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08/25/2014

From NOM co-founder's new book: Gay couples as disqualified from marriage as twelve-year-olds

by Jeremy Hooper

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 At 9.34.50 AmIn his new book, Conjugal Union (cowritten with Patrick Lee), National Organization For Marriage co-founder Robert George makes many arguments that, as any perceptive person would except, attempt to frame his deeply Catholic views about same-sex couples and our marriages into acceptable basis for public policy. But this one, repeated a few times over, stuck out to me:

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[SOURCE]

So basically this is just an extension of the procreation argument. Although there have been cases of girls becoming pregnant as young as five-years-old (!), the likelihood of pregnancy‚ especially a viable pregnancy—before twelve-years-old (the average age young women start menstruation) is slight. The obvious distinction George is making here is one that is 100% wrapped up in his insistence that marriage policy be intwined with reproduction.

But of course that is wholly untenable in an American where civil marriage licensing is governed by many factors, yet a desire and/or ability to have a biological child is not one of them. In this America, we do set the marriage age at eighteen because that is the generally accepted age of adulthood for many crucial rights. You can vote at that age. You can fight and possibly die in war. School becomes voluntary. You can become an organ donor and make your own end of life decisions. In fact parental control is relinquished in most every way, at least legally. At this age, which we set as the onset of true adulthood, a civil marriage contract (with religious ceremony always being optional, for everyone, in all cases) is one of the rights/privileges/benefits we sensibly bundle with this milestone birthday.

It is the height of arrogance for Mr. George to suggest that my husband and I—tax-paying adults who are way past eighteen, legally married for many years (and together for many before that), with a daughter to whom we are exceedingly committed, as we are to each other—are no more qualified than a pair of sixth graders. It's also gallingly arrogant for him to suggest that two eighteen-year-olds are more qualified by the sole virtue of being heterosexual.

But again, this is an adult man who leads with his deeply convicted and unmatchably conservative grasp on canonical law. All of his marital views are guided by that prism. His secular arguments are just things he says as a way to back into his chosen belief system. Even if the Princeton professor's marital view (i.e. discrimination) is shrouded in rich ivy, I find his advocacy to be reliably, childishly, and woefully simple. And reliably weak.

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