George Waxes Absurd on Marriage Equality

Robert George, the Princeton law professor and one of the legal bigwigs behind the fight against marriage equality, went on Phyllis Schlafly’s radio show and the two of them went on quite a ridiculous rant about gays, feminists and lots of other things that enrage right wing bigots.

George: What’s at stake is whether we’re going to retain that understanding of marriage with its link to procreation and children, its essential and direct link to procreation and children, or whether we are going to just ditch the idea of marriage altogether, replace it with a different way of organizing social relationships, transform what was known as marriage into mere sexual, romantic, domestic partnership, companionship, which the state would not have any interest in and then reassign the label marriage to that relationship. That would be a disaster for children, for communities, for society as a whole.

Uh, no. Not even close. Almost 20% of women are childless in this country, yet we allow them to get married even if they never plan to have children (and about 7% of all married women say they will never have children; that doesn’t count the infertile or those who just won’t have children but did not make a conscious decision not to do so). Do childless marriages sever marriage’s “direct link to procreation and children”? Of course not. And what about gay couples that have children? There are hundreds of thousands of them. Wouldn’t allowing them to get married actually reinforce the importance of marriage in raising children? Or don’t the children of gay people count?

Schlafly: In the normal course of human behavior with men and women around these helpless little creatures do appear who could not possibly take care of themselves, isn’t marriage the answer for dealing with that problem?

George: Here’s the way I see it Mrs. Schlafly, I’m borrowing here a thought from my friend Maggie Gallagher who is a great pro-marriage campaigner, when a child is born it’s a pretty good bet that there’s going to be a mother somewhere in the vicinity. Nature provides for that. The real question, one that every culture has to face is: will there be a father around who will help that woman to raise the child? To raise the child in a bond of commitment between mother and father and who will provide the distinctive contributions to child rearing that fathers provide.

Schlafly: That’s exactly why I think the cause of most of our problems are the feminists who don’t want the father around, they want to kick him out, they don’t want him to have any authority and they just don’t think men are necessary.

Which has exactly nothing to do with same-sex marriage. Fathers who are gay aren’t likely to marry or impregnate a woman anyway (and this is a good thing; in the past, when bigots like Schlafly forced gay people to stay in the closet, such marriages were common and often very destructive to all involved). Virtually every time a child is raised by a single mother because the father didn’t stick around, both parties were heterosexual — and no one, including George and Schlafly, wants to prevent them from marrying. In fact, they’re encouraging them to do so because it’s good for the children. But only if the child’s parents are straight; if they’re gay, their argument magically goes away.

Caller: I think that this homosexual thing is not to have equality of people but to bankrupt America by destroying the family.

Schlafly: Well it is true Professor George that when you get rid of the father and you break up the family, the welfare rolls increase and that contributes to destroying our system.

George: Yes it’s an invitation to big government, it makes big government inevitable for the two reasons I articulated: one, the provision of social welfare services; and two, the provision of security, both of which expand with the breakup of the family. Of course, big government eventually means financial catastrophe and bankruptcy because as Mrs. Thatcher famously said, ‘sooner or later you run out of other people’s money to spend,’ and that’s the condition that we find ourselves in and I again would broaden the blame here.

All of which, once again, has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. No one is even suggesting that we “get rid of the father” in any relationship. Jesus H. Christ, these people have nothing even remotely resembling a coherent argument to offer. Their argument collapses down to “straight people often fuck up their marriages, so we must prevent gay people from getting married.” I’ll take non sequiturs for $1000, Alex.

23 comments on this post.
  1. Sastra:

    The image I get with discussions like this is that of a swimming pool which has become contaminated because the “wrong” people suddenly came by and got their cooties in it. If you’ve been trying to persuade reluctant children to jump in – the water’s fine! — your efforts are all gone to hell. Now what are you going to do? The water isn’t okay anymore. You can’t blame the kids for finding it unappealing; they’re right. It’s filled with cooties.

    Their line of reasoning won’t connect because they’re apparently trying to make a purity argument about an abstraction. You have to already be insane in just the right way for that to even start to make sense.

  2. Glenn E Ross:

    … transform what was known as marriage into mere sexual, romantic, domestic partnership, companionship, which the state would not have any interest in and then reassign the label marriage to that relationship.

    But isn’t that close to what a legal heterosexual marriage is now? I do not remember any requirements to produce offspring when I got my marriage license. The definition of a legal marriage doesn’t change by including gays and lesbians, it just allows same sex couples the same basic “contract” rights as heterosexual couples.
    Their religious definition of marriage is not affected one iota. But as my fundamentalist minister brother sez, eventually the government will force them to perform same sex marriages. I guess just like churches are forced to marry divorced people or forced to marry people outside their faith. Wait, that hasn’t happened, has it?
    I think their biggest fear is that their gay or lesbian children will notice that it is socially acceptable to be gay or lesbian and not live their lives as if they are the embodiment of pure evil.

  3. d.c.wilson:

    Obviously, if we let gay people have families, it will destroy the family, which will in turn bankrupt the country. Socialism!

    This is going well past underpants gnomes territory. Somehow, they believe that if we allow gays to get married, there will be no fathers around to help women raise the kids. Do they think that the vast majority of men in this country are just one episode of Glee away from dumping their wives to shack up with their bowling partner?

  4. anthonybarcellos:

    Would it have been a disaster if Phyllis Schlafly had failed to reproduce? (The question answers itself.)

  5. Johnny Vector:

    Wait, Princeton?? That’s unpossible! Everyone knows all those Ivory League schools are full of nothing but hoity-toity intellectuals and hippy-dippy homosexuals*.

    Wait, I see what he did there! He’s nothing but a false flag operation, making ridiculously stupid arguments in order to make the argumenters look stupidly ridiculous. “Homosexuals want to destroy the economy.” As if any real opponents of homo-marriage would make say things so obviously loony. Clearly a liberal. Ptthtthhtht.

    *Apologies to Sondheim.

  6. Jadehawk:

    In the normal course of human behavior with men and women around these helpless little creatures do appear

    that’s… not how that works. babies don’t just “appear”

  7. steve84:

    Robert George brings a lot of money to Princeton by placing his ultra-conservative think tank there. That’s why the university is looking the other way even though his activities raise some serious ethical questions.

  8. Bronze Dog:

    Their argument collapses down to “straight people often fuck up their marriages, so we must prevent gay people from getting married.” I’ll take non sequiturs for $1000, Alex.

    The way I often see it: The fundies desecrated marriage in various ways (culturally forcing repressed gays and lesbians to marry an opposite-sex partner, encouraging sham shotgun weddings by attacking family planning and sex education, forcing abuse victims to remain with their abusive spouse, degrading marriage by fixating obsessively on biology instead of love, etcetera) and now they’re scapegoating the people who refuse to be victims.

  9. slc1:

    Just goes to show that even Ivy League professors can be fuckken assholes too.

  10. Modusoperandi:

    It does make sense, Ed. Perfect sense!
    Look, it’s really quite simple: Feminism is bad and we have to ban gay marriage because women are converting to lesbianism so that they can leave their husbands, live unmarried, and get free welfare.
    The facts are unrefutable.

  11. Randomfactor:

    What’s at stake is whether we’re going to retain that understanding of marriage with its link to procreation and children

    Seems to me he’s done a great job of holding onto many OTHER discredited and destructive ideas; I suspect he’ll hang on to this one after marriage equality is reached in this country.

  12. scienceavenger:

    What’s at stake is whether we’re going to retain that understanding of marriage with its … essential and direct link to procreation and children

    What fucking planet do these people live on? Marriage stopped being essentially linked to procreation and children around 1974, arguably earlier. The quoted Maggie Gallagher had a similar article with the unexplainable claim that “sex makes babies”. How can someone with functioning eyes and ears believe such obvious nonsense? And further, how can they expect anyone else to take them seriously? All they deserve in response is to be on the wrong end of a point and a laugh.

  13. Synfandel:

    In the normal course of human behavior with men and women around these helpless little creatures do appear who could not possibly take care of themselves, isn’t marriage the answer for dealing with that problem?

    No. Taking care of them is the answer for dealing with that problem.

  14. umlud:

    George: … The real question, one that every culture has to face is: will there be a father around who will help that woman to raise the child? To raise the child in a bond of commitment between mother and father and who will provide the distinctive contributions to child rearing that fathers provide.

    Maybe Mosuo society will end up blowing their minds (from 00:55: “in Mosuo families, women rule. Jumatza is the matriarch of a family of seven. In her language, there’s not even a word for ‘father’.”

  15. pacal:

    Phyllis Schlafly very likely doesn’t really believe the crap he utters for the sake of pandering to the gullible. Of course raising the topic of her Gay son is forbidden when she is interviewed.

  16. cjcolucci:

    It may well be true that, in the long-distant past, the precursor to the institution of marriage arose because of the need to have some kind of system for dealing with hetero-sex and its frequent, though far from invariable, consequence — the production of offspring. And it may well be true that there was no similar pressing need to have some kind of system for dealing with homo-sex, which did not produce offspring, unless one of the partners in a lesbian relationship was raped, or lent out to a co-operative man. But all that proves is that our distant ancestors had a reason for inventing mixed-sex marriage and no particular reason to invent analogous institutions for relationships that did not present offspring-related issues. That has nothing to do with whether creating similar institutional arrangements for same-sex couples (who, thanks to modern technology, can bear offspring, at least if the same-sex couple is female) is a good idea or not. Furthermore, granted that some kind of marriage-like institution for mixed-sex couples is a good idea, its precise form has always been whatever we say it is, changing with our ideas about property ownership, sexual relations, and the like. Letting same-sex couples enter into similar arrangements is no skin off anyone else’s nose.

  17. slc1:

    Re scienceavenger @ #12

    Of course, Ms. Gallagher had a child out of wedlock.

  18. John Hinkle:

    Schlafly: That’s exactly why I think the cause of most of our problems are the feminists who don’t want the father around, they want to kick him out, they don’t want him to have any authority and they just don’t think men are necessary.

    I know Schlafly is torching a strawman here, but really. If someone was so “feminist” that they’d kick out the father of their child, only for the sake of him being male, why the fuck would they have slept with him in the first place?

  19. fifthdentist:

    So I’m sure Mrs. Phyllis Shitfly and the good professor would be all in favor of women receiving equal pay as men for doing the same jobs, so that single mothers won’t need welfare and food stamps, right?

  20. Markita Lynda—threadrupt:

    His argument falls down for more than one reason. For example, my gay daughter and daughter-in-law are going to have and raise a child together, deepening their commitment, etc.

  21. John Pieret:

    its essential and direct link to procreation and children, or whether we are going to just ditch the idea of marriage altogether, replace it with a different way of organizing social relationships, transform what was known as marriage into mere sexual, romantic, domestic partnership, companionship, which the state would not have any interest in and then reassign the label marriage to that relationship

    Excuse me!!! I was married to my late wife for 31 years. We (deliberately) never had children. The idea that we only shared “mere sexual, romantic, domestic partnership, companionship” is not only insulting but it denigrates the very idea of (supposedly) god-given sexuality, romance, partnership and companionship. Hey! Wasn’t the whole rib thing intended to give Adan a “companion”? If sex and companionship isn’t good enough, what was god thinking?

    As I remember Shirley, all I can do is spit and give a one-fingered salute to such morons … and wish any LGBT person the luck to find a person like her.

  22. martinc:

    Jadehawk @ 6:

    In the normal course of human behavior with men and women around these helpless little creatures do appear

    that’s … not how that works. babies don’t just “appear”

    Thanks for straightening that out. When she said “these helpless little creatures do appear”, I thought she was talking about homosexuals.

  23. Barefoot Bree:

    d.c. wilson says:

    Somehow, they believe that if we allow gays to get married, there will be no fathers around to help women raise the kids. Do they think that the vast majority of men in this country are just one episode of Glee away from dumping their wives to shack up with their bowling partner?

    I really think that this is what’s truly at the bottom of their rhetoric. It’s the only “reasoning” I have ever come across that allows any connection between gay marriage and the “destruction of the family” for everyone else. Deep down, they really do think that if gay marriage is allowed, then a huge proportion of men will enter into one.

    The fact that gays are only a tiny percentage of the human population after all just doesn’t even occur to them. And the only thing I can think of to account for that is that those who express this idea are revealing their own hidden inclinations.

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