President Obama’s “evolution” on gay marriage has dominated the news. His timing in officially revealing himself as a supporter of the cause would better be described as “Intelligent Design”, but that semantic distinction is only interesting to the extent it might bother liberals who take it too seriously. More surprising was Mitt Romney today revealing his utter incoherence on the issue:
“Let me make it very clear, which is that my preference would be to have a national standard that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney told Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto. Referring to domestic partnership benefits, Romney added, “That would then allow states to determine what rights would be provided for people of the same gender that wanted to have a relationship.”
So far, so reasonable. But then:
“I believe that marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history and that marriage is by its definition a relationship between a man and woman and if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, even want to adopt a child in my state, individuals of the same sex are able to adopt children,” Romney continued. “In my view, that’s something which people have the right to do, but to call that marriage is, in my view, a departure from the real meaning of the word.”
Here’s the issue. If you back gay adoption, on what grounds do you oppose gay marriage? Based on his statement, Romney’s main problem with gay marriage is that he thinks it’s too much trouble to update the dictionary. The state’s legitimate interest in protecting marriage as an institution stems from the integral role that the nuclear family plays in raising a productive, self-reliant citizenry. Children raised by their two biological parents have the best outcomes, so that arrangement should be encouraged. Additionally, males and females are inherently different, and are complementary not only biologically but in the roles they play in child-rearing. As Chris Rock has pointed out: “You could be the baddest mama on earth. l don’t <care> how good you are. Ain’t nothing you can say more powerful than, ”l’m gonna tell your daddy.”
But if, as Romney seems to imply, you believe that gay couples in loving, committed relationships have the same right to adopt children as married couples do, then on what basis are you drawing the line? Isn’t it then an injustice to those children to not allow their parents to marry, as that restriction places them in a less stable environment? The chief wrongness is not in using the word marriage to describe something that is not, but in treating something that is not marriage as if it is, no matter what you call it.
Romney’s focus is rightfully on the dire fiscal situation our country urgently faces, but he would do well to think through the logic of his marriage position, and consider Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ take on how the two issues are related:
“If I could wave a magic wand, and change just one thing, it would be to guarantee that every American child could grow up in a two-parent home until the age of 18. That would solve maybe three-quarters of our problems.”