Three recent articles on the online journal Public Discourse examine different ways in which the institution of marriage would be affected if it is redefined to disregard the norm of sexual complementarity.

Yes, Marriage Will Change—and Here’s How,” by University of Texas professor of sociology Mark Regnerus, predicts the effects of redefinition on marital relationships. Regnerus argues that the redefinition of marriage would, among other things, erode marital norms. The expectation of exclusivity and fidelity, for example, would give way to greater acceptance of non-exclusive or “monogamish” marriages:

This, I predict, will be same-sex marriage’s signature effect on the institution—the institutionalization of monogamish as an acceptable marital trait.… [T]he legitimacy newly accorded [same-sex] marital unions spells opportunity for men everywhere to bend the boundaries.

In “Children Need Our Marriage Tradition,” John M. Smoot, a former trial court judge of Boston’s Probate and Family Court, describes how children need a strong marriage culture to give them a life script that puts them on a track to channel their sexual desire into a stable and healthy relationship.

Smoot also warns about the consequences of normalizing the use of surrogate wombs and sperm and egg donors to produce children artificially. He writes that “same-sex marriage will enshrine in our culture the ongoing industrialization of collecting and distributing sperm and eggs,” since same-sex couples would have to look to others for reproductive capacity.

Finally, Professor Matthew J. Franck argues in “Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom, Fundamentally at Odds,” that the redefinition of marriage would not be accompanied by protections for those who believe marriage is—and remains, whatever policy may say about it—the union of a man and a woman:

At bottom, even the defense of religious liberty is a struggle over what is true and false about the meaning of marriage. Should the truth about marriage—that it unites men and women so that children will have fathers and mothers—be defied by the laws of the land, we cannot expect the religious freedom of those who believe in that ancient truth to be respected under the new dominion of falsehood.

To help you engage in the marriage debate, The Heritage Foundation—along with the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and the Alliance Defending Freedom—has produced What You Need to Know about Marriage, a free e-book available for download at

Jim McGlone is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.