Gays and Children

While, in my opinion, the Maryland Appeals Court got it wrong with its decision upholding the state's ban on gay marriages, the ruling was precisely correct in defining what the uproar is all about.

Here's what the majority wrote: "Marriage enjoys its fundamental status due, in large part, to its link to procreation."

They're right on the money. Matrimony is not about living happily ever after, or even until the couple splits up. It's about the primal need to maintain the species. The same instinct that rules the entire animal kingdom, for that matter, rules the plant kingdom too. Which means we're just like worms and trees. As Cole Porter wrote, "Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it." To my knowledge, birds, bees and educated fleas don't get married. But Cole Porter was gay. He wouldn't have been able to marry another man in Maryland either. But I digress.

It's not love we're talking about here, it's grinding out the next generations. What the Maryland judges remind us is that marriage is mainly a business arrangement to keep baby creation somewhat orderly in humans. That sure takes a lot of the romance out of it, doesn't it? Not all of it, mind you, because reproduction can be pretty damned nice for a few minutes or so, depending on one's, uh, skill. But again, I digress.

Of course, no one has ever come up with a satisfactory answer to why a man and woman who plan to remain childless can legally wed.

What we get instead is something like: "Marriage between man and woman is sacred and must be protected." Period. Ironically enough, that's a battle that's already lost. Men and women divorce and it's probably because they shouldn't have tied the knot in the first place, had they not been shamed or propagandized into doing so. Got to keep those offspring coming, after all. Never mind that the kids caught up in the shambles of the breakup suffer mightily while they grow up and get ready to procreate.

So why should gays even bother about marriage? Why not simply settle for the same legal and financial rights? Setting aside the resistance to even that, for the moment, the answer is that marriage confers legitimacy onto couples. Not only are children born out of wedlock still known as illegitimate, but so, in much of society's view, are same-sex lovers.

Prejudice against gays will probably be the roughest oppression to overcome. Because, whether they know it or not, the homophobes are really scared humans won't procreate. Just ask those Maryland judges. It's a mighty primitive way to define morality — and, some might argue, an immoral way.