The ongoing debate over what marriage means and who should participate in it continues to produce striking ironies. Let us mention three of them, and see if there might be a lesson in each.

Irony: “a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected.” (Merriam-Webster)

The ongoing debate over what marriage means and who should participate in it continues to produce striking ironies.

Let us mention three of them and see if there might be a lesson in each:

1. As mentioned in last week's column, after seeing so many Utahns work so hard to protect one man/one woman marriage in other states, particularly California, it is ironic to suddenly see Utah itself as the prime arena and the focal point for the battle.

Almost like fighting wars overseas to keep the conflicts from coming to our shores, some felt that if they fought same-sex marriage hard enough in other states, they would never have to face the issue in their own state.

Many, both here and throughout the country, were stunned when same-sex marriage was suddenly legal in Utah while still illegal in 32 other states. Others were equally stunned when the Supreme Court stayed the earlier decision and the governor put everything on hold.

The lesson, we suppose, is that whichever side you take, you never know exactly when or how or where or by whom this battle will be fought.

2. As gay couples celebrate the privilege of formalizing their commitments through a marriage ceremony, it is ironic that heterosexual couples in record numbers are abandoning the whole idea of marriage — with three-fourths of newly together men and women choosing the less-committed and less-ceremonial option of cohabitation rather than marriage.

It is a classic case of valuing what you don’t have more than what you do have.

The lesson is that those who want to keep marriage between one man and one woman ought to work at least as hard at honoring, promoting and celebrating heterosexual marriage as they do fighting same-sex marriage. Clearly, those who think man-woman marriage is an institution worth protecting and preserving ought to also urge full participation in it.

3. On a personal level, our latest book, called "The Entitlement Trap," claims that the biggest parenting problem in the world today is that kids feel entitled to pretty much everything. So it is ironic that we find ourselves strongly advocating entitlement as it appears in the LDS Church's "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," which states: “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony and to be reared by a father and a mother.”

Perhaps the lesson here is that we all need to examine pretty carefully what we think children are entitled to and what they are not. Doing so probably frames this whole debate better than anything else, because it focuses us on children and on their needs rather than on politics.

Of course adults’ individual and equal political rights are important, but that is the civic realm of “civil unions,” which we fully support.

In the religious and family realm, we believe “marriage” should be at least as much about the rights (and entitlements) of children.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at or