Kellie Fiedorek

On Tuesday, the Delaware Senate will consider legally redefining marriage for the entire state. Despite the intensity and emotion from both sides surrounding the debate, the choice before these 21 senators is pretty simple.

They can either choose to uphold marriage as a relationship unlike any other—one that brings together the complementary halves of humanity by uniting a man and a woman as husband and wife to be mother and father to any children they might have—or they can vote to change the very nature of marriage itself—making gender meaningless and the emotional desires of adults paramount.

But we don’t need government to regulate the emotions of adults. Most of us agree that the last thing we need is government intruding into people’s love lives. Yet a vote to redefine marriage is a vote to radically transform a child-centered institution into one about the government placing a stamp of approval on adult love. Never in our history has that been the government’s role in marriage.

And most tragic is the result a “yes” vote will have on the children of Delaware. Redefining marriage places the state’s endorsement on fatherless and motherless homes, as could be exemplified in new, sterile government forms that read “Parent A” and “Parent B.” It’s one thing for children to grow up without a father or a mother through the various consequences of life. It’s entirely something else to intentionally create that reality.

We should not communicate to our children and grandchildren that we do not care about their natural need to know both their mother and father. Let us not undermine the dignity of our children and tell them that the desires of adults are more important than their right to know their mother and father.

Throughout civilization, marriage has been recognized by diverse cultures for the good of children, the family, and society at large. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the importance of marriage multiple times, stating that marriage between a man and a woman is “essential to our very existence and survival.” And the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that it is a child’s right to know and be cared for by her mother and father wherever possible.

Recognizing the importance of fatherhood, the Delaware Department of Human Services enacted programs that seek to fortify the influence fathers have in their children’s lives. Even President Obama has spoken powerfully on the pivotal role fathers play, stating that “I wish I had a father who was around and involved.”

So how will the State of Delaware explain this inconsistent approach to families? Fathers are important, but only sometimes? Redefining marriage sends the message that it is acceptable when adults choose to deny a child either a mother or a father. We cannot state, on the one hand, that fathers are essential, and then enact laws that say they are optional. Our children deserve better.

Yes, anyone is capable of loving a child, and many heroic single parents admirably love and care for their children; however, few people advocate to incentivize permanently excluding moms or dads from a child’s life.

Yet that’s what same-sex marriage does—promotes and encourages the intentional creation of motherless and fatherless families. And the advocates of so-called “marriage equality” offer no explanation for the inherently unequal way we are treating children in removing, by choice, the possibility of a mother or father.

No mom can ever replace a father’s role in a child’s life, and no dad can ever replace a mother. As a woman, I know I will love and provide something to my children that no man ever will be able to give them. But I will also never be able to provide for them precisely what their father, as a man, will be able to.

Men and women are unique and complementary and provide distinctly necessary qualities in raising children. Enacting laws that affirm every child’s natural need to know who and from where they came should be our goal.

As the historic vote on Tuesday approaches, let us pause to consider: Is this what we want for our children? Do we want our children and grandchildren to know that we prioritized the emotional desires of adults over their needs? How do we look a child in the eye and tell them that they didn’t get a father or a mother because we decided that they didn’t need one? That’s a simple question worth asking.

Kellie Fiedorek

Kellie Fiedorek is litigation counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that has defended marriage and religious liberty in courts throughout the U.S.