Marriage promotes social stability – with or without children

February 03, 2011

The Family Research Council tries to support its anti-gay position ("Same-sex marriage is contrary to the public interest," Feb. 2) with the losing argument that marriage is primarily about procreation. But it isn't. There are good public policy reasons behind the government's endorsement of marriage, and procreation is only one of them. By encouraging lifelong commitments, marriage fosters cohesion and stability in society, the growth and enrichment of communities, and — when there are children — the care and nurture of children in stable households.

The Family Research Council has taken this last point and run with it to the exclusion of all others. Its procreation argument is compromised, however, by the exceptions it must make for infertile couples, those who choose not to have children and those who want to adopt — for everyone, in other words, except same-sex couples.

A more helpful approach would be to ask, "Would legalizing same-sex marriage in any way discourage procreation? Would it hamper the care and nurture of children?"

In fact, legalizing gay marriage would leave children in opposite-sex households unharmed, and it would benefit children in same-sex households tremendously. Their parents would immediately obtain more than 400 legal rights involving everything from medical decision making to inheritance. These benefits would help sustain the marital relationship, and the children would directly benefit from such stability. It would also communicate to these children that theirs is not a second-class family — that they are equal to their friends who live next door. And they are.

Marriage benefits children and promotes families, regardless of the couple's genders. Extending the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples wouldn't simply be good for same-sex couples, it would be good for Maryland.

Dominic Vecchiollo, Baltimore

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