Some in the same sex marriage debate have suggested that a compromise position might be that same-sex marriage can or should be recognized in state law (and recognized federally as a civil union) in those states that simultaneously put in place strong religious liberty protections for those entities whose definition of marriage is one man and one woman. (See for example Rauch and Blankenhorn, with finer details of their proposal available in their piece.)
It’s an idea I can’t get excited about. As I wrote in this letter, the protection of religious liberty compromise does not really address the heart of the matter, for me.
For me, the heart of the matter is how redefining marriage requires us to say, in law and culture, that children do not really need their mother and father.
I do believe it’s possible to have two mothers, or two fathers. I believe that a biological mother and her lesbian partner who has adopted the child ARE two mothers. Ditto for two fathers.
But I do NOT believe that having two mothers means you do not also have a father out there, somewhere. Just as children with a mother and a step-father have a father out there, somewhere, children with two mothers also have a father, no matter what their mothers and society have decided to call him (sperm donor, deadbeat dad, special uncle, the “Y Guy”, ignorant bio dad who nobody ever told about the pregnancy, whatever).
A proposal I have never heard made — maybe someone has made it, but if so, I haven’t heard it — is that same sex marriage can and should be legal in jurisdictions that have put in place strong recognition of, and when possible protection for, the right of the child to know and be known by the mother and father who gave him life.
That is, jurisdictions that ban anonymous donation of sperm, eggs, and wombs — and with it, the erroneous idea that children are just made from random gametes and don’t care where they come from — could also institute legal same sex marriage.
Those jurisdictions would then have two strong pillars in place: the right of adults to form the families they choose, and to have legal and social recognition and protection for those families, and the right of offspring to know about the mothers and fathers from which they come and, just as importantly, to grow up in a society that recognizes that those mothers and fathers matter to them, just like they matter to every other person.
That is a compromise that I, I think, could accept.
Could anyone else?