Joel Mathis is upset with the National Review. The conservative journal responds to last week’s ruling against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, an act that blocks legal recognition of legal marriages between same-sex couples, by arguing:
If heterosexual coupling did not regularly produce children there would be no reason for the institution of marriage to exist, let alone for governments to recognize it.
As Joel notes, this is a pretty silly basis for opposing gay marriage.
What a depressingly — implausibly — narrow view of marriage.
No doubt, children are a common byproduct of heterosexual marriage. [But] …People, as a general rule, want company. They want sex, they want economic partnerships, they want somebody to hang out with. …
The conservative case against same-sex marriage reduces the “institution” to simple biology. It’s a point of view that reduces humanity to the level of beasts, with a bureaucracy.
Indeed, this was ultimately what the anti-gay attorneys in the Prop. 8 trial were reduced to. Having had many of their witnesses withdraw, and others discredit themselves by acknowledging their motivation by animus against homosexuality (an unconstitutionally discriminatory basis for legislative action), the lawyers fell back to insisting that marriage is about childbirth, and since same-sex union can only produce offspring through medical interventions, they shouldn’t count legally.
This is dumb.
For a simple explanation, consider two stories. First, consider a couple of professors I had in grad school. Both had been married for many years, and both of them had made the decision not to have children. Their marriage was valid and meaningful to them, but did not involve children. If conservatives have no basis for appreciating why those folks, and many other intentionally childless couples, get married, … well I’m glad I’m not marrying a conservative.
Second, let’s talk about my grandmother. Her husband died in his fifties, before I was born. Quite some time later, well after menopause, she remarried, and the man she married was the only grandfather on that side of the family that I ever knew. Both had adult children from previous marriages, and some of their grandchildren attended the wedding. They knew they wouldn’t have children of their own, but that didn’t change their desire to marry. Again, if conservatives cannot understand why senior citizens choose to marry and stay married past menopause… well, I’m still glad I’m not marrying a conservative.
When people make this argument that marriage is about procreation, it insults the memory of my grandmother and grandfather, people who could not have legally married if this standard were applied consistently. It insults people who are infertile for any reason, including voluntary sterilization, congenital conditions, or side effects of other medical treatments. And it insults anyone who takes marriage seriously – as an institution focused on bringing together loving couples and recognizing the special ties that they’ve formed.