Gabriel Rosenberg gives a syllogism that SSM proponents probably find compelling: "Parents ought to be married. Gays are parents. Therefore, gays ought to be married." The problem with this logic is that it uses the word 'parents' in two very different senses.
If that's a problem, it was one Kurtz created, not me. If he only meant that "genetic parents" should be married, he should have stated that. Without any sort of modifier why wouldn't somebody assume that "parents" include couples who adopt or who used sperm or egg donors to conceive? More importantly, why shouldn't these parents be married as well? Is Kurtz--or anyone else--really going to argue that it doesn't matter if parents are married unless they both share some genes with the children. One of the main benefits Kurtz and others have argued marriage provides is keeping the couple together. They point out that a cohabiting couple is far more likely to break up. Are we to believe that this family break-up is detrimental for children if and only if those children were the genetic offspring of the parents? Marriage can also provide the security needed for a parent to make some career sacrifices in order to spend more time caring for the child. Does anyone believe children don't benefit from this extra time unless those parents are "genetic"? From all that marriage does to help with childrearing, I find it unbelievable to think Kurtz meant anything other than parents ought to be married.
When we say that parents ought to be married, we mean by 'parents' those two people who contributed a sperm and egg that came together to form a child. Procreation carries heavy moral consequences, and we hope that those who create children will accept the responsibility to raise and care for them. Those who marry are more likely than others to do a good job of raising the children they create.
I don't know who Mr. Bateman is including in the "we". I have never heard anyone say a married couple using a donor should split up so that the egg and sperm contributors can marry. Furthermore, I would think most people believe that parents who adopt children or who conceive children with the aid of donors should accept the responsibility to raise and care for them. Does Mr. Bateman believe marriage will not help parents care for their children unless those parents are genetically connected to the children?
The second premise in Rosenberg's argument uses the word 'parents' in an entirely different way. A same-sex couple cannot be parents in the genetic sense. They can play the role of parents by helping raise another couple's children, and one member of the gay couple might be one of the child's parents. Those in the gay couple could adopt another couple's child and acquire the legal equivalent of parenthood. But they aren't 'parents' in the sense of "parents ought to be married" because there is no danger of those two people producing children irresponsibly.
Parents who adopt are "role playing"? They're just helping to raise another couple's children? I know some parents who would strongly disagree. I would think every parent--gay or straight--of an adopted child would be offended by these statements. Furthermore, I thought the whole "threat" of same-sex marriage is that it will treat as "equal under the law" something which Mr. Bateman believes is inherently "unequal". By the same logic doesn't it follow that one who believes that parents by adoption are "unequal", should similarly decry any law which makes such people "legally equivalent"?
Mr. Rosenberg would likely reply that genetics shouldn't matter any more. If someone is willing to commit himself to raising a child, then that person should be considered the child's parent regardless of any question of genetics. That's a nice moral ideal, but it doesn't square with actual human nature. In the real world, the vast majority of people are deeply interested in whether the child they're raising is genetically theirs. All things being equal, a child is better off raised by both his genetic parents. (And let's skip the silliness of demanding that all, and only, anti-SSM statements must be backed by mountains of social science. If you don't believe that genetics matter, re-read the story of Cinderella, or ask a redheaded stepchild.)
Although I am quite skeptical of the importance of genetic connection in determining how a parent will raise a child, that's not my reply. My reply is, even if somehow you convinced me this was the case, so what? The question here is whether marriage will benefit children being raised by "nongenetic" parents. More precisely the question is "should parents be married or should only genetic parents be married?" We're not debating some question of custody here, trying to figure out who should be raising the child. We know who is raising the child. We're trying to see if it makes any sense to prevent those parents from being married. That being said, I can't stand silent while somebody once again equates a nongenetic parent with a stepparent, especially when the comparison is to a cruel or abusive stepparent. A stepparent generally comes in after one parent has been raising the child for some time. The stepparent did not decide to have the child, but rather decided to marry the parent of the child. In these and so many other ways the case of a stepparent is quite different from the case of both parents at the outset deciding to have and raise a child together.
Mr. Rosenberg has made it clear that he doesn't believe that marriage is intrinsically connected to procreation. But if he wants to persuade those who don't already agree with him, he should show that he understands their premises. There is a difference--increasingly in modern times--between those who produce children and those who raise them. Mr. Rosenberg is welcome to argue that the difference isn't important, or shouldn't be important, or whatever. But using the same word to describe both groups only generates confusion.
I'm afraid I don't understand the premises of Mr. Bateman. I don't understand what would lead one to believe marriage is extemely important if the parents are "genetic", but of no value if the child was adopted or conceived with the aid of a donor. I don't understand how allowing parents to marry undermines the message that marriage is also important for genetic parents. I don't understand how allowing same-sex couples to marry sends the message that "genes don't matter", or why such a message, even if it were false, is in anyway relevant. I don't understand how legally recognizing nongenetic parents as parents does no harm to this all important "genes matter" message, but recognizing the marriage of said parents destroys it. I'm afraid I and almost all of society will--rightfully so--continue to use the word "parents" to refer to those with a legal and/or moral responsibility to raise and care for a child. And I will continue to pray that all parents do so with love and kindness, and with the help and support of our society and its laws.