Of all the arguments against same-sex marriage, I always thought this one, given by Maggie Gallagher to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in March of 2004, was the most rational: The available evidence indicates that children raised by both their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage tend to fare the best, on average, in our society. Government should have the freedom to promote this most successful arrangement above any other family structure, reserving for it the prized label of marriage.
Or, to put it another way:
Society is structured on the institution of marriage. … It has more to do with the welfare and civilizations of a people than any other institutions. … The state has a natural, direct, and vital interest in maximizing the number of successful marriages which lead to stable homes and families and in minimizing those which do not.
And honestly, it’s also true that families headed by partners of the same sex “are subjected to much greater pressures and problems” than straight families are, no doubt. Of course, the principal cause for that is probably societal bigotry, but when it comes to protecting the children, we must legislate with a mind to consequences as well as causes.
While I’m on a roll, it’s worth agreeing that removing the ban on same-sex marriage really does put us on a slippery slope towards things society considers unsavory, since it stands “on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage.”
You have to admit, these are all rational arguments. Fortunately, the Supreme Court didn’t find them convincing 38 years ago yesterday, when it ruled against Virginia in the case that made interracial marriage legal in every US state.
All the quotes in this post were from the arguments made by Virginia’s counsel in that case, R. D. McIlwaine III, reproduced from the transcript of the case.