June 19, 2003


Gay marriage opens the doors to a series of changes in the law of marriage. Not the law of marriage for gays - the law of marriage for everybody. The whole point to gay marriage is to make the rules for gays the same as the rules for straights. Logically, then, the rules for straights will have to be the same as the rules for gays.

It's a good guess, for example, that we will see an end to the concepts of “motherhood” and “fatherhood” in our legal practice. The law will increasingly see couples as interchangeable “parents.” This reinterpretation of motherhood as parenthood will have large impacts on, for example, custody decisions during divorce. Right now, the courts still tend to award custody to mothers, even if they work, even if they work more hours than their husbands do. (Some years ago, a Florida court awarded custody to an at-home dad over his working wife, and feminists raised a huge fuss against the sexist court that extinguished maternal rights just because the mother worked 70 hours a week.) But as the courts have to make new law to cope with gay divorces, look for the old idea of maternal preference to disappear. You can’t have maternal preferences when both parents claim to be the mother.

Rob Smith on gay marriage:

Having been through two divorces and seen first-hand how a man fares against a woman (although I DID get custody of my daughter, but NO Child Support because I was profiled as a man)), I have a couple of questions. If gay parents adopt, how does the court award custody? How is Child Support figured? How is alimony decided?

The more I think about those questions, the more I favor gay marriage. Maybe the courts will stop "profiling" ex-husbands as the scum of the earth, guilty of whatever went wrong in the marriage and due a richly-deserved financial enema for that evil. Maybe the woman doesn't have a stacked deck in her favor anymore.

That would be a damned good thing.

Personally, I'm in favor of legalizing gay marriage. I don't see that gay marriage diminishes marriage, any more than the many Jerry-Springer types who are allowed to get married now diminish marriage. I have gay friends who are, for all practical purposes, married. I don't see why barring them from going to the courthouse benefits anyone.

There are some conservatives who say that the advocacy of gay marriage is part of a campaign by some liberals to undermine marriage in general -- and I think there probably are some people on the left (or in whatever la-la land the MacKinnon / Dworkin types and their near-kin inhabit) who think that it will do that. But I rather suspect it will have the opposite effect. Let gays get married and they'll become a bulwark of the bourgeoisie. That's my prediction, anyway.

I also recommend this column by Radley Balko, which advocates getting the state out of the marriage business entirely.