June 28, 2013

Irrelevance

On the PBS News Hour last night there was a short discussion between Eric Schneiderman (pro marriage equality) and Vicky Hartzler, a republican member of congress (anti). The anti speaker kept bringing up the issue of "what's best for the children is a marriage with a mom and pop."

As I noted in my response to the USCCB statement, nothing about marriage equality will limit or affect married couples continuing to bear and raise their own biological children. There is, to put it in legal terms, no "standing" to this objection whatsoever. As a "principle" (debatable as it is on its own merits, since not all mixed-sex couples actually have children, or are all who do good parents, whether they "ought" to be or not!*) it is entirely irrelevant to the discussion. I can't put it any better than the old saying, "A man without a woman is like a fish without a bicycle."

Is there a fear that same-sex couples will do more adopting than they already do? Surely this is only because of the strait couples who for one reason or another cannot or will not raise their own biological offspring.

Besides, as I've noted before, the principle of a child being raised by someone other than his biological parents has venerable biblical attestation, in the person of Jesus Christ himself. 

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

*The whole gap in conservative thinking between "is" and "ought to be" is at the root of much of the divide. Like it or not, same-sex marriage is a reality, and no amount of scare quotes is going to alter that.

UPDATE: It struck me that with their recent round of pronouncements, the Roman hierarchy and "pro-family" conservatives are sending a message of inferiority to all childless couples, and very likely winning them to the side of marriage equality; since by their consequentialist ethic these marriages are little better than mine...

13 comments:

WSJM said...

What's even better for the children is loving parents who are not dumber than a sack of hammers.

Paul (A.) said...

Hartzler is probably also relying on the debunked, bogus "study" by Mark Regnerus that relied on faulty data and was financed by conservative "think tanks". Just because you can buy a talking point doesn't make it valid, even if it were relevant to the issue at hand.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, W. I love that image.

Paul, so true. The irony is that even if one buys the unfounded thesis that children are "best" raised by their biological parents, marriage equality will have no impact, so long as biological parents want to and can raise their children. And when the day comes that two men or two women will be able to conceive (See last week's "Through the Wormhole" with Morgan Freeman) then those couples will be able to raise their children too!

As to Regnerus... just one more bogus "study" to add to the pile of nonsense and/or libel. That in itself should tell the undecided something -- if the only case against a thesis is based on lies...

Geoff said...

That's what bugs me about the "best raised" line, too: who's fault is it that some kids aren't raised by their biological parents? The kids? The gay couples who bring them into their families and sacrificially love them? If not, then how do family policies aimed at punishing them lead to more straight couples raising their biological offspring?

More and more the alleged arguments really do seem to come down the assumption that there is a limited supply of marriage (or "marriage") to go around.

JCF said...

Same-sex marriages happening in California TODAY! :-D

...and yet the sky does not fall. Generally, and for those children whose parents will now be able to marry.

Richard Edward Helmer said...

I’m noticing this pseudo-argument in appealing to children’s supposed needs is popping up all over in reaction to this week’s events. It strikes me as a last-ditch emotional appeal from a quickly-diminishing minority that has largely lost the debate in the secular sphere, and is increasingly losing its following in the sacred as well...

I suppose another real question is just how much more money will be spent on irrelevance, and how much longer people’s lives will be put in hold before this is all over.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin...

Tobias Haller said...

Geoff, I think you are on to something that had never been quite clear to me before: This notion of the "supply" of marriage. In the past I'd seen the "concern" as more of an issue of "taint" I still think that is a large part of it, but it also strikes me that by treating marriage in consequentialist and teleological terms, as the reactionaries do, they have "commoditized" marriage and this leads to seeing it as something there is only so much of. Absurd, yes, but it fits in with the illogic of their view.

JCF, yes, so happy to see they were able to move expeditiously on that. Perhaps even California knows of Powdermilk Biscuits. Now for Minnesota!

Richard, the "argument" was always there, but it is popping up with increased frequency. I suppose it is the only argument they have that doesn't sound too negative. At least if you don't think of children as a commodity! :-)

Speaking of the economics, though, I think you are right about the resources. I imagine a number of the big $$ backers of the Roman and Mormon P8 venture aren't feeling the love just at the moment. That ire may fire their additional efforts, or through cold water on it. We shall see, and indeed, they and their arguments have been weighed and come up short.

Bill Ghrist said...

I find it interesting to note that the "institution of (mixed sex) marriage" is generally healthier in states that have same sex marriage, although that is mostly due to cultural and economic factors unrelated to the presence or absence of same sex marriages (average age at which people marry and education levels, for example). At least it makes it hard to argue that same sex marriage has somehow "damaged" the institution of marriage.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, Bill. Far be it from me to confuse correlation and causation, but this is not surprising; just as the fact that there are a higher rate of divorces (which I assume to be a sign of "ill health" in a marriage, it being terminal!) among conservative protestants, and in the Bible Belt. One wonders how many of these are the result of one or both of the spouses having married out of a desire to convert or conceal their sexuality?

Richard Edward Helmer said...

Having grown up in the Bible belt, I have observed several factors driving the higher divorce rate amongst conservative Protestants:

- the economic pressures and instability that Bill alludes to above. Vocational uncertainty and financial hardship are a huge factor. My hunch is they may overshadow all others.

- romanticism about the married state is rampant, exacerbated by not only the media but a theology that demands the man be the head of the household. Combine this patriarchal vestige with the financial instability, and it's a recipe for disaster: a crisis in masculinity and profound disappointment for women raised with this expectation. I think this is also connected with a higher frequency of family abuse, neglect, and alcoholism in this part of the country.

- Sexual orientation aside, sexuality itself is an issue; namely, that marriage is too often approached narrowly as a "license for sex." This is an emotional setup for couples who then can neglect the hard work of building healthy relationships outside of the bedroom, which -- given our hyper-sexualized media -- by itself can prove disappointing to unreasonable expectations. I'm probably not the first to suggest that the most important work in marriage often happens around the kitchen table, not in the bedroom!

- A culture of fear and judgment that so often pervades the conservative / evangelical sphere is clearly prone to give rise to judgments and fear in the marital relationship, which may be the most corrosive poison of all to the institution.

Finally, I see the repressed same-sex orientation factor as connected with a wider diabolical frame of repressed sexuality generally. The old "sex is dirty unless you're male or married" makes for a whole host of unresolved emotional and sexual problems that haunt too many marriages.

Ending the scapegoating and marginalization of the LGBT community is an important part of healing this unhealthy dynamic for society. There is a way in the most conservative quarters that all of sexuality remains "in the closet."

Tobias Haller said...

Dr Helmer, I concur with your diagnosis. What about the prognosis? What will those suffering in this closed-off world of self-constructed misery be able to learn from the freedom to which Christ actually offers the Way? Perhaps once marriage equality is fully realized this can be its best "evangelistic" work -- to liberate from the false demands of a mistakenly constructed "biblical sexuality" into the real life abundant that is available through mutual love rather than domination.

The treatment will be long-range, however. No easy cure to this malady, I fear...

Richard Edward Helmer said...

Okay, I'll get off my "doctor" soapbox! ;-)

But I am hopeful: the treatment is already taking hold, with no small thanks to the willingness of gay and lesbian couples who have taken great risks in personally witnessing to friends and family. The rapid shift in public opinion in the country-as-a-whole is a testament here.

This forces a whole series of important, healing conversations to happen in families and (we hope) churches and communities: What is marriage really about? How do we talk about sexuality more honestly? How do we teach our children differently than we were taught?

Ironically, the retrenchment in some quarters I think is a sign that the closet is opening for society as a whole. Scurrying for dark corners may mean only that the light is shining in!

Franklin Ballard said...

Interesting post and responses. Carrying the 'doctor' theme perhaps a bit too far, I find myself coming back to the most recent set of videos of John Corvino as a 'tonic' when faced with a barrage of silly pseudo-science and pseudo-logic. Laughter can, indeed, be a fine medicine.