that’s no right of the government to discriminate on the bases of what is isn’t an ideal outcome. Otherwise, majority of marriages would certainly fall far short of some “ideal” too.

    Conservatives seem to me get it pretty wrong when they try to play demographer. Just like the Left, they pick and chose “studies” which support their arguments. Of course, in the majority of cases, those studies make no such arguments at all.

    Most are correlation studies that make no claim to causality. I.e., it may be simply that…nicer people…happened to both remain married and raise better kids. And…crummy people…get divorced and raise worst kids. But the married part and the kids part are both caused by a third factor. And hence “marriage” is simply a proxy for “nice person”.

    I don’t see the “conservatism” of the argument that government’s job is to promote what is deemed “good” in interpersonal relationships.

    • #15
  16. tom Member
    tom
    @TomGarrett

    I keep coming back to a phrase Kennedy uses several times in the opinion of the Court: “New insight(s).”

    The use of this phrase speaks to the heart of what we might call “judicial activism” on two levels.

    First, there is the notion that judicial analysis rests on “insights” the type of which would normally be gleaned and weighed by the legislature or the people.  That a jurist would take these externalities into account is enough of a problem in its own right.

    But that isn’t the worst of it.

    Secondly, and more crucially, there is the question of whose insights we’re using.  That is the crux of the issue.  When certain elites come to conclusions, these are deemed “insights” useful to the adjudication of constitutional law (apparently).  However, when majorities of a legislature—or the populace of a state—use their beliefs and ideology to render a decision, such self-governance apparently contains no “insight.”

    At least none that is significant enough for the Court to consider.

    • #16
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    The worst thing about this decision is that it was a political issue, not a matter of law.  IIRC, only two out of thirty-some states approved of gay “marriage”, and this was done either by debate in the state legislature, or by public referendum – the right way to invoke change.  As many talk radio hosts have discussed, the right way of running a democratic republic – laws passed by much thought, discussion, and debate – has been ended by a handful of indivduals.

    Make no mistake, people are tired of five or more robed individuals making political decisions, or writing law.  I’m guessing that in the next decade or two, we will see the lifetime appointment of Federal judges vanish.  The orignal thinking of the founding fathers was that lifetime appointments would free judges from political pressures or influence.  We have now reached the point (and it probably happened much longer ago), where judges are not only susceptible to political pressure, but politics influences their decisions.

    Change is needed . . .

    • #17
  18. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Mona Charen:To urge that people are making the wrong choices is very different from coercing them into making choices you prefer. The left coerces. We argue.

    There is always tension between tradition and change. Ideally, change should be gradual, organic, and freely chosen, not imposed by others.

    But regarding family structure, this is not a mere preference for tradition. All of the concrete data show that children are suffering from the decline of the nuclear family. It isn’t nostalgia to say that, it’s very real, and the children of the poor, who need structure the most, are paying the highest price.

    Mona,

    I think this is where the truth lies. I hope we see many studies undertaken that interview the children. I think the children will tell us what causes them pain and what they wish had been different in their lives.

    I hope we listen.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #18
  19. Dominique Prynne Member
    Dominique Prynne
    @DominiquePrynne

    Mona Charen: Feminists argued that there were no important differences between the sexes.

    I have often considered what would follow if our society, government and institutions truly acted on this precept.  So much of our current system is predicated on *difference*, at least economically, between the sexes.  For instance, survivor’s benefits on Social Security were designed for women whose place was served in the home and therefore did not have a significant earnings record upon which to base their SS.  Upon her husband’s death, the wife got benefits based on his earnings.  Feminism has been going strong for 50+ years.  When do we do away with Survivors benefits and everyone just get SS based on their own earnings record?   Alimony and child support systems are based on the presumption of the economic powerlessness of the single mom.   I have always thought that if women want it all, they should have it – but they should “have it” on non-preferential terms.

    Perhaps this ruling by the Supreme Court will make true equality justifiable.

    • #19
  20. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Stad:The worst thing about this decision is that it was a political issue, not a matter of law. IIRC, only two out of thirty-some states approved of gay “marriage”, and this was done either by debate in the state legislature, or by public referendum – the right way to invoke change. As many talk radio hosts have discussed, the right way of running a democratic republic – laws passed by much thought, discussion, and debate – has been ended by a handful of indivduals.

    Neither side made much use of “law” here. So it’s not as if the dissent made a more coherent argument.

    Second, it is irrelevant what the referendum or the law of a state says. If it is found to be in violation of the Constitution, of course 5 judges can invalidate such laws or referendums.

    This is precisely the purpose of the Constitution. Both to limit the ability of the government, but also to limit the ability of the “mob”. The “mob” can’t simply vote in a referendum whatever it wants, if what it votes violate the rights of citizens.

    Conservatives need to stop making this argument. It’s a very “un-conservative” argument. It’s argument for mob rule.

    • #20
  21. Leigh Member
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    AIG: Most are correlation studies that make no claim to causality. I.e., it may be simply that…nicer people…happened to both remain married and raise better kids. And…crummy people…get divorced and raise worst kids. But the married part and the kids part are both caused by a third factor. And hence “marriage” is simply a proxy for “nice person”.

    Of course people who are likely to commit to marriage are likely to be better parents in other ways, too. The divorce itself makes a difference to the child.  When you have seen enough children go through enough things, you know this.

    I don’t have numbers and I can’t give you objective proof.  But I know.  I have seen enough children.

    • #21
  22. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Dominique Prynne:

    Security were designed for women whose place was served in the home and therefore did not have a significant earnings record upon which to base their SS…Alimony and child support systems are based on the presumption of the economic powerlessness of the single mom.

    Yes. And doesn’t that hint at some underlying reason why these things have changed? Which have little to do with social movements or rhetoric?

    Just as these things may have seemed “necessary” given the economic conditions of the time they were enacted, but no longer seem necessary today…so the same applies to the arguments on marriage in general.

    The 20th century bought economic changes for the individual that were unprecedented before. The need which necessitated in most cases the existence of the “traditional relationship”, is for most people no longer there. And people’s choices reflect that.

    And it is not important to say what people prefer. Preferences and needs are different. The preference for marriage and long-lasting ones may still be there. But the need isn’t there anymore.

    And we see this not only in the US, but all around the world. Hence it cannot be an outcome of American Leftists, if women in India who are educated and earn their own incomes also don’t want to be stuck in arranged marriages with dead-beats.

    • #22
  23. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Leigh:

    Of course people who are likely to commit to marriage are likely to be better parents in other ways, too. The divorce itself makes a difference to the child. When you have seen enough children go through enough things, you know this.

    I don’t have numbers and I can’t give you objective proof. But I know. I have seen enough children.

    Sure. The opposite argument would be that crummy people who commit to staying together might have an even worst impact on the child than if they split up.

    But all of this assumes that the parent’s decisions don’t matter. Parents don’t take into account what will happen to their children if they do or don’t divorce? Isn’t that their choice? So we argue that the parent’s decision is what matters in almost everything, except for divorce?

    Most of these arguments on “demography” are based on visible characteristics without taking into account the…latent variables behind them.

    Playing social engineer based on “normative assumptions” is what we do just as much, or more, than the Left. Let’s accept that. (and hopefully stop it)

    • #23
  24. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Mona Charen: In short, five lawyers, accountable to no one, chose to legislate on a profoundly consequential matter that the people were just beginning to address through democratic means. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “Who do we think we are?” If justices cannot resist the urge to legislate, let’s drop the pretense that constitutional law is guided by neutral principles and at least give the people the option to vote justices in (and out).

    In a Constitutional Republic, isn’t there an important place for the Supreme Court too?

    Not all matters can be voted on, or passed by a state legislature.  Democracy has its limits, no?

    Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch evidences that democracy will fail the sheep.

    Some votes the wolves don’t get to take.

    Could anyone imagine the issues in Loving v Virginia being left to the states or a popular vote?

    • #24
  25. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    AIG:

    Stad:The worst thing about this decision is that it was a political issue, not a matter of law. IIRC, only two out of thirty-some states approved of gay “marriage”, and this was done either by debate in the state legislature, or by public referendum – the right way to invoke change. As many talk radio hosts have discussed, the right way of running a democratic republic – laws passed by much thought, discussion, and debate – has been ended by a handful of indivduals.

    Neither side made much use of “law” here. So it’s not as if the dissent made a more coherent argument.

    Second, it is irrelevant what the referendum or the law of a state says. If it is found to be in violation of the Constitution, of course 5 judges can invalidate such laws or referendums.

    This is precisely the purpose of the Constitution. Both to limit the ability of the government, but also to limit the ability of the “mob”. The “mob” can’t simply vote in a referendum whatever it wants, if what it votes violate the rights of citizens.

    Conservatives need to stop making this argument. It’s a very “un-conservative” argument. It’s argument for mob rule.

    Sorry.  I’d rather be ruled by a mob than by five fools in black robes.

    • #25
  26. BThompson Member
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    You’re about to get both Basil! Lucky you!

    • #26
  27. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    BThompson:You’re about to get both Basil! Lucky you!

    But at least I get to particpate in the mob.

    • #27
  28. BThompson Member
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    If it will have you. Someone’s got a high opinion of himself …

    • #28
  29. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    BThompson:If it will have you. Someone’s got a high opinion of himself …

    Of course it will have me.  I have a Twitter account.

    • #29
  30. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Basil Fawlty:

    Sorry. I’d rather be ruled by a mob than by five fools in black robes.

    Being ruled by the mob is the definition of “left wing”.

    • #30

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