Huh? No, let me rephrase: What?
So Froma Harrop knows a “church-going… conventional housewife” from Houston who, reflecting on a picture of Dick Cheney with his two-mommies grandchild, thinks that — although she “is happy that her two young sons and baby girl have a daddy” — it would be nice to have a Mommy No. 2 to keep an eye on things while she goes off to have her hair done, and Harrop’s concludes, from this, that “at least one battle in the culture war seems to be coming to a conclusion.” Well, if that’s the case, can we please stop pretending that there’s no such thing as a slippery slope?
“If otherwise traditional folk smile on lesbian parenthood, can letting these parents marry be far behind?” There’s the slope: artificial insemination, lesbian couple parenthood, same-sex marriage. Had one told the pioneers of the first that they were opening the door for the last, they’d have scoffed, probably with no little expression of umbrage, but it really isn’t difficult to see where we’re going from here. Harrop:
Long before many lesbian couples began to openly start families, there have been two-mommy households, only we didn’t call them that.
In traditional families, grandmothers often join the mothering team. Well-to-do households frequently hire nannies, who may do so much of the work that they become the de facto mother-in-chief. So Samuel Cheney is not breaking any new ground in having two women raise him.
The equation is of same-sex marriage with, essentially, three-parent households. How far behind is solemnizing — and I use that term loosely — those relationships? Indeed, it’s difficult to tell whether Froma’s pal “Joanna” finds attraction in a female spouse as an alternative or as a supplement. Bring in the daddies — whom we’re all awfully “happy” to have stick around from time to time, whom we still need (like it or not) for “fixing the garage door,” and whom even Harrop admits “impart different ideals” — and the notion of marriage as a coupling will seem quaint or even retrograde and bigoted.
It’s difficult to articulate the depth of fallaciousness in Harrop’s reasoning. From the comparison of an idealized lesbian relationship with a substandard heterosexual one to the unexplored elitist assumption that having another woman as one’s significant other would somehow “ease the load” — as if it’s manhood, not the requirements of supporting a family, that makes child-rearing one parent’s allocated responsibility — apparently in Harrop’s imaginings all lesbian couples share the privileges of the famous, wealthy one to which she is referring. Such so-called reasoning is, I fear, far too common in the general population.
Onward we go, down the slope of “what could it hurt.” I can only pray that we won’t lack the critical thinking ability to even ask, when the time comes, “How were we supposed to know?” I certainly won’t be expecting a Froma Harrop column that addresses the likely consequences of her “I know a lady” approach to social engineering.