Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's Redefine Marriage--Maybe It Could Be, I Don't Know, about Love?

There's nothing worse than people who hide behind children. We just saw it recently on the campaign trail, as Sarah Palin, knowing she would get booed while dropping the ceremonial first puck at a Philadelphia Flyers game, dragged her daughter along as a human shield. She got booed anyway (then again the City of Brotherly Hate boos Santa, so don't assume it's one super-blue city).

But we're also seeing it right here in Santa Barbara as one man--Paul Sorensen--gets to op-ed his way around town on both the Independent and Noozhawk websites with the same defense of Proposition 8 , which, if it wins, will shoot down gay marriage in California. Sorensen asserts he's not a bigot (although his sense of what bigotry is is a tad confused--the McCarthy witch hunts had nothing to do with bigotry), he's just worried about the children.

For, he seemingly assumes, every gay couple will want one (or maybe the five he has--too bad he doesn't think overpopulation is as much a world problem as gay parents). And, he insists, children only survive if they have both a male parent and a female parent.

No, he doesn't explain why he's not fighting to ban divorce. He doesn't assert we need a law that widows and widowers must get remarried within a year for the good of the children. He doesn't admit that non-married gays can adopt or get pregnant right now. He doesn't seem to know that, according to a recent study, "gay and lesbian parents are raising 4 percent of all adopted children in the country."

That 4% must be enough for him to ban marriage for all gays. Talk about a law that seems to discriminate.

Instead, he asserts, "The science on parenting is in, and the consensus is overwhelming: the unique characteristics of both fathers and mothers are vital to the physical, mental, and emotional development of children." (He probably sneaks physical in there just to raise the tiniest specter of pedophilia, but no, he's no bigot.) Unfortunately, he either didn't look very far to find the science or didn't look at all; the American Psychological Association admits there aren't enough good studies but concludes:

In summary, there is no evidence to suggest that lesbian women or gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of lesbian women or gay men is compromised relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth.

Of course, what would the APA know?

Sorensen also asserts that "Every child has a 'fundamental right' to a mom and a dad. Indeed the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically guarantees children this right." The thing is you can look up that Conventions on the Rights of a Child document and the word father doesn't appear in it once (mother does, in relation to pre-natal care). So I'm not sure where Sorensen finds his claim. The document does say that children have a right to their parents, but their gender isn't mentioned, and indeed it several times mentions "rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom." It takes a village, not necessarily a father and mother, to raise a child.

One would think if someone thought it so crucial that children have their parents, he would spend every ounce of his strength trying to stop the Iraq War, say, as it has led to thousands of children losing parents both in the US and Iraq.

Ultimately what bugs me the most about Sorensen's argument is that marriage becomes merely the legal codification for breeding. Sure, he and his wife seem good at it--more power to them (literally, but let's leave the energy crisis out of this). But some of us, even some of us who are heterosexual, do not want to have or cannot have children. I'd like to think our marriages are as good as the next person's. Particularly since it doesn't bother me in the least if the next persons are two men, two women, or a man and woman. Perhaps all marriages would be stronger if they were more about love and the devotion of 2 becoming 1 and not just about 2 becoming 3 or 5 or 8.



Blogger Mike said...

Nicely-put, George.

3:30 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

Great post; way to really succinctly put this crap to bed. But that's the conservative way: cite evidence that doesn't exist, or pick the 4 words out of a much larger sentence that seems to support your point, even out of context.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

As Tony the Tiger once said - simply grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrEAT!

I have two gay couples which I count among my longest and dearest friends. One couple is raising a child who was born crack addicted, tossed aside by its mother, whom one of them nursed back to health. The other is raising one of the partner's grandchildren, whose mother was and still is a drug addict.

And these children are some of the happiest and well-adjusted I've seen.

6:39 AM  
Blogger carole said...

Thanks, George.
Yes, let's get a measure on the next ballot requiring all single parents to marry right away. Why just the widows and widowers?
Most excellent plan. This will save the children for sure.
I believe it is far better for children to be in families who do well together than in ones which are in constant conflict no matter what the composition of the family looks like.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

Well said.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As part of a heterosexual couple, when the bigots state that marriage is for raising children, I wonder, is my marrage invalad? No mention of us childless marrieds in the argument...

1:27 PM  
Blogger Trekking Left said...

Go get'm, George.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog~

7:39 PM  

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