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January 18, 2014

Comments

Yes, it's true. "Marriage equality" advocates generally beg the question in regard to what a marriage is.

The problem is that more and more of us Americans are dumb enough to fall for it.

I see some flaws in Ryan Anderson's argument:

(1) He equates single-parent households and same-sex-couple households with respect to the potential for harm inflicted on children (and the resulting societal costs). There is no basis for asserting this sort of equivalence.

On the contrary, it makes quite a lot of sense to expect that any two-adult household will be a better environment for raising children than any single-adult household, even if the two adults happen to be the same sex. (This assumes that both adults in the household are conscientious and caring parents who take proper care of the child; this condition is not guaranteed by the mere fact that the two adults are husband and wife - whether biological parents or not - any more than it is ruled out in a same-sex relationship.)

In view of that very reasonable expectation, it is disingenuous to focus more attention on disallowing marriage and child-rearing by same-sex couples, rather than on seeking to reduce divorce rates and out-of-wedlock pregnancies in all sectors of the population. The latter concern is far more pressing, and does not rely solely on religion or prejudice to justify the pursuit of countermeasures.

As for the quote from David Popenoe, the fact that he teaches sociology at Rutgers does not warrant that his statement should be regarded as a scientific finding. Popenoe also writes for Catholic Education Resource Center, an affiliation that may well color the conclusions he draws, and may even constrain the range of evidence he cites. As Norval Glenn, sociologist at University of Texas, Austin, said of earlier work by Popenoe on the same topic: "the relevant evidence is inconsistent and ambiguous enough to leave room for considerable disagreement among those who assess the thesis objectively and with sound reasoning." (Journal of Marriage and the Family, August 1993, vol 55 p. 544).

(2) Anderson makes this statement: "We’ve seen in the past fifty years, since the war on poverty began, that the family has collapsed. At one point in America, virtually every child was given the gift of a married mother and father. Today, 40 percent of all Americans, 50 percent of Hispanics, and 70 percent of African Americans are born to single moms"

Apart from the false equation of single-parents and same-sex couples mentioned above, this statement falsely implies a causal relation between "the war on poverty" and current divorce rates. Given that the war on poverty has apparently failed (children who were poor fifty years ago are now the parents and grandparents of children who are still poor today), there must be some other factor to account for the high rates of children with single parents: sex education has been inadequate and/or based on unsound strategies ("abstinence only"); overall educational opportunities for the poor have been and are still severely limited; males in ethnic minorities (esp. blacks) are still facing serious discrimination in employment; and so on.

For that matter, Mr. Anderson blandly asserts, without evidence, that even the poor must have nearly all been raised in husband-wife families at some point in American history. When was this? With regard to blacks, this was obviously not the case before the Civil War. With regard to children being raised by their biological parents, we should be prepared to accept the fact that out-of-wedlock births have been drastically under-reported throughout America's history.

(3) The various "slippery slope" scenarios are irrelevant. Proponents for same-sex-marriage equality are not saying "that the male-female aspect is irrational and arbitrary" - what is irrational and arbitrary is the denial and exclusion of same-sex relationships, which is quite a separate matter.

As for "thouples", "wedlease" and "monogamish", here are no serious proposals to grant legal license to such relationships, even though no evidence has ever been collected to discern whether such "anomalous" adult relations really would cause trouble for the state. (Let's face it: there have been, and are currently, husband-wife marriages that are "open". What harm have these caused, beyond the harm inflicted on the "perpetrators" - consenting adults - when they are labeled as criminals for following their own conscience in matters that don't actually affect other people?)

The issue at hand really is just this: can two people who love each other, support each other, depend on each other, and pledge themselves to a shared life of mutual devotion, be granted a consistent status in our country regardless of their sexual orientation? The arguments for saying no remain insufficient in a secular context, and do not merit enactment as secular law.

(4) The claim that "Christian adoption agencies were forced to stop serving some of the neediest children in America: orphans" is also disingenuous: those agencies chose to stop their services rather than abandon their discriminatory practices - or at least, rather than forego financial support from the government.

They would still have been able to place orphans with husband-wife couples as well, and presumably could do so exclusively if they chose to work without receiving money from the government. I think this was a case of closing up for lack of financial support, rather than because their intended activity was being ruled illegal. I'll grant that it's a sad outcome, but the blame does not lie with homosexuals or with proponents of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Otto, I only have a couple of minutes to respond, but there are a few things I want to point out.

He equates single-parent households and same-sex-couple households with respect to the potential for harm inflicted on children (and the resulting societal costs). There is no basis for asserting this sort of equivalence. On the contrary, it makes quite a lot of sense to expect that any two-adult household will be a better environment for raising children than any single-adult household

You’re incorrect when you say there’s no basis for asserting this. It’s not merely a matter of the number of parents, but a matter of the different aspects of parenting that mothers and fathers provide to children. (In other words, single parent families are analogous in that they're lacking the needed contributions from the opposite sex in their parenting.) There is research available on this that backs this up, as well, if experience isn’t enough to show you this. Here’s an example.

it is disingenuous to focus more attention on disallowing marriage and child-rearing by same-sex couples, rather than on seeking to reduce divorce rates

Except that the purpose of this hearing was to discuss same-sex marriage, which is why he was focusing attention on it. Also, reducing the divorce rate of same-sex marriages would do nothing to fix the problem of their not having the unique parenting contributions of both sexes. The problem is the arrangement itself, not merely the breakup of the arrangement.

Proponents for same-sex-marriage equality are not saying "that the male-female aspect is irrational and arbitrary” - what is irrational and arbitrary is the denial and exclusion of same-sex relationships, which is quite a separate matter.

Yes, they are (and it's not a separate matter). They’re saying it’s irrational and arbitrary to say this aspect is definitional to marriage.

If "male/female" is an irrational and arbitrary criterion, why isn't the number "two" an irrational and arbitrary criterion? What makes the number two so magic for you? Why can't people who love each other get married just because you're bigoted against groups of more than two? The number two only makes sense if marriage is a man and a woman (as Anderson explained).

This is what you're not understanding. The principles being set in place will disallow any of the criteria formerly used to define marriage. It doesn't matter that there have been few challenges so far. If you remove any principled exclusions from the definition of marriage, then there will be no legal reason to deny other arrangements.

Amy, your link to "an example" didn't work (it leads to an empty page); perhaps you can edit that post, or try again?

Regarding your restatement of Anderson's position, about single-parent families being analogous to families with two parents who happen to be same-sex partners, I cannot accept this as credible. Apart from having only bad statistics and meager anecdotes to support that view (BTW, there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence for happy, well-adjusted, successful children raised by same-sex partners), if you intend to assert that for every same-sex couple, it must be the case that they are less well suited to raising children than a mixed-sex couple, the only fair and rational response to that, it seems to me, is that you are are espousing a position of prejudice. I'm sorry, but with all due respect, there is no other way to put it.

If, on the other hand, you are trying to say that "other things being equal, there may be a tendency for children to be less well-off when raised by same-sex parents compared to mixed-sex parents," I think the appropriate response to that would be: if the findings from properly conducted studies actually support that statement, what can we learn from that? What is the tractable nature and extent of disparity? Can same-sex parents be advised about ways to compensate and overcome it? A decidedly improper response would be: well then, let's ban same-sex parenting.

The reason why the latter response is improper can be seen by applying the same logic to any other factor that is shown to impact the well-being of children: Children of poor parents do less well than rich ones? Ban poor parenting. Children of black parents do less well that white ones? Ban black parenting. Children of Muslim parents do less well than Christian ones? Ban Muslim parenting. You don't have a valid reason for applying this sort of logic to same-sex parents.

Your comments about "the number 'two'" are completely off the mark. It's not clear to me that you've understood my comments. In any case, "the principles being set in place" absolutely DO NOT disallow any of the criteria formerly used to define marriage. These principles extend the criteria, providing greater inclusiveness, expanding the range of situations that make up stable, successful families, and do nothing to contradict, subvert, or in any way diminish the validity of existing criteria. Why do you have a problem with that?

Please ask yourself: what is the source of the bitterness or fear or personal discomfort that leads you to oppose an expansion of the concept of family? Is it all really just based on a half-dozen or so phrases from religious texts from thousands of years ago? Why do those phrases still count, while other phrases from those same texts have been let go, like stoning adulterers? Why aren't you even more actively opposed to divorce among mixed-sex couples, given that divorce is obviously a much bigger problem, and that Jesus himself directly condemned divorce (but said nothing at all about homosexuality)? If it's because you want to say the Bible is inerrant, even though your opinions, beliefs and actions in other domains belie that notion, that's a poor excuse.

The link has been fixed.

Apart from having only bad statistics and meager anecdotes to support that view (BTW, there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence for happy, well-adjusted, successful children raised by same-sex partners)

This is a clue to me that you possibly haven’t understood the argument. I wasn’t talking about research about children of same-sex couples doing poorly; I was talking about research about the particular problems children have if they don’t have a father or they don’t have a mother.

for every same-sex couple, it must be the case that they are less well suited to raising children than a mixed-sex couple, the only fair and rational response to that, it seems to me, is that you are are espousing a position of prejudice.

That is not a fair and rational response. All I am asserting is that 1) men and women are different, 2) men and women provide different things to their children, 3) in situations where a man is not present in the home and in situations where a woman is not present in the homes, particular, measurable problems arise on the whole for the children. This has to do with the sex of the parents, not with the number of the parents, therefore it applies to single-parent households as well as to single-sex-parent households. No research claims that for every it must, nor did I say that.

This isn’t about the government banning same-sex parenting, this is about the government endorsing marriage, which depends on understanding what marriage is in the first place. Why should the government endorse a new version of marriage that denies the important part played by each sex, with the result that children will start off at a disadvantage? There is nothing inherent to a person’s race or religion that disadvantages a child. There are inherent differences between the sexes, and these differences (including biological differences) are integral to marriage, and children need both sexes.

"the principles being set in place" absolutely DO NOT disallow any of the criteria formerly used to define marriage.

Of course they do. If marriage is no longer the conjugal union between a man and a woman, if it’s merely a matter of people who love each other, then there is no longer any principled reason to limit it to two people. Can’t three people love each other? By changing the definition of marriage and saying that boundaries are illegitimate if they interfere with the government endorsing people who love each other, the only boundaries you could possibly place on it (e.g., limiting to two people) could only be because of bigotry, and that won’t stand in court.

Please ask yourself: what is the source of the bitterness or fear or personal discomfort that leads you to oppose an expansion of the concept of family?

Otto, that is absurd. Insults are not arguments, and they’re not in the least persuasive. What they do tell me is that you still don’t understand the arguments (non-religious arguments, at that) being made. We’ve written countless posts here that argue for our position without an ounce of bitterness or hate. Please. Your other questions at the end of your post have also been responded to over and over. At some point, not understanding our arguments ceases to be our fault and starts being yours.

Please ask yourself: what is the source of the bitterness or fear or personal discomfort that leads you to oppose an expansion of the concept of family?

I'd like to know why it is in most of these on line discussions between people who oppose same sex marriage and people who condone same sex marriage that the people who condone it always resort to motive-mongering. What is the motive for the motive-mongering?

You've assume that what motivates Amy is bitterness, fear, and personal discomfort, and you want to know what the source of that is. But suppose you she told you what the source of those things were. Would it stop there, or would you ask her what the source of those things were, too? What does it matter? Can't you just respond to the argument without going after what you imagine is really motivating her?

And if you're going to make up what is motivating her stance against same sex marriage, then why not make up what's behind the motivations, too? Then, if this line of imagining leads to an infinite regress, you can just stop whenever you want to. And you can do this all in your own head without even having to ask Amy anything.

What motivates you to go after her psychology?

The argument for "marriage equality" is bogus; it's already equal. The rights and restrictions in place are the same for straight and "gay" people. A straight man would face the same restrictions that a "gay" man would face if he tried to marry someone of the same sex, or a second wife, or his sister, etc. The restrictions are the same, therefore, there's no discrimination.

It's a redefinition of marriage that proponents of SSM are looking for. The government should not condone it for many reasons: higher rates of depression, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.

While none of these are "homosexual" problems, they do occur in higher rates because of the lifestyle. It is a lifestyle that should be discouraged. We're good at discouraging all other types of lifestyles that lead to these problems, but for some reason, the homosexual lifestyle is off limits.

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