Monday, April 04, 2005

Problems With Homosexual Marriage

Jane Galt began writing about Homosexual Marriage, but ended up writing about conservativism and the preservation of institutions in general. She doesn't give much thought to the more "mechanical" problems with letting homosexuals marry. So I took the liberty of doing so.

Consider the following questions:

(1) In the case of divorce, who has custody of the kids when one is the parent and the other is not? (Note that one spouse being the natural parent, while another is not, is inevitable.)

(2) How is the parent/child bond strained when the child is the natural child of one parent, but not the other?

(3) How is the child affected when he knows only one natural parent, but not the other?

(4) How is the non-spouse egg donor/bearer of the child affected if he is locked out of the relationship with the child? What should be his/her legal rights against the other natural parent? Against the step-parent?

(4) Suppose a spouse bears or fathers several children with different donors. How will the half-siblings get along with each other, knowing they have different fathers/mothers.

(5) Suppose both spouses bear or father different children? How will the "siblings" get along, knowing that they are unrelated to each other by blood?

(6) Would the child/natural parent relationship form a bond more close than--and possibly eclipsing--the spousal bond?

(7) In the case of a spousal dispute, would not the siblings be inclined to favor the natural parent over the step-parent? How would this "taking sides" affect the relationship?

(8) Under scenario (5), in the case of a serious "sibling" dispute, would a parent feel more inclined to favor his/her own child rather than his step-child? How would such a situation affect the children?

(9) Under scenario (8) how would such a situation affect the relationship between the two spouses?

(10) Suppose both spouses die, with the last spouse dying without a will. (This happens more often than not in Anglo-American law). What are the inheritance rights of the natural children versus the step-children? (Note that under current law, the majority rule is that step-children have little if no inheritance rights).

(11) Suppose the egg donor/bearer dies without a will. What are the inheritance rights of the natural child, when he has been adopted by and raised in a completely different household?

(12) Suppose the child dies without a will? What are the inheritance rights of the step-parent? What are the inheritance rights of the "siblings," along with "nieces" and "nephews"?

These are all serious questions that need to be answered. Marriage is not just a religious or ceremonial institution but has definite, long-lasting, real-world legal and psychological effects. Same-sex marriage is going to complicate problems with homosexual relationships, not simplify them.

All of these problems will no exist in a situation where (1) all children are raised by both natural parents, (2) all natural parents have custody of their children, (3) the spouses share a common bond with their children, (4) siblings share the strongest common bond with each other, (5) people outside of the family are considered such legally and psychologically. That is only possible in a heterosexual nuclear family.


At 3:43 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Excellent post!

At 4:40 AM, Blogger Jamie said...


I got here from Jane Galt... FWIW, my personal view WAS "Gay marriage? Why not? Anything that adds stability to the gay community can't be too bad," until I read Jane's post. The Law of Unintended Consequences can't be escaped; I just was failing to apply it with enough weight in this case. I think she and many commenters are spot-on about hetero marriage's being the biggest "social experiment" ever undertaken, with an empirically-derived universal result that hetero marriage is THE answer to how adults live together.

That said, I see that all the issues you raise would indeed be faced by children in gay marriages, but many are also faced by stepfamilies. Any data or opinion on how kids do in "blended" families?

I recognize that one significant difference between a gay couple's seeking to have a child and a straight "blended" family is that presumably the gay couple is actually going for having a child, while in a step situation the parents are almost certainly not marrying in order to become parents to the child/ren that already exist with one parent. If the straight marriage splits up, obviously in pretty much every case children will split with their original parent, whereas if a gay marriage with kids splits up, it's not so clear emotionally which parent has the stronger "right" (unless courts would automatically go with the birth parent, even if the other was just as emotionally invested).

And adoptive families (including gay couples who adopt), or families with both adopted and "born" children, also share some of these potential problems, notably a form of 3, 4, and 5. Any thoughts?

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