Advancing the SSM Conversation
The statistics don’t enter into it. Even accepting the claim (which I don’t doubt) that many or even most married couples have children isn’t an argument that marriage must be procreative. It’s just an argument that it generally is. I accept the descriptive claim that marriages tend to involve procreation. I reject the normative claim that marriage is fundamentally procreative.
To avoid the deterioration into non-communication, I won’t move on without insisting that I’ve never claimed that marriage must be procreative. My argument is against undermining the link between parenthood and marriage, whereby couples planning to have children get married and couples having sex understand that pregnancy comes with a unified set of responsibilities within a marital household. It is inherent in my promotion of a certain vision of marriage that I believe it to be what we make it, and since we have free will, we can make it what we want. Indeed, inasmuch as advocates for same-sex marriage insist that it is a matter of civil rights, they are the ones dictating a definition of marriage, which gets to the heart of their efforts to subvert our society and effectively disenfranchise people who disagree with them.
In the public debate over marriage, the two definitions that matter are not the “descriptive” and the “normative” (although procreative marriage is normative to the extent that it describes the norm, which it does), but the cultural and the legal, and in a democratic society, the latter ought to conform with, or at least not interfere with, the former, unless broader principles that the society prioritizes — such as equality — are thereby violated. That is why it is important to understand what marriage is in practice: because there are two ways in which we can know how to balance the various beliefs, interests, and priorities of our fellow citizens, by their actions and by their votes (with a footnote that the voice of those who profess to “speak for” our nation, such as artists in various media, decreasingly represents its people).
If actions (as interpretable through statistics) and votes confirm that marriage is procreative, then it isn’t invidious discrimination (i.e., in violation of the type of discrimination that our society considers overriding of other principles) to assert that homosexual relationships do not qualify. (As individuals, of course, homosexuals are free to enter into marriage as currently defined.)
Proponents of same-sex marriage who argue anything more than a preference that our understanding of marriage ought to change are claiming a supernormative definition — a moral one — and are thereby promoting essentially a religious belief. The irony is that I have no problem with their seeking to have that belief established in the law; we ought to be able to form our government, in democratic fashion, such that it doesn’t conflict with our beliefs, and theirs are free to compete in the social and legislative spheres. Contrary to progressives’ affinity for insisting that laws cannot be based on citizens religious convictions, this is how religion should interact with government, and it is in that spirit that I offer my defenses of traditional marriage.