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Children and Their Rights Unjustly Absent from Same-Sex “Marriage” Debate

Posted by Tony Listi on November 21, 2011

I’m getting really tired of seeing debates over same-sex “marriage” (SSM) that ignore, dismiss, or downplay children and their rights and that talk about marriage as if it were primarily an adult-centered civil institution. It is so sad that leftists, most libertarians, and many so-called “conservatives” treat children this way. The real debate over marriage as a public, civil institution should not be about adults but about children and children’s rights.

The essential public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to each other for the sake of their children and their children’s rights. Marriage as a civil institution is about children; the law should recognize it as children-centered institution. Children and their rights are the reason why marriage is a public, civil institution (not merely a religious institution) and why it should have special legal status.

While not every marriage can or does bear fruit in the procreation of children, every child has a mother and father, and the well being of that child depends significantly upon the relationship between his or her mother and father, which marriage, as a civil and social institution, is designed to strengthen and stabilize.

The law should recognize these basic facts of biology, social science, and human nature and should protect the child’s rights by protecting marriage. Legal protection of marriage is necessary because children are unable to defend and protect their own rights, and the violation of those rights and consequent harm and damage done is extremely difficult to remedy satisfactorily after the fact.

SSM tries to change marriage from a children-centered civil institution to an adult-centered civil institution, necessarily perverting and destroying the essential public purpose of marriage and harming children, who depend upon marriage for their well being.

Many people often say that same-sex “marriage” (SSM) does “no harm to anyone.” While it might have little to no direct and immediate effect on adults and current marriages, SSM would certainlydirectly, and immediately harm future children by:

  1. Undermining, if not removing entirely, the children-centered nature of civil marriage, which children depend upon for their well being,
  2. Turn children into commodities to be manufactured and possessed that unrelated adults have a “right” to have, separating children from at least one parent as a matter of routine procedure,
  3. Empowering the state to routinely and arbitrarily assign parentage and custody of children without any regard for biology or genetics.

Marriage should not be about self-centered adults who want recognition and approval from the State for their private relationships which serve no public purpose. As a civil institution, marriage is not about the “happiness” or “rights” of adults but the happiness and rights of children. 

SSM strips away the essential public purpose of marriage (children and their rights) and leaves only the inessential private purposes of marriage. Under the new definition(s) of “marriage,” a whole host of private relationships having nothing to do with the procreation and proper raising of children could be considered a “marriage.” By the time the logic of these new definitions reaches its full implications, there will be nothing left of marriage except an absurd and dangerous government registry of roomates and friendships.

A relationship based on homosexual affection or behavior is no more deserving of legal recognition and approval than a relationship based on the activities of living together, golf, chess, dancing, or studying. Homosexual behavior, living together, golfing, playing chess, dancing, and studying are all private behaviors that serve no essential public purpose. If these individuals want to formalize their private relationship and create reciprocal rights and responsibilities amongst themselves, they are free to do that under the law using contracts. But of course, no private individual or corporation outside of that contractual relationship should be forced by government to recognize that contractual relationship and to perform some specific action because of the existence of that contractual relationship.

But marriage, a relationship based on procreating children and securing their positive rights, deserves special legal status that transcends contract law because it serves the very essential public purpose of procreating children and securing their positive rights. Marriage is more than a contract because it intends to create and care for an entirely new human being, an entirely new third party to the “contract” who has special positive rights that depend upon the marriage relationship itself to be secured.

Perhaps some people will argue that SSM and the creation and proper raising of children can go together…. But SSM inherently promotes and encourages the outrageous, immoral, and harmful notion that children are commodities or things which adults have a “right” to have, regardless of whether they are the biological parents of the children or not. On the contrary, children should be loved into existence and are persons with a positive right to a relationship with both biological parents, to know and be known by both biological parents.

Creating a child with the intention of preventing the child from having a relationship with one or both of his or her biological parents is cruel and unjust to the child. Artificial reproduction technology merely makes this injustice and cruelty more possible and likely than before. SSM thus tries to change marriage into an institution that separates children from at least one of their parents as a matter of routine procedure.

Most dangerously, SSM would lead to changes in parentage laws entailing the empowering of the State to assign the parentage of children to adults based on inherently arbitrary criteria rather than on biology. Currently, unless scientific testing shows otherwise, family law assumes that the father of a child is the husband of the mother of the child (i.e. presumption of paternity), if the mother is married. But by changing the legal definition of marriage from one man and one woman, the State is empowered to ignore human nature and biology and arbitarily assign children to the custody certain adults. Such changes create legal precedent for the State having complete and arbitrary control over children and to whom they belong. If you think this sounds far-fetched, it has already happened in Washington State.

This blog post draws heavily from the Ruth Institute’s pamphlet “77 Non-Religious Reasons to Support Man/Woman Marriage.” Click here to get your copy!

4 Responses to “Children and Their Rights Unjustly Absent from Same-Sex “Marriage” Debate”

  1. Locksley said

    I think there a couple fairly obvious reasons why the debate is framed the way it is. For starters, your premise that the purpose of marriage is children simply isn’t recognized by the state. The government that recognizes and deals with legal marriages patently does not define it as a child-centric institution. So that’s one reason – the debate is over different terms.

    Second, it’s pretty easy to see the child-rearing issue as separate from the marriage issue. Certainly it’s easy to do through the lens of the law: considering that homosexual couples obviously cannot procreate themselves, any parental rights would be over adopted children. One likely reason why you don’t see more people saying that ‘a transformation of marriage to include homosexuals would alter the parent-child relationship’ is that it won’t – that change has already happened. Gay couples can already adopt. As can unmarried couples, single people, or pretty much any one who wants to. That particular aspect doesn’t require that SSM be recognized.
    Of course, you’re free to dispute whether or not that *ought* to be the case, but since it *is*, it’s not hard to understand why the debate centers on what changes will actually occur, based on the way things are now.

    N’est-ce pas?

    • Tony Listi said

      Indeed, this entire post of mine IS about what ought to be the case. Your descriptive comments about what may or may not be the case right now, whether true or not, are irrelevant to the moral case that I’ve made for legal recognition of marriage as a child-centric institution.

      The debate is framed away from children because when children are brought into the debate the “gay rights” rhetoric falls flat and incoherent, as my post demonstrates. It’s merely a political power tool used to aggressively impose certain anti-Christian, self-centered, unloving sexual values on society through the machinery of government.

      Again, the law is flawed and its damaging consequences for children are already being felt. It should not be treating children as commodities that every adult has a “right” to have if they choose.

  2. Ziya said

    “But SSM inherently promotes and encourages the outrageous, immoral, and harmful notion that children are commodities or things which adults have a “right” to have, regardless of whether they are the biological parents of the children or not. On the contrary, children should be loved into existence and are persons with a positive right to a relationship with both biological parents, to know and be known by both biological parents.”

    What I’m reading here is an argument for abortion, especially in the case of rape, but really in any case where the biological parents do not intend to stay together. It also argues against the refrain that you conservatives love where you say “why abort when you can put up for adoption!”

    I would explicate further, but I’m sure that anyone reading with a developed sense of logic and intelligence can figure out why I feel this way about your statement.

    • Tony Listi said

      LOL, “developed sense of logic and intelligence.” Yes, your “logic and intelligence” is so highly “developed” that you illogically leap from “children should be loved into existence and are persons with a positive right to a relationship with both biological parents” to “children who are not born into the ideal according to their positive rights should be killed before they are born.”

      That’s just stupid; it doesn’t follow from conservative principles and premises at all. Just because a child’s positive rights have been violated by his or her parents, it doesn’t logically follow at all that that child should be killed, inside or outside the womb. There is nothing in conservative principles that says victims of rights violations should be killed. You’re just making stuff up.

      You would “explicate further,” but then you’d reveal just how silly and absurd your statements are, as I have just done.

      Adoption is a necessary evil, a last resort, and a secondary measure when both parents have died or are unable or unwilling to assume responsibility for their children (and no one else in the family can take them in). Some circumstances are beyond the parents’ control, but many circumstances are in their power to choose. Men and women need to take responsibility for their actions, especially their sexual behavior, and for their irrevocable relationship with the other parent and how those actions and that relationship affect the well being of their own children. This is just common sense to anyone with any developed sense of love and compassion, especially for children.

      Of course, there’s very little that government can prudently do to secure the positive rights of children upon their parents without causing greater evils. But at the very least, the government could and should recognize the basic facts about human nature, about human creation, the rights of children, and the purpose of marriage in fulfilling those rights.

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