Should we prosecute childless couples?

February 03, 2011

In his op-ed, "Same-sex marriage is contrary to the public interest" (Feb. 2), Peter Sprigg states that the purpose of marriage is to generate children. For that reason, he would limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. Would this then mean that opposite-sex couples who do not produce children or who do not wed for the purpose of having children would be in violation of the state-approved marriage license? Would this make them vulnerable to prosecution? Would their transgression be considered a misdemeanor or a felony, and would we allow a sentence of probation before judgment to grant them sufficient time to crawl back between the sheets and get the job done?

Doesn't this also make it incumbent upon the state to ensure that opposite-sex couples who marry are certified as having the knowledge, skills and means to beget and raise children in loving, nurturing, law-abiding families? In the event of failure here, would the marriage be subject to court-ordered dissolution with appropriate penalties imposed upon the transgressors? Perhaps the author sees this as a way for the state to have a direct hand in producing good citizens, but what a burden on regulators this would be!

Is this what marriage is really all about? I certainly hope not. Simply put, marriage is about love, the love of one person for another. It is a commitment of one to another of a life-long relationship of loving, nurturing and sharing of life's joys and burdens. Such relationships provide mutual protection for the partners in life and promote stability in our society. Having children is just one reason for a marriage, and in my opinion, clearly not the most important one — and it is the only reason not applicable to same-sex couples. It is even not the reason why many successful marriages of opposite-sex partners exist. On this basis, it makes no sense whatever to deny the right of marriage to same-sex couples.

Lee Starkey, Baltimore

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