SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND THE CONCEPTION OF CHILDREN
by John Spritzler
(Note: Links unfortunately break over time sometimes; the links here worked when this was originally written. If a link is broken it may be possible to find the same content with a new online search.)
[Please see "The Rights of Children"]
The aim of the views expressed here is to promote the maximum possible unity between the people who say they are for same-sex marriage being legal and those who say they are opposed to it being legal. A proposal is presented below that would--if people ever heard it--be acceptable (at least as a compromise) to most of the people on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue. Advocates of this proposal would be perceived by people on both sides of this issue as reasonable people, not bigots and not as people indifferent to the needs of children.
The ruling class censors from the mass media public discourse about same-sex marriage all of the content of what is below. Why? To maximize the divisiveness over the same-sex marriage issue.
The task of egalitarians is to unify ALL of the good and decent people--on BOTH sides of "hot button" issues--for the egalitarian goal of no rich and no poor. To do this requires that we NOT take a side in the false and deliberately divisive frameworks that the ruling class imposes on us around "hot button" issues such as same-sex marriage. It requires that we expose the false and divisive nature of the framework itself, and propose positions that most people on either side of the divisive framework would agree with or accept as a reasonable compromise. Unfortunately I, John Spritzler, the editor of this website, am not aware of any other person or organization that is attempting to do this with respect to the same-sex marriage issue.
Please read the following with this in mind.
[To see links to lots of articles by others, including gay people and the now-adult children of anonymous sperm or egg donation conception, about anonymous gamete donation and same-sex marriage, click here.]
[To read "The Same-Sex Marriage Elephant in the U.S. Supreme Court Chamber" click here.]
[Video: Same-Sex Marriage & Anonymous Sperm/Egg Donation: What's the Connection and Why Does it Matter?]
[To read "I'm Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage" click here .]
Note: The view about same-sex marriage briefly presented below is given in far greater depth in chapter 3 of the book Divide and Rule: The "Left vs. Right" Trap, by John Spritzler (the PDRBoston.org editor), available in paperback or e-book versions here. One can also borrow it from your local library for free (go here for details.)
Click here to read about how some famous (pro-same-sex marriage) liberals say that a father should live with his child's mother and lesbian wife, and not abandon his child by living elsewhere.
CONCEPTION OF CHILDREN: View #1
One of the most divisive social issues in the United States as well as many other nations is the question of whether it is moral or immoral to conceive a child in a manner designed on purpose to prevent the child from knowing and being known (in a parent-child relationship) by both its biological mother and biological father. Unfortunately the ruling elite have deliberately obscured this important question by orchestrating in the mass and "alternative" media a phony debate over same-sex marriage. This debate is phony because the way the elite have framed it prevents people on either side from knowing what actually most concerns the people on the other side.
The main organizations that have sponsored state referenda to ban same-sex marriage have stated (in the "Con 2" section, paragraph 4 "Court papers filed..."), very clearly that their objection to same-sex marriage stems from their objection to the way it promotes the practice of conceiving children with anonymously donated egg or sperm in a manner that prevents the child from knowing and being known by both its biological mother and biological father. This concern is a major reason that people voted to ban same-sex marriage in all of the first 32 state referenda on the question. One may agree or disagree with this concern, but it is just wrong to dismiss the views of those who have this concern as nothing but bigotry against homosexuals ("homophobia").
The connection between same-sex marriage and anonymous egg or sperm donation conception is this:
1) Marriage in our society, while of course being about a loving and committed relationship and other important things, ALSO confers formal social approval for a couple to produce a child of their own (click here to see that this is so); a marriage certificate gives formal social approval to produce a child of one's own, regardless of whether the couple intends to or wishes to or not. It is this special aspect of marriage that is the reason why we let siblings live together and be business partners and be in virtually any other kind of relationship, but not be a married couple: we don't let siblings marry because we don't approve of siblings producing a child that would be at an unacceptable risk of genetic harm. This has nothing to do, obviously, with any prejudice or bigotry (sibling-phobia?) against siblings; it is about a concern for the welfare of children and the moral principle that the needs of children trump the desires of adults.
2) Since a same-sex couple can only produce a child of their own (i.e., one that is the biological child of one member of the couple) by using third party sperm or egg (gamete) donation conception, and since anonymous gamete donation is today legal and the most often used mode of such donation, it follows that giving a same-sex couple permission to marry also gives that couple formal social approval to use anonymous third party sperm or egg donation conception, and hence to produce a child in a manner that, by design, denies the child its chance to know and be known (i.e., raised by) both its biological mother and biological father. This is obviously not the case with opposite-sex marriage, since such couples are not necessarily only able to produce a child with third party donated gamete conception.
This is why people who think it is wrong to produce a child in a manner that is designed to prevent it from knowing and being known by both of its biological parents do not approve of making same-sex marriage legal but have no objection to making opposite-sex marriage legal. Their objection to same-sex marriage is as logical as the perfectly reasonable objection people have to sibling marriage, and this objection is no more bigoted against homosexuals than the objection to sibling marriage is bigoted against siblings.
The fact that anonymous third party gamete donation conception may be used more often by medically infertile opposite-sex couples than by same-sex couples is irrelevant. To see why, consider that (since there are far more children conceived by non-sibling couples than by sibling couples) more children with harmful genetic disorders are produced by non-sibling than by sibling couples. Does this mean that we should make sibling marriage legal? Of course not.
The question of whether the potential harm (psychological/emotional pain, specifically) to the child from not knowing and being known by both of its biological parents is great enough to require making same-sex marriage illegal (until anonymous gamete donation conception is illegal, as discussed below) is a judgment call about which reasonable good and decent people can and do disagree. The key point is that neither position that one might take about this judgment call makes one a bigot.
The ruling elite have censored this concern for children from the debate over same-sex marriage that they orchestrate in the mass and alternative media that they control. On radio and TV and in newspapers and magazines, what people are told is that the only question about same-sex marriage is whether one is for equality or whether one is a "homophobic" bigot (presumably a Bible fanatic bigot.)
Of note, the mass media often implicitly (as in this article about NFL star Tom Brady and his son) or sometimes explicitly (as in an episode of the TV show Two and a Half Men in which Charlie Sheen's character decides not to donate sperm to a lesbian couple who requested if of him because he thought it was morally wrong--unfair to prevent the child from knowing his biological father) discuss the importance of the bond between a child and its biological parents. But this concern is very seldom expressed in connection with same-sex marriage despite the fact that a big concern of many people with same-sex marriage is that it typically results in a child not having a relationship with one of its biological parents; the example in Two and a Half Men cited above is virtually unique. Why is this? Because the mass media are determined to prevent people from even thinking about the relationship between same-sex marriage and the bond between a child and its biological parents (the biological father in the case of two women marrying and "having a child" and the biological mother in the case of two men marrying and "having a child.")
Isn't it time we egalitarians had a respectful and serious discussion about all of this, and tried to resolve our differences on the basis of our shared values of equality and mutual aid?
A PROPOSAL TO UNITE MOST PEOPLE
As a step in that direction, I (John Spritzler, the editor of this web site) will now say what I think about this issue. Also, I will create other pages on this website for others to express their views on this question. Please send your views to us by email.
Here's What I Think
I am not opposed to same-sex marriage per se; I think it should be legal with the following condition:
It should be illegal to deliberately conceive a child with a gamete (egg or sperm) from a person who, at the time of conception, does not fully intend* to raise the child and know and be known by the child as its co-primary** parent (mother or father as the case may be)*** and when, and only when, this is the law should same-sex marriage be legal.
I think it violates the Golden Rule principle of equality when a woman, because of a longing for a biological connection with the child she raises, denies the child that very same biological connection with its father by conceiving the child with sperm from a man who does not intend to know and be known by the child as its father and co-primary parent.
I think it likewise violates the principle of equality when a man, for the analogous reason, conceives a child with an egg from a woman who does not intend to know and be known by the child as its mother and co-primary parent.
I think infertile couples (same-sex or opposite-sex) or single persons who want a child but who cannot conceive a child in compliance with the above-described law should adopt.
I think the Golden Rule principle of mutual aid says the needs of children trump the desires of adults.
It is child abandonment when a man donates sperm anonymously or a woman donates an egg anonymously.
How Do Children Conceived by Anonymous Sperm or Egg Donation Feel?
Please read (click here) the many links to articles and videos by now-adult children of anonymously donated sperm or egg conception to see that there is a real problem with this kind of conception from the child's point of view, even if not from the adults' point of view. Reasonable people can disagree about how serious the problem is, but it is wrong to pretend it doesn't exist and that anybody who expresses a concern about it must just be a homophobic bigot.
In 2012 I wrote an article about same-sex marriage in which, instead of saying what I thought ought to be the relevant laws regarding the conception of children (as I now do above) I accepted as a given that it was, unfortunately, legal to use anonymously donated sperm or egg to conceive a child and focused on why, in that case, same-sex marriage was a bad idea. In that article I discussed in some detail (in the section sub-titled "But you do care about equality!" and in the footnotes) the psychological pain that children suffered into adulthood when they did not know their biological mother or biological father, and included many links to websites or articles by such children in which they expressed their feelings eloquently.
I have written a very substantive explanation and defense of the view presented here in the chapter on same-sex marriage in my book, Divide and Rule: The 'Left vs. Right' Trap. It is available here as an e-book or paperback, and can be borrowed for free from your local library as an e-book (details here). If one has not yet read this chapter, then one cannot claim to have an INFORMED disagreement with the view expressed here. The ruling class has promoted a public discourse about same-sex marriage that was designed to exclude any consideration of the implications it has for a child's right to know and be known by both of its biological parents and why that is important. This public discourse was designed to be divisive, by declaring that the only question was whether to be for "equality" or for bigotry (e.g., Bible fundamentalism). As a result, most people have not experienced any discussion about the role of marriage in society as it relates to the welfare of children.
Ask somebody who says, "I believe any two single adults who mutually consent should be allowed to marry each other," if therefore siblings should be allowed to marry, and they cannot answer the question without refuting what they just said about "any two single adults...".
Ask somebody who says that the right to marry and the welfare of children are two completely different things because "procreation is not the only relevant reason for marriage," if it follows that, since driving a vehicle is not the only relevant reason for wanting a driver's license [many only want one to use as an ID card] therefore we should give a driver's license to a blind person. The person's confusion here is due to the fact that the ruling class censored from the same-sex marriage debate the key fact that in our society allowing a couple to marry constitutes formal social approval for the couple to produce a child of their own, and the decision whether to allow a couple to marry is properly and logically based not on what the couple might or might not choose to do but rather on whether we wish to give the couple approval to produce a child of their own whether they want to or not. This is why we don't allow siblings to marry, even siblings whose reason for wanting to be married has nothing to do with procreation.
These examples of illogical thinking have flourished in the context of the same-sex marriage debate because the debate was designed to exclude logical thinking and replace it with clever debaters' rhetorical tricks.
Another example of illogical thinking in this context is this. Many people, noting that the view expressed here focuses on the right of children to know and be known by both of their biological parents, immediately think of adopted children who are not being raised by both of their biological parents, and these people then say, "So, you must think adoption is a bad thing, uh?" This reflects a failure to think clearly about cause and effect, a failure to distinguish between an association and a cause. Adoptive parents are not the cause of the child not knowing its biological parents; whatever the unfortunate cause was it was something that happened before the adoptive parents were involved at all and they are doing a morally admirable thing by making life as good as possible for the child in spite of it not knowing its biological parents. This kind of illogical thinking would, for example, conclude that emergency room doctors are bad people because they are often around people with terrible injuries. In contrast to adopting parents, people who use anonymous third party gamete donation CAUSE the child to not know and be known by one of its biological parents.
Yet another example of illogical thinking is this. One person has denounced me for advocating the law proposed above; he says that by advocating this law I am attacking gays and lesbians, preventing them from marrying. First, not a single couple has been or even could be prevented from marrying by my merely advocating this law. Same-sex couples are getting married presently. Second, if the law I propose were enacted (meaning anonymous gamete donation would be illegal and same-sex marriage would be legal), then again it would not prevent a single couple who could get married before the law was passed from getting married after the law was passed--not a single couple! Third, the law I propose applies to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and even to single individuals; it does not discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation or even on the basis of marriage status.
Just Because Someone Uses an Argument Based on Religion Doesn't Mean Their Primary Concern Is Not the Welfare of Children
The thing about religion is that people take their values TO the scriptures; they don't get their values FROM the scriptures. (The scriptures are full of contradictory parts; people pick the parts that confirm their values and ignore the contrary parts.) Thus, when somebody says, "I think X because of my religious beliefs," they are really saying, "I think X and choose to defend that position by citing the most authoritative thing I can cite, which is an old established religious scripture."
I think you, dear reader, would find it interesting, if you could do the following. Engage in a conversation with somebody who "opposes same-sex marriage for religious reasons." Ask that person how they feel about the issue of children being, or not being, prevented (by deliberate adult decisions) from knowing and being known by (as in traditional child raising) both of their biological parents (I call this the "concern for children" issue). It would be interesting to see if this person thought this "concern for children" issue was a very important issue in connection with the same-sex marriage question, or not important.
If this person's only (or main) objection to same-sex marriage is simply something such as that "the Bible says Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," then this person would think that the "concern for children" issue was unimportant. Alternatively, if this person thinks the "concern for children" issue is important, then this would suggest that they are simply using religious doctrine as a way to defend a "concern for children" position.
So, this is an experiment that you, dear reader, might be able to conduct. Interested?
Of note, the Catholic Church--one of the largest organizations opposed to same-sex marriage, has a reason that is clearly about a concern for children, as one can read on its United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website here:
“Any honest consideration of marriage must think about children, the hope of our future. For millennia, people of every generation and of every culture have understood that the marriage of a man and a woman is the central pro-child social institution and the rock of the natural family. Marriage has never been about the relationship of just any two adults. Marriage brings together a man and a woman who unite as husband and wife to form a unique relationship open to welcoming and caring for new life. As the union of husband and wife, marriage is a union open from within to the blessing of fruitfulness. Children are born “from the very heart” of marriage, from the mutual self-giving between husband and wife (CCC, no. 2366). They are the “supreme gift” of marriage and its “ultimate crown” (GS, nos. 50, 48).“Made for Life,” the second video in the Marriage: Unique for a Reason series, discusses the gift of children and the unique love that fathers and mothers give to children. “Made for Life” is the perfect sequel to “Made for Each Other,” which explores why sexual difference matters for marriage. Only a man and a woman can authentically speak the language of married love, because only a man and a woman can engage in the act which, by its nature, is designed for bringing new life into the world.” [emphasis added]
What Do You Think?
I understand that these views are perhaps controversial among egalitarians. Please send me your thoughts on this topic and I will create a page on this website for them to appear on.
* Obviously a law requiring merely "intent" is a weak law and one that is difficult if not impossible to enforce. The value of this law is that it establishes what society thinks is the way things ought to be. A marriage vow ("till death do us part"), for example, does this even though we know people sometimes get divorced. If this law were in effect, it would mean, for example, that when encountering two women on the street wearing identical wedding bands and pushing a baby carriage with a cute baby in it, one would be perfectly in keeping with social etiquette to reveal in one's conversation that one assumed the child's father was part of its family.
What about the case of, say, a woman using frozen sperm from a man, perhaps her late husband, who donated the sperm before dying, in which case the man would not be alive at the time of conception and could not therefore intend anything at that time? Such a conception is one that guarantees, by design, that the child will not know and be known by its biological father, and should not be legal.
** "Co-primary" because the biological mother and biological father are the two people who are primarily responsible for the child's conception. (At least for human beings this is true, even if perhaps not for mice created from two male mice and no female mouse as scientists made happen as reported here.)
*** Here is how a same-sex couple could have a child "of their own" (i.e., not an adopted child) without breaking the bond between the child and its biological father (or mother, as the case may be). Say two lesbian women are married and want a child of their own. One of the women could get pregnant with the sperm of a man, and then that man (the father) and the two women would live together in the same house (perhaps one bedroom for the father and one for the two women) as a family, in which the child would know and be known by both its biological mother and father, as much so as in a traditional opposite-sex marriage-based family. An analogous arrangement could be used by two married gay men. This way, both biological parents of the child are still raising the child and still know and are known by the child as its co-primary parents. This way, the child's biological father (or mother) is neither completely unknown to the child (as is the case with anonymous sperm or egg donation) nor known merely as a person who lives across town or in another state. The principle that the needs of a child trump the desires of adults is the reason why the same-sex couple and the other biological parent should should live together as one family, even if this is inconvenient or not what the same-sex couple or the other parent desire. When people produce a child they have a moral obligation to do what is right for that child. Before dismissing this notion as bizarre, read here how even the very liberal (and pro-same-sex marriage) Young Turks agree with it. If people don't want to do this, then they can adopt an already-existing child instead of insisting on producing a child.
Here is another true-life example of how a lesbian couple and the father of the child arranged to ensure that, despite the mother and her lover living together the father remained a part of the family unit so that the child would know and be known by both its biological parents and be raised by both of them. In her autobiography, Out of Line, Barbara Lynch--a woman raised in a South Boston housing project who became a James Beard award-winning chef and owner/operator of many wonderful restaurants in Boston--describes the story of her husband, Charlie, her lesbian lover, J, and her daughter (with her husband), Marchesa. The story in the excerpt below starts with Barbara informing her husband for the first time that she was romantically involved with a "family friend," J, (who had children of her own) with whom Barbara had been spending a lot of time.
"I was making dozens of lobster rolls for the guests, mostly food-industry friends. But once J told her kids, word might leak to Charlie, so I had to pull him aside. 'There's something you need to know," I began.
"At first, he said only, 'Hmmm...okay...' It was a lot to process.
"Later, as we talked it through, he asked, 'Is this a phase? The change of life? Something you needed to get out of your system?'
"I didn't think so, but I honestly had no clue. On some level, Charlie was relieved that I'd fallen for another woman instead of a guy. And if it had to be a woman, at least he knew and liked J and her two boys.
"'Are we getting a divorce?' he asked.
"Weirdly, I hadn't considered it. Charlie and I were intertwined, to some extent professionally in that he'd helped me build the business and had remained my truest ally, but even more because we shared a daughter. We'd be in each other's lives forever. But we didn't live together full-time, so my romance with J wasn't destroying a household rhythm. Couldn't we keep the same pattern of space and connection without putting Marchesa through the pain and upheaval of divorce?
"'We're great parents, and we can stil be,' I told Charlie. 'You're a fantastic father.'"
"It was true. He'd risen to the challenge of caring for three kids alone after his wife's death. When Marchesa came along, she united us as a family; and Charlie, as our friend Sarah Gulati puts it, having reached a life stage when he was no longer 'rushing,' experienced a 'rebirth.' We'd visit the Gulatis at their summer place in Gloucester, where Charlie would help Marchesa, as a toddler, climb over the rocks to the water's edge. There, he let Marchesa explore, turning over stones, peering into the water to spot the little fish, just 'enjoying her inquiring mind...He was so patient,' Sarah said.
"Now Charlie was patient with me too. A more straitlaced husband would have hauled me into court in a heartbeat. But Charlie had already enjoyed a traditional marriage and recognized that ours would be different (though even I didn't expect that it would be this different.) He 'got me'--accepting my restlessness, my impulsiveness, my relentless work drive, my need for solitude. He knows who he is and was secure enough in himself to give me what some might consider a lot of breathing room.
"Over the coming months, we functioned as a unit that must have looked strange from the outside. We all spent that Christmas Eve with J's family, the women with whom I'd made cappelletti--J and I as a couple, J's sons, and Charlie and Marchesa as my guests. It was awkward, but, with the truth known, I felt unchained. Charlie's family, unshockable, was more accepting."
Here's yet another example, reported by a person on Quora, of how same-sex couples can have children who will know and be known by, and raised by, both of their biological parents:
I had an online friend a few years ago who had (and presumably still has) the most fascinating family setup. She and her wife had formed a family with a gay male couple, and at the time I knew her they had three kids.
My friend was the biological mother of all the children, and they called her Mama. She was a stay-at-home mother, focused entirely on the children.
Her wife was Mom, and worked full time.
The biological father of all the children was Daddy, and also worked full time.
The nonbio father was Papa. He was an artist of some sort, and created his art at home while also doing the cooking and housework.
All four parents were very engaged with the kids and shared all decision making equally.
Still think that's one of the coolest families I've ever heard of.