Sunday, October 23, 2011

A dad does matter to a child, whether gay couples like it or not | The Australian

A dad does matter to a child, whether gay couples like it or not | The Australian
“Marriage is fundamentally about the needs of children”, writes David Blankenhorn, a supporter of gay rights in the US who nevertheless draws the line at same-sex marriage. “Redefining marriage to include gay and lesbian couples would eliminate entirely in law, and weaken still further in culture, the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child”.

Here is the heart of opposition to same-sex marriage: that it means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that a child must miss out on either a mother or a father.
Same-sex parenting is saying neither sex has anything special to offer to a child. Male and female are completely interchangeable.
As ethicist Professor Margaret Somerville wrote in these pages, such assertions “force us to choose between giving priority to children's rights or to homosexual adults' claims.” Yet trivial arguments frame the gay marriage debate solely in terms of the emotional needs of adults, ignoring the child’s point of view.

Such adult-centred narcissism begs the wider question: if gender no longer matters in marriage, why should number? If marriage is all about adults who love each other, by what rational principle should three adults who love each other not be allowed to marry? Academic defenders of polyamory are asking that question, and no doubt van Onselen will shortly be slurring opponents of polyamory as binary bigots.

While warm fuzzy writers like Valentine can imagine no possible harm to society from gay marriage, the serious minds behind the movement occasionally let us glimpse their wider purpose. US activist Michelangelo Signorile urges gays “to fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely”. He sees same-sex marriage as “the final tool with which to get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools”.
Marriage is not a fad to be cut to shape according to social whim. The father of modern anthropology, Claude Levi-Strauss, called marriage “a social institution with a biological foundation”. Marriage throughout history is society’s effort to reinforce this biological reality: male, female, offspring. All our ceremonies and laws exist to buttress nature – helping bind a man to his mate for the sake of social stability and for the sake of the child they might create.

Not all marriages do create children – but typically they do, and the institution exists for the typical case of marriage. Homosexual relations cannot create children and cannot provide a child with natural role models; such relations are important to the individuals involved, and demand neighbourly civility, but they do not meet nature’s job description for marriage.

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