(Illinois recently legalized civil unions for same-sex couples).
While pro-marriage advocates are facing an uphill battle, I do not believe the fight stop the redefinition of marriage in Illinois is over and I am personally willing to do what I can as an Illinoisan to see that marriage remains the union of a man and a woman in my state.
However, it must be admitted that the pro-marriage crowd hasn't done the best job of making a positive case for man/woman marriage, making efforts to preserve it that much harder.
I'm going to try and put forth three secular reasons why I do not believe the legislature should amend our state constitution, redefining marriage as the union of two persons, rather than a man and woman.
My proposition is as follows:
The government has a public purpose in preserving and promoting marriage as a unique and gendered union.
(Reason 1.) Male/female unions are the only unions that can create new life.
While not every heterosexual couple can or will have children, every person, man and woman, is the product of a male (a father) and female (a mother).
This is the wonder of human biology.
It seems obvious that the government has public purpose in preserving and promoting the only unions that can naturally produce and replenish it's citizenry, while maintaining a stable matrix for child rearing and said pro-creative acts.
A state (or country) with a low birth rate will soon be a state (or country) in peril (the present birth crisis in Russia is attestation to this fact).
If the gender requirement is removed from marriage, the government would no longer be able to treat marriage as a unique and life-giving union that connects mom's and dad's to their kids, for to do so would be to discriminate against same-sex married couples, who cannot have children naturally.
This is not a case with marriage of older and/or sterile couples because that is only an exception to the rule of human biology (ie: that man/woman unions, alone, create new life)
Thus, redefining marriage would be a public ill, in this sense.
(Reason 2.) Male/female marital unions connect mothers and fathers to their biological children.
(This next argument has been advanced and defended most recently by such notables as Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse and summarized here by me. I take no credit)
Marriage serves a public purpose in this sense by providing a suitable framework for parenthood.
Who would deny that attaching moms and dads to each other and to their biological children should be promoted, as much as is possible and responsible?
By way of the presumption of paternity, natural marriage connects parents to each other and to their biological children.
The presumption of paternity simply means that a woman's husband in presumed to be the father of any children she has.
As one natural marriage advocate explains, "the presumption of paternity, combined with a social and legal norm of marital sexual exclusivity, means that marriage routinely and systematically attaches children to their biological parents" (emphasis mine).
Redefining marriage directly leads to redefining parenthood, replacing the presumption of paternity with a presumption of parentage, meaning that a child born to a couple in a same-sex union is presumed to be the child of both partners.
This directly undermines the biological basis for parenthood, getting rid of the idea that a child is entitled to a relationship with his biological parents.
We've already seen this applied broadly in Delaware to both same sex AND opposite sex partners, where a live in, cohabiting, opposite sex partner who is neither the parent by biology or adoption (ie: non-parent) of their partner's child, may be awarded parental rights, by way of the presumption of parentage.
This means that we are attaching parental rights to non-parents and the redefinition of marriage, by removing the gender requirement from marriage and then trying to keep everything equal, will be the vehicle by which this is accomplished and applied broadly.
Dr. Morse explains:
"By redefining marriage we are undermining several principles of law and social practice that are currently widely accepted and understood."
(1.) The right and general entitlement of children to have a relationship with both of their parents.
(2.) That mothers and father are not, in general, interchangeable.
(3.) The long assumed biological basis for parenthood.
(4.) The current relationship of the state to civil society, where instead of the state simply recording parenthood, it creates parenthood.
Do you think that a normative function of the government should be to create parents?
This will surely be the reality if gender neutral marriage replaces gendered marriage and the presumption of paternity replaces the presumption of parentage, as our frame of reference for understanding parenthood.
This would open up parenthood (which precedes the advent of the state) to a kind of unprecedented intrusion into our lives.
(Reason 3.) While retaining the current laws on marriage doesn't affect the protection of same sex persons under the law, removing the gender requirement from marriage may subject citizens with religious objections to same-sex "marriage" to criminal penalties under the law.
Already we have seen Christian wedding photographers, cake decorators, and chapel owners sued for refusing to acknowledge same-sex unions.
Others are being forced quit their jobs, as opposed to violating their faith in notarizing same-sex marriages or issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
I could give more and more examples of this is on-going and dangerous trend which can only get worse if same-sex marriage is made the law of the land.
The government can keep the peace by recognizing and protecting same-sex civil unions under the law, with special protections for people of faith, and by keeping marriage the union of a man and a woman.
In conclusion, these three arguments, combined with a number of negative arguments, give us a strong basis for affirming the above proposition that the government has a public purpose in preserving and promoting marriage as a unique and gendered union.
This is not an emotional, heart-tugging case, but a case based on logic and fact, as any good argument should be.
It is my hope that people would take hold of good arguments for preserving natural marriage and speak out boldly and frequently to their friends, neighbors, and public representatives.
Together we can curb the tidal wave against man/woman marriage.