The Social Costs of Abandoning the Meaning of Marriage

polyamory-wrong

This is the first contribution to the Intercollegiate Review symposium, “Sex and the Polis: Perspectives on Marriage, Family, and Sexual Ethics.” For more perspectives on this topic, check out our Student Voices, who weigh in on each symposium contribution.

Marriage plays a fundamental role in civil society because it is characterized by sexual complementarity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence. These marriage norms encourage men and women to commit permanently and exclusively to each other and take responsibility for their children.

In recent decades, a revisionist view of marriage has eroded these norms. No-fault divorce was the first major trend to undermine a strong marriage culture. Now the effort to redefine marriage away from male-female complementarity has gone even further in abandoning the central characteristics of the institution. But if the law redefines marriage to say the male-female aspect is arbitrary, what principle will be left to retain monogamy, sexual exclusivity, or the expectation of permanency? Such developments will have high social costs.

The New Language of Marriage

New terms have even been coined to describe this new outlook on marriage. Here are some examples.

“Monogamish.” A 2011 New York Times profile of gay activist Dan Savage, headlined “Married, with Infidelities,” introduced Americans to the term monogamish—relationships where partners would allow sexual infidelity provided they were honest about it.

The article explained: “Savage says a more flexible attitude within marriage may be just what the straight community needs.” After all, the story added, sexual exclusivity “gives people unrealistic expectations of themselves and their partners.” Rather than strive for faithfulness to one spouse, advocates argue for allowing marriage to be sexually open.

Polyamory and “Throuple.” If marriage can be redefined to be sexually open, why should it be limited to two people in the first place? The liberal online journal Salon in August 2013 posted a woman’s account of her shared life with a husband, boyfriend, and daughter under the headline “My Two Husbands.” The subhead: “Everyone wants to know how my polyamorous family works. You’d be surprised how normal we really are.”

A certain type of polyamorous relationship has even motivated advocates to create the word throuple, which is similar to “couple” but with three people. The word appeared in a 2012 article in New York Magazine that described a specific “throuple” this way:

Their throuplehood is more or less a permanent domestic arrangement. The three men work together, raise dogs together, sleep together, miss one another, collect art together, travel together, bring each other glasses of water, and, in general, exemplify a modern, adult relationship.

“Wedlease.” The word wedlease was introduced in an August 2013 op-ed in The Washington Post. Why should marriage be permanent when so little else in life is, the author wondered. Why not have temporary marriage licenses, as with other contracts? “Why don’t we borrow from real estate and create a marital lease?” the author wrote. “Instead of wedlock, a ‘wedlease.’” He continues:

Here’s how a marital lease could work: Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years—one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes.… The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.

What Is Marriage?

Whatever one thinks about the morality of sexually open marriages, multi-partner marriages, and by-design-temporary marriages, the social costs will run high. The marital norms of monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanency make a difference for society. These new words and the reality they reflect undermine public understanding of what marriage is and why it matters for society.

At its most basic level, marriage is about attaching a man and a woman to each other as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their sexual union produces. When a baby is born, there is always a mother nearby: That is a fact of reproductive biology. The question is whether a father will be involved in the life of that child and, if so, for how long. Marriage increases the odds that a man will be committed to both the children that he helps create and to the woman with whom he does so.

Marriage, rightly understood, brings together the two halves of humanity (male and female) in a monogamous relationship. Husband and wife pledge to each other to be faithful by vows of permanence and exclusivity. Marriage provides children with a relationship with the man and the woman who made them.

If a man does not commit to a woman in a permanent and exclusive relationship, the likelihood of creating fatherless children and fragmented families increases. The more sexual partners a man has, and the shorter lived those relationships are, the greater the chance he creates children with multiple women. His attention and resources thus divided, a long line of consequences unfold for both mother and child, and for society as a whole.

Why Does Marriage Matter?

Marriage is thus a personal relationship that serves a public purpose. According to the best available sociological evidence, children fare best on virtually every examined indicator when reared by their wedded biological parents. Studies that control for other factors, including poverty and even genetics, suggest that children reared in intact homes do best in terms of educational achievement, emotional health, familial and sexual development, and delinquency and incarceration.

The breakdown of marriage most hurts the least well-off. A leading indicator of whether someone will know poverty or prosperity is whether, growing up, he or she knew the love and security of having a married mother and father. Marriage reduces the probability of child poverty by 80 percent.

Marital breakdown harms society as a whole. A Brookings Institution study found that $229 billion in welfare expenditures between 1970 and 1996 can be attributed to the breakdown of the marriage culture and the resulting exacerbation of social ills: teen pregnancy, poverty, crime, drug abuse, and health problems. A 2008 study found that divorce and unwed childbearing cost taxpayers $112 billion each year, and Utah State University scholar David Schramm has estimated that divorce alone costs federal, state, and local governments $33 billion each year.

Recognition of marriage serves the ends of limited government more effectively, less intrusively, and at less cost than does picking up the pieces from a shattered marriage culture.

Someone might object: What does it matter if a small percentage of marriages are open, group, or temporary? Those arguments were made in the no-fault divorce debate in the 1960s, but the introduction of such laws had a dramatic impact. After all, law affects culture. Culture affects beliefs. Beliefs affect actions. The law teaches, and it will shape not just a handful of marriages but the public understanding of what marriage is.

Restoring the Marriage Norms

Ideas and behaviors have consequences. The breakdown of the marriage culture since the 1960s made it possible in this generation to consider redefining marriage in the law to exclude sexual complementarity. And that redefinition may lead to further redefinition.

Indeed, these new concepts make marriage primarily about adult desire, with marriage understood primarily as an intense emotional relationship between (or among) consenting adults. This revisionism comes with significant social costs.

Redefining marriage to say that men and women are interchangeable, that “monogamish” relationships work just as well as monogamous relationships, that “throuples” are the same as couples, and that “wedlease” is preferable to wedlock will only lead to more broken homes, more broken hearts, and more intrusive government. Americans should reject such revisionism and work to restore the essentials that make marriage so important for societal welfare: sexual complementarity, monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency.

 

—Ryan T. Anderson is William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.  Along with Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, he is co-author of the book  What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A DefenseThis article is republished with permission from the Heritage Foundation.

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  • CAxlRose

    Seriously Ryan, you’ve been re-printing the exact same editorial nearly word-for-word for nearly two years now.

    In the short time that has passed since I first read one of your articles, TEN states have legalized same-sex marriage AND Section 3 of DOMA has been sent to the dustbin of history.

    At what point do you stop and realize that marriage equality is coming to the entire nation? Or do you wish to simply repeat yourself over and over in editorial after editorial? Who exactly do you think you’re connecting with at this point?

    • Zmirak

      Right, because losing elections or court decisions means that the truth has changed. CAxlRose would have made a fine defender of segregation–which was wildly popular with the majority of whites for a century.

      • CAxlRose

        Actually it’s YOUR side would’ve made a great case for segregation. If it wasn’t for court decisions (namely Brown v Board and Loving v Virginia), interracial marriage would still be illegal and segregation would still be the law of the land in at least a dozen states.

        • Zmirak

          You’ve intentionally skipped the point, which was that you adduced the fact that author’s views had become less popular as an argument against their validity. That’s the argument of the bully and the coward.

          • CAxlRose

            Thank you for missing my point entirely.

            I don’t need public opinion polls to render Ryan’s wildly discredited opinions as invalid. That can be done rather easily, since Ryan’s entire definition of marriage rests on wholly subjective and religiously-charged criteria that isn’t codified in a single state or federal law.

            And it’s a definition that has been routinely shot down in the court of law and the court of public opinion.

            Not sure how much more evidence you need that his argument is invalid.

          • SPR

            You begin by saying “I don’t need public opinion polls to render Ryan’s wildly discredited opinions as invalid.”

            But you end by saying “And it’s a definition that has been routinely shot down in the court of law and the court of public opinion.”

            So do you, or don’t you? You say you don’t, but then you rest your argument there.

            Routinely? How often must something be shot down to count as routine? 5,000 years worth of being shot down by multiple cultures and eras seems to put the argument squarely on the side of marriage as understood by Ryan, if that is the criterion for truth – or “validity,” as you say.

            Invalid? Do the conclusions not follow from the premises?

            You seem to misunderstand the way arguments work. Arguments are not invalid on the basis of the evidence; they may be unsound on this basis, but not invalid.

            “Subjective”? The entire point of Ryan’s argument is that there is something objective called “marriage”. You may disagree with the objective nature of marriage as described, or perhaps you even think that there simply is no objective nature of marriage. But you cannot argue that it is “subjective”.

            …Shall I go on?

          • CAxlRose

            Sure! Go on. Keep coming at me with circular and irrelevant tangents. Meanwhile the equality train is moving at full-steam in this country.

            I don’t deny that I disagree with how Ryan defines the “objective nature of marriage as described,” just as Ryan disagrees with the way I see marriage.

            The difference between Ryan and I, however, is that Ryan wants HIS definition codified in law when there’s absolutely NO rational basis to legally prohibit same-sex couples from obtaining a marriage license.

            I, on the other hand, have no problem with the Ryan Andersons of the world who think marriage is about two people coming together to make babies. If that’s how they see marriage, they’re certainly welcome to do it. But there’s no rational reason why a same-sex couples should be barred from getting married.

          • SPR

            Grand pronouncements? I pointedly addressed specific things you said.

            Circular? Where did I assume the conclusion in the premise?

            Irrelevant? Again, I directly responded to specific things that you said.

            Yet, you use tropes like “the equality train,” as if that had any meaning at all. Equality is a mathematical term meaning that two things are, well, equal. In terms of justice, it requires that two things actually BE equal in order that they can be compared. Injustice results from treating like things as though they were not alike, and TREATING UNLIKE THINGS AS THOUGH THEY WERE. (Sorry for the caps, but no italics are available.)

            Finally, you DO wish your view to be codified; to claim that you do not is either ignorant or willfully misleading. But here’s the point: Ryan’s view, also called the conjugal view, is the only rational way to limit or define marriage, because it is based on the biological fact that it requires exactly two persons, one of each sex, to procreate. Any restriction not derived from this fact is simply arbitrary. This is why decodifing this definition is either simply undefining it, or it creates ACTUALLY arbitrary restrictions.

          • CAxlRose

            “Injustice results from treating like things as though they were not alike, and TREATING UNLIKE THINGS AS THOUGH THEY WERE.”

            Same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples ARE alike, as they are similarly situated. Thus there is no rational reason to give one couple a marriage license and legally prohibit the other from obtaining one.

            That’s the entire essence of our argument. The ability to biologically procreate is irrelevant because: a) Not all married couples have children, such as the opposite-sex couples who are sterile, infertile, post-menopausal, or simply choose not to have children; b) Marriage is not a requirement for procreation; c) Procreation is a not requirement for marriage.

          • SPR

            Similarly situated?
            No, same-sex couples cannot procreate BY DEFINITION. This is, in fact, part of what defines “sex”
            in terms of biology. Opposite sex
            couples who cannot procreate are only such incidentally, not by
            definition. Furthermore, it misses what
            is at stake in marriage, definitionally.

            Your argument, put into terms of, say, triangles, is
            something like “because some triangles are not perfectly drawn, squares should
            also be included in what we call triangles, because some people prefer them.” This similar to the argument from interracial
            marriage as well, viz.: because some triangles are black and some white,
            squares should also be called triangles, because some people prefer them.”

            The fact of the
            matter is that “marriage” as understood through the norms of exclusivity, permanence,
            etc, make little sense absent its (at least in principle) procreative
            character, and it is unlikely that marriage would have arisen if, say, human
            children grew on trees, rather than were derived from sexual relationships
            between the sexes. If marriage is defined
            to no longer be understood in light of procreation, but retains those norms, it
            is, in fact arbitrary.

            Therefore,
            rationally, it must be either one member of each sex, or nothing.

          • CAxlRose

            “Opposite sex couples who cannot procreate are only such incidentally, not by definition.”

            I’m glad you think that menopause is incidental. LOL! What gynecology class did you fail out of?

            Anyway, “similarly situated” refers to the same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples living together and sharing their lives, and same-sex couples’ 14th Amendment right to be treated equally under the law.

            I know you never bothered to read the court decisions that have explained this, as you’re content to copy and paste anti-marriage equality talking points from right-wing websites, but do a little research and you’ll see how we lay out our case (and why we’re winning).

            “Similarly-situated” does NOT, nor has it EVER meant, couples who can make babies. That is so unbelievably ridiculous…

          • SPR

            You know absolutely nothing about me, and I (apparently wrongly) have assumed good will on your part. I have never taken gynecology (what? is that a normal class that people take?), but I have taken lots of law and philosophy classes (a BA and two MA’s worth) – and I have read the relevant decisions. But you, it is becoming clear, have no idea what you are talking about, despite my giving the benefit of the doubt (a courtesy, I might add, that has not been extended in kind).

            “‘…similarly situated’ refers to the same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples living together and sharing their lives, and same-sex couples’ 14th Amendment right to be treated equally under the law.”

            Excuse me, but your legal positivism is showing.

          • CAxlRose

            LOL I love it when right-wingers pound their chests and scream loudly about how they have alll these fancy degrees so people will think they’re smart.

            But okay, counsel. Since you’re so educated, please tell me what rational purpose it would serve the state to ban same-sex couples from legally marrying. And to the 16 states where marriage equality is legal (and where the federal government recognizes those marriages for federal purposes), what do you propose we do?

            You may not enlighten me. :)

          • SPR

            Chest pounding? You brought up the idea of failing classes (albeit gynecology classes). Interestingly, however, when you assumed I was ignorant and uneducated, you disdained me for that. But, when you learned that I was neither, you disdained me for educating myself. You can’t have it both ways.

            Further, why do you assume that I am a “right-winger”? The president publically held the same view until recently. Plenty of non-right-wingers continue hold that view. Is it just easier to label and dismiss rather than engage?

            As to the rational purpose, I have already laid it out in the argument above. Enlighten yourself, homie.

            Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.

          • CAxlRose

            Translation: You know of no rational reason, other than to cite Ryan’s ridiculous invocation of biological procreation which is not, as has never been, a requirement to obtain a marriage license.

            I also specifically asked you what action should be taken to address the 16 where same-sex marriage IS legal. Not surprisingly, you ignored the question.

            With an argument like that it’s no wonder your side is losing so badly.

          • SPR

            Right.

    • SamHamilton

      Isn’t this about more than gay marriage though?

      • CAxlRose

        The article above? Have you read any of Ryan’s other pieces? “Monogamish,” “Throuple” and “WedLease” are his buzzwords du jour when he’s arguing against same-sex marriage.

        The implication of course is that gay and lesbian relationships are fraught with infidelity and we can’t be trusted with something as valuable as the institution of marriage, lest we influence all those faithful straight couples with our adulterous ideas.

        Because you know straight men NEVER cheat on their wives…

        • SamHamilton

          Yes, the article above. That’s what this comment section is about.

    • quisutDeusmpc

      I believe an important distinction should be made. In all of the states that put the matter on the ballot for a statewide referendum, it was voted down. Realizing that the vast majority of the electorate do not want this, a change was made. Now, the tack is to get legislatures to make positive law and sidestep the electorate.

      • CAxlRose

        Actually, your side lost in FOUR states in the last election. Please find another talking point.

        And which legislatures and which “positive law”? You actually think there’s even the slightest chance of overturning marriage equality in the 16 states + D.C. where it’s now legal?

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  • Zachary Goldberg

    Great article. I have yet to hear an argument for why two men or two women is a marriage. If you take away the recognition, the “love” and “consent”, what makes a same-sex couple a marriage? I know our opponents loves to dodge and deflect, but that only goes so far.

    • CAxlRose

      “What makes a same-sex couple a marriage? ”

      –Same thing that makes an opposite-sex couple a marriage: A Marriage License. (In 16 state + D.C. and counting…) :))

      • gseaver

        Cultural evolution, the Bible, Talmud, Torah, Buddhist and Hindu sutra’s, as well as the Baccanhalia (186 BC) define marriage.

        • CAxlRose

          Don’t forget the Quran! ;)

  • Navy MD

    Nice work, Ryan! Some very valid points and an accurate description of the trends in society today! I see these trends in my clinic, when I have patients come in to get their STD testing every few months. Certainly, fidelity and monogamous relationships seem to be becoming more rare and the limits on these amorphous relationships are becoming less and less.

  • entonces_99

    If polyamory is wrong because it mixes Greek and Latin (as in “homosexual”), which should we make of the word “television”?

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  • CAxlRose

    If you take away love and consent then I doubt the hypothetical two men or two women in question would even want to marry each other, hence that defeats the purpose of your question.

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  • Grisha357

    Just remember that in most times and places, including Israel the time of Christ, marriage was defined as a contract between men for the exclusive rights to the sexual, domestic, child bearing and rearing of a woman. Here in the West, today, we’ve redefeind that, to our betterment. If that small % of God’s children who are attracted to their own, rather the the opposite gender are invited into the institution it will also be to society’s good.

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  • quasimoto63

    Why should silly notions of ‘fidelity’ or ‘monogamy’ or ‘responsibility’ get in the way of my own selfish, personal pleasure? Imagine trying to run a country based on those dubious principles.

  • MarkOH

    And yet, it IS marriage in 16 states, DC, Canada and several other countries. You can dismiss reality all you want but what you say is certainly NOT truth.

  • MarkOH

    Please explain how allowing two loving people to marry will lead to a higher divorce rate?

  • MarkOH

    “According to the best available sociological evidence, children fare
    best on virtually every examined indicator when reared by their wedded
    biological parents”

    Uh, that’s not entirely true. Children thrive in a STABLE environment, which you admit in your next sentence. This stable environment can be provided by a man and a woman, two women or two men.

  • MarkOH

    And it has been answered. You just choose to ignore it.

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  • CAxlRose

    Well I’m not sure the point of your question. Why else would two people get married unless they were in love with each other?

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  • Oshtur

    Marriage is a civil contract, licensed by the state, with a single contractual promise – for the two cosignees to establish the legal familial relationship of ‘spouse’ which will be recognized as such by the state. While state statutes can and do recognize special rights regarding sex between spouses, there is no requirement or necessity for that congress to happen for them to be spouses.

    And considering there is absolutely nothing that same sex couples do that opposite sex ones don’t also do trying to tie this particular civli contract to a particular kind of sex is a non-starter.

    It is just legally creating a familial relationship, like a legal adoption establishes a parent child one. As such since all states already allow the at least citizens to license such with a husband or wife that some let all citizens have these rights is only letting all citizens do what some have always been able to do.

    Benefits them, their families and society.

  • Oshtur

    Silly argument since these children will be being raised by these parents regardless in most cases. So the question is, are they better off with licensed spouses as parents? Every indication is the answer is ‘yes they are’.

  • Oshtur

    Peter the difference is the ‘state’ of DC has always allowed citizens to license with a husband or wife.

    This is in contrast with your example of two non-contractable ‘things’ in which no citizens has been able to get a contract for ever.

    All marriage equality does is allow all citizens to do what some have always been able to do and doesn’t open any doors for any citizen to do what none have been able to do.

  • Oshtur

    What state do you live in that dogs can enter into civil contracts? Now someday when the Vulcans arrive we might have to revisit interspecies dating but until then its a silly rebuttal.

  • biker

    This is a fascinating discussion. As I see it, being a straight male with two ex wives, the SSM side clearly wins the argument based on the logic of individual liberty. Marriage in this country is simply a contract between two people that the state has decided to sanction. There is no argument here on the side of traditional marriage that doesn’t just boil down to saying that “this is the way I want it and if you don’t agree with me then you’re wrong.”

    • Freethinker01

      Biker–I think you missed the thesis of the article. Namely, that the State traditionally supported one man one woman marriage because it has historically been shown to be the most stable and most beneficial arrangement for rearing children and for stabilizing society.

  • Oshtur

    No marriage is the civil contract by which we establish and register the legal status of ‘spouse’ between two people. You are confusing the licensing restrictions for the contract with the familial relationship of ‘spouse’. We have altered the licensing restrictions many times for age, for sanguinity, for race.

    And so your examples are easy to deal with – a spousal relationship is reciprocal and mutually exclusive – “there can be only one”. When and if a state starts recognizing a concubinal status we will have to address that but has nothing to do with spouses.

    All marriage is in my state is a civil contract, again has been since we were a territory, don’t know, don’t really care what it might be wherever you live.

    • Peter

      In most jurisdictions, marriage is described in legal terms as a civil contract of some sort. That’s not because that is what marriage really is, it’s only because that is the only aspect of it that the law can deal with.

      However, you appear to be taking the approach that the nature of marriage really is summed up by its legal description. That certainly makes it possible to “extend” it to classes of people it was previously denied to – but, I repeat myself, that is only because if it is merely a legal document it can be literally anything the law says it is. And if it can be anything then it is really nothing.

      Those states that have treated marriage as a mere legal instrument to be redefined at will, have effectively said what the cynics said all along – a marriage is only a piece of paper. It may be a victory for “equality” that that piece of paper is obtainable now by two men or two women, but it is a loss to everyone else because in “broadening” marriage it’s been diminished.

      • Oshtur

        A secular marriage contract is just how we establish a legal spousal relationship in the eyes of the state. Of course people can have a spousal relationship without such state sanction, government and law is blow our feet, not above our heads. It exists to serve the citizens, not the citizens the law.

        And so no, the state couldn’t do anything – there still has to be a spousal relationship which is one of total commitment between two people. Three people can’t be spouses, its impossible to be completely committed to more than one.

        But that has been the issue, people who had made this commitment weren’t allowed to register with their husband for wife when other people could. And now they can. Yes I acknowledge you are trying to use the woo woo buzzwords of sexual complementary and such but in reality even in states without marriage equality almost 20% of the married women never breed. All marriage equality does is make that a fraction closer to 20%, hardly a justification for spousal discrimination. People can and are spouses without breeding, there is no expectation or requirement for them to do so. But if they do, or end up raising children for any reason, they and the kids are better off if the parents are registered spouses than if they are not.

        Again, marriage equality is better for the spouses, their families, and society and I’ve yet to hear an argument to refutes that.

  • mominvermont

    Here’s some new vocabulary for you: “Same sexism marriage”

    http://patriotpost.us/commentary/21626

    • Oshtur

      Does anyone fall into this deceit that somehow it requires marriage for kids to be raised by same sex parents?

      Its a silly notion – these kids will be being raised by the parents they have regardless, allowing their parents to register their spousal status via a marriage only makes their lives better, unless someone is making the case that its better for a child’s parents to be unmarried….

  • Oshtur

    There has never been common law marriages in my area, and you do realize that was just having the state recognize the establishment of the familial relationship of ‘spouse’ without a contract.

    And what is this ‘sexual equation’ you are talking about and using game metaphors? If having a spouse is just a game to you I think we are not even talking about the same thing.

    A spouse is someone to whom you have pledged complete commitment, something a person can only do to one other person and they back and the same.

    And and not previously committed, not closely related adults have always been considered acceptable spouses for some of the citizens, all marriage equality does it make them acceptable spouses for all citizens.

    Having a spouse is not a game, its a commitment, one that people can make regardless of their sexes. All marriage equality does is allow the state to recognized this familial relationship by registering it with the state.

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  • CAxlRose

    Yep. Keep telling yourself that. Meanwhile we’re making gains that were unthinkable just 5 five years ago.

    Equality is coming. Learn to love it.

  • CAxlRose

    “Two men cannot have sex….they can only masturbate together.”

    That’s actually completely and utterly wrong. Lol!!

  • CAxlRose

    “I’d hate to think of any child being raised in a purely feminine environment, or a purely masculine environment.”

    So I guess you’re against single mothers raising children? How about single fathers?

  • CAxlRose

    Thankfully, gay couples don’t need your approval to have sex.

  • CAxlRose

    We actually don’t have to prove anything to you. I can’t think of a single same-sex couple that is waiting for your approval to get married.

  • happiernow

    “If a child is reared by two parents of the same sex, that child may possibly get stability, but never gets the close exposure to both sexes that he/she would naturally get otherwise. I’d hate to think of any child being raised in a purely feminine environment, or a purely masculine environment. Very stunting I’d say.”

    Do you think the children of same-sex parents live under a rock or something? That they have no exposure to relatives (and other adults) of both sexes? That they do not see the majority of heterosexual couples around them? You also assume that two women create a “purely feminine environment” and that two men create a “purely masculine environment.” Such an assumption is clearly based on gender stereotypes. There are so-called “masculine” men and “feminine” men, just as there are “masculine” women and “feminine” women. There are also androgynous men and women–people who have a balance of both masculine and feminine characteristics.

    Even in heterosexual couples, there is a ton of diversity in how the people identify with, and express gender. There is no magical gender balance that exists in every heterosexual couple and that does not exist in every same-sex couple. Why would you assume that two lesbian moms would both be “purely feminine” or that two gay dads would be “purely masculine”? What a silly and inaccurate assumption.

  • happiernow

    How very sad to reduce marriage to the act of heterosexual intercourse. How demeaning to the institution. If one spouse becomes unable to perform, does the marriage cease to exist? Silly, Heterosexual sex is not required for marriage, and marriage is not required for heterosexual sex. Procreation is not required for marriage, and marriage is not required for procreation. And you’re just plain wrong that two men or two women cannot have sex. I assure you that they most certainly can. Of course, if you choose to limit the definition of sex to one specific act…well, I feel really, really, really sorry for your wife.

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