Pro-Same-Sex Marriage "Young Turks" Unwittingly Argue Against
May 21, 2015
A popular YouTube channel called "Young Turks" has a new video here about an adult daughter of a lesbian couple who has announced that she is against same-sex marriage. The curious thing is that the Young Turks on this video think of themselves as being in favor of same-sex marriage, but everything they say on the video constitutes a strong argument AGAINST same-sex marriage. Here is how this plays out.
The daughter, in letter she wrote to a publication, explains that her biological mother (let's call her "mom") and mom's lesbian parter (let's call her "step-mom") and her biological father (let's call him "dad") initially all lived together in the same home, and it was good. But then "dad" decided to leave and have nothing more to do with his daughter. This (naturally) angered the daughter. The daughter, in her letter, illogically directs her anger not at her father but at her mom and step-mom for being in a same-sex relationship.
The Young Turks correctly ridicule the daughter's illogic. Fine. Then the Young Turks--still very correctly!--go on and on about how the real wrong-doer in this story (as far as one can tell from the information provided by the daughter, at least) was not the mom and step-mom, but rather the dad, whom they call a "dick" many times. Very true. But think about what this MEANS.
The Young Turks are saying (again, very correctly) that the biological father of a child should be in the child's life, that he should (as the anti-same-sex marriage people put it) "know and be known, love and be loved" by the child. This is exactly the point of view which says that it is morally wrong for a man to be an anonymous sperm donor. It's wrong because it amounts to abandoning one's child, the way the dad (the "dick", as the Young Turks called him) abandoned the daughter in this story.
Well, if it's wrong for a man to be an anonymous sperm donor, it is equally wrong for two women (or a man and woman) to buy an anonymous sperm-donor's sperm to conceive a child in a manner that guarantees that the biological father will be a "dick" towards that child by never being in the child's life.
Now think about how this connects to the same-sex marriage debate. It is presently legal in our society for a couple (same-sex or opposite sex or maybe (?) even a single person) to buy sperm from an anonymous donor and use it to conceive a child. I don't think it should be legal, but it is. Also, note that a marriage certificate or license gives formal social approval to the couple to produce a child of their own. If you don't understand that this is true, try explaining why we have a law against sibling marriage and why virtually everybody agrees sibling marriage should be illegal; but we have no laws about who can be friends, or business partners or roommates or any other relationship. There is only one reason: a marriage certificate confers formal social approval to produce a child, and if society thinks it's unsafe or otherwise harmful for a child to be produced by a certain kind of couple then we make it illegal for that kind of couple to be married. (This is why, before penicillin, anybody infected with syphilis could not marry, and why blood tests were required in order to obtain a marriage license.) It makes no difference whether or not the couple wishes or intends to produce a child, any more than our decision whether to give somebody a driver's license depends in any way on whether the person wishes or intends to drive a motor vehicle.
Since a same-sex couple can produce a child ONLY by using donated sperm (or a donated egg) from a third party, and since it is presently legal to use ANONYMOUSLY donated gametes, therefore it follows that giving a same-sex couple a marriage license means giving them formal social approval to use anonymously donated sperm (or an anonymously donated egg) to produce a child.
This means that if one does not think society should give formal approval to using anonymously donated gametes to conceive a child whose biological father (or mother) will necessarily be a "dick" (female version of "dick"?) to the child, then one is (whether one admits it or even realizes it, as the Young Turks apparently do not) an opponent of same-sex marriage (at least as long as anonymous gamete donation is legal.)
The Young Turks think they are in favor of same-sex marriage. But everything they so correctly said constitutes an argument AGAINST same-sex marriage, given the current laws about gamete donation in the United States.
As I discuss more fully here, I believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, but only when it is 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).** Quite possibly this is what many or even most people in the anti-same-sex marriage camp believe too. When people vote for or against same-sex marriage today in the United States, they are voting on whether to make it legal, GIVEN OUR CURRENT LAWS MAKING ANONYMOUS GAMETE DONATION LEGAL. Furthermore, people know that even if the law makes anonymous gamete donation illegal, that would not necessarily make it illegal for a biological parent to stay entirely out of his/her child's life, in other words to be a "dick."
The Young Turks, who think they are "for same-sex marriage" and who think people opposed to it are wrong, actually seem to be in complete agreement with my position that is in the anti-same-sex marriage camp. The Young Turks, just by thinking about things in a decent and logical manner, have unwittingly argued AGAINST same-sex marriage, given that our laws allow a sperm donor or egg donor to be, like "dad," a "dick."
* "Co-primary" because the biological mother and biological father are the two people who are primarily responsible for the child's conception.
** 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.