Almost two years ago, I pointed out that same-sex marriage opponents appear to be fitting their views of marriage around their opposition to SSM. SSM opponents often suggest that the only purpose for marriage that matters is marriage’s “generative” function. But as recently as 2000, SSM opponent David Blankenhorn’s think tank published a “statement of principles” – signed by many current SSM opponents, including Maggie Gallagher – which clearly took a much broader view of marriage’s purposes and benefits.
…Anyone who reads the statement, The Marriage Movement: A Statement of Principles, to which Andrew refers, will see quite clearly that the statement views marriage as a social institution as intrinsically linked to bearing and raising the next generation. My colleagues and I have been making this point with great emphasis for many years.
David has missed the point.
The question isn’t if SSM opponents have been saying that marriage is linked to bearing the next generation – of course it is, and people have been saying so for ages. (No one in the marriage equality movement denies that marriage involves children, and is important to children; that children raised by same-sex couples should be raised by married parents is one of the most important arguments for SSM).
But that’s not what SSM opponents have been saying, by and large. They’ve seen saying that the state’s only interest in regulating marriage is supporting heterosexual childbearing. And that’s simply not what David and other SSM opponents were saying five years ago.
The “Statement of Principles” David links to includes a section entitled “Is Marriage a Private Matter? The Public Costs of Divorce,” which argues that supporting marriage is a legitimate goal of government. (I agree with David about that). Here’s part of what it says:
Is strengthening marriage a legitimate public goal?
We believe that the answer is yes, for at least four reasons:
1. Marriage protects the well-being of children;
2. Divorce and unwed parenting generate large taxpayer costs;
3. Marriage is a unique generator of social and human capital, as important as education in building the wealth of individuals and communities; and
4. Only marriage creates a reasonable hope of permanence.
Does this involve children? Yes, of course it does.
Does this support the view that the generative capacity of fertile heterosexual couples is the government’s only interest in marriage? Obviously not; the “Statement of Principles” makes it clear that the government has multiple interests in supporting marriage. The argument that heterosexual childrearing is the one and only reason for government to have an interest in marriage – so popular among SSM opponents today – contradicts what the marriage movement was saying just five years ago.