It has become fashionable to believe that marriage and children share only an incidental connection. Marriage is, according to many intellectuals and jurists, first and foremost about the companionate and emotional needs of consenting adults.1 For this reason, it is contended that the rules governing marriage laws should be purged of any expectation that children are begotten from adult sexual unions. Moreover, there ought to be no expectation that children are to be raised by their mother and father within the institution of marriage.
If marriage and children are to become as severable as the “companionate” view of marriage suggests, then it follows that there increasingly ought to be no expectation that parental responsibilities flow from adult sexual relations. Children should not, in any meaningful sense, belong to a mother and a father. A consistent advocate of the companionate view of marriage would hold that children need to be assigned to the care of guardians, or “legal parents.” The “legal parents” may be the biological mother and father, but only in the event that the parental role is chosen by both of them.
Such is the direction in which Canadian marriage law is heading as it legalizes same-sex marriage. To level the playing field for gays and lesbians so that they can marry legally, mothers and fathers are being replaced, both explicitly and implicitly, by the gender neutral category of “legal parent.”2 In this way, it is hoped that adults who wish to be parents will not be discriminated against for not being able to reproduce naturally. It follows from this that procreation should not necessarily determine parenthood. Biological kinship is to be secondary to the desire to be a parent.
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