Dispatches > The Buzz



Issue: "Gay marriage backlash," Dec. 6, 2003

What about the kids?

Many blogs over the past week discussed the "gay marriage" controversy. Elizabeth Marquardt punctured the theory that homosexual marriages can provide stable households on The Family Scholars Blog (marriagemovement.org): "The child needs two very specific people in the home and, ideally, married to each other: The child's mother and father. Not just any two 'parents,' not just a man and a woman, but their mother and their father. We can say this because children everywhere who are not raised with their mother and father in the home grow up and almost universally tell us that lacking one of them caused tremendous emotional pain. This is why someone raised as a liberal feminist, like me, feels compelled to question divorce, single-parent childbearing, radical reproductive technologies, and yes, same-sex marriage. It's not anti-gay. It's simply trying to voice what children say."

Many bloggers also wrote about the importance to children of both mothers and fathers: Elizabeth Marquardt also wrote, "I really don't give a fiddle about homosexuality. I grew up surrounded by it in my culture, it's fine with me. However, because of my experience as a child of divorce and because of the years I've spent studying children of divorce, I do get very angry when people lie about children's experiences. 'Parents' is a frighteningly malleable word in today's culture. Adults like to suggest that almost anybody can be thrown into the mix and called a child's parent. Children don't feel that way."

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Andrew Sullivan (andrewsullivan.com), the gay fiscal and foreign-policy conservative, didn't spend much space on the kids and instead emphasized "equality" for adults: "Once you have accepted the idea that gay people are no less people than heterosexuals-that gay sexual orientation is no more and no less chosen than straight sexual orientation-then the principle of equality in marriage is simply unanswerable." But Maggie Gallagher, posting on The Marriage Debate Blog (marriagedebate.com), wrote about how everything is not equal. For example, infertile heterosexual and homosexual couples are different: "Every man and woman who married is capable of giving any child they create (or adopt) a mother and a father. Every man and woman who marry and remain faithful to their vows (regardless of whether or not they have children) will not be creating fatherless (or motherless) children in fragmented families."

Andrew Sullivan also took on the question of judicial overreach: "To be sure, the job of a state supreme court is not to legislate. But the SJC has not done so.... It has not, as some news reports claim, 'ordered' the legislature to do anything. It cannot. It was simply asked by various plaintiffs to interpret the Massachusetts Constitution, which it is obliged to do. If laws exist which the court believes violate that Constitution, is it supposed to do nothing?" No, but if the court has violated the constitution by overreaching, is the legislature supposed to do nothing? Hugh Hewitt (hughhewitt.com) observed that "the vast majority of the commentators are focusing on the specifics of the gay marriage controversy when the outrage is in the court's imperial commands to the elected branch and its obvious-indeed, hilarious-'reasoning.' I think this story will take some very interesting twists in the next few days and weeks, and Gov. Romney may find that the best defense of marriage is an offense against an out-of-control quartet of judicial radicals." c

Judicial psychology

Our own worldmagblog.com gave a taste of Massachusetts' judicial radicalism (see left) by quoting Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall's majority opinion-"The marriage ban works a deep and scarring hardship on a very real segment of the community for no rational reason"-and offering this summary: GAY MARRIAGE IS GOOD AND YOU'RE NUTS IF YOU DON'T THINK SO. A similar summary of the dissents might go: WE ALSO THINK GAYS ARE COOL, BUT LEGISLATORS WHO DON'T THINK SO ARE NOT NECESSARILY NUTS. But at least the dissents did not exalt ideology or ignore the need for caution. Here is part of Justice Martha B. Sosman's dissent: "Notwithstanding our belief that gender and sexual orientation of parents should not matter to the success of the child-rearing venture, studies to date reveal that there are still some observable differences between children raised by opposite-sex couples and children raised by same-sex couples.... In considering whether the legislature has a rational reason for postponing a dramatic change to the definition of marriage, it is surely pertinent to the inquiry to recognize that this proffered change affects not just a load-bearing wall of our social structure but the very cornerstone of that structure."


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