Monday, April 7, 2014

How I Really Feel About Gay Marriage

This post was originally an email I sent to a friend a few months ago. I decided the time has come for me to post it on my blog, with a few tweaks. Most of the time when I post controversial stuff on here, people just back away slowly, rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, "Oh, that's just Beth. She does weird things like that." This time might be different, however.

I think it was 2006 or so when DOMA came up in congress for review. It ended up being tabled at the time, but at the encouragement of family members, I wrote a couple of senators. I didn't really know anything about the issue, then, and so the best argument I could come up with against gay marriage sounded very much like, "Um...because of....reasons. And stuff." I did feel a bit like a hypocrite for writing my representatives about something with such inarticulateness.

In a way, I'm almost glad that this issue is now so close to home, due to Judge Shelby's recent ruling, that I can't sit on the fence or avoid it any more, because it has forced me to really read a lot about it and examine the issue from multiple angles. I think I can say that I am now able to articulate real, reasonable concerns that make valid sense, instead of saying, "Um, 'cuz the Prophet says so."
To outline some, but not all, concerns simply and concisely:
1) Concern that by making homosexual unions legally equal to heterosexual unions, we will see a rise in genderless parenting. What do we know about genderless parenting? Not much. But we know a lot about fatherlessness, and it is not good. President Obama is trying to push for more men to become more involved with their children, but it's difficult to take him seriously if he has also pushed for legislation that basically makes male parents optional.

2) Concern that this move will increase third-party reproduction, which is a fairly new practice. We know very little about how the children created feel about the method of their conception. Reports like those found at anonymousus.org, an anonymous forum for donor-conceived people, should be cause for worry. Third-party reproduction is largely unregulated and fraught with legal wrangling. Gestational carriers and egg donors are particularly hard-hit, but sperm donors are not immune, either.

3) Concern that children are getting the short end of the stick. There is so much we don't know about how children who grow up with homosexual parents fare in later life. Studies that show they turn out equally as well or better have inherent flaws (small sample size, etc), and it is difficult for social scientists to obtain funding to study the issue in more depth because of its intensely political nature. I came across this article some time ago, written by a man raised by two women. If his story is to be believed, he did not exactly have an idyllic childhood.

4) This guy, Mark Regnerus, suggests ways in which broader culture could possibly change as a result of widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage. If we accept his research findings at face value, it doesn't paint a very good picture. But how are we to know whether we can accept it at face value without more data, which does not currently exist?

5) My biggest concern: the majority of advocates for gay rights do not answer the other concerns, instead countering that "It's mean not to let them marry," ie a focus on the desires and wants of the adults instead of a focus on the rights of children to be raised by their mother and father. The research is very clear that children in intact biological families fare the best. I don't believe it is prudent to say two men or two women are exactly the same, socially, as a man and a woman when it is clearly not the same. A secondary concern to this lies in the swarm of ad hominem attacks against those foolish enough to question popular opinion in public. "You must be a fundamentally horrible person with poor hygiene if you don't think the same way I do." I feel that these are legitimate concerns, and I don't appreciate that my concerns are being met with insults instead of actual dialogue.

On the other side of the coin, I believe very strongly that sex should be kept very firmly within marriage, because you should take legal and social responsibility for the person you are sleeping with. How to reconcile the happiness of a hypothetical couple, Peter and Curtis, with the human rights of children in their home, then, becomes my personal focus. Where is their mother? If they are from Peter's first marriage to a woman, how often do they get to see her? The Husband will tell you that being raised by divorced parents is no picnic, so that's already a big challenge they've got to deal with. If they are donor conceived, carried to term by a gestational carrier, what do they know about their biological mother's family? Do they have her medical history? Are they aware of half-siblings? How will they fare without an adult female mother-figure in the home? On a fundamental level, is it possible for two men to play the same role in a child's life as a mother-figure, biological or otherwise?

It is a labyrinth.

I've been looking for literature that addresses these topics to my satisfaction and have been unable to find any. My work with Head Start and those troubled teens did a whole lot to reinforce my belief in the intact biological family. I know a lot of families are dysfunctional, but there's a difference between acknowledging a failure to live up to the ideal and throwing the ideal completely out of the window. 

2 comments:

  1. Hey, I left high school a virgin, never having had a girlfriend, too.

    1. I wonder if there is causation or correlation between homosexual parents and genderless parenting. I'm not much familiar with the idea. And honestly, the idea that we can give up the concept of gender is baffling to me.

    2. Third party reproduction presents interesting and obviously challenging questions. I predict that reproduction will continue to become more diverse in our future, driven in part by increasingly powerful reproductive technology. The challenges will become even more difficult -- but more people will also be blessed with children by it, just as we are seeing today.

    My sense is like yours, that gay marriage will increase non-traditional reproduction.

    3. That's a rough story. There's a lot of detail missing that would help me better understand the man, but it's obviously painful.

    4. I agree: Data needed. We're living the experiment. I see many hypotheses in the Regnerus article that can be tested.

    5. You have characterized only a portion of the arguments for same sex marriage, and the attitudes of its proponents. I agree with your criticism of them here.

    The desires and wants of the spouses are important, and are important reasons for and goals of marriage. I agree with you that they don't supersede the rights of their children. Hopefully these are not mutually exclusive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bryant,

      I just want to add that the desires and wants of spouses (however you define that, even in our current culture's degraded view of what a spouse is) are indeed many times mutually exclusive to the rights of the children. Some examples:

      - The (many times righteous) desires of any adult to want a child, but they do it outside of a committed relationship, deprives a child of stability in the home and often of one parent.
      - The desires of same-sex couples to want a child will deprive the child the right to have a parent of each sex so it can understand both sexes as it grows up, as well as depriving it of a biological tie.
      - The desire of a single mother to want a child by sperm donation will deprive the child of having 2 parents as well as not knowing where half of their biology came from.
      - The desires of parents to divorce because one or both has decided they no longer want to be committed to other (often for insignificant reasons like money, falling out of love, or some other extension of selfishness) will deprive the child of stability and can lead to the deprivation of a biological relationship or introduction of further instability through subsequent step-parents.
      - The desires of parents to want to continue their sexual relationship without the responsibility of children will in many cases deprive the child of a right to life.

      Basically, I believe that all children have this right: to be raised by their biological mother and father in a stable committed relationship.

      If any adult want or desire interferes with the above, then it is mutually exclusive to the rights of the children and should not be sought after, condoned, or promoted in any way.

      Obviously, we live in an imperfect world where these rights can be impossible to meet for one reason or another (like violence or accident), but we should always strive for that ideal for the children, and attempt to get as close as possible. This is why adoption has traditionally been very strict about who can raise children: it is an acknowledgment of the failure to meet the needs of the child, but will do it's best to get most of them (e.g. if not the biology, then it will provide a stable mother and father).

      I run a pretty rigid stance on this issue because I have experienced first-hand the results of failing the ideal. In a generation or two, I have a feeling that many more people will be this rigid as well. They will be coming from all the broken, non-ideal relationships we decided to create for them in our selfishness.

      - The husband

      Delete

I do so love comments. They make me feel important.

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