An image from a TV ad for gay marriage, reproduced in the January 18 New Yorker, provides a Rorschach test for reactions to America’s ongoing revolution in family structure. Two men in black suits stand shoulder-to-shoulder in a group of people, looking into each other’s eyes. In their arms are two newborns in white baby clothes and blankets. Though it’s not immediately apparent from the photo, the men are at a baptism for their infants. The ad, still being test-marketed, is called “Family Values,” and is intended to emphasize the “conventionality of gay couples,” explains The New Yorker.
If your reaction to the image is: “Where’s the mother(s)?” you may not yet be fully on board the “conventionality” bandwagon. If your reaction to the foregoing question, however, is: “Why does it matter?” then you are keeping pace with the revolution. “Why does it matter?” may ultimately prove the more appropriate response, but no one should pretend that it represents anything other than a radical revision of the traditional relationship between parents and children – one whose consequences no one can predict.
Every time a homosexual couple conceives a child, there is another parent offstage somewhere whose sperm or egg has allowed conception to occur (and, in the case of male homosexuals, whose womb has allowed gestation to occur). In some homosexual families, that parent will be involved in his child’s life; in others, he will remain completely anonymous and unknown. Parental identity and responsibility for children in a homosexual family do not flow from biology; they result from choice and intent. To the extent that a gay couple wants to retain the traditional number of parents in the home, it must exclude one biological parent from inclusion in the family unit. To the extent that a gay couple wants to preserve the traditional connection between that biological parent and his offspring, however, the adult side of the family becomes more of a non-traditional threesome.