I used to be tepidly in favor of gay marriage. Not having a dog in the fight, I was fine with passively supporting my gay friends who wanted their wuv wecognized. This was before the obnoxious post-Prop-8 behavior in California, along with sundry other fascist offenses against freedom of speech and opinion that gay activists have been regularly committing. Now, I could give a damn about gay marriage, except if it were on the ballot in my state, I would vote against it, because I don’t like bullying interest groups.
This is much like how I feel about giving women equal work for equal pay, or protecting them against workplace harassment, or about affirmative action and anti-discrimination laws. The aggrieved groups have all overreached and are now far more venal than victimized.
With that said, the only plausible arguments I’ve heard against granting gays the legal protections, obligations and horrors of marriage are these:
(1) The government should just butt out of people’s lives. Rather than legalize marriage for gays, we should abolish it for straights. I’ll leave this libertarian utopian argument on the sidelines in this post.
(2) You’ll eventually have to legalize various polyamorous relationships too, including Muslim polygamy. People who dismiss this argument as absurd slippery slope thinking aren’t worth arguing with. But I’ll argue with them for a moment anyway.
There are good reasons to not want this to happen. In Utah, where I was voluntarily (if stupidly) incarcerated for a decade of my life, the Mormon polygamists are a huge pain in the ass. They are a giant drain on the welfare system; they are not culturally assimilated; they breed irresponsibly; more often than not they raise their kids to be even weirder than they are, and they rape their kids a lot too. In all of these respects, fundamentalist Muslims and Mormons are more than alliteratively similar. And most hippie dippy poly’s make even bigger messes of their lives and of those of their hapless children than do the traditional religious nuts.
What possible intelligent argument can you make in favor of gay marriage but against polygamy? You can only count to 2? Muslims and Mormons oppress women and so their free choices are bad for society, but the rabid-mink promiscuity that brought us AIDS was a good thing for society?
The poly problem is actually a good argument for de-legitimizing heterosexual couple relationships too unless they meet certain criteria. If hetero couples aren’t behaving in ways that are consistent with the public interest, why should they get protected more than anyone else? Divorce rates over 50%, widespread abandonment of children from previous relationships, and other stereotypical heterosexual behavior patterns certainly deserve more discouragement from the government. If you think the government should be involved in such things in the first place. Which everyone advocating for or against gay marriage does think, or you’d join me in supporting option (1) above.
(3) The point of marriage is the welfare of children. At least as far as state involvement and support for marriage is concerned. Marriage deserves unique privileges and protections because the family is the way we get the next generation ready to take over. In the long run, there’s nothing more important, so let’s take this seriously and do everything we can to help those who are responsibly raising children. If you buy that:
- Only romantic/partnering relationships conducive to the healthy rearing of offspring should be promoted by the state. What compelling state interest is there in promoting any other kind of “life partnerships”?
- Going one obvious step further, only relationships where offspring are actually being healthily reared should be state-sanctioned. I don’t know why people should get the benefits of marriage if they don’t have children any more than people should get the benefits of a mortgage tax deduction before they actually buy a house.
- If the state has a legitimate interest in promoting such relationships, certainly it has a legitimate interest in punishing or at least discouraging relationships that are deleterious to raising healthy children.
- Divorce should be illegal until all offspring, natural or adopted, are self-supporting adults. The state has no interest and should have no interest in whether the parents are still in wuv.
- Yes, you should have to be licensed to raise a child. Failing to obtain or maintain such a license should carry a presumption of loss of parental rights. You have to get a license to raise a dog.
- Given the huge default rates for parental financial support, prospective parents should demonstrate financial responsibility before being granted parental rights. I’d say 20% down on the average cost of raising a child to age 18 would be fine, or parents can buy PMI (Parental Monetary Insurance). Failure to comply will presumptively terminate parental rights.
- Getting pregnant out of wedlock or without a license or without proof of financial responsibility should lead to automatic termination of parental rights and mandatory irrevocable adoption unless all hoops are jumped through before the child is born.
Now, we can argue about whether it’s important to have a male parent and a female parent, or whether it’s important to have 2 parents (if, for no other reason than to have a backup in case a parent dies). But if you’re against gays getting married, and your stance is about anything more than religion or revulsion, how can you not get behind most of the bullet points above?
The problem with marriage today is that heterosexuals don’t take it seriously. It’s not that gays are storming the rotten fences guarding the wedding chapel. Straights have (literally) emasculated and (metaphorically) eviscerated marriage. It’s now till-bored-with-you-do-I-get. After we dump each other, if we’re good people, we’ll be easily-manipulated shitty parents mewling to our children for validation and expiation, until they become awful brats. If we’re not all that great as people, we’ll stay locked in a death struggle till-death-do-us-part, in which case our kids have at least some chance of growing up to be decent, if somewhat traumatized, people.
Here’s the elephant in the living room in this debate: 80% of kids have parents who had bad, stupid, irresponsible or accidental reasons for having them. This includes:
- Every child born out of wedlock to an unmarried woman under 30.
- Every child born out of wedlock to a straight couple.
- Every child born less than 2 years into a legal marriage.
- Every child born to anyone over 30 who has less than $100,000 in net worth.
- Every child born to a married couple under 30 who has less than $50,000 in net worth.
- Every child born to a woman on any form of government assistance.
- Every child whose mother gave him or her up for adoption.
- Every child that was a surprise (duh, listed for completeness).
- Every child under 18 with divorced biological parents.
- Every child with a parent younger than 25 at the moment of conception.
Kinda judgmental, ain’t I? I broke 4 of those rules. So did my parents. If we used my filters, the human race would die out before 2100. Well, stupid people would continue to breed unabated, so probably everyone left would be urgently scratching themselves like Lindsey Lohan’s last boyfriend and and banging their iPods on rocks because they have forgotten the concept “battery.”
So how do I resolve this dissonence between my breeding bullet points and human survival? Well, they’re not really my points. I’m arguing in this post, as best I can, from the perspective of people who think that phrases like “compelling state interest” are meaningful. See where that leads ya?
Not one thing bulleted here do I believe.
Now I’ll get controversial, and this is what I do believe:
People shouldn’t breed who don’t read anything with more than 100 pages (I don’t care if it’s a comic book or a romantic novel or Stephen King or Proust).
The rest of you, start bumping boots! Not only isn’t neurosis hereditary, it’s self-limiting.
And stop incenting the aggressively stupid to impregnate each other whenever proximity beckons.