In Defense of Traditional Marriage (Commentary)

By Michael Blissenbach ‘15

On Tuesday, voters from my home state of Minnesota may decide the future of the institution of marriage there. Some have argued that the Marriage Protection Amendment is unnecessary because state law already defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. However, Minnesota’s current legal definition of marriage is being challenged on multiple fronts.

Gov. Mark Dayton and several state legislators support redefining marriage to mean the union of any two consenting adults. Moreover, an active lawsuit in Hennepin County seeks to declare Minnesota’s current definition of marriage unconstitutional. Consequently, marriage could be redefined in Minnesota as early as next year.

The marriage amendment debate is thus a debate about the future of the institution of marriage in Minnesota. Should marriage remain the union of one man and one woman, or should it be transformed into the union of any two consenting adults?

I support the current definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman for two main reasons.

First, marriage is not just about love and commitment; it is also about the procreation and rearing of children. While love and commitment are certainly present in marriage, they are also present in other relationships, such as friendships. But government does not recognize or regulate friendships, so there must be a characteristic that distinguishes marriage from friendship. This distinguishing characteristic is the inherent capacity of the marital relationship between a man and a woman to generate new human life.

Sex between a man and a woman generates children. Social science has repeatedly shown that, all else equal, those children do best when raised by their mom and dad. For precisely this reason our government saw fit long ago to grant marriage legal recognition, binding husband and wife to each other and to any children generated by their marriage.

Redefining marriage to mean the union of any two adults, regardless of gender, severs this link between marriage and children and amounts to a statement by the government that the influence of a mother and a father on the life of a child isn’t important. Children would be negatively affected by such a move.

Second, changing Minnesota’s legal definition of marriage would automatically change every law in our state that mentions marriage. We know from other states and countries that have redefined marriage that these changes have devastating consequences for individuals and religious organizations that cannot accept the government’s new definition.

In Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, Catholic Charities was forced to abandon its adoption and foster care programs. Additionally, Massachusetts schools began teaching children as early as first grade that same-sex unions were equivalent to marriages. Parents were not allowed to opt their kids out of these lessons. Lastly, in Canada, a sports reporter was fired from his job for tweeting his support for traditional marriage on his personal Twitter account.

Passing the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment maintains the intrinsic connection between marriage and procreation, affirms the common-sense notion that kids need a mom and a dad, and prevents the erosion of religious freedom that has occurred in states and countries where marriage has been redefined.

(A version of this article appeared on the Minnesota Public Radio website on Oct. 3, 2012)

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7 comments

  1. **”Social science has repeatedly shown that, all else equal, those children do best when raised by their mom and dad.”**

    ^This^ is misleading at best.

    **”Redefining marriage to mean the union of any two adults, regardless of gender, severs this link between marriage and children and amounts to a statement by the government that the influence of a mother and a father on the life of a child isn’t important. Children would be negatively affected by such a move.”**

    None of ^this^ is accurate.

    **”Passing the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment maintains the intrinsic connection between marriage and procreation, affirms the common-sense notion that kids need a mom and a dad, and prevents the erosion of religious freedom that has occurred in states and countries where marriage has been redefined.”**

    ^This^ is malarkey.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/2/341.abstract?fulltext=&searchid=QID_NOT_SET

    http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20051012/study-same-sex-parents-raise-well-adjusted-kids

    http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=38cc20ce-7f14-44ea-b4d9-d4cd16d7a269&k=9378

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1994480,00.html

    http://www.parentdish.com/2011/07/22/al-franken-rebukes-conservative-group-for-definition-of-nuclear/

    It’s called research.

    Catholics & conservatives are just going to have to get with times and the rest of humanity.

  2. “First, marriage is not just about love and commitment; it is also about the procreation and rearing of children. While love and commitment are certainly present in marriage, they are also present in other relationships, such as friendships. But government does not recognize or regulate friendships, so there must be a characteristic that distinguishes marriage from friendship. This distinguishing characteristic is the inherent capacity of the marital relationship between a man and a woman to generate new human life.”

    My spouse and I went into our marriage knowing that we would never be having children.
    By your argument, I might as well be married to my sister or a friend.

    I think what is more accurate would be to say that the “characteristic that distinguishes marriage from friendship” is romantic love and the likelihood of sexual relations.

    And lastly. Same sex marriage is inevitable (see:http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/05/10/us/politics/fivethirtyeight-0509-ssm1/fivethirtyeight-0509-ssm1-blog480.png).
    Be on the right side of history.

  3. It sounds like you’re saying that a person entering a marriage not intending to procreate shouldn’t even be allowed to do so, which is sickening. What about couples who aren’t able to procreate? Should they not be allowed to marry based on that inability and just be friends instead? I would also like to say that plenty of straight married couples are dreadful parents. I’m not sure what “social science” you’re referring to in regard to that discussion.

  4. legaleagle12 · · Reply

    I agree with all of the comments above. Procreation is a weak argument for straight-only marriage, because not all straight married couples can have children–just as not everyone who procreates is married. This article, though obviously passionately written, uses a circular argument–“marriage should be between a man and a woman… because marriage is between a man and a woman.” The writing is based on ideology, not facts–especially the part about a child “needing” a mom and dad. I know several people who are living perfectly normal lives without two parents of the opposite sex. Not to mention, the vast number of people I know with divorced, or deceased parents, who are also getting by quite well.

    Lastly, the section that says, “changing Minnesota’s legal definition of marriage would automatically change every law in our state that mentions marriage,” is the least convincing section of this piece. When a lot of states got rid of “miscegenation” laws in the 20th century (laws that prohibited interracial marriage), the language of certain statutes had to be changed, as well. In my mind, the fact that a few legislators might have to do some extra paperwork to accomodate people’s civil rights, is a small price to pay for more freedom and tolerance.

  5. I wholeheartedly agree with you on one of your statements – marriage is NOT just about love and commitment. It’s also about enjoying certain benefits and rights, like tax benefits and the ability to help make medical decisions if your spouse is unable to do so. I am unable to understand the logic behind your other assertions.

    Your first reason for supporting traditional marriage is that marriage is for procreation. Does this mean that those who are unable to have children, and those who will not have children, should also be prevented from being married? You claim that the ability to procreate is the defining difference between a friendship and a marriage. Again, this cannot be true if people who cannot bear children may marry. Rather than children, the main difference between a marriage and a committed romantic relationship (there are simply too many differences between a marriage and a friendship for me to list) is the mutual desire for the two parties involved to enter into a legally binding and recognized contract; the exact contract that many loving, committed and mature couples want to enter into.

    Your assertion that recognizing gay marriage amounts to a statement “that the influence of a mother and father in a child’s life isn’t important” simply doesn’t follow. 1 – gay couples already have children. Whether or not they marry, they will (and should) continue to do so; and 2 – I believe that legalizing gay marriage would be a recognition that loving and mature parents – no matter what their sex – is what’s important. It would also be a recognition that ALL people should enjoy basic rights.

    Your argument that a federal law would require states to change their definition of marriage is accurate. However, there is already a religious exemption as far as marriage is concerned. Just as a religious figure may choose to not marry a couple based on a party’s religion, that religious figure may choose not to marry a couple based on their sexual orientation.

    Finally, children are going to have to learn about gay parents because, whether or not their teachers discuss it in the classroom, they will have classmates with gay parents.

    I appreciate your passion on this topic, but I simply cannot agree with you, and do not understand your arguments.

  6. This story truly shows how ignorant and uneducated you are. Both of your main arguments have been CLEARLY refuted as a basis for denying marriage to same sex couples. It’s sad that people your age make such an argument when the vast majority of the younger generations realize there is no legitimate reason to deny same sex couples the ability to marry, besides ignorance, bigotry, and outdated discriminatory assumptions.

  7. […] his Nov. 3 article “In Defense of Traditional Marriage,” Michael argues that same-sex marriage should not be allowed because it’s contrary to the […]

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