The Creepy Statism of Utah’s Defense of Traditional Marriage

Gay marriage will result in kids born without faces!Attorneys for the state of Utah
have filed their
initial argument
, readable here (pdf), at the
federal appeals court in order to defend the state’s ban on
recognizing gay marriages. The 100-page opus can simply be
summarized as “It’s for the children!”

At the National Review Online’s
, Michael T. Worley summarizes the 15 consequences
presented by the Utah to justify the state’s involvement in
deciding who can and cannot get married. The summary is extremely
useful in seeing exactly how certain types of conservatives are
just as statist as progressives. In fact many of the arguments have
absolutely nothing to do with gay people at all and are all about
the state making sure heterosexual people don’t get confused or
silly ideas about how to have a family if the government doesn’t
tell them how to do it.

Consider the main thrusts of their fears:

1. “First, as many commentators have observed, because
procreation is an inherently gendered affair, redefining marriage
in genderless terms would break the critical conceptual link
between marriage and procreation. . . . Given the manifest ills of
fatherless parenting, the State has a compelling interest in
sending a powerful message to women that, whenever possible,
marriage to the fathers of their children is very important to the
welfare of those children and to society itself.”

2. “Second, for similar reasons, the loss of the State’s clear
message in favor of biological mother-father parenting within
marriage would likely result in a higher percentage of couples
conceiving children without the stability that marriage would
otherwise bring.”

3. “Third, replacing the child-centric or ‘conjugal’ view
of marriage with a more adult-centric view would undermine the
existing social norm that often leads parents in acceptable but not
ideal marriages to make self-sacrifices and remain married to the
parents of their children.”

4. “Fourth, by shifting the understanding of marriage to a more
adult-centric view, the redefinition ordered by the district court
would also undermine the current social norm (weakened though it
may be) that those who wish to have children—or to engage in
conduct that could lead to children—should get married.”

Yes, the main arguments against recognizing gay marriages is
that it will somehow result in fewer marriages. Because
heterosexual women will get confused somehow about what marriage is
or whether they want one because they aren’t getting clear messages
from “the state” about what “the state” wants them to do and not
because they do or do not want to be married. (And isn’t it creepy
that it’s the women who need the messages about marriage and not
the men?)

It gets even creepier:

“Fifth, and most obviously, a genderless definition of marriage
would likely increase the number of children being raised by
same-sex parents. That could happen because the couple decides to
raise together an existing child of one of the partners. Or it
could result from the conception of a new child through surrogacy
or sperm-donation. Either way, such children will not benefit from
the State’s preferred mother-father parenting model; often they
will have no way of knowing even the identity of both biological
parents. And recent evidence on same-sex parenting, while not
conclusive, indicates that same-sex parenting arrangements are less
effective than married biological mothers and fathers in producing
positive outcomes in the lives of their children.”

“The State’s preferred mother-father parenting model” sounds
borderline socialist. Whether or not a child knows his or her
biological parents is also not the state’s business — are they
going to outlaw adoption, too? Really, the state is mostly just
asserting that it needs to play a role.

And yes, the widely discredited Mark Regnerus study is
referenced. That’s the study that compared a wide variety of
different kinds of gay familes, whether they were partnered,
single, divorced, or what have you, only to stable, married
heterosexual families. I wrote about the
awfulness of the study’s “science”
back in 2012.

Also, one of the fears listed as a potential bad consequence of
recognizing gay marriage? It’s the perpetuation of libertarian
views about privatizing marriage! Horrors!

11. “To the extent a genderless marriage definition encourages
the further abandonment—or privatization—of marriage, it
would  almost certainly reduce birthrates. Studies have shown
that cohabiting couples tend to produce fewer children on average
than married couples do—perhaps because the resulting instability
makes the participants less willing to bring children into the mix.
Thus, if overall marriage rates decline further, birthrates would
likely decline as well.”

The weirdest argument spread throughout is fear that the
government needs to make sure birthrates and fertility stay up. The
drop in birthrates in Western countries (and even non-Western
countries!) is a function of improving economic security and
safety. It is not a cause for concern (other than for our
poorly-thought-out entitlement systems) and is evidence of the
world becoming a better place, not a worse place. Neither Utah, nor
America, is in any danger of running out of people. Also, worrying
about families having children outside the state-favored marital
arrangements and then pivoting to worrying about families
not having children outside the state-favored marital
arrangements doesn’t exactly make a coherent case.

from Hit & Run

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