Alvare on Our Legal Tradition: Connecting Marriage With Children


Helen Alvare of George Mason School of Law and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute argues in this first part of a two-part series for The Public Discourse that "The Supreme Court was more right than it knew during the past two centuries as it identified the state’s interest in marriage as children and their formation":

Why is there a gulf between those who see same-sex marriage as an impossible legal and cultural revolution, a bridge too far, and those who see it as the logical next step on a path well-trodden in family law? In part, it is the difference in perspective between those familiar with classical expressions of the goods and goals of marriage found in over a century of Supreme Court decisions, and those with their eyes fixed upon more recent legal developments that call those goods into question or ignore them.

Those who champion marriage between a man and a woman would like to see the Supreme Court settle the matter according to a long series of precedents treating procreation and child-rearing as primary state-recognized goods of marriage. But given that one ought to be realistic about judicial willingness today to ignore precedent in favor of some perceived zeitgeist, an additional strategy to preserve the link between marriage and children in the Court’s reasoning is warranted.


  1. Mark
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I am so happy you decided to bring up marriage is for procreation. I have to say I get sick and tired of seeing these African American Preacher/Minister mouth pieces for NOM preaching against Gay marriage.Recently Prof.Ralph Richard Banks ( african american) of Stanford Law school had written a book titled "Is marriage only for white people". In it he states the facts of his study.70% of children who are born into the African American communities are born to single parents AND that out of all the minorities groups divorce is the HIGHEST with African Americans..Perhaps these facts can be brought up in any future court cases against SSM or when any African American Preacher decides to testify against SSM.

  2. Posted December 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    @ Mark, No doubt black ministers are opposed to the high rate of divorce and single parenthood that you mention. Eroding the institution even further by redefining it to include gender-segregated couples will weaken marriage and families even more.

    Marriage should be gender-integrated. "Separate but equal" didn't work for blacks; it won't work for genders either.

  3. Patrick Hogan
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I have a question for Catholics who claim that marriage must be linked to procreation: do you deny the Catholic dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary, or do reject the church's teaching that Mary and Joseph were husband and wife?

    Just curious.

  4. Mark
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Mom, divorce ERODS marriage,,,Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain's infidelity and adultery erods marriage .Mom please name one instance where gay marriage eroded someones marriage.

  5. Dan
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Last time I checked, human beings were doing just fine at procreation. It is NOT true that a child needs a mother and father. Half of the way a child turns out is because of heredity. Behavioral geneticists have proven this. The other half is because of environment, mainly culture, peer groups, and community, NOT parents. When genes are controlled for, parents have very little to do with the way a child turns out other than passing on their genes, and the rest can be attributed to what happens outside of the home. What is the government's interest in regard to marriage and child rearing?

  6. Louis E.
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    Mark,the legalization of same-sex marriage in my state completely erased my willingness to ever marry under my state's laws,until that law is repealed.The existence of divorce,properly regulated,HELPS marriage by weeding out the ones that fail.Allowing any same-sex relationship to qualify destroys the entire purpose of the institution.

  7. Daughter of Eve
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    "It is NOT true that a child needs a mother and father"

    You can produce studies, of course, to prove your point.

    Dan, correct me if I am mistaken, but you appear to be giving tacit approval for the abandonment of a child, by either or both of the parents.

    Marriage between a man and a woman is the only universal union which requires mutual responsibility of both the father and mother of their own offspring.

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