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.

    http://​www​.act​blue​.com/​p​a​g​e​/​C​o​u​r​a​g​e​F​o​r​M​a​ine

    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!!!!!
    ALWAYS EQUALITY
    Malcolm

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