Over on FamilyScholars.org, Elizabeth Marquardt made an interesting argument against cloning:
Although this argument is interesting in its own right, what struck me is how this contrasts with Elizabeth’s case against same-sex marriage. Here’s Elizabeth’s anti-SSM argument in a nutshell:
There’s an interesting parallel here. Elizabeth asks why it’s acceptable to exploit thousands of women to increase the chance of curing deadly diseases. There are two premises implicit in Elizabeth’s anti-cloning argument – one, that there are potentially fruitful avenues of research aside from cloning, and two, that cloning harms women’s interests – but if you accept Elizabeth’s premises, her conclusion is reasonable. All else held equal, it is better to try to cure diseases without harming women in the process.
Well, then: Isn’t it also better to try to help heterosexual families without harming lesbian and gay families in the process?
Why is it acceptable to deprive thousands of same-sex couples and their children of marriage – of the rights to having socially recognized families, with the dignity and security that, for many, only marriage can confer – just because there’s a chance that depriving same-sex families of equal rights will reduce heterosexual divorce?
The two situations are very similar. There’s a valuable goal being sought (stronger het marriages/cures for diseases). There are multiple policies we could pursue to reach the goal. However, one of the policies treats a particular group of people (women/same-sex families) as if their well-being doesn’t count.
When the group being sacrificed is women, Elizabeth says “let’s find an alternative route.” But when the group being sacrificed is same-sex families, suddenly a group sacrifice is appropriate. Why?
* * *
Elizabeth’s basic argument could have been made against interracial marriages being made legal. It’s a statistical fact that cross-racial marriages are more likely to end in divorce; if we want to reduce divorce, it would make sense to outlaw interracial marriage. Right?
Similarly, laws giving married women the right to own property – rather than all of the couple’s property belonging to the husband – almost certainly increased divorce in the long run, by giving women the financial wherewithal needed to leave unsatisfying marriages. To reduce divorce, we should return to the traditional understanding of marriage, in which husbands owned and controlled all the family property. Right?
Of course not. I’m confident that neither Elizabeth, nor Eve Tushnet, nor David Blankenhorn, nor any reasonable opponent of SSM would endorse these proposals – even if we assume (for the sake of argument) that these proposals would in fact reduce divorce. Reducing divorce is an important goal – but it’s not the only important goal. It is not so important that it justifies sacrificing equal rights between the races, or between the sexes.
Which begs a question, doesn’t it?
When did same-sex couples become objects, merely means to someone else’s end? Why are same-sexers – and same-sexers alone – so worthless?
That’s not right.
Why the difference? Our society now widely acknowleges that women and racial minorities deserve equality. Women and racial minorities aren’t actually treated equally, of course – but to openly advocate legal inequality is no longer acceptable. Except when it comes to the treatment of homosexuals. It is only because our society is still very bigoted against lesbians and gays that advocating their legal inequality is acceptable.
Elizabeth says she’s not bigoted against lesbians and gays, and I believe her. Nonetheless, her argument is premised on bigotry against lesbians and gays. It is only in the context of a bigoted society that a reasonable person like Elizabeth could advocate treating gays as objects to be sacrificed for others’ benefit.
I agree that reducing divorce would be a good thing. I agree that children’s welfare would improve if more heterosexual parents stayed together in healthy marriages.
But I cannot, will not agree that lesbians, gays and their families are appropriate objects for sacrifice. I cannot, will not agree that their interests should be trashed for someone else’s ends. Lesbians and gays are not pawns fit for sacrifice – and to suggest they are is an endorsement of bigotry (whether or not the speaker is personally bigoted). There are other possible approaches to saving het marriage. Let’s pursue those approaches, and allow same-sex families the equality that should be their birthright.
Opposing equality isn’t worth it. Please, let’s come to our senses.