LYNWOOD, Wash. – According to the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers held certain truths to be self-evident. By my understanding, that means that there were some things we could agree were true even if millions of dollars had not been spent studying the subject.
For many of us, that list would include the idea that drugs are bad, nice people have more friends, and that it’s a good thing for kids to have a mom and dad.
Curiously, what used to be self-evident is apparently quite controversial. In March I was part of a forum during which I was accused of bearing false witness for saying it is preferable for kids to have a mom and a dad.
On one hand it concerns me that otherwise intelligent adults would argue that it isn’t at least desirable for kids to be connected to their mother and father. But as someone interested in winning a public debate on the marriage issue, it encourages me when the other side forced to defend the absurd.
The other side counters the idea that kids should have both a mom and dad by pointing out that some moms and dads are bad parents. While unfortunately true, this response misses the point. The point is not that every man and woman are great parents, but that it is ideal if the great parents we hope for are that child’s biological mom and dad. If that is impossible, an adoptive mom and dad are the preferred alternative. Historically, this has not been an outrageous thing to say.
Many people don’t feel passionately about the same-sex “marriage” issue. They may be sympathetic to the so-called gay rights movement because they think everyone deserves to be treated fairly. But fairness cannot be defined as the right to marry whomever you want, because not even those pushing to redefine marriage believe there should be no restrictions on who can get married.
In their pursuit of fairness, I don’t think the average voter is willing to abandon the idea that it is preferable for kids to have a mom and a dad.
Unfortunately for them, supporters of same-sex “marriage” must make that argument. In order to argue that marriage should be redefined, they argue that homosexual relationships are in every way the equivalent of heterosexual relationships. In order to believe that, you must conclude that it is unimportant for children to have a mother and father – otherwise, the presence or absence of both a mom and a dad would represent a relevant difference between the relationships.
But because their position requires them to deny any meaningful difference, they are forced into arguing that moms and dads, and men and women, are interchangeable and independently insignificant.
Logic suggests that when one conclusion requires you to believe something that is obviously untrue, you should reconsider your conclusion. But for those who disagree with us on the marriage issue, they don’t have that option. Yet for the casual observer of the debate, I still believe logic can prevail.
So stick with what works. Moms and dads are preferable. Most people recognize that. And once people come to terms with the fact that the redefinition of marriage requires people also to conclude that moms and dads are simply one of many acceptable options, I think we win. After all, most people still understand that some truths really are self-evident.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joseph Backholm is executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, online at fpiw.org, where this column first appeared. Citizens in Washington likely will vote on the definition of marriage in November.)