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UPDATED: Why Maggie Gallagher’s Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage Is Wrong

by David Badash on March 7, 2011

in Bigotry Watch,Civil Rights,Discrimination,families,Marriage

Post image for UPDATED: Why Maggie Gallagher’s Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage Is Wrong

UPDATED: Now with video from today’s “Washington Journal.”

Maggie Gallagher, the Chairman of the Board for the National Organization for Marriage, appeared this morning on C-SPAN to discuss President Obama’s decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA.) But the conversation, with her foil Brian Moulton of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) really turned into an argument about the institution of marriage itself. And Maggie Gallagher’s argument was clearly wrong. (You can watch it here.)

Here’s why.

Gallagher argues that marriage should be between only one and and one woman, and (only?) for the the purposes of procreation and raising the children born of that one man and one woman.

Therefore, according to Gallagher, other marriages, such as those between a same-sex couple, are not truly marriages and the state (i.e., the state and federal government) has no business conferring the title of “marriage” upon those unions.

(She also at one point says civil unions and some benefits are acceptable to her for same-sex couples, but recoils at the thought of civil unions for opposite-sex couples. And of course doesn’t touch the possibility of opposite-sex couples who can’t or don’t want to have children getting married, because it doesn’t fit into her neat little argument box.)

Civil marriage, from a government perspective, exists to benefit the state. That’s a fact that any legal scholar should be able to support. The state confers the title of marriage upon a couple because it believes that a legal recognition of their relationship will benefit government and society as a whole.

Maggie agrees.

But Maggie continues to go down the path that children of same-sex couples do not deserve the same protections as children of opposite-sex couples. Further, she never accounts for where all these children come from.

Hold onto that thought for a moment and consider this, too.

Why is it that conservatives are so desperately concerned with protecting life in the womb, but the moment the child is born, all bets are off?

Back to Maggie.

Maggie seems to think that same-sex couples will deny the children of opposite-sex couples the right to their own parents. It’s as if she believes that if same-sex couples are allowed to legally marry and enjoy all the federal benefits and societal recognition that is afforded opposite-sex couples in marriage, that opposite-sex couples will (a) stop wanting to get married, and (b) stop wanting to have children.

This makes no sense. And it goes along with the zero-sum game mentality to which many conservatives subscribe.

But I can assure you, there are an unlimited number of marriage licenses at every city hall.

So here’s my question to you, Maggie:

Please, explain how conferring the status of marriage upon my relationship will weaken the institution of marriage. And don’t go down the hypothetical route that you’ve created that claims that “future couples” will not get married because they will think that marriage is not a valuable institution. If, according to you, marriage has been around forever, because of procreation and the result thereof, then future couples will want to marry as well. Perhaps, also, Maggie, for love.

Additionally, Maggie,  I wish you would please account for the fact that in states that have banned same-sex marriage, the incidence of divorce is higher?

Further, please, tell us, why it is OK that in the United States, (as I wrote in a 2009 piece commemorating Father’s Day,) “[t]here are 2.9 million children in America living with no parents – and 1.6 million American children are homeless. 2.9 million is almost 1 percent of the entire U.S. population – and that figure is five years old. Half a million U.S. children live with foster parents.”

“Those half a million foster kids? Only half will graduate high school, only 2% will earn a Bachelor’s degree. The day they turn 18, 30% will have no health insurance and will be on public assistance.”

Please, tell me how society does not benefit by allowing loving same-sex couples to marry, adopt, and raise some of these children.

Maggie, in may respects, I believe you and I are fighting for the same thing. We’re fighting to strengthen the institution of marriage. And we’re fighting for children to be raised in loving homes. We merely differ oin who should be “allowed” to participate.

But I promise you, same-sex couples, upon marrying, will not steal the children away from any opposite-sex family. That’s not what we do.

In a panel discussion at Brown University a few weeks ago, Maggie Gallagher said, “Marriage emerges again and again in a variety of completely separated societies because every human society has to figure out how to deal with the fact that sex between men and women makes babies, that societies need babies and that those children do better with — and certainly long for — a father as well as a mother in their lives.”

Um, not exactly.

Take, “those children do better with — and certainly long for — a father as well as a mother in their lives.”

I can all but guarantee there is no credible study that proves that a majority of children in same-sex parented households “long for” a father as well as a mother in their lives, if they did not know their father and their mother before. (And I can also guarantee that many children “long for” things like a pony.)

But I can guarantee that there are studies, as Gallagher hinted at today on C-SPAN, that prove that children raised by same-sex couples are actually better-adjusted and perform better in school that their opposite-sex-parented peers.

In fact, two long-term studies published last year found prove this. In fact, one of them,  a twenty-five year-long and vigorously peer-reviewed study published in the journal Pediatrics, found that adopted children raised by lesbian parents are better-adjusted and do better in school than their opposite-parented peers.

And there’s another, a study of gay dads that finds they are more likely than straight ones to focus on parenting over career, at least when their children are young.

In summary, I’ll leave you with a thought from a piece I wrote last year, that this “zero-sum” argument, that we can choose families headed by same-sex couples, or not, is beyond the hypothetical — and the absurd. It assumes that if same-sex marriage is not legalized, that there will be no families headed by same-sex parents. Conversely, it assumes that if same-sex marriage is legalized, opposite-sex couples will stop getting married and stop having children. It’s a ridiculously fallacious argument, and it’s the typical argument that conservatives always seem to make, because they see the world as a zero-sum game.

It’s not.

Yes, marriage is a valuable institution for society and for the state. We should all be working together to strengthen it, by allowing same-sex couples the right to fully and equally participate.

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Michael March 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

this all from a women who had a child out of wedlock and is in an interracial marriage Pleeeezzz

Leora Michele March 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Why does that matter at all?

Richard W. Fitch March 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Why does it matter??? Because Margaret Gallagher (Mrs. Raman) Srivastav claims to be a devout Roman Catholic and bases her battle against same gender marriage on the dogma of her faith. Not only did she have premarital sex which resulted in bringing a child into the world without the support of a father, the man to whom she is now married is an "unrepentant" Hindu. In the eyes of official RCC doctrine Maggie is not married. Yet she wants to protect marriage. From whom, herself???

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