Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Voting Yes on Prop 8

There has been quite a lot of discussion on my Moms Club Yahoo board about Prop 8. I'm pretty much the only person who has stated a strong opinion as a yes voter. Perhaps the fear is that a person will appear "anti gay" when in reality they are "pro-marriage and family." As some of you know, I go to probably the most liberal church out there, the San Dimas United Church of Christ. THe UCC church is very accepting of all people including homosexuals. I too am accepting, however, I do not believe the institution of marriage should be tampered with whatsoever.

This article clearly explains why I believe voting Yes on Prop 8 is so vital:,0,2093869.story

Protecting marriage to protect children
Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving. But in all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood.
By David Blankenhorn
September 19, 2008
» Discuss Article (74 Comments)

I'm a liberal Democrat. And I do not favor same-sex marriage. Do those positions sound contradictory? To me, they fit together.

Many seem to believe that marriage is simply a private love relationship between two people. They accept this view, in part, because Americans have increasingly emphasized and come to value the intimate, emotional side of marriage, and in part because almost all opinion leaders today, from journalists to judges, strongly embrace this position. That's certainly the idea that underpinned the California Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.

But I spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage, and I've come to a different conclusion.

Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children.

In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and to each other. (emphasis mine)

These days, because of the gay marriage debate, one can be sent to bed without supper for saying such things. But until very recently, almost no one denied this core fact about marriage. Summing up the cross-cultural evidence, the anthropologist Helen Fisher in 1992 put it simply: "People wed primarily to reproduce." The philosopher and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell, certainly no friend of conventional sexual morality, was only repeating the obvious a few decades earlier when he concluded that "it is through children alone that sexual relations become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution."

Marriage is society's most pro-child institution. In 2002 -- just moments before it became highly unfashionable to say so -- a team of researchers from Child Trends, a nonpartisan research center, reported that "family structure clearly matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage."

All our scholarly instruments seem to agree: For healthy development, what a child needs more than anything else is the mother and father who together made the child, who love the child and love each other.

For these reasons, children have the right, insofar as society can make it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world. The foundational human rights document in the world today regarding children, the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically guarantees children this right. The last time I checked, liberals like me were supposed to be in favor of internationally recognized human rights, particularly concerning children, who are typically society's most voiceless and vulnerable group. Or have I now said something I shouldn't?

Every child being raised by gay or lesbian couples will be denied his birthright to both parents who made him. Every single one. Moreover, losing that right will not be a consequence of something that at least most of us view as tragic, such as a marriage that didn't last, or an unexpected pregnancy where the father-to-be has no intention of sticking around. On the contrary, in the case of same-sex marriage and the children of those unions, it will be explained to everyone, including the children, that something wonderful has happened!

For me, what we are encouraged or permitted to say, or not say, to one another about what our society owes its children is crucially important in the debate over initiatives like California's Proposition 8, which would reinstate marriage's customary man-woman form. Do you think that every child deserves his mother and father, with adoption available for those children whose natural parents cannot care for them? Do you suspect that fathers and mothers are different from one another? Do you imagine that biological ties matter to children? How many parents per child is best? Do you think that "two" is a better answer than one, three, four or whatever? If you do, be careful. In making the case for same-sex marriage, more than a few grown-ups will be quite willing to question your integrity and goodwill. Children, of course, are rarely consulted.

The liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously argued that, in many cases, the real conflict we face is not good versus bad but good versus good. Reducing homophobia is good. Protecting the birthright of the child is good. How should we reason together as a society when these two good things conflict?

Here is my reasoning. I reject homophobia and believe in the equal dignity of gay and lesbian love. Because I also believe with all my heart in the right of the child to the mother and father who made her, I believe that we as a society should seek to maintain and to strengthen the only human institution -- marriage -- that is specifically intended to safeguard that right and make it real for our children.

Legalized same-sex marriage almost certainly benefits those same-sex couples who choose to marry, as well as the children being raised in those homes. But changing the meaning of marriage to accommodate homosexual orientation further and perhaps definitively undermines for all of us the very thing -- the gift, the birthright -- that is marriage's most distinctive contribution to human society. That's a change that, in the final analysis, I cannot support.

David Blankenhorn is president of the New York-based Institute for American Values and the author of "The Future of Marriage."


Lauren S. said...

I was wondering what you thought about this prop. I agree with you and enjoyed this article as well.

Anonymous said...

To me this has nothing to do with sexual preferance as much as it has to do with government dictating who is entitled to legal rights. Morals are dictated elsewhere: ones church, upbringing, personal experience. Why does marriage need legal protection? It is a legal commitment that may or may not have religious significance. Childcare on the other hand is another subject altogether. Children do need care and commitment but marriage does not make that guarantee no matter what genders are involved. The lack of marriage does not dictate a lack of emotional and financial commitment to ones children either. The commitment should come with the choice to have them. The tragedy to me is the children born that were never wanted for a number of reasons by their biological parents and yes it is special when people with love in their hearts adopt that special child and make it their own. Marriage did not shape my parental obligations, I did. As your mother I, as well as your father, broken though we are, have been successful in raising a daughter who is able to research and reflect. I just simply don't agree with your position. That is the beauty of a free society and I want to keep it that way. No on 8 Love, Your Biological Mother

Jamie said...

Mom. Homosexual couples already have the same legal rights as married couples in the form of domestic partnerships. Changing the definition of traditional marriage will have lasting complications for society. Can you just imagine for one moment the lawsuits???

Anonymous said...

Actually domestic partnerships apply to heterosexual couples as well. Why should marriage be different? Unfortunately our society has bred a culture of entitlement (not to be confused with equal and earned rights)another subject altogether but yes I imagine lawsuits as part of the legal pantheon on all kinds of issues for years to come. Mom

Jamie said...

Dad has a theory to go ahead and let gay people get married and do away with domestic partnership laws altogether. It's an interesting idea. Anyways, where does it stop? This decade its homosexual marriage and the next its...? What criteria do we use to determine who can get married? Once it proceeds beyond one man and one woman, we have no grounds to limit anything. As far as the lawsuit thing, in the video I posted a Catholic adoption center in Massachusetts was sued because they only sposored adoptions with heterosexual couples. The court said that it was discrimination because same-sex marriage is equal under the law and the adoption center closed after 100 years in operation. In California it will only be worse since we are the most litigious state in the union. What protection will churches have? What protection will individual people have who may disagree with homosexuality on moral grounds? (For example, my friend's mom is a wedding videographer. She believes homosexual behavior is a sin. Will she be sued if she declines business with a gay couple? Of course!) So if it isn't going to alter a gay couple's actual rights (because they already have the same rights under domestic partnership laws) and will only infringe upon the rights of other people who may not agree with their lifestyle, then whose rights are we really protecting? Whose rights are being systematically stripped? How will this create a stronger California?