Thursday, June 11, 2015

Even for Witherspoon this anonymous post is a bit much

Just when you think that you have seen every conceivable argument in support of marriage discrimination, up pops a new one via Witherspoon Institute's blog. I'll paraphrase:

Gay couples should not have the right to marry because same-sex marriage advocates respond to a nonsensical argument that marriage is exclusive to couples that can crank out kids with the simple truth that we already grant marriage licenses to couples unable to have children.

Witherspoon's blog, Public Discourse, is home to all manner of expression that support the organization's ultra-conservative Catholic agenda. Today, in an anonymous polemic, some poor man, whose wife is infertile, is all bent out of shape at gay people. So what else is new?

Religious conservatives have redefined marriage to something that is “procreative.” Gay people don't qualify. Clever them. One obvious counterpoint to this intellectually dishonest argument is that we do not deny infertile couples the right to marry. It should be perfectly obvious that we should not and do not discriminate on that basis.

Which brings me to Thursday's piece on Witherspoon's blog — “Don’t Use My Pain as a Weapon: Infertility and Same-Sex Marriage.” OK, then don't use our inability to bear children as a weapon to deny us the legal right to marry. According to the author of the piece:
I’m growing weary of being told that I must either support gay marriage or disavow my own marriage. I refer not to anything my wife and I did that would violate the traditional norms of marriage, but to something we had no control over: our ongoing inability to conceive a child. Infertility does not invalidate our marriage, but we constantly experience infertility as an inability to fulfill a basic aspect of marriage. It is a loss for us in a way that it can never be for a same-sex couple, who can never have expected fertility together. Our relationship is ordered toward having children, even if it is frustrated and kept from this fulfillment.
Of course that is a rhetorical false choice and an insult to our intelligence. It's dishonest. Clearly I, and my community, support this guy's right to marry. Nobody has ever suggested that infertility should either prohibit or denigrate his marriage. Just how stupid does this person think we are? Most of this posting is a self-serving boo-hoo. Later on he writes:
Infertility does not invalidate our marriage, but we constantly experience infertility as an inability to fulfill a basic aspect of marriage. It is a loss for us in a way that it can never be for a same-sex couple, who can never have expected fertility together. Our relationship is ordered toward having children, even if it is frustrated and kept from this fulfillment.
Let me be the first to concur that infertility does not invalidate the author's marriage. I sympathize. Then he explains (in pretentious academic language — “see how smart I am?”) :
There is a clear distinction (whether considered in ontological, teleological, or experiential terms) between homosexual couples and infertile heterosexual couples. For the latter, childlessness is not intrinsic to their relationship. Rather, whether due to illness, age, or deliberate action, it is a loss from the fullness of what their marriage should be. For those who are voluntarily sterile, it is an intentional avoidance of that fulfillment—an avoidance that has traditionally been condemned. For same-sex couples, the question does not even arise, because fertility is never a natural fulfillment of their relationship. No matter what medical advances may be made against age, illness, and injury, homosexual relations will remain intrinsically sterile.
Bottom line: This is the Catholic definition of marriage (at least it has been since gays began marrying). Gay couples are inferior to heterosexual couples because they cannot procreate. A gay couple with two adopted children isn't the equal of his marriage and the inequality applies to those kids. And by the way, who "condemns" heterosexual couples who choose not to have children? Some pampered celibate prelate?

Most of the rest is the standard catechism which amounts to the recitation of losing arguments:
Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions severs the connection between marriage and children in a way that recognizing the marriages of childless heterosexual couples does not …
With respect to those “medical advances,” the author claims that he and his wife will not consider artificial insemination (which is prohibited by the Catholic Church). He also claims that they cannot afford to adopt:
Adoption is a possibility, of course, but it usually necessitates a great deal of additional expense and trouble on top of the already considerable burdens of parenting. Thus far we have lacked the career and financial stability to spend tens of thousands of dollars in order to adopt a child.
Catholic Charities' fees (based on ability to pay) start at $8,000. How much, out of pocket, does a pregnancy cost? It depends upon matters like insurance, the policies of employers and applicability of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 which, by the way, provides benefits for adoptive parents. My guess is that they choose to prioritize other things over the possible expense of adopting a child.

The author concludes:
Neither a same-sex couple nor an infertile opposite-sex couple is able to conceive naturally. For one couple, this is predictable and intrinsic to the nature of their relationship. For the other, it is a painful, often unexpected injury to the nature of their marriage.
And for both couples it is irrelevant to the right to marry. Finally:
The author using this pseudonym holds a PhD in political theory and yearns for the day when young academics may speak freely without fear of having their careers destroyed. 
To this I say; self-serving bullshit. Nobody cares that this guy has a religious objection to marriage equality. His colleagues might voice some concern over the porous, intellectually dishonest and nonsensical arguments that his posits. Apparently this man is unwilling, or unable, to defend his point of view. This too is a choice.

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