I‘ve written before about a case here in Michigan involving a lesbian couple with three children, two of them adopted by one of the partners and one by the other. Now they want to jointly adopt all three by adding both partners names to the adoption and are challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to achieve that goal. The state’s latest brief offers up arguments that are incoherent at best.
One of the paramount purposes of marriage in Michigan — and at least 37 other states that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman — is, and has always been, to regulate sexual relationships between men and women so that the unique procreative capacity of such relationships benefits rather than harms society. The understanding of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the rearing of children born of their union, is age-old, universal, and enduring. As illustrated by a plethora of research, social scientists have consistently recognized the essential connection between marriage and responsible procreation and childrearing.
Before 2004, when the Massachusetts courts decided to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships, it was commonly understood that the institution of marriage owed its very existence to society’s vital interest in responsible procreation and childrearing. Undoubtedly, that is why the Supreme Court has long recognized marriage as “fundamental to our very existence and survival.”
P: Marriage is very important for family stability and raising children, both of which are good for society.
C: Therefore same-sex marriage can’t be allowed.
It’s that second premise that is completely absent. Yes, marriage is important for family stability and raising children. So why isn’t that also true of families where the parents are gay? Why don’t these three adopted children deserve the same protections offered by marriage, where both parents share lifetime responsibility for their well-being?
As for the argument that marriage law are intended to “regulate sexual relationships,” that’s just nonsense. People can have sex, have children and raise children without getting married, and people can get married without having sex or children. The law does not regulate sexual relationships, it provides legal and financial benefits and protections for those who choose to get married, whether they are parents or not. And there is no coherent argument for why a gay couple or their children should be denied those benefits and protections.