To Amanda Bennett: Traditional marriage is not about “breeding”
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
August 9, 2014
Amanda Bennett takes issue (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/whats-love-got-to-do-with-it/2014/08/04/2bc50bf4-1b18-11e4-82f9-2cd6fa8da5c4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opin&wpmm=1) with Judge Paul Niemeyer’s dissenting opinion in a 2-1 panel decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th District that overturned Virginia’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage. “If, as Niemeyer says, the whole point of marriage is not the mere parenting of kids but actual biological reproduction, it is clear to me that he believes that my [heterosexual] marriage is invalid. To opponents of gay marriage, marriage is all about breeding. Since my breeding days are over, it looks like, marriage-wise, I should be, too.”
No, Ms. Bennett, marriage isn’t “all about breeding.” Nor is it only about the “mere parenting of kids.” One gets the idea that the author has neither read nor studied any of the arguments put forth by gay marriage opponents. She simply rehearses the old canard that supporters of traditional marriage equate it with “biological reproduction,” but in doing so, they leave themselves vulnerable to the argument that since many heterosexual marriages are sterile, gay marriage should, in fairness, be permitted. But, pace Bennett, it’s one thing to say that a (heterosexual) marriage is sterile; it’s quite another thing altogether to say that it’s impotent, as Robert R. Reilly (http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/reil/reil_08infertilecouples.html) and others have noted.
While gay partners are incapable of having children (except via adoption or artificial means), heterosexual partners are by nature (as complementary male and female persons) capable, but may be incapacitated for some reason. Sterility and/or childlessness are not the same thing as the utter incapability of engaging in the acts apt for procreating children. The biological orientation that marriage has to children then – or better, the sexual acts potentially leading to children – does not mean that a childless marriage is no marriage at all. It’s simply the way in which marriage is objectively defined and distinguished from all other friendships.