Of all the misconceived nonsense in the recent Windsor v. United States ruling, perhaps the most egregious was Justice Anthony Kennedy's insinuation that "the children made me do it." Windsor declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional because it defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. Why was DOMA a problem for children? Justice Kennedy said that by denying same-sex couples legitimacy, DOMA "humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples." The Act "makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives." Thus Justice Kennedy portrays himself as riding to the children's rescue.
This strategy is reminiscent of President Barack Obama's misuse of the military to justify same-sex "marriage." First, he forced the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" on the reluctant military, and then used that very same military as the excuse for endorsing homosexual "marriage," as if it were the military asking for it. Those poor Marines in the foxholes of Afghanistan were just aching to marry each other, and Obama comes to their rescue. He shamelessly proclaimed: "When I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that "don't ask don't tell" is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
This was completely risible, but one has to admire the audacity of his sophistical argument, as we do Justice Kennedy's similar one. His goes like this: First, allow same-sex couples to adopt children, but then do not blame the humiliation of the children on the situation into which they have been placed, through no fault of their own, but upon the people who objected to it in the first place. Do not fault those who created the problem through the fabrication of faux "marriage"; fault those who warned that the fabrication of faux "marriage," along with attendant adoptions, would create this problem. First, exploit children by placing them in this situation, and then exploit them again in order to justify it. Voilà! A fully formed faux family.
If children had their rights, there would be no such "families" in which to place them. The magnitude of the injustice involved in the redefinition of marriage comes most clearly into view in regard to children, to whom justice is also owed. As Professor Seana Sugrue writes, "the ability of same-sex couples to be parents depends crucially upon the state declaring that they possess such rights, and by extinguishing or redefining the rights of biological parents. With the rise of same-sex marriage, the obligations parents owed to their biological children are reduced to mere convention. This is true for everyone. Parents come to owe obligations to their children not because they are parents, but because they choose to be parents." What is owed to children by right becomes optional by convention. This is a staggering loss for them.
The adoption of children by same-sex couples is, of course, an extension of the rationalization of their sexual misbehavior, no matter how motivated it may be by accompanying eleemosynary motives. Children are the fruit of a mother and a father, ideally in matrimony as husband and wife. If same-sex couples, too, can have children, this must mean that they, also, have "real" marriages. The possession of the child by the same-sex couple completes the rationalization for them. Just as most active homosexuals practice faux intercourse, they can have faux progeny from it. They can pretend that this is so, and they can insist that society pretend along with them. In fact, Justice Kennedy just issued the order that we all must share in the rationalization. What is worse, same-sex couples will make the children pretend, too. They will be indoctrinated to participate in the lie, now reinforced by the Supreme Court. And therein lays a good deal of the harm that same-sex couples will bring to them, despite the love and affection they may provide. As one mother explained to me, "Most kids understand intuitively the idea that everything has a purpose. How does one explain to them that the purpose is ignored by adults? The children are caught in that web of deceit."
This makes complete nonsense of Justice Kennedy's bizarre remark about how "difficult [it is] for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family" if the same-sex "family" is not accorded full legitimacy. It is difficult for the children to understand, not because of any animus or lack of respect from others, but because that "integrity and closeness" is compromised by the very nature of same-sex relationships. Same-sex "families" with children are broken by definition because in no instance will both parents be present. Therefore, they naturally do not possess the integrity of which Justice Kennedy spoke. Such "families" are made to be broken, or rather broken to be made, by design. This is especially so in the cases in which a child is bred-with the outside assistance of a person of the other gender-to be placed with the same-sex couple, only one of whom is, or could be, the parent of the child. This is a grotesque act of injustice to the children who are misused in this way and for this purpose. They are deliberately denied the possibility of being with both parents. They are made rootless, or rather made to be rootless in the essential aspect of the missing parent-an intentionally truncated genealogy. Indeed, they are willfully wrenched out of the chain of being.
They can feel this acutely. Robert Oscar Lopez, a bisexual man raised by a lesbian couple, stated that, "children deeply feel the loss of a father or mother, no matter how much we love our gay parents or how much they love us. Children feel the loss keenly because they are powerless to stop the decision to deprive them of a father or mother, and the absence of a male or female parent will likely be irreversible for them." Elsewhere, Lopez added that, "Conferring marriage on same-sex couples means some children will never be able to invoke the words 'father' and 'mother' in order to describe the household that their parents are now allowed to describe as a 'marriage.' In order to grant validation and prestige to mom and mom or dad and dad, the kids lose access to the value of celebrating a maternal and paternal line of ancestry. Come Mother's Day and Father's Day, they will not be equal to their peers, due directly to the fact that their same-sex guardians fought so hard to be equal to their peers' parents." In light of this, who is really responsible for any lack of "concord with other families in their community" that same sex families may experience?
For all of Justice Kennedy's fulminations about the absolute equivalency of heterosexual and homosexual parenting, the children raised by two males or two females could never have that instinctive sense about the beginnings of their existence in the love of their parents-for the obvious reason that they could not originate in the relationship between two males or two females. If you are supposed to be the incarnation of the love between two people, but at least one of those people is missing, of what then are you the product? Can that incarnational love be replaced, or are your origins compromised? When my children were younger, they used to think that, if my wife and I removed our wedding rings, they would disappear. We never told them that. Yet they instinctively understood that their very existence depended upon the love between my wife and me. They sensed that they were incarnations of this love, and they therefore concluded that if it were broken they would disappear.
Do the children of same-sex couples feel the loss of this incarnational love, or the tenuousness that its absence imparts to their own existence? Here is Lopez's bitter reflection: "It's disturbingly classist and elitist for gay men to think they can love their children unreservedly after treating their surrogate mother like an incubator, or for lesbians to think they can love their children unconditionally after treating their sperm-donor father like a tube of toothpaste." Unconditional love, morally at least, was supposed to be there between the spouses as a condition for the creation of a new person. If it was not there (and it cannot be if one spouse is deliberately missing), how can the child be its incarnation? Is the child the result of one person and a petri dish? This terrible dilemma will leave these children with the lifelong quest for their real origins, or suffering from their being unable to discover them and wondering why at least one of their real parents did not want them. Even the laudable love of adoptive parents cannot overcome this profound instinctual problem.
There is also ample human testimony from others who have endured same-sex upbringing concerning its dysfunctional character and the price they have paid for it. Here is a cri de coeur from Jean-Dominique Bunel, a 67-year-old French man, who was raised by two women. He lamented that, "I also suffered from the lack of a father, a daily presence, a character and properly masculine behavior, and an otherness in relation to my mother and her partner. I realized this very early. I experienced this lack of a father as an amputation." As a result, he advises, regarding homosexuals, ". give them as much as possible the same rights as heterosexuals but this equality obviously cannot apply to a 'right to the child,' which exists nowhere and is not found in any text." Referring to the same sex marriage bill in France [which has since passed], Bunel said, ". this measure necessarily opens adoption, thus institutionalizing a state that had so disturbed me. There is an injustice that I cannot stand." He concluded, "If the two women who raised me were married after the adoption of such a bill, I'd continue in this fight that I have filed a complaint against the French government to the European Court of Human Rights for violating my right to have a father and a mother."
Fortunately for Monsieur Brunel, his case would not appear before Justice Kennedy, who would inform him that the humiliation and injustice he suffered was not inherent to the situation in which he was unfairly placed, but was the result of France's tardy recognition of same-sex "marriage." There is a French phrase for Justice Kennedy's behavior-trahison des clercs. He has earned it, especially in respect to his misuse of children to justify injustice.
This column originally appeared on Crisis Magazine on July 2.
Robert R. Reilly writes for Mercatornet.com, is a music critic for Crisis Magazine and author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He is currently completing a book on the natural law argument against same-sex marriage for Ignatius Press.
E-mail him at [email protected]
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.