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'I Would Support Same-Sex Marriage... but for the Children!'

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In a recent column in the Washington Post ("What comes after 'I do'?", March 15, 2013), columnist George F. Will trumpets a brief submitted by the conservative "Institute for Marriage and Public Policy" in the pending same-sex marriage cases for the proposition that the Supreme Court should be skeptical of social science data showing that children raised by same-sex couples are not harmed by having same-sex parents. Quoting the brief, Mr. Will cautions that such studies are unreliable because they have been "driven by politics and ideology."

Both the brief and Mr. Will have the argument backwards. It is those who would deny same-sex couples the right to marry on the premise that same-sex marriage is bad for children who must bear the burden of proof. And it is a heavy burden, indeed.

This is so because, for better or worse, we never prohibit individuals from marrying because of a concern that the marriage might not turn out well for the kids. To get a license to marry, no one in any state in the nation has to demonstrate even minimal competence as a parent. We routinely allow mixed-religion, mixed-class, mixed-race and May-December marriages, even though they might pose challenges to the children. Indeed, without asking even a single question about the possible impact on the children, we allow pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, child abusers, corrupt politicians, rapists, adulterers and convicted murderers to marry.

Now, however, we are suddenly told that same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry because the absence of an opposite-sex parent might not be good for the kids. If ever there was a disingenuous, hypocritical, cynical and dishonest defense of a law, this is it. Whatever might be the real basis for objecting to same-sex marriage, this isn't it. This is nothing but a desperate after-the-fact rationalization designed to mask ignorance, prejudice and invidious discrimination. Mr. Will should know better.