The judges on the Ontario Appeal Court bench saw through this word. They saw that it was being used by opponents of gay marriage both as the supposedly essential trait of marriage and as a synonym for heterosexuality. They saw that all the arguments presented to them that used this word were circular.
Just refuse to use it. Let’s use simple language: both gay couples and straight couples raise children. If marriage is for the sake of children, then all couples who raise children should be able to marry. In fact they should be strongly encouraged to marry.
Cleary, one of the most important functions of marriage is to provide a stable, loving, protective family and legal structure in which children can be raised. It is therefore essential that gay and lesbian couples who are raising children or intending to raise children have access to marriage.
Marriage does not exist only for the sake of children. One of the functions of marriage–the primary function–is to unite lovers. Opponents of gay marriage call gay marriage selfish because gay people believe so strongly in this archetypal definition of marriage, one that goes back culturally to the Song of Songs and the Garden of Eden. We get married so we can be close to the person we love most. In the words of Ruth, “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for wither thou goest, I will go: and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people will be my people, and thy God my God.”
It is not selfish to want to be with the person you love. Why? Because the love generated by such a union expands. To begin with, it unites two families. If the couple has children, that love envelops and protects those children. Even if the couple has no children, that love provides a nurturing environment for both individuals. The goodness and healthiness of the relationship is quite naturally exported into whatever environment either spouse enters. Because marriage unites lovers, it brings love into the world.
Marriage by any other name is not a union of lovers, but a union of two parties in a binding legal contract that guarantees mutual economic support. With a different name comes a different substance. Only marriage is marriage. Everyone knows this. This is why we want to be included in it, and our opponents want to exclude us.