A Donor is Not a Father

By Joseph Grabowski Published on June 18, 2017

Today is father’s day. Yesterday was the March for Marriage.

After the March, a young woman asked why we were out there. I explained that, chiefly, we believe the Obergefell case to have been wrongly decided and detrimental to the public good of marriage. I explained that the state’s primary interest in marriage arises from the social goods that stem from intact families, and from men and women taking responsibility for their procreative potential.

How Kids Do Best

She posed to me the case that she and her female partner in “marriage” were “paying thousands of dollars to have a child.” Didn’t I think that made it all the more likely that they’d be even more attentive, caring, and loving parents? I responded that kids do best with a mom and a dad.

The conversation went a thousand directions from there. Did I mean that the stereotyped gender roles of men and women contribute differently to parenting? I said that kids aren’t interested in all the jargon, they know the difference between mom and dad.

Didn’t I think she or her partner could be as good of a “dad” for her child as some man? I said I did not. Just because they don’t have a male anatomy? Sex and gender are more than anatomy, I answered. She agreed, but was confused.

Finally, our talk turned to the matter of fact, which I stated bluntly, that kids come into the world by the agency of a mom and a dad. They have a mother and a father. She objected that her child wouldn’t have a father. There’d be a “donor” — but just begetting offspring does not make a man a father, she said.

I agreed. That’s part of the problem we were out there to protest: it should. Being a father is more than being a sperm donor. Again, she was confused. It sounded like we were saying the same thing ….

A Very Wide Gap

This conversation comes back to me today, Father’s Day. She and I were really saying many of the same things — but between what we each meant by those things is a very wide gap.

Our talk ended with her in tears. She said she couldn’t help feeling that I was implying her child would somehow be deprived something he needed. That is what I was suggesting.

But in my mind, the whole time we talked, the main culprit for that deprivation — the only person toward whom I was tempted to feel any real anger or scorn — was that man who would be a “donor” and not a “father.”

Perhaps she and her partner will be just as culpable and blameworthy in the matter of depriving their child, but I couldn’t as easily get stirred up in indignation toward them. That man, unworthy of the name, that “donor” that should be seen as and called the philanderer and prostitute that he is in reality, that’s who really provoked me.

He’s the reason I marched yesterday. And he’s the one that should, on this Father’s Day, feel ashamed. He should feel the weight of the unseen millstone he has tied around his own neck, and the neck of the child to whom he refuses to be the father his child needs.

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