All People Have a Right to Marriage & All Children Need Male and Female Role Models
PERHAPS we need a reality check on what we think marriage really means. Opponents of gay marriage often argue that marriage is ''a union between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life''.
It is not convincing. It is a triumph of hope over reality. Marriage long ago stopped being to the exclusion of all others and for life. If we don't care about those two elements being disregarded by so many, why should we care about the ''between a man and a woman'' part?
Those churches that are opposed to the recognition of changed attitudes are entitled to stick to their views. What they adhere to as rules for their membership is entirely for them. Members who are unhappy can fight for change within the church, or leave. One solution would be to require everyone to have a civil ceremony. Those who wish could follow that with a religious ceremony. Gay couples would have the right to appropriate recognition, and the churches could decide as they will within their membership.
I support that approach. If anything, conservative/liberal thinkers should welcome gay civil unions. In this era of me, me, me, the fact that two people are prepared to commit legally and publicly to interdependence is a good thing.
Society is held together by individuals acknowledging interdependence. It might be in terms of another individual, family members or the local community. The more interdependence we accept the less we think of ourselves as just individuals for whom the government is responsible.
By wanting to marry, both parties in a gay relationship accept the obligations that come with marriage. We should welcome it. If we are nothing more than a collection of individuals we are in real trouble.
Two consenting adults doing no harm to others should not be a concern. But when children are involved there is a third party who can be affected and we, that is, society generally, should certainly have an interest.
It is, in my view, in the best interest of every child that they have on a day-to-day basis both male and female parent role models and both male and female adult role models.
That is not to say that gay couples can't be loving, caring and responsible parents. And heterosexuality is certainly no guarantee of being a good person, let alone a good parent. Just look at how many kids from heterosexual relationships are bashed, battered and otherwise abused. This sickening abuse is not limited to the intermittent partners of single parents or couples in de facto relationships. Marriage between a man and a woman does not provide their offspring immunity to child abuse.
But the fact that too many people are hopeless or atrocious parents is no reason to walk away from giving kids the right not just to know the name but to really know, to have as daily role models, both their biological parents.
This will not always be possible. Death of one or both parents and adoption are obvious examples.
My own father died when I was three. Toss in that I went to an all-girls school, and adult males were not a part of my daily life. It is understandable that I never learnt to show (feign) immediate deference to a male view. That has been an advantage in some ways and a disadvantage in others.
Katy Faust, who grew up with a lesbian mother and her partner also testified against gay marriage but clarified that “my advocacy against gay marriage and for the rights of children will never include condemnation of my mother and her partner or details about their private lives.”
“When we institutionalize same-sex marriage,” Faust writes, “we move from permitting citizens the freedom to live as they choose, to promoting same-sex headed households. In doing so, we ignore the true nature of the outcropping of marriage.”
“Now we are normalizing a family structure where a child will always be deprived daily of one gender influence and the relationship with at least one natural parent,” she explains, “Our cultural narrative becomes one that, in essence, tells children that they have no right to the natural family structure or their biological parents, but that children simply exist for the satisfaction of adult desires.”
“The cooperative input and influence of a male parent and a female parent is essential for proper child development.
“As fathering expert Dr. Kyle Pruett of YaleMedicalSchool explains in Fatherneed:Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, “fathers do not mother.”Psychology Today explains, “fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”A father, as a male parent, brings unique contributions to the parenting project.
Likewise, a mother, as a female, uniquely impacts the life and development of her child, as Dr. Brenda Hunter explains in her book, The Power of Mother Love:Transforming Both Mother and Child.Erik Erikson, a pioneer in the world of child psychology, explained that father love and mother love are qualitatively different kinds of love. As cited in Kyle D. Pruett, The Nurturing Father, (New York: Warner Books, 1987), p. 49.
Mothers and Fathers parent Differently
Dr. Pruett: By 8 weeks of age, infants can tell the difference between a male or female interacting with them. This diversity, in itself, provides children with a broader, richer experience of contrasting relational interactions—more so than for children who are raised by only one gender. Whether they realize it or not, children are learning at earliest age, by sheer experience, that men and women are different and have different ways of dealing with life, other adults and children...
When we disregard the gender distinctions of parental influence as unimportant or unnecessary, we seriously diminish the proper development of children. Kids need the active participation of a mother and a father, and both parents need to be true to their gender designs. Both bring different and equally important things to the parenting project. We impoverish children and society when we deny our kids the influence of a mother and father, because we limit their development into full, healthy adults.