What Children Deserve
“Every child deserves a mother and a father.”
In arguing against extending marriage rights to gay couples and recasting discrimination as “religious freedom,” some conservative “Christians” have been throwing that statement around a lot lately. Secretly, I want them to keep doing it. They think it sounds like some sort of axiom that will win people over just by its simplicity and elegance. But, what it really does is raise a bunch of obvious questions and focus everyone’s attention on children, and that focus is actually a loser for conservatives.
See, Cory and Fisher, and other children like them, could never have been anything but the children of two gay men. Our kids are each unique individuals because of the DNA that builds them, because of the environment that helps to shape them, and because, if you believe in that sort of thing, of the snowflake of a “soul” given to them at birth (separate from their DNA). Without the very considered decisions that Darin and I made together eight, seven, six years ago, Cory and Fisher would not be alive. They would never have existed anywhere. Even if you believe that their “souls” were hovering out there in the ether, waiting for God to breathe them into some other babies’ bodies, or something, those other babies would never have been Cory and Fisher. They would not have had the same combination of DNA, and they would not have been born into the same environment. They would have been entirely different people. It isn’t like, if only the state stopped itself from recognizing their parents’ relationship or if the state had only taken extra steps to deny their parents’ access to IVF and surrogacy, Cory and Fisher would have been born into some other, “better” family. This way was the only way that Cory and Fisher could ever have been born. Without it, they would not have existed. At all.
Too much holiness about the mother-father thing is a bit overblown anyway. Let’s face it, successfully procreating is the basest form of “success” that any human being could possibly achieve, most men and women having made it over that particular, um, hump since there have been men and women, and having biologically produced offspring hardly qualifies anyone to be much of a mother or a father, much less to excel at being either. Everyone knows at least one person who is, well, much better at a host of other things than he or she is at being a parent.
So, the “argument” that every child deserves a mother and father edges right up to a mean-spirited wish that Cory and Fisher had never been born, to an argument that they have been cruelly denied this right to “a mother and a father,” and to a statement that the world would have been a better place without them in it – because the only way for Cory and Fisher to have come into this world at all was for two gay men to have decided that they should. At minimum, “every child deserves a mother and a father” suggests that Cory and Fisher, once born, should not be held up as right or normal because their same-sex parents denied them something fundamental and essential.
Equal marriage will be extended to gay couples everywhere in the United States, sooner or later, but probably sooner. It will happen, not just because of the hollowness of the (mostly religious) bigotry trying to stem that tide or the soundness of the intellectual arguments working to accelerate it. Those arguments do exist (for example, marriage rights are currently extended to heterosexual couples without regard to their likelihood or ability to produce children) and will win in court.
But, in and out of court, equal marriage rights will continue to steamroll the opposition because, at least in part, most people will see that the world is a better place with kids like Cory and Fisher in it, being exactly who they are…and not just in the world, but in the world and afforded equal dignity, without regard to the sexes of the people who decided that they should be born.