Talking to your kids about gay marriage

I used to have neighbors in Flori-duh, whose argument (to me anyhow) against gay marriage was “what am I supposed to tell my kids?

Louis CK had a funny reply to that.

“It doesn’t have ANY effect on your life. What do you care? People try to talk about it like it’s a social issue. Like when you see someone stand up on a talk show and say ‘How am I supposed to explain to my child that two men are getting married?’ I dunno, it’s your shitty kid, you fuckin’ tell ‘em. Why is that anyone else’s problem? Two guys are in LOVE but they can’t get married because YOU don’t want to talk to your ugly child for five fuckin’ minutes?”

The issue came up with my daughter, yesterday. Age 4.

She asked what I was reading. I told her, “an article about a Supreme Court case” – 5 questions later, and it was time to make something up, or just tell her, and see if she got it.

I brought up one couple we know who are legally married (and happen to be my son’s “godfathers”). I told her “they are married, like mama and daddy, because they love each other.”

“Oh” she said.

I then told her about our cousin and his boyfriend of 25 years – who we also refer to as “cousin.” I said “they love each other just as much, but they are not allowed to get married, because they live in Las Vegas, which is in Nevada.”

“Oh. That’s not fair.”

There… conversation had. That wasn’t so hard.

I’m glad that my four year old understands the Equal Protection Clause better than some judges. When the gay marriage cases come before the Supreme Court, I’ll be impressed if Samuel Alito or Clarence Thomas are able to show as much intellect and wisdom as a girl who thinks that Santa Claus is a member of the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association.

29 Responses to Talking to your kids about gay marriage

  1. Gary says:

    Santa Claus IS a member of FALA. It’s just that he leaves us our gifts with great discretion and on an all too infrequent schedule.

  2. kgaard says:

    In principle I agree. But the more powerful argument is that marriage has no purpose or meaning unless it’s for the creation of children. Why should ANYONE bother to get married except to have kids? Doesn’t make any sense. If the answer is “for legal reasons” then fine. Come up with some kind of legal document that achieves the same goal.

    Is it a coincidence that gay marriage is being legalized at precisely the same time as the percentage of the US population that is married falls below 50%? I don’t think so. Nobody gives a damn about the institution anymore.

    • Beth Hutchens says:

      There are over one thousand federal rights granted to married hetero couples that same sex couples do not enjoy. Notably, and ignoring those that can be circumvented with legal documentation, same sex couples do not enjoy the same gift and estate tax protections. They also frequently pay higher taxes because they cannot file jointly (even if they are married under state law). Adoption of their partner’s children is extremely difficult and they are routinely denied health coverage under their partner’s employee plan. The list goes on and on. Unless and until the government gets out of the marriage game completely, it should and must extend those rights to everyone equally. Denying same sex couples the rights and privileges it grants to hetero couples, the government is effectively classifying a same sex relationship as inferior to a hetero relationship. The presence or ansence of children has nothing to do with it.

      • Jim Fagan says:

        Very well said! When people ask me how I feel about the legalization of gay marriage, I try to explain that I have no problem with it per se, more that I have a problem with the government granting rights and financial aid to couples (of any type) based purely upon their marital status.

    • jdgalt says:

      The institution has a lot more purposes than children. Gaining the right of inheritance, the right to handle the other person’s affairs if s/he becomes ill, etc. is that important to some people, and marriage is the simplest way to handle it (though I suppose adult adoption would work equally well in some ways).

      Now I agree that an important meaning of marriage used to be that you agree to raise and support any children the two of you have, and I wish it still had that meaning. Unfortunately, the welfare bureaucracy now imposes that requirement on men even if they haven’t agreed to any such thing. This is why 40% of all US births are now out-of-wedlock. Welfare moms are tricking men into supporting them for life while getting nothing in return — a sexist outrage that the Left doesn’t care about, because their favored group are the perps. Remember, leftist “diversity” doesn’t really include everybody.

      Just to rile both sides — the argument that bugs me is religionists saying “the state can’t redefine marriage because WE invented it.” Wrong! Marriage (the formation of families) predates even human intelligence, since you can see it in many species in nature (including some that practice the gay and plural forms of marriage). People can and will form families whether there’s a church OR state to bless them or not.

    • I agree with kgaard here. We should “give a damn about the institution” of marriage, which has lost nearly all of its meaning in the last few decades. We have totally forgotten what the traditional meanings of Marriage were all about. We have forgotten that marriage was brought about by two families as a quasi-business or economic device who arranged such marriages to strengthen the family’s wealth or reputation; instead we have given it this repulsive modern meaning that marriage is a vehicle for “two people in love” to commit their lives to one another. We have forgotten that marriage originally had very little romantic significance. We have forgotten that the “wife” is supposed to be subservient and have less “rights” than the husband, whose reward was that he could beat and rape her and toss her away as he saw fit (as long as the dowry dried up, otherwise to do so could be considered a bad business decision). Women now-a-days get jealous of others in their husbands’ lust, as they have forgotten that biblically, men had many wives and that was the way of God. We have forgotten that the wife was meant to be a household slave whose work was to do the spinning, sewing, weaving, manufacture of clothing, fetching of water, baking of bread, and animal husbandry (and to do it all with a smile, faint-feeling or not). Now women have this ridiculous idea that (*scoff*) they should be allowed to have a profession and personality outside of the home. We have forgotten that adult men usually made 12-to-14-year-old girls their brides, assuring the females were still fresh and young and pretty and pure. We have forgotten that women were not supposed to own any property, but rather the men were the true owners.
      And THIS is why it’s too hard to explain same-sex marriage to kids, because it’s too hard for us to figure out who in a same-sex marriage is supposed to be the “husband” in charge and who is supposed to be the subservient property/”wife”. There is no “love” in this (the concept of love being one that most children understand better than adults).

      • CPlatt says:

        In the first line, I find “We should….” This has become a red flag to me. So many people these days saying what “should” be. Which means, I think, prescribing rules of conduct based on opinions. I don’t care whether the opinions are liberal or conservative, I don’t like the “should” word.

        It bothers me especially when coupled with the “we” word, as in “We should.” Who is this “we”? It’s a collectivist concept, is it not? I am supposed to be included in it, which I think is a bit presumptuous.

  3. Observerwwtdd says:

    Explain the applicability of “Equal Protection” here…..all “gay” men and all “gay” women have an equal right to marry that is identical to all “straight” men and all “straight” women…….where is the inequality?

    Will this case be more about the ability of a state to regulate marriage than about equal protection?

    • Mike says:

      Isn’t that pretty much word for word the same argument used against inter-racial marriage? So I’d suggest reading up on Loving vs. Virginia for an answer.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia

    • One of the dumbest arguments I’ve seen in favor of same-sex marriage bans. “A gay guy can marry a straight woman just like a straight guy can.”

      • Observerwwtdd says:

        It is NOT an argument against gay marriage…..my question is how can an equal protection finding be made here.

        As far as inter-racial marriage goes…..all people were NOT equal…..the “races” were obviously subjective and not the simple “black and white” that inter-racial laws were intended to interfere with.

        Did you NOT read my last sentence in the original comment?

        • Mike says:

          Well I’d say if you have 3 people A, B and C. If you have your laws setup so that: A is allowed to marry B, but is it illegal for C to marry B. Then there is a violation of Equal Protection, unless you can prove otherwise.

          • Observerwwtdd says:

            Brother cannot marry sister, mother cannot marry son, father cannot marry daughter….(i.e. incest) ….the question here is “equality”……I don’t see an unequal application of the law.

            What’s different is that IF marriage can be regulated by governments, and common law suggests that is HAS been so regulated in the past, then a change needs to be made by a legislature.

            In other words…..nothing is stopping “gay” people from marrying at this time ANYWHERE in the world….what IS being stopped is government sanctions and approvals.

            • CPlatt says:

              “government sanctions and approval” are nontrivial. For example, a spouse has more authority than any other family member to discontinue life support when someone appears to be in a vegetative state. There are also issues such as mandatory joint ownership of all assets (in some states). I see absolutely no justification for this interference by government in a personal matter. Get rid of all statutes relating to marriage, and, problem solved.

            • Mike says:

              I would go so far as to say incest and polygamy laws would need to be revisited in light of equal protection. While ‘icky’ I don’t see that as holding up either. Really what seems ‘icky’ to me about incest is the inequality of the relationship. A father with his daughter upsets me due to the child abuse far more than it is incest. There are plenty of laws against abuse already do their need to be separate ones strictly for incest? If you give up twins for adoption and they are separated, and unknowingly enter into an incestuous relationship 20 years later, well I honestly don’t see that as something they should goto jail for.

            • Observerwwtdd says:

              My point is that this is NOT an equal rights decision….it is a deliberative undertaking to be weighed by a legislature…..I am fully in favor of “domestic partnerships” and have been for decades…..I also believe “gay” marriage should be put to a vote….I think “gays” will be pleasantly surprised in many states…..

            • You’re too stupid to come here. Go read someone else’s blog.

      • In fact, I know a gay man who married a lesbian woman just for the legal benefits. I have yet to hear a logically sound rebuttal from any conservative arguing that allowing same-sex marriages destroys the “institution of marriage” as to what this situation (caused by the proscription and illegality of same-sex marriage) means to their argument.

        • CPlatt says:

          Marriage remains the easiest option for a visiting immigrant who seeks U.S. citizenship. This of course invites fraud, and so we have the predictable response from the INS, whereby prospective citizens are quizzed with highly invasive questions (e.g. “Do you sleep in the same bed?”) to determine whether they have a “real” marriage or a fake. If marriage lost its legal status, this farce could be eliminated.

          If a woman is pregnant with a man’s child, or has given birth, that still seems a reasonable justification for one of them to acquire the citizenship of the other, and should cause relatively little administrative overhead, as parenthood can be objectively verified.

  4. alpha4centauri says:

    If a kid is old enough to ask a question, they’re old enough to get a straightforward honest answer. It doesn’t mean they need an overwhelming 10-minute explanation about stuff they didn’t ask about. Just answer the question and let them ask more if they still have questions. When they’re older, you’ll wish they came to you with their questions, but the opportunity will be gone.

  5. Chris says:

    Children are open to accepting things at face value when it accords with their finely honed and ‘inate’ understanding of fairness. So my kids – like your daughter – are firmly of the view that:

    1. people who like each other get married
    2. um, thats it.

    It doesnt matter who the people are, straight, gay, ‘inter racial’, old, new, green. They just think its fair to allow people who like each other to get married. If one couple can get married, then all couples can get married. That’s fair.

    Issues like children, procreation, family ‘values’, status, legal rights etc are of no importance. Because that is not what marriage is about to a child – indeed, my understanding is that none of these are what marriage is about to anyone.

    I am not quite sure what the issue is with having to explain this to your children. Other than a parent not wanting to answer the question ‘why do you think gays should not be allowed to be married, its unfair’.

  6. Randall Tigue says:

    Look on my Facebook page. You’ll see me in my Santa Claus suit. Your daughter is right.

  7. CPlatt says:

    Why does marriage have any legal status at all? It used not to. The statutory power grab didn’t begin until around the time of the French Revolution.

    “Marriage” should be a purely personal matter, which can be defined and formalized via a civil contract if the people so wish. Marriage statutes are a gross intrusion in our lives.

    We already have prenuptial agreements. This suggests that the traditional legal provisions for marriage are unsatisfactory for a significant minority. Since a much larger (heterosexual) minority now chooses not to get married at all, why not take the next logical step?

    I believe the welfare of children is already protected by family court, regardless of whether the parents are or were married.

    As for marriage being a religious institution, I believe this was not thoroughly established in Western Europe until around 1000. The idea that marriage is a holy Christian sacrament is a rewrite of history.

    • wct says:

      Marriage became a religious institution after a cathedral was divided up amongst the heirs of a deceased bishop.

    • D506 says:

      Marriage is an extremely cheap and convenient way of establishing a huge number of rights and obligations. To pay a lawyer to draft a similar contract would be prohibitively expensive for most people. And, when disputes arose, each contract would have to be examined individually by the courts.

      Having an institution which established a default list of rights and obligations, and then having the option of exempting some via a prenup really makes a lot of sense.

      • CPlatt says:

        Many people would want to be married in a church regardless of whether marriage continued to have statutory status. Each church could easily have a draft marriage contract, or multiple versions of it. The money that people pay currently for a “marriage license” could pay for the contract instead.

  8. Observerwwtdd says:

    D506 …maybe a “standard” contract could be created in a fashion similar to the UCC…..any desired adjustments to that contract would require legal intervention….just like a “pre-nup” does today…

  9. smurfy says:

    Marc, one huge difference between you and a parent who would advance that argument is that you know some actual gay people to use as examples, and to empathize with.

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