Do Unmarried Men Not Love Their Kids?

Last Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece noting what it termed “An Odd Couple in the News Business”: the Deseret News, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had partnered with the Atlantic to produce a four-part series “examining the role of fathers in American families” (See part onepart twopart three, and part four). The series is informative and thoughtful, stressing not only the importance of fathers in children’s lives but fathers’ love for and dedication to their children—regardless of marriage.

As I read the articles, however, I thought of a passage in a section entitled “Procreation and Child-Rearing Ideally Occur Within a Stable Marriage Between a Man and a Woman,” from the amicus brief the LDS church and others filed recently on same-sex marriage bans. It was so patently egregious and offensive that when I wrote about the brief, I ignored this particular argument in favor of others that seemed either relevant to the legal issues, or else merely ridiculous. The brief states,

As Massachusetts Justice Robert Cordy observed, while nature forges a link between mother and child, there is “no corresponding process for creating a relationship between father and child. . . . The institution of marriage fills this void by formally binding the husband-father to his wife and child, and imposing on him the responsibilities of fatherhood.”

In other words, a man doesn’t naturally love or feel a bond to the children he fathers, so you must produce some sort of artificial bond by forcing him to marry his children’s mother. That “fact” somehow helps prove that gay marriage is bad.

It’s a shockingly antiquated and insulting view of men and human relationships in and of itself. In the context of the brief, it simply suggests that men are somehow inferior people, without showing how gay marriage has anything to do with men’s perceived inability to love their children without being roped into it by social obligations.

Here’s hoping that attorneys working at the LDS church’s law firm can learn something from journalists writing for the church’s newspaper: a lot of dads just plain old love their kids. Naturally.