Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I can't back the "gendered marriage" fight.

At this exact moment as I sit here typing, the US Supreme Court is debating gay marriage. The Court will weigh 2 different cases this week. Today it is the appeal of California Proposition 8 (Prop 8), which banned gay marriage. The second case will be heard tomorrow regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
I am personally somewhat torn on the issue(s). I'm a conservative [mostly] Republican, as such, one might expect I would be completely in favor of "defending" marriage, and opposing gay marriage. 
However, I do not. I was opposed at some point in the past, when all things gay were distasteful to me. I have changed and matured, and realized that was a petty, ignorant, and small-minded way to think. I do not in any way, shape, or form, hold bias against, or discriminate against my homosexual fellow humans. 
The official position of my church is "We firmly support the divinely appointed definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman because it is the single most important institution for strengthening children, families, and society."  And as such, I choose to stand on the side of my church. 
However, I do not agree with anyone who uses the well-being or protection of children as their reason for fighting gay marriage. If your reason for opposing gay marriage is based in religion and the belief that marriage is "divinely appointed... between a man and a woman" then say so. That I can support. That I believe in. 
But I cannot support  the Religious Right, (RR), or "defenders of marriage," that have this strange desire to legislate the world into what they want it to be, where every child has a mother and a father, and lives in the suburbs, with a dog and a cat. That is not what the real world really looks like. I don't condone them for wanting it to look like that, but it isn't realistic, and it doesn't actually help anyone.
Let me explain. 
Most families will never fit the RR's vision for what a family looks like or should be.  Of couples that marry, not all will produce biological children. Not all couples will stay married. Most homes do not fit the "traditional" mold. 
And yet, all of the RR arguments are to encourage that mold. 
This is small-minded thinking. you cannot legislate to make everyone look or act like you. To think that blocking gay marriage will create these perfect families is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube- it just won't work. Most homes are already divorced, or single parented, or adopted, or fostered. They are not perfectly little Cleaver Clans. We cannot legislate with the idea and goal that we all want or have that. It's great that that is what they want (to be the Cleavers), but most households don't, and won't, ever look like that. 
So instead of blocking gay marriage, and pretending this somehow is better for children, I choose to not take side. I choose to focus on charitable activities and actual legislation that really would help less fortunate children. (You want to make a difference? Donate $18 to RiverKids, and feed a child in Cambodia for 2 months, and help protect the child from the very real possibility of sex trafficking.)

The following article was printed in a conservative publication. I choose to not cite it or link to it, because I don't want to send traffic to it, or attract the attention of the writers to my own blog.  It is a perfect example of using emotional rhetoric and claims with no basis in reality or facts. One major reason I cannot support the RR fight is their lack of credible, scientific facts and claims. 
The following article ran with the title "The Inequalities of "Equal" Marriage." I have inserted by retorts and rebuffs in red. The largest failure of this article is to make any mention of adopted children, step-children, children of divorce, abandoned children, foster children, etc.

The oft-repeated and oft-unanswered question “How does gay marriage affect you personally?” seems to be a rhetorical trump card. Talking heads in the media rarely have the time in our sound-byte driven news cycle to give a thorough answer to that question. Here I will explore why gay marriage, or the more legal terms of “genderless” or “equal” marriage, affects everybody. It has potential to redefine what it means to be a mother, a father, and a child. It places the rights of natural parents at risk. Genderless marriage may actually affect heterosexuals more than homosexuals, for it dismantles traditional family law and replaces it with a new paradigm of genderless union.
Well, since you asked, let me answer you. How does gay marriage affect me personally? It doesn't. Not at all. The marriage of any 2 other people in no way, shape, or form, affects me. 
Savvy legal minds once insisted that gendered marriage and genderless marriage could co-exist, that everybody could enjoy their rights without interruption or impedance. It is now obvious that such a utopia doesn’t exist. A loss of rights is already taking place. “Equal” marriage is not so equal after all.
And how does anyone's marriage create a loss of rights?? What rights have already been lost?
Defining Gendered Family
Marriage as an entity is designed to protect those made vulnerable by procreation. 
What? Since when? No, it was designed in the earliest dawn of man as a way to own a woman. And it wasn't until the 20th Century that it became a symbol of love and commitment. Nowhere in history is there an example of marriage being used to protect children. 
Also, "those made vulnerable by procreation," which using their logic, is every human being ever. So marriage is designed to protect everyone? 
First on that list are the infants that are born to women. 
Are they implying there have been infants born to men? 
As Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, has stated, “The child is entitled to a relationship with and care from both of the people who brought him into being. Therefore, the child has a legitimate interest in the stability of his parents’ union. But no child can defend these entitlements himself. Nor is it adequate to make restitution after these rights have been violated. The child’s rights to care and relationship must be supported proactively, before harm is done, for those rights to be protected at all.” (Hearings from the Minnesota state legislature,)
And here we come to my first legal issue. "A child is entitled to a relationship with ... the people who brought him into being." 
Yes, this is somewhat true. A child did not create itself. And so, it is true, that the first natural right bestowed upon a living human is the right to be cared and provided for. But to say that the care and provision must come from the people that created it is unfair and uneducated. In a perfect world, all babies would be loved and cared for, and planned for, by the person who created it. But they are not. Not all father's are good men, and not all men are good father's. Some "procreators" are nothing more than sperm donors, with no attachment to the child. Not all mothers have access to a healthy father. There are surrogates, sperm banks, children who are placed for adoption, and unfit parents. 
A child has the natural right to be cared for and provided for during its vulnerable years. But to say that that "right" is to be cared for by the person who created the child, is naive and risky thinking at best.  Far too many children are abandoned or abused by the procreators. 
Besides children, women who carry the burden of pregnancy are obviously at greater risk than men in the childbearing process. Historically, gendered marriage has tied men to their children and to the mothers who sacrifice to create them. This arrangement not only overcomes but also compliments the biological differences of men and women. 
I actually can't argue with that. Yes, historically "gendered" marriage did legally require that the father provide for the mother and child. We have an entire court system built around forcing father's to pay child support now, whether or not the parents were ever married. 
Finally, gendered marriage addresses the rights of fathers. Fatherhood is the most fragile biological relationship in the father-mother-child triangle. The bond between mother and child is obvious. The father less so. Marriage closes this gap by legally binding a father to a mother and child, giving him both rights and responsibilities in a relationship that, by the way, dramatically affects the successful socialization of children.
I wish I had a buzzer. I'd hit it right there on that last line. "affects the successful socialization of children." Let's be honest here. It isn't the presence of the father that makes that difference. It's the presence of his paycheck. A single mother that struggles to provide income does tend to produce less successful children. The number of "successful" children follows the patterns for poverty just as much as it follows the number of fatherless households. 
I interviewed a lawyer once and asked her to imagine a world without legal marriage. She abruptly responded: “It would be chaos. Women and children would be chattel. They could be abandoned without the slightest thought. They would have no legal recourse.”
Buzzer. I interviewed a lawyer once about a dog. Nothing much came of it though. 
Oh, and women and children were chattel under the origins of marriage. And every single day men abandon women and children. Also, mothers abandon their children and husbands too. But there is always legal recourse (child support, palimony, etc).  
By traditional definition, marriage is the protective sanctuary that allows children to have a relationship with both father and mother. That relationship provides them with the stable and long-term care and nurturance they deserve. “Without this public purpose,” Dr. Morse explains, “marriage would cease to exist as a distinct social institution.”
I've already discussed how that is anything but the traditional definition of marriage. Moving on. 
Naturally, these protections regarding procreation cannot be extended to a homosexual union because that union cannot procreate. The solution to the problem cannot be to add protections to a power that does not exist. The only way that these non-procreative unions can become legally equal is to remove several biological protections—protections that that the law extends to the procreative unions found in traditional marriage.
Buzzer again. 
Homosexual unions can procreate through the miracles of science- just like heterosexual couples can. There is surrogacy, in vitro, donor sperm/egg, etc.  
Thus, the invention of genderless marriage has the potential to affect the nature of traditional relationships more than the nature of gay relationships. According to this new definition of equality, court judgments are already being handed down that strip biological distinctions and hence ignore biological rights.
So you're saying that 2 gay men not having children affects 2 people who can have children without science... how? Huh? I really, really do not follow. 
States that have ratified homosexual marriage have done so by removing gender from the law, stripping rights from children and fathers and, in some cases, from biological mothers. For example, Illinois effectively instituted gay marriage by removing any reference to gender from their marriage laws. Likewise, Massachusetts’ marriage certificates recognize not bride and groom, but Party A and Party B. 
Makes perfectly good sense to me. How else would you do it?
Whose Rights are Threatened by Genderless Marriage?
The first casualty in the gender battle is the primary and essential purpose of marriage, which is, according to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, “to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another.”
Silly me. Again, I thought marriage was a legal commitment to love, honor, and obey. I have never heard one marriage ceremony that said, "I hereby solemnly vow to attach our unborn children to you and to me." In fact, I've never heard children mentioned in one marriage ceremony ever. 
In order to justify genderless marriage, the courts have redefined marriage, eliminating the above obligation. For example, Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California's Prop 8 by broadly pronouncing: “Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents.” (Finding of Fact #34, page 67, as quoted in remarks of Dr. Morse to the Illinois State Legislature hearings on SB 10.) 
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!!
Yes, that is exactly what marriage has been since women were given the right and legal ability to think for themselves. (prior to that, it was a legal obligation between a man and the woman's father.) 
Dr. Morse comments: “Under this definition, marriage doesn’t have anything at all to do with children, permanence, sexual exclusivity or even sex itself. Some college roommates could call themselves married under this definition. The essential public purpose of marriage has vanished, and has been replaced with inessential private purposes. Instead of being a bedrock social institution, marriage becomes nothing but a government registry of friendships, a pointless legal convention that frankly doesn’t deserve any government benefits or recognition at all.”
Confession. In college, back in the 90s, my roommate and I realized that we were getting the short end of the stick when it came to our lease and on our taxes. We wondered if we could "get married" just for the sole purpose of getting our rent lowered. (Married couples paid a lower deposit, and monthly rent, than 2 individuals co-habitating.) We never took our idea very far. 
So suddenly marriage is about sexual exclusivity and permanence? Because before you said it was about protecting children. Last I checked, the amount of sex on the marital bed had little to do with how well the child was provided for. 
And yes, she finally got something right. "Marriage IS nothing but a government registry of friendships."  
Once we change the essential public purpose of marriage, genderless marriage effectually goes on to legally declare the following: (1) that marriage is about meeting the private emotional and romantic needs of adults; (2) that contrary to nature and science alike, children do not need or deserve the protection, service, and socialization of both a male and female parent; and (3) that government, rather than biology and the procreative act, will determine the roles in relationships.
I think we are finally on the same page! Marriage is about meeting the private and emotional needs of adults, children do not "need" a male and female parent, and the government is the entity that issues marriage licenses. 
It would be great if all children had both parents present throughout his/her life, but that is far less common than one might hope.
This legislation retires mothers and fathers, at best leaving only de facto agents of the state, who are, in the words of Judge Vaughn Walker, “joined in an economic partnership” to “support one another and any dependents” in their custody, as long as their “feelings about one another” motivate that action.
Wait, isn't that what you just said you wanted? Parents to be committed to the economic support of children? I'm lost as to your problem here. 
This type of definition undermines familial relationships, whether in divorce court or just over the dinner table. “After all,” the Catholic theologian Bishop Paprocki explains, “if marriage is an emotional union meant for adult satisfactions, why should it be sexually exclusive? Or limited to two? Or pledged to permanence? If children don’t need both their mother and father, why should fathers stick around when romance fades?” And why should there be legal recourse to mother and child when that father abandons them? He’s only a romantic attachment.  It’s only about feelings, right? 
Because to pretend that familial or parental love is the same thing as romantic love, is just a pathetic attempt on your part to insult anyone who doesn't fit your definition of the perfect family.
Obviously, after removing the rights that for millennia have protected procreation in order to “equalize” marriage, procreation will not end. But children brought into the world will be left without claim on their legitimate needs from both parents.
Well, since you brought up millennia, let me remind you of the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah. When Sarah didn't give him children, Abraham "took" another woman, had a child with her, and then went back to Sarah when she got pregnant, and ensured Sarah's line got the birthrights, not Hagar's. And now the Arabs hate the Jews. But I digress. My point being that marriage does not produce or ensure children. And it didn't guarantee Hagar that her child would be the heir. 
Indeed, genderless marriage affects every member of the human family, especially the most vulnerable.
And not once did you prove that point, anywhere. 
The Attack on Fathers
Children have long been protected by what the law terms “the presumption of paternity.” This simply means that since marriage by definition presumes sexual exclusivity, children (and the courts) know who the father is—it’s the man listed on the marriage and birth certificates. But in genderless marriage the presumption of paternity must be retired.
I have 2 adopted siblings. Neither of my parents are the biological procreators of my siblings. And yet, crazy enough, you know who is listed on their birth certificates? My parents. 
While proponents laud the advancements of “equal marriage” in Canada, they often do not realize that every Canadian father is at risk of losing rights to his biological child. Dr. Morse points out that “in Canada, where same sex unions have been legal since 2005, birth certificates reflect this marginalization of fathers. Each birth certificate in British Columbia has a place to mention the biological mother, but the official must check off whether the “other parent” is the “father” or “co-parent.” Hence the father’s equality is stripped by virtue of “equal marriage.”
So a father isn't equal to the mother because he had to check a box saying he's the father? I don't get it. 
Dr. Morse also describes how the paternity question played out recently in a U.S. court: “A little girl known as MC was born to a woman in a same-sex union in California during the window before Proposition 8 was passed. When one woman was incarcerated and the other was hospitalized, MC could not be placed with her biological father, even though he was willing and a . . . fit parent. Why? The woman’s same-sex union required the court to do a gender neutral reading of the Uniform Parent Parentage Act, and presume that the second woman in the union was the little girl’s other parent.” MC was placed in foster care, instead of with her father. Ironically, this brand of “equality” reaches a level of legal sexism on par with the Middle Ages. Rather than attaching children to their biological parents, same-sex marriage is often “the vehicle that separates children from a parent.” 
So let's get this straight. There were 2 women who loved each other, committed to each other, and chose to find a way (at great expense) to create and form a life. They used a sperm donor to make it happen. When one of those women was incarcerated, and the other was hospitalized (events I can only imagine were traumatic to the child), the state had to decide where the child should go. A man, who according to this rendition, had no previous contact with the child, and merely donated some DNA, wanted custody. But instead the child went to foster care, where presumably there was a man and a woman (because many states require that) to care for her in a familial setting. I have no problem with that. However, if the said sperm donor had a previous known relationship with the child, I think he should have been given as much consideration as any other friend of the family or extended family member. 
Turn the story around. A father and a mother use a sperm or egg donor to create a child. The father is incarcerated, the mother is hospitalized. Where does the child go? Would anyone for a minute think that the child should go to the sperm or egg donor? 
In a similar recent case, a Florida court created a birth certificate listing not two, but three parents who were homosexual, because the biological father insisted on parental rights. He was awarded limited involvement. With genderless marriage, such contrived rulings are unavoidable when legislation contradicts natural and biological realities.
Wait, doesn't that case prove the point you wanted to make about the 2 women in California? The bio dad didn't have rights. And now Florida gives the father the right, and you call it a "contrived ruling?" 
So really your problem is with anything that isn't a 100% "traditional" marriage.
Adoption Rights
Because homosexual marriages cannot create children, adoption by at least one partner becomes a necessary part of genderless law. If genderless marriage becomes the law of the land, then all types of parents may be defined by de facto or adoptive relationships, rather than biological ones. Several inequities toward children arise in genderless adoption, as well as disadvantages to biological parents.
Just 2 minutes ago the mail came. I got a thank you letter from a friend who's baby shower I attended. She and her heterosexual husband could not make a baby on their own. They adopted. I really, really, really hope that they are given all of the same advantages and expectations as biological parents.
Adoptive parents used to go through a rigorous examination as to their “fitness” to raise children. Any mother giving up a child for adoption had assurances that the baby would be placed in a home with a committed mother and father, along with the attendant social and economic protections of a stable home. The mother understood that the adoption agency’s first priority was to protect the interest of the helpless party—her child. 
Actually that isn't true either. Agencies could promise a happily married June and Ward Cleaver, and for years, that is who got the babies. But no one could make a couple stayed married. And now, thank goodness, birth mothers get to choose which couples or persons get to adopt their child, and not some random person behind a desk. 
In all genderless marriages, says Dr. Morse, the “law treats [a lesbian’s] legal relationship with another woman as tacit consent for her to become in effect, the child’s adoptive parent.”  In other words, by law the state cannot make an effort to prescreen the suitability of the adoptive parent. Adoption, once involving months of careful scrutiny of potential parents, now happens automatically. Is this equal?—because heterosexual couples never had adoptions this easy. More concerning, however, is that we now have a new legal priority. The main question no longer is What is best for the child? The main question now is what are the rights of homosexual adults who want a baby? The legally enforced focus has turned from the needs of helpless children to the private desires of adults.
Um, what? "by law the state cannot make an effort to prescreen the suitability of the adoptive parent." 
HAHAHAHAH. Somebody has clearly never tried to become an adoptive parent or foster parent. There are dozens of laws that pre-screen the suitability. You have to go to parenting classes, be subjected to a background check, and have your home inspected, for starters. (Things biological parents have never had to endure.) If there is a state that where adoptions "now happen automatically" I'm moving there! Because this process is freaking expensive and annoying!
If you are really concerned about the well-being of children, sign up to be a foster parent. Because those poor kids were created by a man and a woman, who sucked at being good people. Stop discriminating against people who at great expense commit to each other and want to raise a child. The "needs of helpless children" have nothing to do with marriage. Thousands of children placed for adoption, or suffering inside the foster care system, are a testament to that. 
And this is why I can't support "gendered" marriage. If two people love each other and want to commit to each other, I don't understand how that hurts or affects me in any, way, shape, or form. In fact, this article never once made the point as to how gay marriage hurts "gendered" marriage, or families with a man and a woman at the helm. 

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