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September 21, 2004

Comments

Hugo

One of the reasons I honor John above all other conservative commenters is his willingness to get in there and wrestle about without ever getting nasty. This is a good time to point out that John, Annika, and XRLQ are my two "oldest" commenters as well, going back to summer 2003 when I was on blogspot.

Oh, and John, I don't think the state should be in the marriage business at all. Civil unions for everyone, and let every church choose to wed whom they will.

Astarte

Marriage was originally created as a means to pass property (the woman) to her new owner (the man). I'm sure it also had something to do with the very wrong notion that one has to be married and in a two-person family in order to have children.

Neither of those notions is right. Several of my friends growing up thrived in one-parent relationships and withered when the second parent tried to (unsuccessfully and poorly) get involved.

In truth, it takes a village to raise a child, not two people or one person, but it's so much easier for the marriage arguers to claim that it takes two parents -- a male and a female -- in order to *properly* raise a child. What is properly raising a child, anyways? Having them feel loved, happy, food in their stomach and educated is about the closest approximation that I can get, and it doesn't matter how many members of which sex are present to get that done.

And, despite what you say, John, if you don't like contraceptives (an assumption I'm making based upon the fact that you used quotations around the word in a previous comment), that is exactly what women will become.

Now, about population. I'm a little confused as to where you got your information from and why you think that's the correct information. Could you share your sources?

Basically, within the last 50-100 years, population has risen at a rate more dramatic than at any other time in the world's history -- from 1.6 billion to 6.4 billion. What's more, people are gravitating towards denser populated areas, which makes the more rural areas seem even more rural.

Every statistic that I read said that population was still rising, yet not at as fast a rate, and that we will eventually *break even* around 2050, then beginning to fall off. Hardly doomsday.

The severe hike in population was guided by industrialization: the world can only support the amount of people it can feed. As it became easier to feed more people, more people were born, and *poof*, industrialization gave rise to the huge population that we have today.

Now that we can look back and see what's happening, and now that women can make choices about what they do with their lives (instead of just having children), population is likely going to fall, but it's hardly the end of the world. In 1900, we were looking at only a little over one billion people in the world, and those people were doing just fine (with very little raise in population from year to year). Yes, it would mean that over time the infrastructure of the world would have to shrink to accommodate a smaller population, but the population certainly would not die off completely.

I could be wrong, I only found about three studies to support my claims. Would you like to share your sources? Mine are here:

http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=4389
http://www.enviroliteracy.org/subcategory.php/248.html
http://www.populationaction.org/issues/

joe

"This is a good time to point out that John, Annika, and XRLQ are my two "oldest" commenters as well..."

This is also a good time to point out that I can at least count to three

couldn't help it ;)

Hugo

Hah! Joe, you caught me and you did so gently.

Spelling is my strong suit, math... sheesh.

mythago

The research is clear-A two-parent, married family is best for children.

Actually, this is not quite what the research says, and if you were honestly presenting it you'd know that.

Research shows that, overall, children have better outcomes in two-parent families than raised in a single-parent household. But that research did not compare two-parent male-female couple to two-parent same-sex couples. What little research we have on same-sex couples parenting shows no significant difference.

John

Well, Astarte, it was in "The Daily Telegraph" this morning. It was from Reuters, if I recall. I'll attempt to find you a link or two, but right now, I'm late for English. (I'm not ducking, I'll be back, I promise). The reason I put quotation marks around "contraceptives" is because the Family Planning Association here calls Abortion a "contraceptive". I think even the pro-choice community might reject that, but I wanted to include it as a contributory factor to population decline, which it is.

The reason I say that the two-parent family is best is the reason given by the Pope, whom as a Protestant, I wouldn't ordinarily quote. And because, as I said, it is where masculinity and femininity are modeled, and the relationship between them.

"It takes a village to raise a child" is profoundly unattractive to me because it's like turning "Honour your Father and Mother" into "We have a collective responsibility for the aged"-Removing the animus on the person to actually do something about his dying mother other than put her in an (Elderly) Home where the rest of the village can take care of her. See the difference? Also, like it or not, I'll do things for my own (future) kids that I won't do for other people's. Conservatism recognises the fundamental self-selecting interest inside the village, which is why rural life where I live is functionally conservative. People need a uniting influence to get them to give-It might be family (blood), it might be ideology (as in traditionalist or Green communes) religion (Christians in the book of Acts, Monasteries), or something else, but people usually don't put others before themselves. People assort themselves into groups based on a number of factors, but some abstract "family of man" isn't it. Sorry, must go.

John

One more thing: Mythago, I've seen three or four studies on homosexual parenting. One showed no significant difference. I admit there might have been some political jerrymandering on both sides, but I'll dig it out and post it, but for goodness sake, not in the shrinking 7 no, 6 minutes I have left.

mythago

Understood. But if there is a reputable study showing that having same-gender parents, independent of other factors like coupled-ness, has a profound negative impact on children, I'd like to hear it.

joe

I am going to guess that John isn't going to find anything significant. I would find it hard to believe that a homosexual couple, and for that matter a heterosexual couple, would adopt children with the intent to harm (not that in both cases this couldn't happen). I don't even believe most homosexuals would raise children with the intent of them becoming homosexual.

Homosexuality and liberal ideology (i.e. feminism) have been seen by others to be confounding gender identity, right or wrong, I guess this statement in itself would lead to a long argument. I image some folks hold fast to gender identity as others would to race, ethnicity, or nationalism—and would want gender identity as lucid as these other divisions can be. These struggles for race, ethnicity, nationalism, heterosexuality, and homosexuality no doubt have a long history; but when these opposing identities mix there in lies the crux of the problem—because one or the other will begin to prevail, or at least pose a threat. Some say, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I would say, because people are most comfortable with homogeneity, it simplifies many issues and leads to less contention. The American experiment my just prove these divisions of identity mistaken and therefore truly compatible as a whole, albeit at great costs and many failures for both sides.

DJW


John: Fair enough, the analogy between the two arguments isn't perfect because the particular nature of the extent to which the identity is a choice is a little different. From where I sit the analogy still packs some punch.

Joe: I don't know what you are responding to. Of course I'm not suggesting only I can (or should) voice my opinion; how you got that from anything I've posted here is entirely beyond me.

Tell everyone all about how homosexuality is evil and wrong and whatnot, if that makes you happy. Same to the evangelical haters. By legislate, I mean support efforts to deny equal rights and treatment before the law to homosexuals (or evangelicals)--the right to marry, adopt, be protected from discrimination in jobs and housing, etc.

Amanda

Hey, a kid's more likely to be sexually abused by a straight person than a gay person. Seems to me that if we want to protect children, we should leave them with gay people.

Hugo

Indeed, Amanda. In my youth group, when we go on overnight trips, we understand that the gay male volunteers -- we have a couple -- will of course sleep in the boys' cabins. They would never put me in a girls' cabin, nor would I expect them to.

In my adolescence, I had lots of safe gay men around. I had female friends, however, who had some nasty experiences with "trustworthy" straight men...

joe

Amanda: that reasoning seems faulty, do you need examples? sexual abuse is not the only concern i have regarding my children

DJW: i don't know either. i was probably doing too many things at once.

"equal rights and treatment before the law to homosexuals (or evangelicals)--the right to marry, adopt, be protected from discrimination in jobs and housing, etc."

if they were a "people"(i.e. white/black asain/latino male/female) i would plainly understand. i could be wrong here, but i see them like a gun owner, lawyer, environmentalist, clergy. do we change laws according to these interest groups? yes. do laws govern their behavior? yes. do we give the same rights to the second groups mentioned as to the first groups? as individuals yes, but collectively no. i don't believe in discrimination, so laws of this type i would agree with you. laws concerning legal terms and "states" like marriage and adoption, i don't see anything wrong in people democratically decididing what they prefer.

joe

OH NO! hugo is going to rake me over the coals (decididing). there is a 6th grade spelling B story that explains my problem with spelling.

John

Astarte:

The stats I saw were in the print version of "The Daily Telegraph", but don't seem to be online yet. It was repeated the same day over our equivalent of NPR. However, I found two articles which illustrate my point, which is not that world populations are so much declining (yet), but that they are shifting in emphasis. One of the articles cites research saying that large amounts of Europe will be grey-haired, and given birth-rates in Europe are not even enough to retain the present population there, (2.1), and given the fact that to maintain their infrastructure, as we are, Europe is relying on immigration, I still don't think my point is unreasonable, which was, to recap, that the State has an interest in marriage because it leads to the pro-creation of children, and more stable children at that.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/08/02/wpop02.xml

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1999/10/12/tldoom12.html

Mythago: I wasn't able to find the studies I saw, either, except in print in a conservative newsletter, hence I am open to the possibility of being wrong. However, I did also find online a fairly detailed critique of the same-sex vs. traditional parents research, which if true, would mean that there are serious doubts about it. It comes from Dr. Dobson, so do what you wish with it.

http://family.org/cforum/pdfs/fosi/marriage/examining_research_on_ss_parenting.pdf

Lastly, Dr. Satinover, a psychatrist with a list of degrees as long as my arm, (He works for NARTH) writes this, which I think encapsuates my point slightly better than I did.

"There has recently been an attempt to demonstrate that raising children in a same-sex household has no ill effect. These studies are few in number, none have ever looked at those areas where difficulties would be expected and one of the most repeatedly cited researchers was excoriated by the court for her testimony when she refused to turn over her research notes to the court even at the urging of the ACLU attorneys for whom she was testifying.

What is known, from decades of research on family structure, studying literally thousands of children, is that every departure from the traditional, stable, mother-father family has severe detrimental effects upon children; and these effects persist not only into adulthood but into the next generation as well.

In short, the central problem with mother-mother or father-father families is that they deliberately institute, and intend to keep in place indefinitely, a family structure known to be deficient in being obligatorily and permanently either fatherless or motherless."

Hey, my research could be wrong. The DT and National Radio might be lying, or I might have heard wrongly. But I stand by my point that it is in the traditional family that boys and girls learn how to be boys and girls, and to relate to the other sex. It's about biology and reciprocity, not bigotry.

Amanda

Okay, I have a long list of wicked things straight people do that mean they should never, ever be exposed to children, if you'd like. Particularly straight men, who are still responsible for the majority of violence in this country. Exposing a child to a straight marriage exponentially increases his/her chance of seeing a rousing wife-beating, for instance.

John

Oh, and I forgot this survey, which demonstrates why marriage is important as an institution.

http://www.family.org/cforum/fosi/marriage/facts/a0028317.cfm

Just for completeness' sake. The whole site is chock full of lovely conservative research. I know many will say that because it's conservative it isn't reputable, but looking at the stats, they don't seem unreasonable to at least one Biostatistics graduate.

Amanda

Learning how to be boys and girls, by the way, sounds all well and good, but what does that mean? Consider my wife-beating example--a man who does so is teaching his son what it is to be a man, but it's a bad lesson.
A gay man who is kind and gentle is also teaching his son to be a man, and one that most of us would rather know. Granted, there are violent gay men and gentle straight men, but my point still stands, I think. Teaching so-called gender roles is bally-hood all over the place, but what does that even mean, and is it a good thing?

John

It means that a boy will look to his Dad to show him how to be a man, and how to treat women. His concept of manhood is formed by Dad, and womanhood by Mum, and the relationship between them by the union between Mum and Dad.

http://www.narth.com/docs/fatherhunger.html

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/939pxiqa.asp

Astarte

Does the head of the household (the man) being an earthly representation of God have anything to do with any of this, John?

Again, the population numbers don't compute. Europe is relying on immigration. That means that population is being more evenly spread out across the world, which is no need to panic and force more women into relationships so that they can act as baby machines.

Yes, the quota is 2 babies to every 1 woman. Many women have more than two babies while others have none or one. Like I said, eventually the boom will even out, and the infrastructure will even out as well. The current European infrastructure is made to handle a certain amount of people, and once those people are all gone, the infrastructure will properly shrink to accommodate fewer people.

But, let's pretend that the population redistribution (that is, countries producing too many people are filling gaps in countries not producing enough) really is dying off, and the reason for marriage has nothing to do with property ownership of women by men, and focus on your argument.

Just because two gay people are not allowed to marry one another, it does not mean that they are A) Any less gay, or B) Going to marry their opposite sex just because that's the only person they CAN marry. Those same people won't reproduce, and all you end up doing is denying a class of people certain rights and privileges given to married people.

How do you respond to that?

Aurora

I'd like to see the response to that, too, Astarte.

What is known, from decades of research on family structure, studying literally thousands of children, is that every departure from the traditional, stable, mother-father family has severe detrimental effects upon children; and these effects persist not only into adulthood but into the next generation as well.

Wrong. I'm living proof. Am I a completely well-adjusted adult with zero hangups? No. Where do my hangups come from? My father, who was physically abusive and cultivated an environment of fear in the household, and hit us whenever we "annoyed" him. All that did was make it very difficult for me to trust men for a long time. Once my parents split up and there was no more fear, I was a much happier and healthier person. My mother dated for a short while after the divorce, and I hated having a man around who tried to act as an authority figure for me when he had no right to. Things eventually soured between them and my mother didn't date with any regularity after that, so it was just a three female household with my little sister. Had she remarried, I'd have undoubtedly withdrawn and acted out in unhealthy ways.

Amanda

My folks divorced when I was young. But then again, I'm not a great example, as those who believe that you can't grow up right without a dad in the house is a sure sign of mental illness also tend to think feminism is a mental illness. ;)
Of course, I had a nice, strict, super-patriarch stepdad, and frankly, if anything screwed me up it was having too much man around the house. When it was just me, my sister, and my mom, there was no one to ride my ass day in and day out about everything from grades to the size of my thighs. Luckily, we got a father figure to fill that hole. And I am good and neurotic now, like a proper woman should be.

John

Ok, you asked for a response, and I'll give you one-Obviously, I'm not explaining myself well. I'll re-state my position again, then go on to answer your questions.

Question 1: Why does the State recognise an institution called "marriage" with benefits like tax breaks and so on? I'm not talking abot the church, that's a separate issue. Why does the government give married people stuff not-married people don't get? What justifies this "discrimination?"

There are two answers to that question which I think are valid. Many liberals answer with some variation of "all you need is love", but I don't think the State really ought to be interested in that. The next is that the State wants to promote and protect the procreative partnership, because, as I tried to show, the government has an interest in maintaining its population. We're not talking about the World per se, here, we're talking about the individual government interest in having marriage. A man and a woman united produce children. Children are good for society, because they replace those who die. All my population stats were meant to show is that in Europe, the government, absent increased immigration, has a more compelling interest in promoting marriage than Africa, or Asia does. It's best for children that parents be married. The research I cited, if you read it, demonstrates that quite well. Of course, there are bad straight people. Of course, there are bad parents. Marriage doesn't fix everything. But it does, for children, provide tremendous security. My own (half) sisters, products of a de facto family, can testify to that. The State has an interest in stable families, and stable children, in the pro-creative partnership which gay couples just don't have. There is no ground for the benefits of marriage, just like I don't get them, and just like other sorts of relationship don't get them either.

There is a second ground, however, and that is Astarte's economic power. Yes, marriage has an economic dimension. That's why I support some benefits for those living together as an economic and social unit, whether they are gay and lesbian, a Catholic or Bhuddist monastic order, two spinsters sharing expenses, a man and his alziemhers mother, or a brother-and-sister living on the family farm. These are all relationships that entail the combination of social and economic power, they are all committed and loving, and they all should have some benefits. But that isn't marriage, because marriage is about children. Are there marriages without children? Yes, of course. But gay unions are intrinsicly sterile. They can't, absent technology, be generative. They therefore remove at least half of the State's interest in them, and therefore don't qualify as relationships upon which all the benefits of marriage can be conferred. Is that discriminatory? Yes. Is that justified? Yes.

Now, to your questions. How do I respond to your question

"all you end up doing is denying a class of people certain rights and privileges given to married people".

Yes. That's right. But, as I said, we deny those rights and privileges to many, many other people, and many other types of relationships, for instance: Single people, business partners, siblings. I can have any number of committed and loving relationships, with any number of people and things. But these aren't marriage. Civil, government marriage exists as an institution, with benefits and privileges, to recognise that it is in marriage that children are born, and it is in marriage that children do best.

"Does the head of the household (the man) being an earthly representation of God have anything to do with any of this, John?"

No. That was easy, wasn't it? ;-) Many people who have bad or no Fathers do have difficulty conceiving of God as a loving Father, but that isn't really relevant. Many, including me, have difficulty with and relating to some aspects of God, but we aren't discussing the Church here, but the government.


Astarte

Rather than making an incredibly long comment in response, I've posted a response on my own blog.

Amanda

John, that would be a better argument if there wasn't the persistent reality that gay people are raising children in marriage-like arrangements in ever-growing numbers. By ignoring reality, we're not making it go away. Children are as likely as not to grow up with step-parents, grandparents, single parents, etc. and our legal structures are bending to accomodate that. If an infertile male/female married couple uses a sperm donor to create a child, the non-bio father is still the legal father, and that works out fine. Why balk about allowing lesbian couples to raise children with the same benefits? Or gay male couples who adopt? They are having kids anyway, so why not let those kids have the benefits of married parents? Are those kids any less real?

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