[Maggie Gallagher (guest-blogging), October 18, 2005 at 11:38pm] Trackbacks
The Marriage Debate and ReproTech:

Just a bit more, Todd:

Given how powerfully pro-technology we Americans are (yes, me too), I think it’s worth pointing out out that in the vast majority of cases described as instances of “reproductive technology”, what we are talking about is the technology of the turkey baster. People have known for hundreds of years how to do this. (Artificial insemination is documented in animals from the 18th century). For good or ill, the main changes that make reproductive technology prominent are social, not technological.

I’d also like to reply to some significant pushback I’m getting, in my personal letters. (And maybe Todd a certain undertone in your post). Many people don’t recognize in this somewhat flat description of marriage I'm laying out, their own marriages, or their religious tradition’s vision of marriage. (I’m getting chastized by certain Catholics who want to point out marriage is a one-flesh union that cannot be "reduced" to procreation)

Let me say two things. First, what I’ve been rather methodically laying out so far is the state’s interest in marriage. People don’t get married in order to satisfy the state’s interest. Moreover, marriage is not an institution the law created, or can create. It pre-exists law, and has meaning only if many actors other than the law sustain it. Marriage has social power and can serve the law's purposes, only if it is embedded in a culture in which people highly value and idealize the union marriage embodies. People protect children by entering faithful, permanent "one flesh" unions, but they don't view these marriages as mere instruments for making babies. Nor do I.

Secondly, behind the flat language I'm describing as "procreation and paternity" is great erotic mystery. This is the way I put it in a recent syndicated column “How I Entered the Penguin Wars. (All of my columns are archived at www.uexpress.com, if you want the full context).

“the human experience of generativity—sexual love (or lust) joining male and female in a physical act that produces new life; gestation, birth, and the transformation of one another through acts of our bodies into something as mysterious as a mother and a father; and most marvelous of all, making a baby—this is a big, brute, fact about human existence. It’s not going to go away.. .

Of course not everyone does this amazing thing. But those who don’t, whether straight or gay, need not set themselves against this story, or view it through the lens of grievance culture. We can all choose to participate, if only vicariously. We are products after all of this mysterious Eros, and our shared future depends on men and women willing to give themselves to it.”

But if I say anything like that here, people might say I’m emotional. . .