Friday, January 23, 2004


Earlier this afternoon, I posted about a secular argument from Margaret Somerville against gay marriage. In the discussion from the comments to that post, Matthew expressed sympathy with one of Somerville's complaints about the legalization of gay marriage. In her words, as quoted in my first post:
And marriage could not establish the general norm that children have a right to know and be brought up by their biological parents and to identify their genetic relatives. These functions of marriage are important for both individuals and society, especially children.
I quipped in response:
(One must assume, of course, that Professor Somerville is also opposed to adoption.)
Matthew wasn't bothered by this. He said:
Well I'm anti-adoption myself. At least to the degree that I think it'd be great if kids could have healthy, supportive, relationships w/ their biological parents.
Well, I'm also anti-adoption to that degree. But this degree is pretty small. It's the degree that means I'd be opposed to a policy of allowing would-be adopters to steal infants away from biological parents who are looking for healthy, supportive relationships with their children. Of course, this isn't the way that adoption works. Almost all sets of parents who have children and want to healithy support and raise them do so. The cases where they do not generally involve tragedies and do not figure into this debate. The only kids who get adopted are kids who, for some reason or other, don't have biological parents choosing to raise them. Maybe the parents are dead, maybe they're too poor, maybe they're in prison, or maybe they just really don't want kids. To oppose the adoption of these unfortunate kids is not to support biological parenting -- it's to support the continued orphan-status of parentless children. There are no kids who would suffer from homosexual marriage, unless you're prepared to argue that having homosexual non-biological parents is worse than having no parents at all. At any rate, being pro-biological-parent-having in no way provides a reason to be anti-homosexual marriage. (As a side note, this discussion reminds me a little bit of Brian Weatherson's discussion of cloning a couple months ago. He thought that the possible reduction in adoption rates as a result of the availability of cloning technology represented one of the strongest arguments against the legalization of cloning.)

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