Dialogue About Marriage in 21st-Century America

On May 23, 2014, OnFaith published an article by Kevin Eckstrom of the Religion News Service titled Ten Years Later, Why Gay Marriage Is Winning: A decade after Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples, the gay marriage movement has all the momentum.

I commented on the article and then was engaged by a couple of other folks.  Here’s the dialogue to this point in time:

Mike Gantt • 7 days ago
Laws regarding marriage should be for the benefit of children, not adults. Once this understanding was neglected and adult interests were made paramount, the stage was set for the chaos we are seeing today.

lily johnson • 5 days ago
Except there were already children being raised by gay couples and marriage helps out financially, for those already existing families.

Mike Gantt • 5 days ago
The change I’m talking about happened 50 years ago.

Moreover, gay couples by definition deny children that to which they are entitled: a mother and father. As they were produced by a mother and father, so they deserve to be raised by a mother and father.

The legalization of homosexual “marriage” repealed the gender requirement of marriage while retaining the numerical requirement – but without any rational justification for the distinction. Thus the “logic” that allows homosexual marriage will allow polygamy and all sorts of other perversion.

Again, however, the fundamental issue is that marriage laws exist, or should exist, for the purpose of making sure that when a human being is brought into the world, we have done all that we can to insure that the mother and father through whom that human being came stick together and stick around to nurture that human being to adulthood. Thus marriage laws are for the benefit of children, not adults.

Tom from North Carolina • a day ago
The marriage laws exist as we know them for little more than a few hundred years. Most marriages from middle ages and before were either arranged or were simply a matter of making some promises. Nothing formal, no wedding cakes and certainly lots of different variations including polygamy, child brides and a lot of arranged marriages. Marrying someone you love is a relatively recent change and certainly was not universally accepted by all cultures.

Mike Gantt • a day ago
What you’re saying, even if it were true, is irrelevant to my point. I’m arguing that good public policy establishes marriage laws for the benefit of children and not for the benefit of adults.

Tom from North Carolina • a day ago
When has marriage ever been about the children? Historically, it’s been about connecting two families for mutual benefit. If your point that society benefits from only one man and one woman raising children, then you are implying that people shouldn’t be allowed to divorce if they have children. Children out of wedlock should be illegal. Is that what you are saying?

Mike Gantt  • a day ago
Public policy cannot stop people from divorcing if they insist on it. Neither can it prevent children from being born out of wedlock. Nonetheless, public policy can either discourage these negative situations or encourage them. When I was a child, public policy discouraged them. Now, public policy encourages them. Going this direction has only made matters worse. And, to the point of my original comment on this article, this direction has established an environment wherein discussions about marriage are focused on the desires of adults instead of the needs of children.

If a child comes into the world without a married father and mother, chances are society is going to have to pick up a lot of the tab for that new human being (beginning with infancy and sometimes not even ending with adulthood – check the statistics). In the 1960’s, Daniel Patrick Moynihan bemoaned the future of African-American culture because its out-of-wedlock birth rate was 25%. The current out-of-wedlock birth rate of all Americans, irrespective of race, is 40%! Leaving aside the social impact, the economic impact alone is more than the U.S. Treasury will be able to bear.

Tom from North Carolina  • an hour ago
I’m actually a fan of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and have concluded that his take on emerging social trends was far ahead of others. Some of what you say is true but I think goes against current trends toward letting adults decide for themselves what’s best for them (provided it doesn’t hurt other people).

So when you were a child, you indicated that public policy discouraged what you’ve classified as negative situations. During that time, it was also illegal in some states. Unmarried males and females were not allowed to rent an apartment together in my part of the country only 30 years ago. “Living in Sin” was not only discouraged, it was illegal. This was brought home three years ago when a dispatcher working for the police department in a town nearby, was fired when the chief found out she was living with her boyfriend. She sued. She won and the police were forced to pay back pay and interest.

The point I’m trying to make is that the idyllic environment that I suspect you are speaking, was not so idyllic for many people especially African-Americans and gays. Do you think the solution is to bring back laws or social stigmas associated with unmarried couples living together or people from different races getting married?

What public policies do you see that encourage these “negative” situations?

Mike Gantt  • 10 minutes ago
You’ve raised – perhaps inadvertently – a host of issues. The best I can do with the time and space allowed is to respond to each very briefly.

– “current trends toward letting adults decide for themselves what’s best for them” is just the problem. It’s hurting other people – mainly children. The freedom to swing my arm ends when it reaches the other fellow’s nose. Children’s noses are the ones being put out of joint. Infants are being brought into the world without a committed mother and father at the rate of almost half of all births! Does it sound to you as if these parents are making wise decisions with the freedom you’re glad they have? Unlike other deprived minorities, children lack the resources, sophistication, and political savvy to protect themselves from such exploitation by organizing themselves and clamoring for redress.

– “So when you were a child…” I don’t venerate the ’50s. They were far from idyllic. They were, however, considerably better than the ’60s and what has followed since.

– “what you’ve classified as negative situations.” It’s not just me. Moynihan described out-of-wedlock birth as a negative situation. Be willing to own the consequences of your perspective.

– “Unmarried males and females were not allowed to rent an apartment together.” Do you think there’s no correlation between this behavior and the out-of-wedlock birth rate that alarmed Moynihan?

– “especially African-Americans and gays” I completely reject the idea of lumping these two groups. I recognize how politically advantageous it is for the latter to piggyback on the former, but that doesn’t make it rational or right.

– “What public policies do you see that encourage these negative situations?” For one, no-fault divorce, which, for all practical purposes, means unilateral divorce, wherein one party can end the marriage at will – even against the will of the spouse. Listen to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute for a host of social science studies demonstrating that “the sexual revolution” has brought about horrendous outcomes for children and, ultimately, for the selfish parents.

America is well down a path of moral decadence and currently lacks the character or will to create a better environment for its children. No law can stop its decline. Moynihan’s prophecy regarding African-American culture has been proven true. The out-of-wedlock rate that was 25% in the ’60s is now 70%. Since broader American culture currently has an out-of-wedlock birth rate of 40%, we can be sure that the Moynihan prophecy will hold true for broader American culture as well. It’s sad. Very, very sad. And all the more so because well-intentioned people like you are continuing to defend the “values” that got us here.

Added since the initial post:

Tom from North Carolina • 3 minutes ago
Very well written and very reasonable. A thoughtful response requires more time than I have now, but as Arnold famously said, “I’ll be back.”

Here’s where the thread begins on Disqus if you’d rather read it there.


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