Definition of marriage is important
J. Fred ox
It’s time to identify what the gay-marriage issue is all about: The issue isn’t who is or isn’t able to marry, but what marriage really is.
Conjugal-marriage, or marriage between a man and a woman, is an institution of our society built around its most important aspect: child-rearing.
The revisionist view, or that of same-sex unions, redefines marriage as nothing more than an emotional fulfillment between any two people.
The purpose of marriage law in any society is to promote the marriage-based, child-rearing family that produces mature individuals who can contribute socially to society.
The revisionist view undermines this ideal culture and damages the cultural and political goods attained from conjugal-marriage and the children they raise.
Without identifying marriage with the ideal culture of raising children with their biological mother and father, we no longer reinforce the notion that a man and a woman both provide beneficial gifts to our children.
Family stability does not happen by chance, as we can see from prevalent divorce. It requires a marriage culture that uses norms to guide people’s choices to their best interests: norms such as monogamy and exclusivity.
Research clearly shows that family structure matters a great deal to children and that a family headed by two biological parents helps children the most.
By reducing the definition of marriage to only require the existence of “real, human love,” as written by Jennifer Katzer in last week’s Collegio, we don’t just undermine the essential child-rearing aspect of the institution.
We also undermine the other rationales for marriage.
If marriage is just an emotional attachment between people, then there is no longer a rational basis for that attachment to be permanent, exclusive, or even limited to two individuals.
By obscuring the rational basis of norms that stabilize marriage, redefining marriage increases instability, thus harming children and spouses.
Marriage as an institution is differentiated from other relationships that we have with family members, friends, co-workers because it serves a societal purpose. To achieve that purpose, it requires laws and norms that define it as the ideal for child-rearing.
Beyond weakening marriage and destabilizing the family structure, enshrining the revisionist view will burden the rights of us conscious of this distinction between the revisionist view and conjugal marriage.
The revisionist view depends on the idea that it is irrational to see important differences between same- and opposite-sex relationships.
If the state were to recognize this idea, then conjugal marriage supporters would be seen as champions of discrimination. This would undermine moral and religious freedom.
I got to experience an early example of this first-hand. Last Thursday I discovered that an entire stack of Collegio newspapers had each been vandalized with someone’s phone number who was quoted saying she was against gay marriage.
Apparently, the vandal didn’t agree with the student’s belief.
In Massachusetts, Catholic Charities was forced to give up its adoption services rather than violate its principles by placing children in same-sex cohabitants.
I also often come across the infertile-couple argument, especially when I show the relation between marriage and child-rearing.
The answer to this is simple: An infertile couple getting married doesn’t redefine marriage. It does not undermine the public perception of the institution of marriage.
It is also a favorable environment for adoptive children who cannot obtain the biological family structure.
J. Fred Fox is a junior in political science