Dr. Jennifer Roback-Morse, President of the Ruth Institute (a project of the National Organization for Marriage), began her testimony by asking and answering the questions, “What is marriage,” and “What is owed the child”:
I urge you to reject the bill before you, SB 10. I urge you to reject any other legislation that would redefine the most basic structural feature of marriage, by removing the dual gender requirement for marriage. Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. “Marriage equality” cannot be achieved. Making same sex couples the legal equivalent of opposite sex couples will introduce new and deeper inequalities into society.
Most importantly, redefining marriage creates structural injustices against children. To see this, we must ask ourselves: what is the essential public purpose of marriage, and what is owed to the child?
The essential public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. And the child is entitled to a relationship with and care from both of the people who brought him into being. Therefore, the child has a legitimate interest in the stability of his parents’ union. But no child can defend these entitlements himself. Nor is it adequate to make restitution after these rights have been violated. The child’s rights must be supported pro-actively, before harm is done.
Marriage is adult society’s institutional structure for protecting these legitimate interests of children. Without this public purpose, we would not need marriage at all as a distinct social institution.
We often hear the objection that some marriages don’t have children. This is perfectly true. However, every child has parents. The objection that some marriages don’t have children stands the rationale for marriage on its head, viewing marriage from the adult’s perspective, instead of the child’s.
Same sex couples and opposite sex couples are obviously different with respect to this essential public purpose of marriage. And treating different things differently is not discrimination. That is why, in the few cases where courts have found opposite sex marriage to be unlawful discrimination, they have had to come up with purposes for marriage that have nothing to do with procreation or attaching children to parents.
Thus, my first and most basic point is this: It is a structural injustice to a child, to deprive him or her of a relationship with both parents, without some compelling or unavoidable reason.
(Read her entire testimony HERE.)