In an attack on gay marriage in National Review, David Frum complains that it undermines the gender roles of husbands and wives:
... one effect of this revolution -- and for many proponents, one of the revolution's aims -- is to make forever unthinkable the idea that husbands and wives each have special duties to one another, and that a husband's duties to his wife -- while equally binding and equally supreme -- are not the same as a wife's duties to her husband.
Once we lose that knowledge, we lose the basic grammar of marriage.
As a parent who has taken over the "house spouse" duties while my wife resumes a career after 10 years, I'd love to hear from Frum exactly how my family responsibilities differ because I have a penis.
My spouse is an accomplished journalist who is capable of financially supporting the family, which I presume is what Frum considers the primary duty of a husband.
I'm capable of taking care of my three sons at home, though my cooking is an ongoing health code violation and I run things by Malcolm in the Middle rules -- I do not intervene in a fight until somebody draws blood. In Frumworld, I guess I'm the housewife.
In Frum's own marriage, his wife Danielle Crittenden is an author, frequent TV commentator, and former New York Post columnist. She has primary care-giving responsibility for their three children and actively works out of a home office.
Running a household is without a doubt the hardest job I have ever taken on, thanks to a million small tasks that have to get done: homework, meals, finances, illnesses, clothes, dishes, sports, shopping, trash, potty training, and on and on. I haven't had a single chance in six months to take Oprah's advice and remember my spirit.
There are one million dads at home, according to the family weblogger RebelDad. Leave it to Beaver went off the air in 1963.
If there's a basic grammar of marriage that monogamous gay people are scheming to undermine, I can't find it in my own life, and it seems curiously absent from Frum's as well.
In her novel Amanda Bright@Home, Crittenden lampoons a liberal feminist (and her mother!) for her lack of knowledge that raising children at home is a worthy and satisfying pursuit.
She used the novel to chart a course for today's ideal mother, as she explained in an interview with Insight on the News.
For all of her distaste for feminism, Crittenden touts a version of motherhood that's a long way from June Cleaver. A satisfied woman doesn't choose family over a career; she simply does both:
... with the enormous flexibility of the economy attitudes have changed even within the past five years. Women feel more comfortable about going in and out of the workforce. Many women I know are doing legal briefs while their kids nap. They're adapting their work much more easily to their children in a way that 10 years ago would have been looked at as an either/or situation. You're either going out the door and laboring in the workforce 40 hours a week or you're at home.
Change the word "women" to "men" in the above quote, and she's describing my new life. I am apparently Danielle Crittenden's vision of the ideal mother.
As far as I can tell, in the "me Tarzan, you Jane" grammar of Frum's marriage, both spouses work but the obligations of home lie entirely with his wife.
I can see why Frum would be so determined to protect that, but it's ridiculously weak justification for stopping gay people from the life-altering experience of getting married.