Originally published 1/2/2004. Links were valid at time of publication.
It’s not often that two of my pet topics – individualism and childfree-ness – come together in one essay in this form, but there are times when you have to jump at the opportunity when it arises.
I can’t really take too much credit for it, however, as Bill Murchison did much of the work setting it up for me. In “Gay Marriage and the Cult of Non-Procreation” Mr. Murchison ties in the “homosexual agenda” with a “non-procreation agenda.”
In fact, his argument hinges upon this very telling line:
No heterosexual relationship, no procreation. No procreation, no human future. That is where the state’s interest in this thing comes in.
Personally, I find it extremely disturbing, not to mention Huxleyesque, that the State should take an interest in an individual’s procreation. How dangerous it is to work under the assumption that childbirth should be first and foremost a duty to the State!
Not surprisingly, the argument breaks down when examined even further. If you assume, as I do, that having (or not having, as the case may be) children is an individual choice, and you believe in equal treatment under the law, then the sexual orientation of the individual is irrelevant.
Murchison argues, therefore, that if this is the case, what’s the purpose of marriage in the first place? Without sounding too cynical, hopefully, the purpose of marriage is to provide legal access through barriers that have been put in place for the unmarried. For instance, married couples have the right to make life-or-death decisions for their spouses (unless you live in Florida under Jeb Bush, of course). Spouses can visit in the hospital. Spouses can adopt children who otherwise would go without any family whatsoever.
This last leads to the ultimate fallacy in Murchison’s argument: what about the children who already exist? Ironically Murchison ties in gay marriage with the pro-abortion crowd, ignoring completely the fight for adoption for these couples have been undertaking for years. Murchison would, undoubtedly, deny them this too despite the obvious conceptual contradiction. It would be, to him, yet another attack on “traditional marriage.”
Ironically, Maggie Gallagher – a conservative contemporary of Murchinson on townhall.com – has written a book entitled “The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.” The promotional tag claims “This book is the weapon that can annihilate the arguments of the ‘experts’ who allege lifelong fidelity is unrealistic, and that can neatly refute the elitist view that marriage is morally equivalent to all other types of partnerships.”
Doesn’t this answer Muchison’s rhetorical question regarding the purpose of marriage? How would Murchison, I wonder, respond to this? “Well Gallagher is correct,” one would assume he would say, not wanting to tread on the toes of a fellow Townhall.com author lest she do the same to him,” but it’s only true for heterosexuals.”
If marriage is, indeed, morally superior to all other types of partnerships, to arbitrarily deny it to someone on the basis of identity is morally indefensible.
Overall, I find this to be contradictory to my fundamental belief in individual rights and responsibilities. No other group is limited in this regard due to their identity. Imagine if one were to say that Blacks should not get married, or Jews? I choose the latter because the relationship with the religion is more associated with identity than of choice (a criticism levied at homosexuals, though it’s not clear why anyone would choose to belong to a group that is so universally despised and demonized).
I’ll say it again: if you believe as I do that every individual should enjoy equal protection under the law, then you have to agree that all rights and responsibilities afforded to one individual should be afforded to another, regardless of their categorical identity. In plain English, every individual should be allowed to marry based on his or her merits, regardless of their group identification (including homosexuals).