Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marriage is for mating?

The National Review has published an article about marriage equality, making (yet again) the procreation argument--you know the one: the only REAL purpose of marriage is childbearing. Only they don't call it procreation, not always. They call it mating. And in response to the obvious distinction that we do not limit marriage to the fecund, they comment,
"An infertile couple can mate even if it cannot procreate. Two men or two women literally cannot mate."
Do you get that? Infertility is fine, as long as it involves inserting a penis into a vagina: mating, the way we think of animals. MATING. This is not about childrearing, which the gays do, and single parents, and adoptive parents. No, it's about missionary-position straight sex. This is what conservatives have to offer as an argument.

Andrew Sullivan responds:
Leaving the countless existing gay families to one side, adoption, artificial insemination, and surrogates all regularly produce children. And there is no actual evidence that children begotten not by parental mating fare worse than those who are. There is even some research suggesting that lesbians are better parents than heterosexual couples. If your concern is children, why does the process by which a couple obtain a child matter more than the quality of that child's upbringing?
And Dan Savage:
[Y]our case for discriminating against "childless" same-sex couples—when some of us, ahem, are out there raising children—is transparently bigoted horseshit sprinkled with double-standard jimmies. Until you start advocating for the denial of marriage licenses to the elderly, fertility tests for the young, and the nullification of the legal marriages of straight couples who are childless-by-choice, no one should take you seriously when you argue that children define marriage because it's clear that you don't believe that either. Otherwise you would promote a "seamless garment," if I may borrow a phrase, where marriage is concerned, i.e. no marriage licenses for oldies, inferties, vasectomies, etc.

Jonathan Rauch:
Confronted with the obvious fact that no society has ever excluded sterile heterosexual couples from marriage, and that excluding them would be absurd, the editorial simply baffles. “An infertile couple can mate even if it cannot procreate.” It can mate? If “mate” means “have heterosexual intercourse,” the argument merely assumes the conclusion, and “procreativity” has gone right out the window. The article notes that the inclusion of sterile straight couples does not prove that marriage “has nothing to do with” procreation. Right! But it also does not prove that marriage has only to do with procreation. In fact, it quite strongly suggests the contrary.

Update See how Rob Tisanai takes this kind of reasoning apart on his blog today


Paul (A.) said...

An infertile couple can mate even if it cannot procreate. Two men or two women literally cannot mate.

But whatever those two men or two women can do, a heterosexual couple can do as well (up to, I suppose, an irrelevant point), and such behavior is entirely legal and (according to Robert Gagnon at least) moral.

Is NOM's leadership just bemoaning their lack of opportunities or invitations for non-penile-vaginal sex?

Dennis said...

I went and read the NR piece. It relies on a silly set of circular arguments.

But I thought that the final paragraph was most interesting.

They acknowledge that the wind is changing, that those who are fighting equality are likely going to be seen as bigots, and all that they can say is "too bad for the future." The National Review types don't care. They know, inside, that they will be viewed by history as the equivalent of the segregationists and defenders of every other oppressive system. They know how this will play out.

New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat has even made the argument that we can't allow marriage equality because then the people who don't like gays and lesbians will start to be seen as the equivalent of the segregationists. Heavens. Can't allow that, you know!

Conservatives know what is going on but can't let it change them because they are too scared.

These people know how they will be seen by history when they lose. They know that they are fighting a rearguard action for a disgusting and disintegrating point of view. They know that change is coming and they are angry about it. But they won't change and can't change. Because if they were wrong about this, then what else are they wrong about? And for a political and religious belief system designed to protect one from change and those who are different, this is too scary to think about.

Far better to be hated by the future (and by the "elites" that the article rails against) than to question the teetering systems of power and authority. Better to be seen as a bigot than to surrender one's ego to the scary chaos of a lack of certainty.

IT said...

Dennis, I think that's the heart of it. They are afraid, and cannot dare admit they may be wrong.

JCF said...

These losers apparently never heard of the word "soulmate". }-X