Sochi thrills and spills are fast coming to a close and soon the 2014 Winter Olympics will only be faint memories of two weeks in Russia. Yet, even the casual Olympic television viewer will be left with a profound conclusion regarding family after these games -- that the natural definition of marriage has little relevance for family structure or defining what is the “normal” formation of a family.
At least that’s the message that has been stressed over and over by several Chevrolet “Find New Roads” commercials that have run nonstop throughout the games. The advertisements equate heterosexual marriage (deemed “the old love” in “The New Love” Chevy spot) with the “new love” of homosexual unions. In “The New Us,” Chevy portrays a collection of families carrying out daily life, featuring two gay couples with their children alongside a collection of racially diverse heterosexual couples and their children. Intoning that "while what it means to be a family hasn't changed, what a family looks like has,” Chevy commits an emotionally appealing logical shortcut, conflating what a family looks like with how it is formed.
Historically, natural marriage has been understood as the foundation of family formation because marriage as the union of a man and a woman is the only union that can produce children, the next generation needed to maintain a family. According to Chevy though, such biological distinctions don’t need to have relevance for today and gay parenting patterns can be described as the new “normal.”
Ironically, when the parenting pattern that has been celebrated as the ideal for thousands of years -- a married dad staying faithful to his wife and child -- was highlighted at this Winter Olympics, the lifestyle was described as an “alternative.” American freestyle skier (and now gold medalist) David Wise holds the distinction of being happily married to his wife of several years, Alexandra, and the father of their daughter. In a sport that celebrates the rebellious, such staid behavior at the tender age of twenty three is deemed “wildly uncool.” Meanwhile, the first television depiction of gay couples during an Olympics received a pass as the “new us.”
That new path to family detached from the natural foundation of marriage is certainly a “New Road” that many have found. Not all new roads are smooth roads though, and only time will tell the consequences of redefining marriage into a genderless institution that fails to consider the needs of children ahead of the desires of adults.