If you don’t want to be called a bigot, then don’t act like Maggie Gallagher.

I read a piece by Maggie Gallagher regarding same-sex marriage (what else?) so you don’t have to. For those not acquainted with the grammar of Reactionary Wingnut, I will translate her word salad into accessible English.

The question, from a reader, is:

I have yet to hear a satisfying explanation for why same-sex couples must be excluded from the institution of marriage, but infertile couples or couples that are legally incapable of having children (e.g. incarceration) should not be excluded.

Right? We haven’t heard a satisfying explanation for why gay couples getting married = doom, while straight infertile/post-menopausal couples getting married are totally hunky dory. We haven’t heard a satisfying explanation because NOM and other Enforcers of Tradition haven’t given one.

So, this is Maggie Gallagher’s reiterated explanation for why same-sex couples are totally different from non-babymaking straight couples. Ready?


I have made this argument repeatedly.  I understand you either disagree with it or can’t hear it.

“I’ve puked up the same talking points so many times! Why do they keep on telling us our positions make no sense?!”


Childless and older couples are part of the natural lifecycle of marriage.  Their presence in the mix doesn’t imply anything about the relationship between marriage and procreation. They’ve always been there.

“They’ve always been there. Childless straight couples must be allowed to marry because they already are. Gay and lesbian couples are accustomed to being excluded, so it won’t hurt them to keep being excluded.”


I went around saying for years “marriage matters because children need a mom and a dad.” Nobody ever said: that’s not true because infertile couples can marry. Never, not once. Sexual union of male and female who are co-parents in itself points to affirms, and regulates an ideal.

“We didn’t have to start talking about the logic of letting childless couples be married until those uppity queers wanted in on the action! Now we have to say things like, if gay couples can get married, then straight parents will start abandoning their kids en masse, and it’s making us look silly.”


Whereas two men, if married, clearly clearly state that either the ideal for a child is not a mom and a dad or that marriage has nothing important or integral to do with that ideal.  When anyone says children need a mom and dad now, the response is a powerful rejection from gay marriage advocates:  that’s a discriminatory idea that has been disproved by science.  The logic of marriage equality has a real cultural force.

“Waaaaa! I don’t wanna hear about your ‘science’ or ‘evidence’ that kids raised by same-sex couples do just fine! You’re hurting my feelings, you big meanie!”


I think that is playing out in the rapid abandonment of the idea that marriage is related to children among the young.  I can’t prove it because cultural logic while a powerful force is hard to translate into social science evidence.

I can provide evidence but not proof.

“I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m just throwing my hands at the keyboard here.”


If we cared seriously about marriage’s role in regulating childbearing, we would not be disrupting this norm on behalf of the maybe one-half of one percent of the population (and that is generous) who wants to enter this institution.  It cannot remain the same institution, as many gay marriage scholars have acknowledged, any more than a boy’s school can admit girls and remain a boy’s school.

“Marriage has always been a boy’s school and must remain a boy’s school, because I say so. Anyway, the gays are just a teensy minority, so who really cares if they’re treated like second-class citizens?”


Marriage equality is going to be used primarily to enforce the new moral norm: no differences between straight and gay can matter.  Or as Think Progress put it recently “At a basic level, it’s logically impossible to say that heterosexuality is better — or should be the norm — compared to homosexuality without simultaneously stating that homosexuality is worse — or abnormal. Either all people are equal in society or they are not; she cannot have her straights-only wedding cake and eat it stigma-free.”

“If the pro-equality people win (as they have won several states already), then I will no longer be able to say straight couples are inherently better than same-sex couples and not be called a bigot. Also, if you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.”


It is possible to affirm an ideal without stigmatizing the alternatives–to affirm in the positive without pushing the negative.  But gay marriage advocates insist that any affirmation of the ideal represents a denigration of them, no matter how expressed.

“All we’re doing is saying that same-sex parents are no good for kids, and that such couples shouldn’t have access to the legal rights of marriage! Why do they have to treat us like the bad guys?!”


We see it happening all around us while you say you cannot see it at all. Hmm, interesting.  why do you think that’s so?

If I weren’t curious I would be crushed.  So that’s a real question not a snarky comeback.

“If you keep disagreeing with me, I won’t let you sit at my lunch table anymore.”