Maggie Gallagher
What message will same-sex marriage send to the next generation?

I got a foretaste recently while taking the shuttle back home from D.C. The young man sitting next to me was a college student, headed home for the holidays. Call him Matthew. We got to talking about the whole SSM thing.

"Why are you against it?" Matthew asked. So I told him.

Marriage is the place where we not only tolerate people having babies and raising children, we positively welcome and encourage it. Same-sex marriage will be a public and legal declaration that the state of Massachusetts believes that children do not need mothers and fathers. Alternative family forms are not only just as good, they are just the same as a husband and wife raising kids together.

"Don't you think that ideally, kids need a mom and a dad?" I asked.

"Not really," Matthew told me. "I don't think so."

He told me knew some kids at school who were being raised by a same-sex couple. They seemed OK to him. Besides, he said, his mom and dad were divorced. His older brother seemed to have some problems with it, he hinted, but that was probably just because his brother was older and knew his dad better before they divorced.

"Kids just accept whatever their family situation is. It doesn't matter," Matthew told me. After all, he was raised by a single mom and doing just fine.

Sure, he was doing fine, in a lot of ways.

But then I pulled out my big gun: "What about you?" I asked him. "Do you think you'll matter to your kids?"

Matthew seemed taken aback by the question. Obviously he had never looked at it from that perspective. He thought for a moment and then followed his train of thought to the only logical conclusion -- a train wreck:

"No," he said. "Not really."

Abandon your kids early enough, he implied, and fatherlessness is all they know. They won't need you. Kids adjust.

This has been, of course, the big message of the family diversity crowd since the dawn of the sexual revolution: Adults have awesome intimacy needs that must be met. Family forms, social norms, household arrangements all must be wound, unwound and rewound so the adults get what they need. Kids? Oh, they adjust.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.