Thursday, July 29, 2004

Gay Marriage vs. American Marriage

Kay Hymowitz's piece in the Summer City Journal discusses the Founders' conception of marriage and their recognition of its importance to the nation. According to Hymotwitz:
[M]arriage has always had a fundamental, universal core that makes gay marriage a non sequitur: it has always governed property and inheritance rights; it has always been the means of establishing paternity, legitimacy, and the rights and responsibilities of parenthood; and because these goals involve bearing and raising children, it has always involved (at least one) man and woman. What's more, among the "startling diversity" of variations that different cultures have elaborated on this fundamental core, our own culture has produced a specifically American ideal of marriage that is inseparable from our vision of free citizenship and is deeply embedded in our history, politics, economics, and culture. Advocates for gay marriage cite the historical evolution of that ideal which we might call republican marriage to bolster their case, arguing that gay unions are a natural extension of America's dedication to civil rights and to individual freedom. But a look at that history is enough to cast serious doubt on the advocates' case.
There are many places to go for a debate on gay marriage (I'd recommend Justin Katz and Andrew Sullivan , especially). Hymowitz's explanation of the Founders' conception of the essentialness of the tie between marriage and child-rearing, and how that standard has been set aside, is very good. The ideal she describes is still relevant to many people. The desire to not separate marriage and child-rearing is crucial to understanding why some of us, who fully recognize the right of homosexuals to have legal equality, believe the assignation of the term "marriage" to such formalization is simply a step too far.

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