Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling halting enforcement of California’s gay marriage ban made a strong case for being upheld by higher courts, according to legal analysts like Bloomberg’s Ann Woolner. But same-sex marriage opponents’ biggest argument was empty from the get-go: the idea that the primary purpose of marriage is for procreation, hence gay marriage is wrong.
I’m far from the first and I won’t be the last to point this out, but it bears repeating: by that logic, heterosexual couples who don’t or can’t reproduce shouldn’t be allowed to marry either. Yet we don’t forbid the sterile, the elderly, or the childless by choice to marry. Why? Pure sentimentality? No—it’s because we as a society consider marrying to be a fundamental right. (Not to mention the fact that doing so would lead to all sorts of absurdities.) Children are beside the point.
The cultural phenomenon of marriage may be rooted in evolutionary processes that helped protect children. But we are not living in the stone age. Marriage in our civilization has long been an essential right afforded to all heterosexual couples. Extending that right (“the chance to be equally miserable,” as rapper Eminem put it) to same-sex couples is the logical and obvious next step in the advancing visibility and acceptance of gays.