Thursday, May 12, 2011

Procreation: A Necessary Marriage Requirement... For Some

In an unnecessarily-long version of that strange, circular "marriage is a thing that exists in nature like a tree or a flower" argument, Christopher Wolfe explains, in The Public Discourse, how same-sex marriage isn't Real Marriage:

"...[H]omosexual unions are essentially—of their very nature—incapable of procreation. There are, of course, many instances in which a heterosexual union is incapable in practice, by reason of age or physical defect, of leading to procreation; but the nature of the union remains the kind of union capable of producing children. In ways that many people, unfortunately, fail to understand, conjugal intercourse between a couple that is infertile or past childbearing age still has an inherent procreative significance—one that homosexual sexual activity inherently lacks." [emphasis added]

On the one hand, Wolfe claims that procreation, or the capacity for two spouses to procreate with one another, is an essential part of Real Marriage. Yet, as many equality advocates often note, this claim means that male-female relationships that cannot procreate together also do not constitute a Real Marriage. In trying to explain why such relationships, unlike same-sex relationships, still count as Real Marriages, Wolfe claims that infertile male-female couples' "conjugal intercourse.... still has an inherent procreative significance."

Now what on earth does that mean, to have "an inherent procreative significance"?

Wolfe seems to be saying here that coitus between an infertile male-female couple looks like, or signifies, the kind of sex that in other couples sometimes results in babies and so therefore an infertile male-female couple has a Real Marriage. Whereas, sex between a same-sex couple doesn't look enough like penis-in-vagina sex for the marriage to count as Real. (Hmm, I guess if Wolfe would have just said that, his argument wouldn't have had the same intimidating pseudo-intellectual ring to it.)

Yet, under Wolfe's own definition of marriage, a Real Marriage is "intrinsically or essentially oriented toward mutual love-giving and life-giving." And, applying his own definition of Real Marriage, the infertile heterosexual couple fails to meet this second criterion just as surely as does a same-sex couple, no matter how much the former's coitus looks like a procreative sex act.

This double-standard, of course, lends credence to my theory that the "procreation is an essential part of real marriage" argument is nothing but an invented, after-the-fact requirement of marriage added precisely to exclude same-sex couples from the Cool Kids' Marriage Club while trying not to look bigoted about it.

Also, so much for Team Anti-Gay not caring what goes on in people's bedrooms. I mean, here they've built an entire Nice Guy argument against same-sex marriage that is predicated entirely upon what specific sex acts between two people look like. Like, they've really thought about sex and penises and vaginas and what goes where and how and with whom, like, in great detail.

Look, I personally don't care what male-female couples do in the privacy of their own homes, but do we really have to talk about it use it to justify discriminatory laws all the damn time?

No comments: