Non Sequiturs Regarding Same-Sex Marriage
The DOMA cases are about issues of equal treatment under the law, not about stopping some utopia where all kids have a traditional household.
Ralph Reed on today’s MTP:
What I said was the verdict of social science is overwhelming and irrefutable. And that is, without regard to straight or gay, in other words this applies to one-parent households, it applies to foster homes, it applies to the whole panoply, they’ve looked at them all, that the enduring, loving, intact biological mother and father is best for children. And it’s not even a close call. And the only issue before the Court is, is there a social good to that? And does the government have a legitimate interest in protecting and strengthening it?
Even if we stipulate for the sake of discussion that this assertion about families is ironclad, the issue of same-sex marriage is not about choice A being all kids having traditional nuclear families, and choice B meaning that they will not. The fact is that the children who currently have gay parents before SCOTUS hears the cases and rules will have gay parents no matter what the Court decides. The notion that what is being addressed here is whether society is going to have more or less traditional nuclear families is an utter non sequitur. As such, this nothing has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what the Court is going to be deciding.
Gary Bauer made a similar assertion on Fox News Sunday:
You touched on the key issue here — if it was so obvious that the American public wants to try a radical social experiment that results in children in those households, definitely, definitely, not having a mother and a father, that’s what makes marriage a special institution. It guarantees that women — that children have mothers and fathers.
Again: regardless of what the Court rules about DOMA the distribution of children in various types of familial configurations will remain the same. Bauer makes it sounds as if a certain ruling by SCOTUS on DOMA will lead to some number of children being redistributed from heterosexual couples to homosexual ones.
Of course, Bauer’s assertion that “that’s what makes marriage a special institution” is a tired one, because it wholly ignores that not all marriages produce offspring, and that even those who do can persist in a stretch of time in which children are not the focal point. My wife and I did not have children until we had been married for about eight years, yet we were married during that stretch of time. My grandparents have not had children living with them for going on fifty years, yet they remain married. I have friends who are childless, some of whom have been married for decades—are they no married. Clearly this is rather obvious (or, at least, should be).
The bottom line is this: there are really only two foundational arguments against same-sex marriage: one based on tradition, the second based on religion. I have dealt, at least in part, with the tradition argument here. But, really, it falls down to religion. The most significant opposition to same-sex marriage, and acceptance of homosexuality in general, is based in that fact that the religious teachings of key sectors of the Christian church (and others as well, but I am addressing US politics here) is that homosexuality is a sin. However, as an argument in a secular context, this is not a very powerful one especially when the societal attitudes on this question are shifting (and shifting quickly). Yes, a conservative Christian can discuss this topic with another conservative Christian and cite any number of Biblical passages and think that the argument both over and ironclad. However, once the frame of reference does not contain a shared belief in Biblical (and/or Papal) inerrancy, the argument falls apart because there is no longer an argument save that homosexuals simply should not be treated the same as heterosexuals. Once the argument moves from supposed eternal truths to having to construct an argument that treats different classes of people differently in the context of a democratic society, the justifications become hard to come by.
Ultimately, I suppose what strikes me most is that Reed and Bauer are really not making an actual argument of any relevance to the cases before the Court. Indeed, it feels as if they are just going through the motions at this stage.