…at the center””indispensable to the rest””is the service marriage does to the bond between a child and its natural parents. “Sex makes babies, and babies need a mother and a father,” as Maggie Gallagher (an indefatigable champion) likes to say. Marriage is designed to make it more likely that children will have and keep their parents.
Same-sex marriage proponents, for their part, are forced to set aside this concern. On their view, the parent-child bond lies beyond the immediate purview of marriage, as does the particular sexual act that produces children. Marriage is simply the formalization of an intimate relationship between adults. If those adults happen to produce or obtain children, well, that is another matter. Moreover, their bond with those children does not require any particular family structure to support it; good outcomes can be had from diverse family structures….
The champions of marriage respond that they are very much in favor of adult bonding, which the institution is indeed meant to serve. That bonding, though good in itself, is for a purpose beyond itself, however. It is for a purpose of public as well as private interest, the purpose of procreation and child-rearing. It is not necessary, they point out, to hold that procreation constitutes the only good of marriage in order to recognize that procreation is an essential good of marriage. Nor, for that matter, is it necessary to hold that a childless marriage is not a marriage, at least where the childlessness is not deliberate””a matter rightly shielded from public scrutiny. But they insist that to exclude procreation as an essential or defining good makes nonsense of marriage.
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