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[Maggie Gallagher (guest-blogging), October 18, 2005 at 2:34pm] Trackbacks
Answer from Maggie About Marriage:

Todd, thanks for the question!

I don't think reproductive technologies change the legal principles surrounding marriage, much, with one big exception, which I'll get to.

Marriage is a universal human institution because every society needs to regulate the procreative consequences of male-female sexual attraction. (Marriage regulates people who aren't married by the way, e.g. by making it clear when a baby is going to be born "out of wedlock" . . .This turns out to be quite substantively important for women, who often confuse things like cohabitation with a man's willingness to be married to them. Marriage as a public category also lets single, as well as married people know when they are committing an act of adultery. Without clear boundaries it could be pretty hard to tell sometimes!)

So marriage as a legal status is one of the ways we get young men and women to do any one of the hard things necessary to make sure they postpone babies until they are married. Marriage is a way of wrestling with the fact that, men and women attracted to the opposite sex can just make a baby, with no intention or forethought, under the grip of a pretty powerful passion to boot: One drink too many and 9 months later, boom there's a baby. Mom (if she doesn't abort) is bound to be somewhere around. Dad isn't necessarily anywhere nearby.

Reproduction via technology is never the result of male-female sexual passion. Let me put it this way: there may be a need for special laws regulating parenting around reproductive technology but they will be distinct from, and need have little to do with, the function that marriage is performing. And if we had to depend on reason and reproductive technology rather than sexual passion to produce the next generation, we'd be in trouble. I mean numberswise.

Secondly, there is an important distinction in law and public policy between encourage, permit, permit but discourage, and ban. Women are legally free to have a baby out of wedlock, too. but that doesn't mean we no longer care whether children are born to married couples. Marriage is about trying to encourage the ideal. Like adoption, reproductive technology (in current law) is probably best seen not as normative but ameliorative—a happy answer to a less-than-ideal situation. (Some of us are enthusiastic about the former and dubious about the latter, but that's not part of the marriage debate, particularly).

The one part of reproductive technology that I think is a direct attack on marriage, has nothing to do with technology at all: it is the decision of the law to strip some children of their legal and natural right to father, merely because the mothers in this instance do not want their child to have a father. This is the only instance in which the law permits parents to bargain away their child's right to the support and care of a father. I can't do it in a bar, why should I be able to do it in a medical clinic?

There's a small but growing group of adult children of donor insemination who are getting quite vocal on this point. When the clinic points out their mom and dad signed a contract, they say "I never signed it!"

Alixtii O'Krul V (mail) (www):

This is the only instance in which the law permits parents to bargain away their child's right to the support and care of a father.


Hmmm. I must have missed that one last time I read the constitution....
10.18.2005 3:49pm
tdsj:
"reproductive technology (in current law) is probably best seen not as normative but ameliorative—a happy answer to a less-than-ideal situation."

that could use a little more explaining. What's the problem with IVF? Is it just abortion-type worries, or is there something else?
10.18.2005 3:57pm
Aultimer:
Nothing to do with technology, but adultery isn't illegal much anymore and Safe Haven laws in most states take care of birth mothers who prefer to abdicate parent status. You're apparently living in the United States of Judeo-Christian Guilt, not America.
10.18.2005 4:01pm
Francis:
If marriage is about encouraging the "ideal" of a two-parent family, isn't that a strong argument in favor of SSM?

Reduced to a syllogism, it appears to me that the argument goes:

1. Society promotes marriage to encourage a healthy environment for the raising of the next generation;
2. Gay people are chosing to reproduce / raise children,
THEREFORE:
a. gay people should be allowed to marry; or
b. gay people should not be allowed to reproduce / adopt / raise children.

now, it appear that both a. and b. follow from the premise that marriage is about procreation. While many social conservatives may support option b, that would entail a level of oversight into personal reproductive decisions that most americans, i think, would find intolerable.

there is one other important conclusion that can be drawn from the premise that marriage is about reproduction.

c. The infertile and voluntarily childless should not receive the societal benefits of marriage. (You have to have one dependant to be considered married.)

most notably, Ms. Gallagher, you are apparently making a reason-based (not faith-based) argument against SSM. But you lack direct evidence of your argument because no state has tried SSM for any period of time. Given the idea that the various states may serve as laboratories for experimentation with social policy (see, eg, Oregon and death with dignity, or California and medical marijuana), isn't the appropriate course to allow states to experiment with the idea?
10.18.2005 4:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
"every society needs to regulate the procreative consequences of male-female sexual attraction"

No, only very nosy people who want to use the awesome power of the state to enact their private (and questionable) moral beliefs believe that society "needs" to regulate this.
10.18.2005 4:14pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
isn't the appropriate course to allow states to experiment with the idea?
Sure, let some state experiment. So far, no state has voted for SSM.
10.18.2005 4:16pm
William:

The one part of reproductive technology that I think is a direct attack on marriage, has nothing to do with technology at all: it is the decision of the law to strip some children of their legal and natural right to father, merely because the mothers in this instance do not want their child to have a father. This is the only instance in which the law permits parents to bargain away their child's right to the support and care of a father. I can't do it in a bar, why should I be able to do it in a medical clinic?



Without anonymity, the system would have trouble working. I find it unlikely that sperm or egg donors would be nearly as available if they knew they could be sued for child support or abandonment.

Beyond that, think of the implications of your suggestion. The idea that the government should regulate (or ban/discourage/whatever) a contract between informed consenting adults on behalf of something that is not yet a person, because of the fear that one of the adults might do something wrong in the future, is a dangerous one. In effect, you are saying that the government has the authority to limit the freedom of an individual because that individual MIGHT harm someone who does not yet exist. Can you really say with a straight face that the mere possability of a subjective assessment of harm is enough to limit reproductive freedom? Even if you can, how on earth would you find your way around Roe and Griswold to enforce such a prohibition?

Finally, there is no "legal or natural right" to a father. In nature, animals abandon their young all the time, the only parent that can be even reasonably depended upon is the mother, and even that is not a guarantee. Legally, a child has NO natural right to a parent. The courts do not force unwiling parents to spend time with their children, safe haven laws allow parents to abandon their children, and parental rights can be voluntarily (or involuntarily) terminated without the child's say. Parents are a good thing, yes, and perhaps a loving two parent household is the best possable solution, but do you really want anyone legislating parenthood?
10.18.2005 4:27pm
Anon7:
"every society needs to regulate the procreative consequences of male-female sexual attraction."

Horse puckey. You've lost the "marriage is necessary for procreation" bit, so your position is now that the government needs to manage marriages for us to deal with the consequences arising from procreation. So in that formulation, marriage is primarily massive, but in your view morally necessary, government social engineering.

You are not going to find many people to support that argument on a libertarian blog.
10.18.2005 4:28pm
Unamused:
Hmm, I don't think anyone has ever argued that marriage is necessary for procreation. It's emphatically not a necessity; isn't that quite the point?
10.18.2005 4:32pm
Rebecca Oris Davidson (mail) (www):
tdsj:

I think Maggie isn't saying that IVF or abortion is the problem, but the solution. IVF is the solution to the less-than-ideal situation of infertility. Abortion is the solution to the less-than-ideal situation of an unwanted pregnancy.
10.18.2005 4:32pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
> Francis:If marriage is about encouraging the "ideal" of a two-parent family, isn't that a strong argument in favor of SSM?

Some call this the conservative case for same-sex marriage. I call it the Parent Trap. To state it briefly, it may in fact be a case for Reciprocal Benficiaries, since even non-sexual couples (such as a mother and her sister) would fall under the camp of unmarriable situations raising children. But unfortunately there seems to be a problem with that, and oddly enough for all the inclusive talk of the ss"m" advocates it is too inclusive for them.

> Dilan Esper: No, only very nosy people who want to use the awesome power of the state to enact their private (and questionable) moral beliefs believe that society "needs" to regulate this.

I actually find that the establishment and trust of the family entity as a political unit increases self-government. A marriage is how 99% of individuals will influence the future. A marriage, while the fulfillment of individual capacity is the first step towards social representative governance as we raise our children. As Frederick Jackson Turner postulated that free land was neccissary to teach the realities required for good governance, it is even more evident that families are our best and most lasting way to learn for ourselves the neccissary principles of governance that help us be effective and positive contributors to democracy.

Government in defining marriage isn't regulating this as much as recognizing it (though both are happening).
10.18.2005 4:33pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Anon7 and Guest

Please understand you are not wining the debate, but chopping off a head of the sterility strawman.

In short, no one is arguing that marriage is required for procreation, that is a strawman of your own design. What is argued is that marriage monitors for responsible procreation.
10.18.2005 4:36pm
Anon7:
Hmm, I don't think anyone has ever argued that marriage is necessary for procreation. It's emphatically not a necessity; isn't that quite the point?

Maggie's initial posts argued that "the" purpose for marriage's existence was procreation, strongly suggesting to my reading that in a perfect world she would require marriage to be a prerequisite for reproduction.
10.18.2005 4:40pm
Unamused:
You mean procreation only when a father is socially and legally bound to stick around and support the child? That's much closer to the point. Now do yourself a favor and read this before responding.
10.18.2005 4:44pm
Anon7:
In short, no one is arguing that marriage is required for procreation, that is a strawman of your own design. What is argued is that marriage monitors for responsible procreation.

So this is your argument--nothing to do with logic or the law, but rather your personal moral definiton of what makes someone "responsible" enough to marry? (If it is to monitor procreation as you say, gay marriage would be ideally monitored since there can be no physical procreation)
10.18.2005 4:46pm
tdsj:
"I think Maggie isn't saying that IVF or abortion is the problem, but the solution. IVF is the solution to the less-than-ideal situation of infertility. Abortion is the solution to the less-than-ideal situation of an unwanted pregnancy."

I actually think she's saying something other than that, but I'm really not sure.
10.18.2005 4:58pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
So this is your argument--nothing to do with logic or the law, but rather your personal moral definiton of what makes someone "responsible" enough to marry?

To say that my opinion has nothing to do with logic or law is unsupported and slanderous. I'll forebare the formalities. I've been around long enough to see people so hell-bent on creating strawmen that honest discourse is almost impossible.

Sufficient to say, you are miscasting her argument and to better encourage discourse you should re-read her posts keeping in mind that your first impression was wrong. Look again for responsibility, for nurturing, for logic and law. You will find plenty of it, and you may even wind up understanding where Maggie really is coming from.
10.18.2005 5:00pm
Cold Warrior:

Marriage is about trying to encourage the ideal.

This gets closer to a justification for limiting marriage to opposite sex partners.

In other words: marriage is part of an ovearll pro-natalist policy. We give tax credits for additional children; so too we extend the benefits of marriage to those people who form the ideal household for the raising of children.

Closer, but not close enough. (I'm not talking about law here, I'm talking about social policy.) If we have a pro-natalist, pro-marriage policy, clearly we should limit child tax credits to children born within marriage. And that might not be a bad idea.

But trying to achieve a pro-natalist policy by restricting marriage to persons of the opposite sex? Sounds to me like a pretty circuitous route ...
10.18.2005 5:05pm
Splunge (mail):
I like Maggie Gallagher, but I think she's wrong about the historical purpose of government involvement in marriage (as opposed to any private purpose of men and women in seeking marriage).

Maybe if we go all the way back to Olduvai Gorge and "government" is the tribal elders she's right that the purpose is to provide for the welfare of children. But at least since government has become as complex as the council of a city-state, the historical purpose of government involvement in marriage seems to have been more concerned with property and inheritance. Id est, the purpose of formal rules around marriage and children seems more designed to avoid nasty feuds between powerful clans over property and inheritance that might sweep up innocent bystanders in the mutual destruction.

As evidence I adduce the fact that laws and practises of child custody post-divorce have swung about all over the place in the last few centuries, e.g. from presumption of father custody to presumption of mother custody and back again. Does this sound plausible if marriage itself is founded on plain bedrock principles about what's good for children on which we've all agreed the past 5000 years? I don't think so. I think, sadly enough, that the child bearing and rearing aspects of marriage have been largely treated in the public arena as secondary aspects of -- or even nuisances attendant on -- marriage.

Which cloud has a silver lining, I suppose. If Maggie is correct, as I think she is, that marriage as a public institution is crumbling today, then we can take comfort in the fact that this probably has little consequence as far as child bearing and rearing mores go, and probably just stems from the simple fact that the clan is no longer the most powerful social institution to which one belongs, and the property and inheritance aspects of marriage are no longer very important.

What Maggie really ought to do, if she's serious about the welfare of children, is explicitly abandon the sinking ship of state-sanctioned marriage and refocus on some other kind of covenant between men and women that explicitly revolves around children.

One reason to do so is because, frankly, modern family law is so viciously and thoroughly anti-paternal in practise that I predict there is no hope whatsoever of recruiting men in majority numbers to the ranks of committed supporters of a child-rearing covenant that is interpreted by state judges.
10.18.2005 5:09pm
Anon7:
Sufficient to say, you are miscasting her argument and to better encourage discourse you should re-read her posts keeping in mind that your first impression was wrong. Look again for responsibility, for nurturing, for logic and law.

I've been looking for the logic, but all I see are assumptions and assertions. Her case seems to boil down to:

1. Marriage is about making and raising babies
2. It is desirable for the government to regulate how we make and raise babies
3. Gay couples are incapable of "properly" making or raising babies
4. Therefore, the government should outlaw gay marriage

This works only if you accept her assumptions. I assert that they are (with the exception of biological reproduction among gay couples in #3) false. She asserts that they are true. Does this really advance the debate?
10.18.2005 5:25pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
Splunge,

I see no dillema here. In fact I see the concordance of inheritance to be a direct result of responsible procreation (lineage) and the established governance of a household.

Your arguement to me is like saying an engine is more about driving places than converting chemical energy into mechanical energy.
10.18.2005 5:34pm
Francis:
On Lawn: I followed your links in your response to my comment and I fail to understand the point you're making. The question pending is whether the government should recognize SSM. The fact that some in the gay community are opposed to Civil Unions or Reciprocal Benefits does not really bear on the question.

Now, it's possible that society would be better off if certain long-standing relationships other than marriage received some state recognition and some limited benefits. But preventing gays from being "married" if they so want, while holding out some other form of state recognition is just the old Separate But Equal idea that we got rid of as a country a long time (actually, not so long) ago.
10.18.2005 5:56pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
> Francis: The question pending is whether the government should recognize SSM.

Yet the question those links were answering was much more specific...

it [premise #1 in your previous post] may in fact be a case for Reciprocal Benficiaries, since even non-sexual couples (such as a mother and her sister) would fall under the camp of unmarriable situations raising children.


The fact that some in the gay community are opposed to Civil Unions or Reciprocal Benefits does not really bear on the question.

I submit it does, in a reduction-ad-absurdum kind of way. If the argument is followed to its logical extention yet produces a different result then the premise is flawed. The logic clearly presented would include non-sexed couples which ss"m" advocates in those instances directly exclude. The framework be it RB's CU's or ss"m" does not change the premise or conclusions.

But preventing gays from being "married" if they so want

Let me point out here that the requirement for equal gender participation does not violate the choice people have in getting married. It is a requirement that is a direct extension of the reason marriage exists, a neccissary component in its formulation to see the desired results.

I am not proposing seperate but equal, but distinction and integrity which violates the call for equalization and homogenization. It is not a passive releasing of the gates that will bring about equality in capacity between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. In Goodridge the Mass. Supreme Court directly called on the state to devote resources to equalize the two relationships. I see no government reason or goal to justify the use of resources to equalize product of gender preference. Especially when in practice that calls on children to be denied their heritage, handicapped to be used and margionalized, and a sexual habits to be directly regulated and pampered.
10.18.2005 6:38pm
OhMy:
Roger Schlafly:
Sure, let some state experiment. So far, no state has voted for SSM.

First it was "activist judges" and "the legislature should decide!"

Then after a legislature did decide it was "activist judges, loonly legislatures" and "only a refferendum can decide!"

What's next?
10.18.2005 6:41pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
On Lawn: What is argued is that marriage monitors for responsible procreation.

So, clearly, same-sex couples who want to have children should be allowed to get married.

That's logic.

Maggie asserts: Marriage is about trying to encourage the ideal.

yet seems to feel that same-sex couples must NOT be encouraged into this ideal. And hasn't explained why.
10.18.2005 6:43pm
Randy R. (mail):
One fallacy that runs throughout conservative thought is that marriage is crumbling today. they point to high divorce rates. To me, though that shows there is another possibility -- that real marriage is still strong.

Marriage is NOT an ideal! It might be for some people, but not everyone is ready or capable of being in a marriage. So the ideal for them is no marriage! I know lots of people who are happily unmarried, and have no children or desire. How do those people fit in MG's arguments? They don't.

But what about people in bad marriages? How does that help people? When a children see their dad beating up mom, or otherwise treating her badly, how does that help society? What if mom is a hopeless alchoholic who emtionally abuses the children? Better being motherless than having that mother. It is simply not true that ALL children are better off with both a mother and father; rather, some are and some are not.

Divorce rates often rise with economic expansion. When women have options other than bad marriages, they take them. As I said in another post, Elizabethan England had a divorce rate of about 80%. Why? Because women could earn and keep money! so they got rid of the deadbeat husbands and either remarried (sometimes several times) or remained single. I think this is good.

If you don't, then perhaps you should argue for an economic contraction, perhaps another Great Depression, to cure our divorce rate. But whatever you argue, please don't make the assumption that all marriages are good ones. It's a complex world out there, and a one-size-fits-all attitude only makes things worse. And that is exactly what Maggie is guilty of.
10.18.2005 7:04pm
Randy R. (mail):
BTW, the Massachusetts legislature had a vote on whether to repeal the marriage law, and it was voted down. So if the legislature is so against gay marriage, why did it allow it to continue? The fact is that a slim majority of the people of MA now support gay marriage.
In Connecticut, the legislature approved civil unions for gays, and indicated that if works out okay, they will consider marriage in a few years. Furthermore, 49? of Californians now approve of gay marriage, and 49% against, and even split, but it shows much greater support than even two years ago.
When you break it down by generation, the younger you go, the more in favor of gay marriage you. Teens today overwhelmingly support gay marriage.
The future, at least in the blue states, is gay marriage. It's just a matter of time.
10.18.2005 7:07pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
OhMy:

Actually it was the CA constitution that precluded the legislature not ss"m" advocates. The Log Cabin Republicans in the state, and Arnold Shwarzenagger both are for ss"m" but found the egregious manner in which AB 849 was brought up to be something they didn't want to associate with.

Jesurgislac: By what means to you preport ss-couples "have children". Describe that process for everyone curious as to how a sterile arrangement procreates.
10.18.2005 7:12pm
On Lawn (mail) (www):
So if the legislature is so against gay marriage, why did it allow it to continue?

Because the ammendment's comprimise of civil unions was something that neither ss"m" advocates or pro-marriage folks could stomach. A new ammendment has been circulating since before this one took its second vote, it is the one Maggie references in her digression.
10.18.2005 7:15pm
jvarisco:


On Lawn: What is argued is that marriage monitors for responsible procreation.

So, clearly, same-sex couples who want to have children should be allowed to get married.

Except that the annoying little thing called reality gets in the way here. Same sex couples can't physically have children. It's simply not possible. One half of a same sex partnership could use artificial means to have a child with another unrelated opposite sex partner (or non-artificial, for that matter). But same sex couples can never actually produce children.


Maggie asserts: Marriage is about trying to encourage the ideal.

yet seems to feel that same-sex couples must NOT be encouraged into this ideal. And hasn't explained why.


What is the purpose of marriage? If it is the ideal for people intending to have children, same sex couples do not fall into this category. The problem with SSM advocates is that they treat two members of the same sex as equal to the opposite sex for purposes of creating children - when this is simply in contradiction of biological reality. As Monty Python showed us, men can have the right to bear children - but they can't actually do it.


Another issue that SSM advocates seem to ignore is the differences between male and female interaction with children. It has been clearly shown that mothers and fathers both have different yet integral roles to play in raising children. If a child is brought into this world, it deserves a father - and, for that matter, a mother. Do you also support single mothers having children? Single fathers? Bringing a child into the world without raising it properly (e.g. food, shelter, education, a mother and father) is immoral, and we as a society should work to prevent such occurences when possible.
10.18.2005 8:20pm
John H (mail) (www):
People should only have a right to procreate with someone of the opposite sex. Trying to combine the genes from two people of the same sex would be completely unethical on many levels, with safety being only the most obvious and immediately serious). We should work to enact a ban asap, so that no one thinks they might someday have children with a person of the same sex. Research into SSP should be diverted into usefl research that releives suffering.

Congress should enact the ban ASAP, there is no need to wait.

Only a man and a woman should have a right to create children together.
10.18.2005 8:36pm
Elliot123 (mail):
John H.,

As a thought experiment, let's say genes from any two people can be combined and result in normal offspring which are statistically similar to the offspring of heterosexual couples.

In that case what is unethical about producing children with this technique?
10.18.2005 8:55pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
On Lawn: Jesurgislac: By what means to you preport ss-couples "have children". Describe that process for everyone curious as to how a sterile arrangement procreates.

The most common methods I can think of are:

1. from a previous marriage
2. by AID
3. by adoption

Pretty much the same way any couple who isn't interfertile would have children. Were you really uninformed about divorce, AID, or adoption?
10.18.2005 9:34pm
18:
There are many unadopted children looking for married adoptive parents. The state has an interest in those children being adopted. The state should sanction only the marriages that cannot produce children of their own.
10.18.2005 10:18pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
jvarisco: except that the annoying little thing called reality gets in the way here. Same sex couples can't physically have children. It's simply not possible. One half of a same sex partnership could use artificial means to have a child with another unrelated opposite sex partner (or non-artificial, for that matter). But same sex couples can never actually produce children.

That works if you want to argue that mixed-sex couples who aren't interfertile and have children by AID shouldn't be allowed to be married.

As others have said, the argument that marriage is only for those who can physically have children together works only if you apply it consistently, which no one does.

What is the purpose of marriage? If it is the ideal for people intending to have children, same sex couples do not fall into this category.

Well, except that many same-sex couples DO intend to have children. And then do. (And many mixed-sex couples don't intend to have children. And don't.)

You've already argued that couples who can't have children without artificial assistance shouldn't be allowed to get married. But if you're consistent about this, you're also arguing that couples who can't or don't want to have children biologically, but who intend to adopt, shouldn't be allowed to get married.

The problem with SSM advocates is that they treat two members of the same sex as equal to the opposite sex for purposes of creating children - when this is simply in contradiction of biological reality.

The problem with anti-marriage advocates is that they want to argue that marriage is solely about procreation. That a couple who can't procreate can't get married, because (presumably) kids from AID don't deserve married parents, and adopted kids don't deserve married parents, and hell, foster kids don't deserve married parents. Further, any couple who can't have children wouldn't be allowed to get married: and that would by no means be just same-sex couples.

Another issue that SSM advocates seem to ignore is the differences between male and female interaction with children. It has been clearly shown that mothers and fathers both have different yet integral roles to play in raising children.

Another issue that anti-marriage advocates seem to ignore is the fact that no one has been able to show, after decades of evidence, that children reared by same-sex couples are any different as adults from children reared by mixed-sex couples.

If a child is brought into this world, it deserves a father - and, for that matter, a mother. Do you also support single mothers having children? Single fathers? Bringing a child into the world without raising it properly (e.g. food, shelter, education, a mother and father) is immoral, and we as a society should work to prevent such occurences when possible.

And rapidly, these anti-marriage advocates seem to move on to a totalitarian society where people who want to have children can be prevented from doing so.
10.18.2005 10:23pm
Cornellian (mail):
So the government should prohibit single people from having children? Take the children away if they do? Remove children from the home if one of the parents dies? What are you getting at here?

Would you consider two parents of the same sex better or worse than a single parent, and why?

If a child is brought into this world, it deserves a father - and, for that matter, a mother. Do you also support single mothers having children? Single fathers? Bringing a child into the world without raising it properly (e.g. food, shelter, education, a mother and father) is immoral, and we as a society should work to prevent such occurences when possible.
10.19.2005 12:32am
Randy R. (mail):
The problem is that there is no research which indicates that children raised in a same-sex household are any better or worse off than children who are raised in a traditioanl husband-wife marriage. If the husband-wife team is better, then you need to establish proof that across the board those children are better off. But they are not. In fact, most people alive in the world today were raised in a traditional mother-father family, and yet we have tons of screwed up people.
10.19.2005 12:34am
Chairm (mail):
Since the vast majority of the children in those very few same-sex households are children whose parents had been in a man-woman relationship, usually marriage or cohabitation, there is only a very small minority of children who were attained by same-sex couples via adoption or technological assistance. There are no longterm studies of such families that can be used to declare what the previous comment by Randy R. has predetermined.

The intact family with married parents is the gold standard by which all other alternatives have thusfar fallen short. That includes single sex scenarios of various kinds, but not exclusively those with two adults who engage in same-sex sex play.

In any case, how do SSMers spin this into a plus for their advocacy of SSM?
10.19.2005 4:53am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Chairm: The intact family with married parents is the gold standard by which all other alternatives have thusfar fallen short.

Which is an argument for same-sex marriage. As you well know. If marriage is vitally important for families, then it is discriminatory to the children of same-sex couples to declare that same-sex couples are not allowed to get married.
10.19.2005 5:53am
Aultimer:

The intact family with married parents is the gold standard by which all other alternatives have thusfar fallen short.

In any case, how do SSMers spin this into a plus for their advocacy of SSM?


Because it's only "the gold standard" when you control for factors like wealth and education. If you want to legislate to the advantage of the most likely successful parents you're going to cut off enough less educated/poor hetero couples to favor a group of rich/well-educated single parents and SS couples.
10.19.2005 10:19am
Pro-Marriage:
Jesurgislac, that is an argument presented for the replacement of marriage with an alternative that is taylored made for the unisexed arrangement. However, it really just amounts to an argument that the alternative needs some sort of state recognitoin; it does not follow that the replacement you espouse is vital to the families you identified.

Aultimer, that is irrelevant. Control for those factors and the difference in outcomes for children remains significant when compared with intact families consisting of married men and women. The available data does not support discarding the man-woman criterion of marital status.
10.19.2005 1:54pm
treezycat (mail):
"Reproduction via technology is never the result of male-female sexual passion."

Never? Not necessarily Maggie.
Maybe this is too much information readers of this blog, but having gone through IVF...
The man needs to provide sperm.
The movies show the man going into the little room alone and watching pornos.
However, what often happens is the man and woman go into the little room and ...the jar comes back full.
10.19.2005 2:43pm
John H (mail) (www):
Eliot123: As a thought experiment, let's say genes from any two people can be combined and result in normal offspring which are statistically similar to the offspring of heterosexual couples. In that case what is unethical about producing children with this technique?

Leaving aside the objection that we can't get to that point without unethical experiments, I'll play along:

Two women would ony be able to have girls together, and probably lesbians, if there is actually a genetic component to homosexuality. Their children then would be required to also use these labs and clinics to have their own children, assuming they want to have children with someone they love. That would create a whole new species, technically, and one dependent on commercial enterprise.

Two men would have to use a surrogate or an artificial womb, costing them more money and giving them less control. (For that matter, the two women would have issues about which mom should be the carrier of their children). Their children could be boys and girls, but again, if genes have anything to do with it, these kids will carry them, and will also be dependent on the lab for their own children.

The commercial aspect is troubling, why do we want a Monsanto involved in family creation?

It would require government oversight and regulation, also, and it would require that we study the people created this way for their whole lives, as well as the children they produce, to look for problems. That would be a psychological burden.

It would also cost a lot of money, and SSP would either require government subsidy or just be the privilge of the rich.

It would move us beyond what Bill McKibben calls the "Enough" point, opening the door all the way to creating people that could not be created by healthy people, ie, it would lead to genetic engineering, which would also have all the problems of government study and subsidy and all that.

It would leave the men and women who remain heterosexual subject to uplanned pregnancy, keeping them a caste below those who produce their children only if and when they are ready for them.

It diverts funding and resources from actual health problems that cause real suffering.

That's just a few of things I can think of that would be unethical about it even if it is safe. Of course we will never get to that point, because it is unethical to go even one more day in the direction of producing children that are not the union of a man and a woman.
10.19.2005 4:05pm
Quarterican (mail):
John H. -

I agree with you that it's unlikely we'd arrive at the point where we need to ask these questions, but, uhm, where on earth do you draw some of these assumptions? Two women could only have a girl - sure, I suppose that makes sense. If homosexuality has a genetic component, their daughter would probably be a lesbian? Big big stretch there. If homosexuality has a genetic component, isn't it clear that said component is nowhere near as strong as the genetic influence on things like height, coloring, etc?
10.19.2005 5:47pm
John H (mail) (www):
We are ALREADY at the point where we need to ask these questions! Some experts think SSP is only three to five years away, and it will probably be to a lesbian couple, and they will definitely have a girl (they have no Y between them), and if there is any genetic component, the child will probably be a lesbian, as both parents presmably both have two copies of the presumably recessive gene. The answer to that question we should never find out (maybe that's what you meant?) because we have asked such questions today and realized that we need to ban non male-female reproduction right away.
10.19.2005 7:07pm
Quarterican (mail):
John H -

You got my meaning. I'm dubious that in three years Americans are going to be saying things like: "Let's see what happens if we hybridize the DNA from two women!" And I'm especially dubious that you'd hear it from the left; ferchrissakes, we're afraid of genetically modified grain.

My question is where you drew the notion that two lesbians would likely produce a lesbian. Perhaps you're correct, but you can't say "probably" because you don't know, and neither do I. And not just "you don't know because we haven't done it," but "you don't know because until we have evidence for homosexuality's genetic component (if it's there) and can map the way it works, and understand how it interacts with other factors, we have no idea how it works." Most of the time, it's not as simple as an on/off switch; think of family resemblances. I have a (male) friend who looks exactly like his mother, and he has a sister who looks exactly like their father. Corresponding noses, ears, and so forth. (I think she got the better part of the deal.) There's other (better, doubtless) examples.
10.19.2005 11:12pm
John H (mail) (www):
Remember, you asked me to list some ethical issues of same-sex procreation even if it is considered safe. The FACT that two lesbians might have a (much) higher chance of having a lesbian is just ONE of those ethical issues. There are so many other issues, mainly safety, but also all those others and more. I think you are just picking one to argue with as a way of diverting attention away from all the others, as though proving that there is a possibility that lesbians wouldn't be prone to have lesbian children somehow makes same-sex procreation ethical. It doesn't.
10.20.2005 1:28pm
John H (mail) (www):
And the left has such a libertarian bent that even if some or most are against the idea of SSP like they are about modified grain (and I'm not sure the left is against that), they are also against stopping a same-sex couple from having a right to have children together. And so all it would take is a lab to offer the service, and a couple to trust the lab. At least on expert thinks it will happpen in three to five years. And lesbians are indeed asking when the technology will be ready, they don't want to have to use a third party, they would love to have a child with their partner, and experience the same connectino that heterosexual partners feel when they have a child together. And LGBT groups are already demanding that no laws stand in their way to use any technology they want to try to have children. See my blog for links.
10.20.2005 1:40pm