I was to busy yesterday to post about Dan Savages New York Times op-ed as I intended. But I couldn’t get it out of my head until I did blog it because, though Savage handled so many issues so well in such a short piece, there were one or two things that needed to be expounded upon a bit further. He tears into into the New York and Washington state court decisions, much in the same way as Kenji Yoshino’s earlier Times piece, and picks on the hidden insult to heterosexuals in both rulings.
What the New York and Washington opinions share — besides a willful disregard for equal protection clauses in both state Constitutions — is a heartless lack of concern for the rights of the hundreds of thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples.
Even if gay couples who adopt are more stable, as New York found, don’t their children need the security and protections that the court believes marriage affords children? And even if heterosexual sex is essential to the survival of the human race (a point I’m willing to concede), it’s hard to see how preventing gay couples from marrying increases heterosexual activity. (“Keep breeding, heterosexuals,” the Washington State Supreme Court in effect shouted, “To bed! To bed! To bed!”) Both courts have found that my son’s parents have no right to marry, but what of my son’s right to have married parents?
A perverse cruelty characterizes both decisions. The courts ruled, essentially, that making my child’s life less secure somehow makes the life of a child with straight parents more secure. Both courts found that making heterosexual couples stable requires keeping homosexual couples vulnerable. And the courts seemed to agree that heterosexuals can hardly be bothered to have children at all — or once they’ve had them, can hardly be bothered to care for them — unless marriage rights are reserved exclusively for heterosexuals. And the religious right accuses gays and lesbians of seeking “special rights.”
Savage is right on the money, but there’s something he touches on that I feel the need to rant talk about for a bit: the strange obsession with reproduction among marriage equality opponents.
It’s an obsession I don’t understand at all. Sure, sure. I’ll chime in with Dan on reproduction and the survival of the human race. But has anyone noticed a population shortage of late? Maybe I’m wrong, but humanity doesn’t seem to be on the verge of extinction due to under population. (Though some of our other activities may be nudging us close to the edge of extinction.) And we’re don’t seem to have that problem in the U.S. specifically. The “red states” are making sure of that with their soaring teenage birth rates. (So much for abstinence-only actually working.)
It comes down to a basic question. Which is most important in the long run: reproducing or raising children? The answer is something I understood early on, but have learned in my bones since becoming a parent. I learned it first by seeing some men prove very good at making babies, but less than stellar at being a good husband and father afterwards. Lesson: almost anyone can make a baby. Almost any 12 year old boy who can pee straight can make a baby. Any 12 year old girl who can achieve puberty can make a baby. But there slim chance either will make great parents. So much for making babies being the only thing. Once they get here they need stable homes and good parents.
And another thing. All this “gays can’t reproduce” crap is rather idiotic anyway. As I’ve said before, of course the hubby and I can’t reproduce with each other. But we didn’t check our gonads at the closet door. Thanks to science, we can reproduce. (And no that doesn’t mean, as one wingnut actually assumed when I said this once before, that I want to get pregnant and deliver a baby.) When we discussed having a family, one of the options we considered was a combination of IVF and surrogacy. But ultimately, neither of us felt it was that important to have a biological or genetic connection to our child. Neither of us felt the need to “bring a child into the world.” After all is wasn’t reproduction on our part that would make us parents. It was the daily business of caring for and raising our child.
It’s what happens after conception, gestation, and delivery — once the child gets here— that makes the biggest difference in how they turn out. Raising and caring for a child is at least as important as the act of reproduction, perhaps moreso given the length of commitment (at least 18 years vs. nine months if one isn’t raising the child once its born). And there’s nothing that shows. gays & lesbians to be worse at it than heterosexual parents. In fact, all the studies and evidence says just the opposite. Our kids do just as well in every way as the kids of heterosexual parents. And even the New York court realized that most of us only become parents after much consideration and effort on our parts, because we want to, rather than by happenstance or accident.
It’s not a question of whether our kids have good parents. They do. It’s a question of whether our kids should have married parents, and the protections and benefits that go along with having married parents.
Of course, the right wing answer to that is that if we cared about that we shouldn’t have become parents in the first place. In other words, if we really loved our kids then we wouldn’t have had them or adopted them in the first place.
I tend to agree with Dan. If these are now the best arguments the opponents of marriage equality can come up with …
These defeats have demoralized supporters of gay marriage, but I see a silver lining. If heterosexual instability and the link between heterosexual sex and human reproduction are the best arguments opponents of same-sex marriage can muster, I can’t help but feel that our side must be winning. Insulting heterosexuals and discriminating against children with same-sex parents may score the other side a few runs, but these strategies won’t win the game.
Maybe sometimes it only looks like you’re losing when you’re actually winning.