As our society debates what the definition of “marriage” should be, we would do well to remember that by defining a term at all, we must exclude everything that does not fit that definition.
If we say that a chair must be a thing on which you can sit and which has four legs, we can say that a table is a chair, but a rock is not. If we feel that that is unjust to the rock, we can remove the requirement about four legs, and then say that a rock is a chair, also. But what if clouds feel left out of the status and benefits of being recognized as a chair? Eventually, the good intentions of inclusion render reality silly. Loosening a definition–stretching the field of things that can fall within its purview–weakens the nature of the thing being defined.
However we define marriage, we will, by the nature of “definition,” exclude some people and types of relationships. It stands to reason that some of those excluded will be good, kind, decent people who only want respect and rewards for committed relationships. But to expand the definition to a point where all such people are included would necessarily make the definition so broad as to be meaningless.
If we can call anything a chair simply because we feel deeply that it’s fair, then anything at all could be a chair, and the term, as a matter of useful distinction, loses all value. So it is with marriage.
Some common sense thoughts to keep in mind, prompted by reviewing this editorial from National Review:
Our actual point was and is that same-sex marriage is a contradiction in terms that undermines the logic of the institution. There is a governmental interest in ensuring that as many children as possible are raised in a home by biological parents who are committed to each other and to them for the long term. There is no governmental interest in recognizing other types of adult relationships, and proponents of same-sex marriage hardly bother to try explaining what that interest could be. Sooner or later their case always falls back on the alleged unfairness of not treating committed same-sex couples as though they were married.
Imagine two brothers who, after some family tragedy, try to provide a loving household to a child. What they are doing is certainly praiseworthy, and may even deserve some forms of governmental support. But their relationship is not a marriage, and treating it as such furthers no intelligible purpose. That conclusion would not change if the men were unrelated and having sex with each other. In neither of these cases would governmental recognition of the relationship as a marriage serve either the purpose of regulating procreative sex or any other legitimate governmental purpose. Still less is there a justification for treating one of these hypothetical pairs as married but not the other.