“Children as Consumer Items”

By Katie Biber

I spotted this piece by Brandon McGinley in the National Review yesterday. Given that so much of the opposition to marriage equality is driven by the (flatly wrong and disproven) theory that gay parents are less adequate than straight parents, it was no surprise to see the author raise this argument again:

Same-sex marriage’s implication that the bearing and rearing of children can be neatly separated from the biology of children leaves us with no ground on which to object to any person’s or group’s satisfaction of the desire to have children of their own. [emphasis mine]

Yikes. Because our goal is to preserve our ability to “object” to a particular person’s qualifications to be a parent? With the obvious caveat for abuse and other situations where intervention is necessary to protect a child, this is a scary statement, especially coming from a conservative who understands the potential tyranny of the state.

If the government can decide who is worthy of marriage based on who is likely to be a “good” parent, this logic can be applied far more broadly. Natural births are dangerous, so let’s mandate C-sections. Babies are healthier if mothers eat fish instead of chicken, so let’s make them send their daily food logs to the FDA. Next, let’s start regulating how people take care of their children.  Let’s ban home schooling, since public schools are “better.”  Let’s let the government visit your home weekly to determine if you have appropriate smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, child-proofing, and other protections to deserve children. Let’s ban letting your children walk six blocks to school without a chaperone. Let’s make sure the government controls what food your third grader is allowed to eat on school grounds. It’s a nanny-state liberal’s dream come true.  

The bottom line is I don’t like the government judging when, how, why, or under what conditions people are worthy of parenting unless we are truly talking about the far edge of the spectrum (child abuse, abandonment, etc.). It is not the government’s place to pass judgment on what kind of unions should be elevated over others for the sake of promoting births within them. The government is the worst possible agent to make this kind of value judgment on anyone, and the slope is slippery.

Incidentally, based purely on my own personal experience, I strongly disagree with the idea that there is something inadequate about gay parents. Like opposite-sex couples, some are terrible, some are so-so, and some are great. I happen to know a lot of the great ones.



2 thoughts on ““Children as Consumer Items”

  1. Walter Olson

    McGinley announces early on that he doesn’t want to talk about adoption (sure, because it’s an inconvenient topic for his argument) and then makes clear that he wants to ban assisted reproduction for straight couples. He should not be so puzzled that his side is losing.


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