The problem with the Rauch argument and the biggest threat from same sex marriage itself involves flagrant distortion of the “magic ingredient” for lasting, socially beneficial relationships.
That ingredient isn’t governmental authorization or support. It is, rather, the uniting of male and female strengths and values in a durable combination.
Men and women are different –profoundly, irreducibly, eternally. It is ridiculous and dishonest to suggest they are interchangeable in relationships. This undeniable truth obliterates the notion that a guy who takes another guy as life partner instead of a woman is just expressing his personal preference – like choosing a blonde over a brunette, or a Latino over an Asian.
Neither race nor hair color determines an individual’s essence, his or her mode of expressing and experiencing humanity. Gender, on the other hand, influences everything – and all recent research (without exception) brings new revelations about its physiological, psychological, intellectual and even spiritual importance.
A couple that blends male and female is fundamentally different from a couple with two men – just as that male-only relationship is distinct from a partnership of two women.
American society has awakened to the terrible costs and dangers of fatherless households – and Barack Obama delivered an eloquent church sermon about the problem on father’s day.
He neglected to mention, however, that every child-rearing lesbian couple is, by definition, a fatherless household, just as every gay male couple is even more unthinkable (in terms of raising offspring) as a motherless household.
This obvious fact makes clear the fatuity in Jonathan Rauch’s suggestion that it’s a wedding license that makes the children raised by married partners “healthier, happier and wealthier.” Wouldn’t the presence of a mother constitute a more important element than government recognition? Wouldn’t the constant influence of a father (along with a mother) count for more than the approval of a city hall clerk?
Consider some of the high profile heterosexual couples who have refused to get married. I don’t endorse the politics of Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, but given their long-standing and apparently stable commitment, I don’t think their kids have suffered because they never legalized their relationship.
By the same token, I don’t believe that the children of Rosie O’Donnell and her partner will be able to make up for the lack of a father’s love through a change of bureaucratic policy in California or any other state.
When Jonathan Rauch laments the “calamitous” situation in “gay ghettos” he provides an eloquent description of a dark reality. He says “it is a world marked by heightened fear of loneliness or abandonment in crisis or old age; a world in some respects not even civilized because marriage is the foundation of civilization. This was the world I grew up in. The AIDS quilt is its monument.”
He wants his readers to believe that the missing factor in this dysfunctional subculture is governmental sanction for marriage when in truth that absent element is women.
The promiscuity, instability and irresponsibility he rightly associates with gay male enclaves don’t apply to lesbians or their neighborhoods. Statistics indicate that even without marriage licenses, lesbian relationships already prove at least as stable and lasting as opposite-sex connections (consider Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon).
It’s the female perspective and influence, not legal status, that civilizes couples (just ask my wife) as well as societies.
The problem with the Jonathan Rauch prescription is that he seeks to heal the ills of gay male culture and relationships with a meaningless solution (a marriage license) at the same time that he ignores and in fact denies the one addition that makes a lasting, eternal difference – the melding of male and female in long-term, loving commitment.