Maryland legislators will hold public hearings Feb. 8 on a bill to recognize same-sex marriage. This bill and the legislature that will consider it neatly capture the growing disregard in our society for the collective rights, responsibilities and roles of birth-parents.

The state, in legalizing same-sex marriage, must inevitably dissolve its recognition of any inherent bond between birth-parents and their child.

Advocates for same-sex marriage prefer to couch it all in terms of civil rights for an individual to marry any person they choose.

But rights really can’t be better for some than for others, so if civil marriage is nothing more than a civil right for any individual, the die is cast for the state to withdraw its support for the familial bond between two birth-parents and their child.

“Marriage” becomes nothing more than a contract in which the traditional family is irrelevant.

The familial bonding - between a man, a woman and their offspring – has always served as the template for the family structure and indeed for the overall functioning of society. Epidemic breakdowns of that bonding spawn social dysfunction and poverty and misery, especially for children.

Responsible governments recognize the benefits of this bond in the most efficient and appropriate way possible by recognizing the marriage contracts of all opposite-sex couples, regardless of their ability or intent to have children.

Married heterosexual advocates of same-sex marriage routinely deny the importance of this by claiming that same-sex marriage does not affect their own marriage and family. That may be a nice sentiment, but it’s a canard.

The fact is that the progression of laws allowing same-sex marriage requires the regression of laws that recognize and promote familial bonding between birth-parents and their children.

Court rulings for same-sex marriage have already relegated children to a more peripheral role in defining the state’s interest in marriage.

This leaves a vacuum inevitably to be filled by the state itself. With an ever diminishing role for birth-parents, the state is sure to produce ever more laws defining the parent-child relationship.

Ironically for sincere advocates of same-sex marriage, the process leads to the end of all state-sanctioned marriages.

This is not a far-fetched outcome. Take for example President Obama’s regulatory czar Cass Sunstein.

Sunstein openly argues for the abolition of all civil marriages in his co-authored 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness.

Sunstein speciously dresses up his goal - abolishing civil marriages and replacing them with civil unions for anyone – in “libertarian” language, claiming it “privatizes” marriage.

Some libertarians actually believe this is in line with their philosophy. They forget that in democracies, the family provides a valuable buffer zone between individuals and state intrusion.

In Sunstein’s scheme, we set a precedent whereby individuals become more isolated and vulnerable to state power.

For now, husbands and wives are not legally required to testify against one another in court. A few states also recognize a similar privilege for parents and children.

But if our regulator-in-chief Sunstein gets his way, the government will soon be freer to dissolve that buffer, and step more deeply into the lives of us all.

In the end, the trend towards same-sex marriage seems far less a civil rights issue than a scheme to divide the family and conquer the individual.

Stella Morabito is a Maryland freelance writer who focuses on issues of culture, society and education.