Why keep marriage between man and woman?

In Cal­i­for­nia, the debate about legal­iz­ing same-sex mar­riage is com­ing to a head with a vote in the Novem­ber elec­tion. An argu­ment to keep mar­riage between one man and one woman is made in David Blankenhorn’s Op-Ed in the LA Times:

Mar­riage as a human insti­tu­tion is con­stantly evolv­ing, and many of its fea­tures vary across groups and cul­tures. But there is one con­stant. In all soci­eties, mar­riage shapes the rights and oblig­a­tions of par­ent­hood. Among us humans, the schol­ars report, mar­riage is not pri­mar­ily a license to have sex. Nor is it pri­mar­ily a license to receive ben­e­fits or social recog­ni­tion. It is pri­mar­ily a license to have children.

In this sense, mar­riage is a gift that soci­ety bestows on its next gen­er­a­tion. Mar­riage (and only mar­riage) unites the three core dimen­sions of par­ent­hood — bio­log­i­cal, social and legal — into one pro-child form: the mar­ried cou­ple. Mar­riage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sex­ual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Mar­riage says to soci­ety as a whole: For every child born, there is a rec­og­nized mother and a father, account­able to the child and to each other.

There is lots to say about this, but Blankenhorn’s piece is refresh­ingly cogent for such an emo­tion­ally charged issue.

Comments (5)

  1. euniquesnackgirl wrote::

    in light of the mar­ginal pass­ing of propo­si­tion 8 in cal­i­for­nia, i won­der if the anger of pro-gay-marriage activists is a reper­cus­sion of a long his­tory of unlov­ing behav­ior largely by the chris­t­ian com­mu­nity. the thoughts to pon­der at this time would be (1) how to have open and com­pas­sion­ate dia­logue between peo­ples of oppos­ing views, (2) how to demon­strate that oppos­ing same-sex mar­riage is not about tak­ing rights away from indi­vid­u­als, (3) how to demon­strate care and com­pas­sion to those who disagree.

    Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 2:45 pm #
  2. karen wrote::

    A friend of mine referred me to your blog. I read this entry awhile ago and have been think­ing about it since. I sup­port tra­di­tional mar­riage because of my reli­gious upbring­ing, but I have real qualms about your entry and the arti­cle. If the only rea­son why same-sex mar­riage should not be legal is because of its lack of value for the soci­ety, I don’t think that is a good rea­son. Does every­thing need to have value in order for it be main­tained and sup­ported? What about the child who is born with severe dis­abil­i­ties? Does he have value or worth even if he can­not do things as most of us can? I get that there are soci­o­log­i­cal con­se­quences for gay mar­riage, but isn’t this more an issue about absolute sex­ual morality?

    Monday, November 10, 2008 at 2:23 pm #
  3. Cindy wrote::

    I have to take issue with this post. If the pri­mary pur­pose of mar­riage is child-bearing, then we would also not allow cou­ples who choose to remain child­less and those who can­not bio­log­i­cally have chil­dren to receive mar­riage licenses either. It would fol­low that, like same-sex mar­riage, their mar­riages are not ful­fill­ing the “pri­mary” pur­pose of mar­riage, so there should be no rea­son for them to be allowed to marry each other. Of course we would never think of doing that as a soci­ety because mar­riage is a fun­da­men­tal, constitutionally-protected, civil right. To deny that right to an entire class of peo­ple is dis­crim­i­na­tion, plain and sim­ple. To say that the rea­son why we are not required to con­fer those rights upon all cit­i­zens is because they can­not bear chil­dren (while con­fer­ring the right on other cou­ples who fit that same descrip­tion) is a farce.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 12:26 pm #
  4. Nancy Thompson wrote::

    Just wanted to let you know that I had e-mailed our Pres­i­dent in regards to remov­ing “At home care resources” for our elderly par­ents. Soon after that I started receiv­ing e-mails from a site called “Courage Cam­paign” which has the offi­cial Cal­i­for­nia logo on it. They are ask­ing for dona­tions so they can place an “Equal­ity ini­tia­tive on the 2010 bal­lot.” They want another vote to try and make gay mar­riage legal. Their web­site is as follows.


    Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 11:22 am #
  5. malcolm barry wrote::

    Explain to me why my sis­ter can have test tube babies to her fiance which are con­sid­ered both their chil­dren even though there not nat­ural born chil­dren, there sci­en­tif­i­cally made.
    how­ever sci­en­tist must get “approval” to exper­i­ment with bone mar­row to cre­ate sperm for 2 women to cre­ate a child, which is bio­log­i­cally both theres.
    In my case im a trans­gen­dered male (born a female) and im more than proud to state here and now i’ve been a les­bian since i was 6 years old and as long as i have a vagina ill always be a les­bian even though i’ve legally changed my name and sex… Lets face it love is love and to DISCRIMINATE how YOU PEOPLE do is not fair to your broth­ers, sis­ters, cousins and friends to tell them they dont deserve equal­lity.
    Your not pro­tect­ing mar­rige your encour­ag­ing hate and dis­crim­i­na­tion. I can legally get mar­ried to my queer girl­friend and i will because its my right to do so and soon every­one wil be able to cre­ate there own bio­log­i­cal fam­ily if not in this life than the next. HONEST LOVE IS TRUE LOVE AND NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE BUT GOD!!!!!

    Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:22 pm #