Oy, and then they don’t know evolution either: “there are two sexes: It takes one of each type in our species to perform the act that produces children.” There are two (or more!) sexes because that makes a species more adaptable to change, i.e. the species is more likely to survive (that was mentioned in a PBS documentary on evolution. Joan Roughgarden has done a fascinating job of documenting the huge number of species that have more than two sexes.)
“What a healthy marriage culture does is encourage adults to arrange their lives so that as many children as possible are raised and nurtured by their biological parents in a common household.” Again, this is uncorroborated speculation. Bella DePaulo debunks a lot of the “research” that supposedly corroborates these claims. In fact, Sarah Hrdy’s research suggests that children do better when there are alloparents around – adults who take care of the children even if they are not biologically related. So, maybe a healthy marriage – read matrimanical – culture does this but a healthy culture would encourage “the village” (however we’d define it) to raise the children.
The authors then continue that the government should not get out of the marriage business because “government cannot simply declare itself uninterested in the welfare of children.” If, as Claudia Card declares it to be, marriage is an evil institution, the last thing that helps children is to confine them to a nuclear family! Furthermore, there are much better ways to show interest “in the welfare of children” – starting with universal health care…
This is funny: “Nor can [the government] leave it to prearranged contract to determine who will have responsibility for raising children.” Uhm, isn’t marriage a “prearranged contract”?!?
“The philosophical answer boils down to the observation that it is mating that gives marriage its orientation toward children. An infertile couple can mate even if it cannot procreate.” Okay, this might be philosophical because we’re splitting hairs here… At least one meaning of “to mate” is reproductive but, oh wait, that’s with animals! That must not apply here because everybody knows humans aren’t animals… Overall, this argument is a cop-out: The authors themselves wrote:
The reason marriage exists is that the sexual intercourse of men and women regularly produces children. If it did not produce children, neither society nor the government would have much reason, let alone a valid reason, to regulate people’s emotional unions.
That would be procreation, not mating. A page later, they contradict themselves by claiming it’s all really about mating (and then they even switch again: “if sex did not make children, [other good from marriage] would not be a reason to have the institution of marriage.” Uhm, wait, I thought it was about mating, not about children…). This points, then, to another reason for marriage: IF there are children, we want to know whose they are! And as long as women are forced to only have sex with one man, we know who fathered the children (we don’t really care about who mothered them but that’s another story).
“Pregnancy still prompts some couples to get married.” Wait! I knew the name of that fallacy: Just because something is a certain way doesn’t mean it ought to be that way. Right: Naturalistic fallacy.
Snort: “The legal “benefits” of marriage — such as the right to pay extra taxes, and to go through a legal process to sever the relationship? — are overstated.” I guess they forgot about the 1030+ benefits the GAO counted. (And that tax penalty is a myth, too, unless it’s an equal-earner couple).
Another historical point left out here:
But the reason governments refused to recognize (and even criminalized) interracial marriages was not that they did not believe that such marriages were possible; it is that they wanted to discourage them from happening, in the interests of white supremacy.
True enough BUT homosexual relationships used to be criminalized as well. Why? Because the government “wanted to discourage them from happening, in the interests of” heteronormativity.
And then we get into the slippery slope argument: If gays can marry, brothers can, too! And that would be the end of the world! There is something on that slope that I like: Let’s respect all relationships equally! If we really cared about children, we’d support the grandmother who raises her grandson. No, actually, we’d support the grandson! We, as a society, would support the children directly no matter what adults are raising them. Using marriage to ensure that children are cared for is highly inefficient, especially in today’s society, and unrealistic no matter how much the authors think that they can will away the reality of today’s world.
So did the authors make a case for marriage? Nope. If we cared about children, we’d care about them no matter how they got onto the world or who is raising them. We’d support them where they are, not where we want them to be. Marriage would be irrelevant.