The only arguments against gay marriage which make any sort of sense are those which center around the principle of protecting the family. Frankly, I’m all for families (grew up in one myself), and I commend anyone who wants to protect it. So, to start, let’s concern ourselves exclusively with the family; in other words, concerning those gay couples who aren’t interested in raising kids, leave ’em alone. Seriously. Let them have what they want by way of civil marriage rights, and I doubt you’ll ever have to be bothered by them again (except for, I suppose, a marriage announcement in the paper. But honestly, do you really read the paper because you don’t want to be bothered?). As for the gay couples who want a family, let’s talk.
First of all, as far as marriage with the intent to have a family goes, this has very little to do with personal rights or entitlements. The moment kids become involved, it all becomes about them. Now, as a disclaimer, despite the lack of parenthetical references the following is in fact well-researched and the points made have logical backup. I’ve included some reading citations post-script that I would encourage you to explore, but for my purposes here I thought I would be as direct and succinct as I am capable. If you’d like to know how I reached these conclusions I’d be happy to share. But the time for hollow debate is long past, if even there was a proper time for such nonsense; as I see it, there are a whole lot of people who could just use a bit of perspective. So here we go.
What do kids need? To end up with a well-adjusted, prepared-for-life (whatever that means) adult, I’ve boiled down the “recipe” to five basic ingredients: a child needs Love, Protection, Nurturing, Fulfillment, and a fair amount of Planning. I say Love first because I suppose it’s the most basic (and obvious) and maybe even the most important in its lasting effect. Protection ought to be understood; by Nurturing, I mean the process of teaching and general shaping through the child’s growth and development stages. By Fulfillment, I mean of physical and emotional needs– they’ve got to feel successful, like they’ve got things to live and work for. By Planning, I mean that nothing with a child can be short-sighted; as a parent, you always ought to have your kid’s future in mind.
Now, if you can do all that, you can be a successful parent. Unfortunately, you can’t (be the perfect parent, that is) ; the perfect parent simply doesn’t exist. The only thing I can figure is that’s why we do it in twos, so that both sides of the marriage compliment each other. Where one lacks the other can pick up slack, and where one is absent the other can be present. Ideally speaking, of course. So, if two is the magic number, let’s divide these five “roles” up between them. Keep in mind that through this process, no single role or task is mutually exclusive. Both parents ought to be involved in all aspects of a child’s life. However, if we want the best care possible for the child, the primary responsibility for each should fall to the parent best suited to the task, right?
Fortunately this won’t take long, nor does it require any reasoning outside of common sense. The role of Protector should go to the most physically capable of the two parents. The role of Nurturer— teacher, shaper— should go to the most empathetic and understanding of the two parents, the one who has a greater knack for seeing the big picture in life. This should probably also be the parent who takes the lead in Planning for the child’s future. A child’s Fulfillment will depend on the various interests the child involves themselves with, and will most likely require some mix of both parents’ participation. This is where parenting gets fun! If the child is in to music, then the parent with the most musical aptitude ought to take primary responsibility. If the child likes sports, then let them learn from the parent with the greater knowledge of sports. If the child is in to something that neither parent is particularly adept at, well then it seems that both parents have a learning curve to catch. As a final note for this general division of labor, if you don’t know by now that the kid is going to need all the Love you’ve got (both parents), expressed through your time and your actions, please stop what you are doing and go watch all eight seasons of Full House. Moving on.
I know the majority of you reading the above paragraph have already taken these divisions and assigned them to either the father or mother. And I will not deny that in the majority of cases (the heterosexual norm, I dare say) the father should take the responsibility for protecting the family and the mother for nurturing and planning. But understand that this means that upkeep of the house— as in the building, maintenance, care, improvement (you get the idea) of the child’s fortress, the one place they ought to always feel safe— falls directly under dad’s duty (you mean cleaning? And maybe even cooking!? Gasp!) while the mother ought to be educated and successful enough to guide the child toward— wait for it— education and success, go figure (you mean she should have a degree!? And maybe even a JOB!!? Double gasp!!). As for anyone NOT white-Christian-middle-class reading this, I say this as a declaration of my stance toward the issue at hand: legal marriage ought to be granted to any two consenting adults who can, together, adequately provide these five elements for any kids they might have. Note that in this statement is warranted all current laws regarding incest, as well as all legal rights awarded to married couples. I also understand that a parent’s ability to provide metaphysical necessities for a child cannot be legally ascertained, let alone enforced, but I see no harm in speaking ideally. Now, for a call to action. Even if you didn’t agree with anything but my conclusion, do the world a favor and vote to stop the discrimination of LGBTs (we’re gonna say that’s an all-encompassing acronym). I mean, seriously, we’re in a whole new century; maybe this time we can try NOT discriminating against people for just being people. And make no mistake, your voice definitely matters, whatever way you decide to express it.
SOME REFERENCES, CUZ I DON’T JUST MAKE UP S***
Coltrane, S., & Adams, M. (2008). Gender and families. Rowman & Littlefield.
Biblarz, T. J., & Stacey, J. (2010). How does the gender of parents matter?.Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(1), 3-22.
Pringle, M. K. (1986). The needs of children. NCB.
- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0049089X/41/4 <— articles and commentaries
- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0049089X/41/6 <— more articles and commentaries
78 Geo. L. J. 459 (1989-1990)This Child Does Have Two Mothers: Redefining Parenthood to Meet the Needs of Children in Lesbian-Mother and Other Nontraditional Families; Polikoff, Nancy D.
Brazelton, T. B., & Greenspan, S. I. (2009). The irreducible needs of children: what every child must have to grow, learn and flourish. Da Capo Press.