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God's Created Order, Gender Complementarity, and the Federal Marriage Amendment

Hofstra University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-33

Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law, Vol. 20, 2006

32 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2006  

Linda C. McClain

Boston University - School of Law

Abstract

Does marriage, in the United States, need the protection of an amendment to the federal constitution, which would enshrine marriage as only the union of a man and a woman? In answering "yes" to this question, sponsors and supporters of the Federal Marriage Protection Amendment (FMPA), in the House of Representatives and the Senate, have made various appeals to the gender complementarity of marriage: (1) opposite-sex marriage is part of "God's created order;" (2) procreation is the purpose of marriage and has a tight nexus with optimal mother/father parenting; (3) marriage bridges the "gender divide" by properly ordering heterosexual desire and procreation; (4) marriage is "about children," not adult love; and (5) traditional marriage transmits values crucial to democracy. This article canvasses and critically evaluates a sampling of these arguments, as they have featured in Congressional hearings and debates about the FMPA. It asks whether FMPA supporters can reconcile their stance about the imperative of protecting the gender complementarity of traditional marriage with the transformation of marriage brought about by family law reforms and contemporary Equal Protection jurisprudence. It argues that FMPA supporters continually and uncritically appeal to gender complementarity as a justification for preserving "traditional marriage" without addressing marriage's evolution and whether marriage's definition should continue to evolve.

Keywords: marriage, same-sex marriage, gender roles, federal marriage amendment, gender complementarity, religion

Suggested Citation

McClain, Linda C., God's Created Order, Gender Complementarity, and the Federal Marriage Amendment. Hofstra University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-33; Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law, Vol. 20, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=950109

Linda C. McClain (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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