When a public war of words erupted a few days ago between Sir Elton John and world famous Italian designers Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana, a mostly ignored schism within the gay community was suddenly cast in high relief. Trust me, I know. I’m a gay man opposed to gay marriage.
Dolce and Gabbana are bravely standing against a future of state-enforced genderlessness, against a tidal wave of adult selfishness that overwhelms children’s rights and their best interests, and against the meddling government jigsaw that has continued to split, carve, and slice family life over the last few decades—especially for the poor, minorities, and the most vulnerable. And the most vulnerable and silent minority is, of course, children.
Here are a few quotes from Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s interview published in Italy’s Panorama magazine:
- “The only family is the traditional one. No chemical offspring and rented uterus. Life has a natural flow; there are things that cannot be changed.”
- “Procreation must be an act of love.”
- Dolce: “I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Uteri for rent, semen chosen from a catalogue.”
- Gabbana: “The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”
Dolce and Gabbana, whether they use the term or not, are strong advocates of natural law. Like the speakers at the Vatican’s recent Humanum Colloquium, they recognize and honor complementarity. The complementarity of man and woman is not a religious construct; it is written on our hearts, spelled out in our DNA, and present everywhere we turn and look at nature. Resisting it requires a truly herculean campaign by academics, politicos, and media personalities advocating the novel idea of genderlessness.
That campaign seems to be having a diminishing impact. Last week, Rasmussen reported that support for same-sex marriage sank to 42 percent of likely voters, down from 48 percent in December 2014. Slightly more than 44 percent oppose same-sex marriage—the highest number in over a year. Fourteen percent say they are undecided, meaning they are having trouble buying into the media’s relentless demand that marriage be redefined.
Making History Can Have Unintended Consequences
We Americans like the idea of making history. Yet many landmark changes in our country’s laws have had unintended consequences, especially for children.
Just last week, New York Times opinion writer Nicholas Kristof devoted an entire column, “When Liberals Blew It,” to the result of liberals ignoring the dire warning of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It begins:
Fifty years ago this month, Democrats made a historic mistake.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, at the time a federal official, wrote a famous report in March 1965 on family breakdown among African-Americans. He argued presciently and powerfully that the rise of single-parent households would make poverty more intractable.
“The fundamental problem,” Moynihan wrote, is family breakdown. . . . “a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families . . . never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future—that community asks for and gets chaos.”
Liberals brutally denounced Moynihan as a racist. He himself had grown up in a single-mother household and worked as a shoeshine boy at the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street in Manhattan, yet he was accused of being aloof and patronizing, and of “blaming the victim.”
Kristof is correct: the result of ignoring Moynihan’s report has been epic disaster for children. Nowadays, 40 percent of all births in the United States are to unwed parents. That number is stunning. More stunning is the fact that 70 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.
Consider also no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce was supposed to keep the government out of people’s business and increase personal freedom. In some ways, it has had the opposite effect, inviting courts and legions of attorneys and social workers to invade the privacy of bifurcated families. It has had a far-reaching, unpredicted impact on family life, because it completely upended the definition of marriage. Marriage went from being a permanent relationship to a temporary one that could be ended at any time, for any reason. While this may have made some formerly married adults happy, giving them a sense of newfound freedom, it has undermined the security, well-being, and prosperity of nearly every child of divorce. These children are collateral damage. Ask any child of divorce how much he enjoys his fond memories of mom and dad’s split. For that child, no-fault divorce has been a disaster of epic proportions.
Now we stand at a new precipice, where genderless marriage could become the law of the land. Should we be so quick to change the definition of marriage again? What’s the rush?
Demographics Conflict with the Media Narrative
Here are some noteworthy statistics from the Williams Institute at UCLA, the nation’s preeminent LGBT think tank. The total LGBT population in the US is about 9 million, or 3.5 percent. Of those, a little less than half—1.7 percent—identify as exclusively gay or lesbian. There are 690,000 same-sex couples in the United States. Of these, 130,000 are married couples. That means that only a little less than 3 percent of the LGBT community has chosen same-sex marriage.
With same sex-marriage now available in thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia, and after having been available in some states for up to eleven years, the number of same-sex marriages is rather small. It appears that many gays and lesbians are not keen on gay marriage as anything more than a symbol. Another way of looking at the gay marriage statistic is that more than 97 percent of gays and lesbians have not chosen same-sex marriage.
Media attention has led the nation to believe that there is a huge, pent-up demand for same-sex marriage. This is a fabrication. Heading into Sunday July 24, 2011—the first day that same-sex couples could legally wed in New York City—officials devised a lottery system to handle the projected 2,500 couples they thought would want to marry on that auspicious day. However, only 823 couples signed up—less than one third of the anticipated demand.
The expected massive stampede to the altar by couples dressed in matching tuxedos or wedding dresses has never materialized. Perhaps many gays and lesbians, like Dolce and Gabbana, sense the surreal nature of genderless marriage.
One can only conclude that the narrative presented by the media is incorrect.
The Synthetic Creation of Children
Sir Elton John’s biggest complaint— understandably so—against Dolce and Gabbana was about their statement that children engineered for same-sex marriages are in some way synthetic:
How dare you refer to my beautiful children as “synthetic.” And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF—a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again.
While Dolce’s wording on this point is unfortunate, there is a truth hidden within. It’s not the children who are synthetic, for all human beings share equal dignity. Rather, it’s the process through which they come into the world.
And when it comes to that process, it seems that anything goes. While the adoption industry has been heavily regulated—and rightfully so—engineering children through gamete purchase and womb rental falls under no such restrictions. Any infertile couple working with a reputable adoption agency knows that the window of opportunity for adopting newborns closes as you approach forty years of age. After that, you may only adopt older children. But for wealthy white gay males, there are no rules, only endless options for accessorizing their lives with humans.
Sir Elton John was sixty-three years old when his first child was born through surrogacy and sixty-five at the birth of his second. His partner, David Furnish, was forty-eight and fifty. When their younger child graduates from high school, they will be eighty-one and sixty-eight. At his college graduation, they’ll be eighty-five and seventy-two. Children deserve biological parents—a mom and a dad—not two middle-aged guys approaching old age when the kids are infants and years beyond receiving their first Social Security checks when they are teenagers.
It grieves me to criticize any family. I know Sir Elton John and David Furnish love their children and are devoted fathers, but the point remains: the interests of children should always outweigh the interests of adults who want children.
It wasn’t very long ago that Sir Elton John’s views were aligned with those of Dolce and Gabbana. In 2008, he said that civil partnerships—not marriages—were more appropriate for gays. As recently as 2012, John said, “It’s going to be heartbreaking for [our child] to grow up and realise he hasn’t got a mummy.”
Domenico Dolce, in using the phrase “synthetic children,” is drawing attention to the fact that “Life has a natural flow; there are things that cannot be changed.” Complementarity cannot be changed. Natural law, just like the laws of physics, can be neither changed nor suspended—at least not without dire consequences. If we rush headlong into changing this nation’s definition of marriage through judicial fiat, even if we have the very best of intentions, we might once again invite epic disaster for children, whose stories will emerge only as they become adults.
Doug Mainwaring works with CanaVox, a project of the Witherspoon Institute.