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Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #50 on: September 03, 2011, 10:46:56 PM »

"And no matter how much I agree with conservative economics, this is half of why I'll probably never vote for a Republican (the rest being gay rights and keeping conservative men out of women's pants)."

"Yup, I'm a registered Republican. I'm probably more interested in voting in Republican primaries than I am in presidential elections."

Hmmmm. It makes a lot of sense to be a registered republican but not voting republican.
« Reply #51 on: September 03, 2011, 11:04:51 PM »

GM, your google-fu is strong. Can you understand why I would be invested in who the Republican candidate is? I wasn't against McCain - that's why I didn't vote for Obama. I think its important that the Republican candidate be as moderate as possible.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #52 on: September 03, 2011, 11:07:41 PM »

And you think Ron Paul, the favorite candidate of Stormfront and other neo-nazi types is moderate?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #53 on: September 03, 2011, 11:12:27 PM »

November 14, 2007
The Ron Paul Campaign and its Neo-Nazi Supporters
By Andrew Walden


When some in a crowd of anti-war activists meeting at Democrat National Committee HQ in June, 2005 suggested Israel was behind the 9-11 attacks, DNC Chair Howard Dean was quick to get behind the microphones and denounce them saying: "such statements are nothing but vile, anti-Semitic rhetoric."

When KKK leader David Duke switched parties to run for Louisiana governor as a Republican in 1991, then-President George H W Bush responded sharply, saying, "When someone asserts the Holocaust never took place, then I don't believe that person ever deserves one iota of public trust. When someone has so recently endorsed Nazism, it is inconceivable that someone can reasonably aspire to a leadership role in a free society."

Ron Paul is different. 

Rep Ron Paul (R-TX) is the only Republican candidate to demand immediate withdrawal from Iraq and blame US policy for creating Islamic terrorism.  He has risen from obscurity and is beginning to raise millions of dollars in campaign contributions.  Paul has no traction in the polls -- 7% of the vote in New Hampshire -- but he at one point had more cash on hand than John McCain.  And now he is planning a $1.1 million New Hampshire media blitz just in time for the primary.

Ron Paul set an internet campaigning record raising more than $4 million in small on-line donations in one day, on November 5, 2007. But there are many questions about Paul's apparent unwillingness to reject extremist groups' public participation in his campaign and financial support of his November 5  "patriot money-bomb plot." 

On October 26 nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Medved posted an "Open Letter to Rep. Ron Paul" on  It reads:

Dear Congressman Paul:

Your Presidential campaign has drawn the enthusiastic support of an imposing collection of Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, Holocaust Deniers, 9/11 "Truthers" and other paranoid and discredited conspiracists.

Do you welcome- or repudiate - the support of such factions?

More specifically, your columns have been featured for several years in the American Free Press -a publication of the nation's leading Holocaust Denier and anti-Semitic agitator, Willis Carto.  His book club even recommends works that glorify the Nazi SS, and glowingly describe the "comforts and amenities" provided for inmates of Auschwitz.

Have your columns appeared in the American Free Press with your knowledge and approval?

As a Presidential candidate, will you now disassociate yourself, clearly and publicly, from the poisonous propaganda promoted in such publications?

As a guest on my syndicated radio show, you answered my questions directly and fearlessly.
Will you now answer these pressing questions, and eliminate all associations between your campaign and some of the most loathsome fringe groups in American society?

Along with my listeners (and many of your own supporters), I eagerly await your response.

Respectfully, Michael Medved

Medved has received no official response from the Paul campaign.

There is more.  The Texas-based Lone Star Times October 25 publicly requested a response to questions about whether the Paul campaign would repudiate and reject a $500 donation from white supremacist founder Don Black and end the Stormfront website fundraising for Paul.  The Times article lit up the conservative blogosphere for the next week.  Paul supporters packed internet comment boards alternately denouncing or excusing the charges.  Most politicians are quick to distance themselves from such disreputable donations when they are discovered.  Not Paul.

Daniel Siederaski of the Jewish Telegraph Agency tried to get an interview with Paul, calling him repeatedly but not receiving any return calls.  Wrote Siederaski November 9: "Ron Paul will take money from Nazis. But he won’t take telephone calls from Jews." [Update]  Finally on November 13 the Paul campaign responded. In a short interview JTA quotes Jim Perry, head of Jews for Paul describing his work on the Paul campaign along side a self-described white supremacist which Perry says he has reformed.

Racist ties exposed in the Times article go far beyond a single donation.  Just below links to information about the "BOK KKK Ohio State Meeting", and the "BOK KKK Pennsylvania State Meeting", website announced: "Ron Paul for President" and "Countdown to the 5th of November".  The links take readers directly to a Ron Paul fundraising site from which they can click into the official Ron Paul 2008 donation page on the official campaign site.  Like many white supremacists, Stormfront has ties to white prison gangs.

Finally on October 30 Paul's campaign came back with a non-response.  In a phone interview with the Lone Star Times, Ron Paul national communications director Jesse Benton was non-committal about removing the donations link from  After a week of internet controversy, the best Benton could come up with is:

"We hadn't thought of these options but I'll bring up these ideas with the campaign director.  Blocking the IP address sounds like a simple and practical step that could be taken.  I doubt there is anything we can do legally.  Tracking donations that came from Stormfront's site sounds more complicated.  I'm concerned about setting a precedent for the campaign having to screen and vet everyone who makes a donation.  It is important to keep in mind is (sic) that we didn't solicit this support, and we aren't interested in spending al of our time and resources focused on this issue.  We want to focus on Dr. Paul's positive agenda for freedom."

Perhaps frustrated by the weasel words, Lone Star Times asked Benton: "Bottom line- Will the Ron Paul campaign be rejecting the $500 contribution made by neo-Nazi Don Black?"

Benton's response:

"At this time, I cannot say that we will be rejecting Mr. Black's contribution, but I will bring the matter to the attention of our campaign director again, and expect some sort of decision to be made in coming days."

On October 11 Stormfront Radio endorsed Ron Paul for President saying: 

"Whatever organization you belong to, remember first and foremost that you're a white nationalist, then put aside your differences with one another and work together.  Work together to strive to get someone in the Oval Office who agrees with much of what we want for our future.  Look at the man, look at the issues, look at our future.  Vote for Ron Paul, 2008."

As of November 11--the Ron Paul donation link is still up and active on Stormfront.  No IP address has been blocked.  Stormfront's would-be stormtroopers are still encouraged to contribute to Paul's campaign. 

The white supremacists do more than raise funds.  Blogger Adam Holland reports:

"one of Rep. Paul's top internet organizers in Tennessee is a neo-Nazi leader named Will Williams (aka ‘White Will'). Williams was the southern coordinator for William Pierce's National Alliance Party, the largest neo-Nazi party in the U.S." 

Pierce is author of the racist "Turner Diaries".   When the Lone Star Times exposed the $500 Don Black donation, Williams responded on the national Ron Paul meetup site,

"Must Dr. Paul capitulate to our Jewish masters' demands?" 

The mild responses to Williams' MeetUp post make a sharp contrast to the hatred and invective with which Paul supporters respond to Medved or any other writer questioning Paul's refusal to disassociate himself from his racist supporters.  Any other campaign would presume Williams' expression of anti-Semitism was a dirty trick by an opposing campaign.  Williams would have been hurriedly denounced and booted out of the campaign.  Not Ron Paul.

Williams has also organized at least one other discussion, "the Israel factor revisited" on the national Ron Paul MeetUp site.  Again the measured tone of the remarks by Ron Paul supporters in the comments section contrasts sharply with the invective Paul supporters rain down upon bloggers who oppose him.  Paul's campaign relies heavily on MeetUp sites to organize.  Over 61,000 Paul supporters are registered on MeetUp as compared to 3,400 for Barack Obama, 1,000 for Hillary Clinton, 1,800 for Dennis Kucinich and only a couple of dozen members for most other candidates.

On the white-supremacist Vanguard News Network, Williams links to Paul's "grassroots" fundraising site and organizes other racists to "game You Tube" to advance a specific Ron Paul video to the top of You Tube's rankings.  Writes Williams, "Everybody here can do this, except bjb w/his niggerberry."  Holland points out, "BJB" stands for "burn Jew burn".  BJB's internet signature is, "Nothing says lovin' like a Jew in the oven."     

Williams is not Paul's only supremacist supporter.  "Former" KKK leader (and convicted fraudster) David Duke's website, calls Ron Paul "our king" and cheers while "Ron Paul Hits a Home Run on Jay Leno Show."  Duke also includes a "Ron Paul campaign update" and plugs Ron Paul fundraising efforts.  These articles are posted right next to articles such as "Ten reasons why the Holocaust is a fraud" and "Germans Still Remember their Historical Greatness"-featuring a map of Hitler's Third Reich at its 1942 military height, just in case anybody doesn't get the point.  Apparently "Dr. Paul's positive agenda for freedom" is attractive to those who ape the world's worst tyrants and genocidaires.

There are others.  In a You Tube video circulating the internet, Ron Paul is endorsed by Hutton Gibson, a leading Holocaust denier and father of controversial actor and director Mel Gibson.     

Ron Paul is supported by Patrick Buchanan, whose website carries videos and articles such as: "Ron Paul epiphany" and "Ron Paul a new hope."  Buchanan has a long history of remarks some call anti-Semitic (see link).  Ron Unz, editor of Buchanan's American Conservative magazine, is a Paul contributor and may have helped raise money from Silicon Valley sources. 

Ron Paul's American Free Press supporters run literally from one end of the country to the other: 

•A Maine Ron Paul MeetUp activist who once ran for US Senate describes himself as, "a 911 truth researcher & video documentarian, & a writer for The Barnes Review."  The Barnes Review is a Holocaust-denier magazine founded by Willis Carto.
•A Hawaii Ron Paul MeetUp organizer is pictured here pumping the Paul campaign and selling copies of Willis Carto's American Free Press at a farmers market.

There is more to the Paul campaign than racists.  The mis-named 9-11 "truth" movement has also been a big source of Paul support.  The Detroit Free Press describes the scene as Republican Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani shared the ferry ride back from a Mackinac Island Michigan Republican caucus September 21. 

"According to one eyewitness, Giuliani was beset by dozens of Paul enthusiasts as he was leaving the island, some of whom shouted taunts about 9/11, including: ‘9/11 was an inside job' and ‘Rudy, Rudy, what did you do with the gold?' -- an apparent reference to rumors about $200 million in gold alleged to have disappeared in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.  Ed Wyszynski, a longtime party activist from Eagle, (MI) said the Paul supporters threatened to throw Giuliani overboard and harassed him as he took shelter in the ferry's pilothouse for the 15-minute journey back to Mackinaw City."

Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton told the Detroit Free Press "Ron Paul does not think that 9/11 was an inside job."  But the "truthers" aren't fooled.  Paul's committee paid 9-11 conspiracy nut and talk-show host Alex Jones $1300.  Jones claims the payment is a partial refund after he over paid August 27 when giving Paul a $2300 contribution.  Aaron Dykes of Alex Jones' company Magnolia Management and Alex Jones' Infowars website gave Ron Paul $1600. 

Jones has been pumping Paul's campaign on his nationally syndicated radio show for months.  Alex Jones got Paul's first radio interview January 17 after announcing his Presidential campaign.  LINK:  In a lengthy October 5 interview -- apparently Paul's fourth with Jones -- Paul thanks Jones for his support saying: "You and the others have always said run, run, run."  Alex Jones' websites are piled with Ron Paul articles and campaign paraphernalia for sale.

Other Paul donations and activists come from leftists and Muslims.  Singer and Democrat contributor Barry Manilow is also a Ron Paul contributor and possibly a fundraiser.  There are close ties (but no endorsements) between Ron Paul's San Francisco Bay Area campaign and Cindy Sheehan's long-shot Congressional campaign.

An Austin, TX MeetUp site shows Paul supporters also involved in leftist groups such as Howard Dean's "Democracy for America."  MeetUp lists other sites popular with members of the Ron Paul national MeetUp group.  The number one choice is "9/11 questions" another leading choice is "conspiracy." chimes in writing:

"Brothers and Sisters, please vote for Ron Paul in the Republican Primaries. It's our obligation to come together and try to stand up for not only our best interests, but the best interests of the entire Ummah." 

A Ron Paul flyer directed at Muslims reads: "Who is Ron Paul and why does the Jerusalem Post call him crazy?"  A "Muslims for Paul" bumper sticker puts the Islamic crescent in Paul's name.

The ugly mishmash of hate groups backing Paul has a Sheehan connection as well.  David Duke is a big Cindy Sheehan supporter eagerly proclaiming "Cindy Sheehan is right" after Sheehan said, "My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel." members joined Sheehan at her protest campout in Crawford, TX and posed with her for photos.  Sheehan is also intimately associated with the Lew Rockwell libertarian website which has posted over 200 articles by Ron Paul as well as some "scholarly" 9-11 conspiracy theories. 

The white supremacist American Nationalist Union also backed Sheehan's Crawford protests and endorsed David Duke for president of the United States in 1988.  Now they are backing Ron Paul-linking to numerous Pro-Paul articles posted on

Medved's questions surprise many, but they shouldn't.  Paul's links the anti-Semites and white supremacists continue a trend which has been developing since the 9-11 attacks.  Barely six weeks after 9-11, Paul was already busy blaming America.  On October 27, 2001 Paul wrote on, "Some sincere Americans have suggested that our modern interventionist policy set the stage for the attacks of 9-11".  Paul complained: "often the ones who suggest how our policies may have played a role in evoking the attacks are demonized as unpatriotic."  He says the US is "bombing Afghanistan" and is upset nobody is interested in his solution:

"It is certainly disappointing that our congressional leaders and administration have not considered using letters of marque and reprisal as an additional tool to root out those who participated in the 9-11 attacks."

Paul is quick to blame the victim when the issue is Islamist violence.  But when it comes to ordinary criminal violence, Paul once blamed "95% of black males."  During Paul's 1996 Congressional campaign a Houston Chronicle article raised questions about  a 1992 Ron Paul newsletter article.  Under Ron Paul's name was written: "If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.' Paul added: "I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city (Washington, D.C.) are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." 

Texas Monthly later interviewed Paul.  He claims:

"They were never my words, but I had some moral responsibility for them . . . I actually really wanted to try to explain that it doesn't come from me directly, but they campaign aides said that's too confusing.  'It appeared in your letter and your name was on that letter and therefore you have to live with it.'" 

Adds Texas Monthly:

"It is a measure of his stubbornness, determination, and ultimately his contrarian nature that, until this surprising volte-face in our interview, he had never shared this secret. It seems, in retrospect, that it would have been far, far easier to have told the truth at the time."

Paul defenders often point to a December 24, 2002 Paul essay, "What really divides us?"  Wrote Paul,

"Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans only as members of groups and never as individuals. Racists believe that all individual who share superficial physical characteristics are alike; as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups." 

What his supporters don't often mention is that Paul deployed this fine rhetoric only in defense of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS).  Lott was pilloried in the press for his flattering words about the segregationist 1948 Presidential run of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond.

Responding to rioting in Los Angeles under the heading "Terrorist Updates", Paul's 1992 article exposes a double standard.  Substitute the words "Islamist terrorism" for "riots" and try to imagine Paul using this language:

"The cause of the riots is plain: barbarism. If the barbarians cannot loot sufficiently through legal channels (i.e., the riots being the welfare-state minus the middleman), they resort to illegal ones, to terrorism. Trouble is, few seem willing to do anything to stop them. The cops have been handcuffed. And property owners are not allowed to defend themselves. The mayor of Los Angeles, for example, ordered the Korean storekeepers who defended themselves arrested for "discharging a firearm within city limits."  Perhaps the most scandalous aspect of the Los Angeles riots was the response by the mayors, the media, and the Washington politicians. They all came together as one to excuse the violence and to tell white America that it is guilty, although the guilt can be assuaged by handing over more cash. It would be reactionary, racist, and fascist, said the media, to have less welfare or tougher law enforcement. America's number one need is an unlimited white checking account for underclass blacks.

"Rather than helping, all this will ensure that guerrilla violence will escalate. There will be more occasional eruptions such as we saw in Los Angeles, but just as terrifying are the daily muggings, robberies, burglaries, rapes, and killings that make our cities terror zones."

If one forgets the implication that the US treasury is a "white checking account" or the suggestion that all "underclass blacks" are thugs, it seems that Paul believes that appeasing street criminals "will ensure that guerrilla violence will escalate."  But when it comes to the Islamist terror, Paul's message, now the theme of his Presidential campaign is: "our policies may have played a role in evoking the attacks."

The double standard raises questions.  Paul's real motivation for appeasing Islamists may be underlined in quotes from a May 24, 1996 Congress Daily article:

"Stating that lobbying groups who seek special favors and handouts are evil, Paul wrote, ‘By far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government' and that the goal of the Zionist movement is to stifle criticism." 

"Ron Paul-America's Last Chance", a January, 2007 article by Ted Lang on the anti-Semitic site, makes a familiar argument for supporting Paul.  Lang claims,

"Dr. Paul's best credentials are those identifying him as a true libertarian, meaning a ‘classical liberal' of the anti-Federalist genre of libertarians that helped found this country, true liberals such as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams...." 

Paul himself writing on says:

"Thomas Jefferson spoke for the founders and all our early presidents when he stated: ‘peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none...' which is, ‘one of the essential principles of our government'. The question is: Whatever happened to this principle and should it be restored?"

Perhaps Paul forgets America's 1801-05 war with the Islamic terrorists known as the Barbary Pirates?  Paul's interpretation of American history is false.  This writer explained in "The Colonial War against Islam":   

"In 1786, Thomas Jefferson, then U.S. ambassador to France, and John Adams, then American Ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Dey's ambassador to Britain, in an attempt to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress' vote of funding. To Congress, these two future presidents later reported the reasons for the Muslims' hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.

"‘...that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.'"

Apparently Paul chooses to remember only the parts of American history which benefit his arguments.  As part of the War on Terror Paul wants the US to abandon, the US Navy is on duty fighting Islamic pirates off the coast of Somalia, in the Persian Gulf, and Southeast Asia.

In spite of official silence from the Paul Campaign, hordes of Paul supporters lit up the comments section of Michael Medved's open letter on  In a phenomenon familiar to any blogger who posts information negative to Paul, the 500-plus comments include several which indicate that Medved has got Paul's supporters dead to rights:
•"Your own Zionism is slipping, Medved!  Why should anyone disassociate from 9/11 Truthers?"
•"I suggest you take off the tin-foil yamika (sic), your brain is fried."
•"You will do anything to smear this good man to try and safeguard US policy in Israel."
•"Hey Medved. Tell your AIPAC handlers to be nervous. You are failing miserably."
•"It's patently obvious why you don't support Dr. Paul: He's not hand-picked by AIPAC and the Likud Party."

Over at Liberty Post, a self-described "Christian Zionist" identifying himself as ‘David Ben-Ariel' adds this response:

"If discredited and paranoid Michael Medved is so concerned about it, let him actually follow his Judaism to the Jewish Homeland of Israel and take the treacherous ACLU and its liberal ilk, and every other self-hating, defeatist, godless group and loathsome organization with him. What's he got to lose, especially if he fails to believe the Israeli oligarchy is under German-Jesuit control and guilty of murdering Yitzhak Rabin?  ... I'm voting for Ron Paul." 

Besides the Paul backers whose words seem to provide backing to Medved's case, others complain that it is wrong to question the sources of Paul's support.  Writing on the "Daily Paul", Mike Bergmaier complains it is "unfair" for Medved to demand Paul renounce the support of anti-Semites, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis.  Really?  Why?

Lew Rockwell attempts to respond to Medved's question by echoing leftist themes equating Nazis with mainstream conservatives.  Rockwell argues Medved should renounce Cheney and Bush.  In a weak effort at verbal judo, Rockwell calls Medved's letter a "neocon libel."  Rockwell continues:

"Mr. Medved, will you repudiate belligerent nationalists, drooling torturers, scheming warmongers, redistributing pressure groups, foreign aid thieves... (etc)"

and then without even pausing to catch his breath accuses Medved of practicing "guilt by association." 

Perhaps Rockwell hopes weak-minded readers will not notice that associating Medved with "drooling torturers" is itself "guilt by association."   No "drooling torturers" have been identified among Medved's financial backers but actual neo-Nazis have been identified by name amongst Paul's.  Is this what passes for scholarship at the Ludwig von Mises Institute headed by Rockwell?  Judging from many of the comments Paul supporters have flooded the internet with, it apparently is good enough for them. 

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Daily Paul, Paul's "fair" supporters are organizing to call radio stations and demand they yank Medved's show, thus demonstrating that censorship is a Libertarian value.   

Neither Paul nor his campaign has officially responded to the questions raised by Medved.  But then perhaps these types of comments are the official response. 

Paul supporters complain endlessly that the "mainstream media" is censoring or ignoring their candidate.  They should be careful what they ask for.  If Paul wants to be taken seriously, he must stop cowering behind the internet and face these questions.  Until then it is only reasonable to presume that Paul is happy to wallow in well-financed obscurity accepting the support of some of the worst enemies of freedom and liberty within American society.
on "The Ron Paul Campaign and its Neo-Nazi Supporters"
« Reply #54 on: September 03, 2011, 11:17:44 PM »

And you think Ron Paul, the favorite candidate of Stormfront and other neo-nazi types is moderate?

Sure, moderate is the total wrong word for him, but I like his opinions on the Federal Reserve and on the governments place in our social lives. Even though he won't win, a vote for him is a message that those things are important. Hopefully it affects other candidates positions.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #55 on: September 03, 2011, 11:23:44 PM »

What human culture spawned the idea of human rights and limited government?
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 11:36:59 PM by G M » Logged
« Reply #56 on: September 03, 2011, 11:41:35 PM »

What human culture spawned the idea of human rights and limited government?

The Persians? They had the first charter of human rights and many of their Satrapies allowed the culture and politics of the local people to continue. That's in stark contrast to the Spartans we adore for their slave state and fascism.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 11:45:47 PM by Cranewings » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #57 on: September 04, 2011, 12:28:54 AM »


A fascinating piece on RP and the Nazis, but one with de minimis connection with this thread.  May I ask you to post it either in the Presidential 2012 thread or the Anti-semitism thread please?

Thank you,
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #58 on: September 04, 2011, 04:46:14 AM »

What human culture spawned the idea of human rights and limited government?

The Persians? They had the first charter of human rights and many of their Satrapies allowed the culture and politics of the local people to continue. That's in stark contrast to the Spartans we adore for their slave state and fascism.

From the wikipedia article cited:

A partial transcription by F.H. Weissbach in 1911[34] was supplanted by a much more complete transcription after the identification of the "B" fragment; this is now available in German[35] and in English.[32][36] Several editions of the full text of the Cyrus Cylinder are available online, incorporating both "A" and "B" fragments.
A false translation of the text – affirming, among other things, the abolition of slavery and the right to self-determination, a minimum wage and asylum – has been promoted on the Internet and elsewhere.[37] As well as making claims that are not found on the real cylinder, it has been edited, referring to the Zoroastrian divinity Ahura Mazda rather than the Mesopotamian god Marduk. The false translation has been widely circulated; alluding to its claim that Cyrus supposedly has stated that "Every country shall decide for itself whether or not it wants my leadership."[38] Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi in her acceptance speech described Cyrus as "the very emperor who proclaimed at the pinnacle of power 2,500 years ago that ... he would not reign over the people if they did not wish it".[37][39][40][41] Similarly, United States President George W. Bush referred in a 2006 speech to Cyrus declaring that his people had "the right to worship God in freedom"[42][43] – a statement made nowhere in the text of the cylinder.
« Reply #59 on: September 04, 2011, 10:58:55 AM »

Eh, I still give it to them (;

So if not Cyrus, GM, who are you giving the credit to and where are you going with it?
« Last Edit: September 04, 2011, 11:04:49 AM by Cranewings » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #60 on: September 04, 2011, 01:21:54 PM »

Well, I'd like to see this thread go back to the subject matter of "Marriage and Family"  cheesy
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #61 on: September 06, 2011, 06:16:51 AM »

The extent to which people will go to advance their rationalizations for sexual misbehavior grows ever more amusing and ambitious, with consequences, however, that are less jolly. The ultimate level of absurdity has now been reached by the claim that justice requires the legalization of same-sex marriage. Consider the following two protestations.

Celebrating the recent passage of such a law in New York, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote: “I am the brother of a woman in a longtime same-sex relationship... This is a cause whose justness has long been apparent to me. The opponents have no case other than ignorance and misconception and prejudice.”

And when Edwin O'Brien, the Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, attempted to remonstrate with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Catholic, over his sponsorship of a same sex marriage bill, the Governor responded that: "When shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice."

So now it is no longer tolerance, but the demands of justice that seem to require legally equating homosexual marriage with heterosexual marriage, something no other civilization in recorded history has done.

But before justice can be enlisted on behalf of this cause, we should ask ourselves: what is justice? The classical answer to this question is that justice is giving to things what is their due according to what they are. In other words, to act justly, one must first know what things are. When one knows what something is, one then understands what it is for. The purpose of the thing then determines whether our actions toward it are a use or an abuse. This is where the matter of justice comes in.

One does not get to make up what things are. If that were the case, then justice could be anything that one said it was. That is what tyrants do. This would be arbitrary, and what is arbitrary is by definition tyrannical. It is based upon pure will, unguided by reason. Those who wish to base their freedom upon the supposed purposelessness of things should face the consequences of this view. What seems unmitigated freedom is, in fact, the foundation of tyranny.

Unfortunately, this solipsistic view of reality has reached high places. In the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs. Casey ruling, the Supreme Court opined that, "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Well, actually not. The universe is already here. It has already been defined for us; otherwise, it would not be in existence. Our choice is not to make up the meaning of the universe, but to discern its meaning and then either conform ourselves to it, or revolt against it. The choice today is revolt. Igor Stravinsky once wrote, “The old original sin was one of knowledge, the new original sin is one of non-acknowledgment.” It is the refusal to acknowledge anything outside the operation of the human will — most especially “the good” toward which the soul is ordered. "The good" is what ultimately informs human justice.

The modern premise, so evident in the campaign for same-sex marriage, is that any pre-existing rational end constitutes a limitation on human freedom. Therefore, “freedom” requires the denial that rational ends inhere in things. Things are tabula rasa, blank slates upon which we can write anything we desire. Things, being purposeless themselves, only have the ends we give them by our will and choice. They serve whatever purpose we wish. This is a very dangerous teaching, especially as it affects the issue of justice.

As mentioned earlier, it is necessary to apprehend things as they are in order to act justly. A simple example suffices. If one does not know the difference between a man and a dog, one may end up treating a man as if he were a dog. This would be acting unjustly. Justice in no way pertains to how we feel about things but rather to what they are. In our anthropomorphic enthusiasm, we may feel that our pet dog is human. However, it would be absurd to pass legislation requiring the dog's consent to its owner’s rule, because the dog is not human and is incapable of giving its consent. Dogs do not have free will. It is therefore just for men to rule over dogs.

Likewise, no feeling can justify the enslavement of another human being, because a human being has the inalienable right to consent in his or her rule. This, of course, was the problem with slavery. Only the understanding of what a human being is allows one to make this vital distinction between the human and the nonhuman. It is something one knows, or does not (or refuses to acknowledge), with huge consequences. It is precisely the loss of this distinction upon which the practice of abortion is based.

Once we know what something is, we can know what it is for. Its purpose is within it. How does this pertain to the issue of the justice of same-sex marriage? It has to do with the procreative and unitive powers of our sexual organs. What are they for? Today, we seem to know what every other part of our body is for, except our genitals. This is a case of selective epistemological amnesia.

Sex has a natural purpose

In using or treating any part of our body, the critical question is: what are the ends to which the nature of the thing directs it, and is the action outside of, or within those ends? For instance, our lungs are for breathing. Breathing oxygenates our blood through the alveoli. If anyone suggested that our lungs are for imbibing water, they would be set straight in short order and informed that water in the lungs would lead to drowning and death. If they nonetheless insisted that water is good for the lungs and applied this teaching to themselves, they would soon be asphyxiated.

No one has really been tempted to do this. However, people have found a great deal of pleasure in smoking cigarettes. This has been shown to be a misuse of the lungs, because the tars and nicotine from the tobacco smoke cause lung cancer. Therefore, we can say with some confidence that the end or purpose of the lungs is not pleasure from smoking. The purpose of a thing cannot be fulfilled in an action which leads to its destruction. On the basis of this, the government has taken vigorous steps to dissuade people from smoking. Laws have been passed prohibiting young people from buying cigarettes and requiring the labeling of cigarettes as injurious to health.

However, no one today can publicly suggest that our genitals are not made for sodomy or even, without becoming the objects of obloquy, point out the health consequences of this unclean practice. Well before HIV/AIDS arrived on the scene, the life expectancy of practicing homosexuals was substantially below that of the heterosexual male population because of the deleterious health effects of this behavior. What things are have a way of fighting back against those who deny what they are and who act in such a way as if they weren’t.

So what is sex for? The purpose of sex is to make “one flesh.” Two becoming “one flesh” encompasses both the generative and unitive nature of sex. By nature, only men and women are physically capable of becoming “one flesh.” (Otherwise, the pieces don't fit.) The end of sex is not simply pleasure; otherwise, any kind of sex that produces pleasure would be “natural.” That something occurs, or can occur, does not make it “natural.” Cancer occurs, but one would not say, by that fact, that cancer is therefore natural to, say, the lungs. Why not? Because we know that lungs are for breathing, and that cancer impedes and eventually prevents breathing.

A great deal of human ingenuity has gone into finding other uses for sex that go directly against its unitive and generative nature. Those who misuse its powers perversely are saying, in effect: We will take the pleasure, but not the thing toward which the pleasure is directed: the imago Dei. As Fr. James Schall has written (CRISIS Sense & Nonsense, March 1995), “Whenever we seek pleasure without it being grounded in what is right in the action in which it exists, we isolate the pleasure, the act, from reality.” Every act of coition presupposes the unitive and the commitment within which it must take place. And when it is not there, it is felt as a betrayal, a lie. It is followed by emptiness. There is something inherently false about sexual acts outside of marriage.

Only marital love can tame erotic passion

However, sex is a very strong passion, and it is difficult for anyone to contain. The only thing that can tame Eros and direct it to an end that can satisfy the sexual passion is love, which leads Eros away from death and, quite literally, toward new life. When a specific person is the object of love, no substitute will do. Love demands exclusivity, and receives it in marriage. The desire for oneness in marital union is also a thirst for fecundity. The wild and complete abandon of the marital act is a joyful affirmation of the possibility of more — in children.

In their souls, what people truly love is goodness. And when they love goodness, it is what they seek to serve. This is true with sex, also. Sex is directed to goodness by love. Love sublimates lust and restores the original innocence of sex. It is no longer self-seeking, self consuming, but self-giving and life-generating. It seeks the unity that is only available in "one flesh." So it seems spousal love requires becoming “one flesh.”

This is not a matter of "who says," but of how we are constituted by nature. Anything else is counterfeit. To make the counterfeit official, as in legal same-sex marriage, is to substitute the unreal for the real. If you cannot become "one flesh" with the person whom you love, that is nature's way of telling you that the character of your love is not spousal, but something else.

Love has its proper expression according to its subject and object – sisterly love, parental love, conjugal love, the love of friendship are each distinct and are expressed accordingly. A child does not love its father with parental love, because the child is not the parent of its father. It may seem silly to state something so obvious, but this is what must be done when reality is being contested. It is just as necessary and obvious to say that two men, or two women, cannot become husband and wife because that relationship requires a person of the other gender. No matter how many times homosexual advocates say it, two flesh of the same kind is not, and cannot become, "one flesh." Homosexual marriage is not, as some have suggested, "inclusive," simply making room for another kind of marriage. Its legalization requires the denial of the true nature of marriage. Militant homosexuals are trying to conform reality to themselves, rather than conforming themselves to reality. They will say, no doubt, that their reality is that they are homosexuals. But that is no more persuasive than an alcoholic acknowledging the reality of his condition.

Abnormality and normality

Many who think that homosexuality is a genetic condition believe that this, in and of itself, justifies homosexual marriage. That is why a great deal has been invested in the argument over whether homosexuality is a genetic trait or learned behavior. This issue, however, is immaterial to the morality of homosexual acts. The same kind of argument could be made over alcoholism. There appears to be a missing chromosome – the Y chromosome – that predisposes certain people to alcoholism; others seem to acquire alcoholism through their behavior. In either case, drunkenness is no less evil because of an inherent predisposition to it. Likewise, sodomy.

Of course, it is very hard to live with such predispositions, and profound sympathy and assistance is due to those who suffer from them. The worst disservice that could be done in either case, however, would be to encourage or participate in the celebration of the afflictions, as in "Gay Pride Day." Why is “Gay Pride Day” any less absurd than an “Alcoholic Pride Day” would be? Both conditions exist as aberrations, as abnormalities in the light of what is normal by nature. To substitute an abnormality for normality destroys the distinction between the two, and closes off the path to recovery.

In moral terms, this would be analogous to substituting a cancerous lung for a healthy lung on the basis that we cannot tell the difference between them. Such a claim would obviously subvert medical care and would represent a huge injustice to cancer patients. Sodomy is the cancer version of coition. Substituting it for spousal intercourse on the basis that there is no difference between them is an act of injustice that will subvert marriage and the soul of the society that accepts it.

This makes richly ironic Richard Cohen’s and Governor O'Malley’s invocation of justice to advance a cause based upon the denial of the nature of marriage. They are, in fact, complicit in perpetrating fraud. “Thinking against nature,” wrote Irenaeus in Against Heresies (180 AD), “you will become foolish. And if you persist you will fall into insanity.” No one can say we were not warned. The path ahead to the asylum is clear, but in this case the asylum will be the entire society.

Robert Reilly has worked in foreign policy, the military, and the arts. His most recent book is The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis.

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« Reply #62 on: September 06, 2011, 06:20:25 AM »

second post

In June the New York State Assembly approved same-sex marriage, 33 votes to 29, making New York the sixth state out of fifty to issue marriage licences to gay couples. The press of the entire world conveyed the impression that gay marriage has become mainstream in American culture and therefore it is only a matter of time before it is recognized in the whole country.

The truth, for the time being at least, is the exact opposite. Every time the issue has been put to the people in a referendum, the outcome has been a round “NO”. This has been the case everywhere, even in states that are in the vanguard of modernity and permissiveness, like California. Thirty-one states out of fifty have held referendums and in every case the majority of ordinary people voted against same-sex marriage.

If this is the case, then why did it pass in those six states? Thanks solely to either courts of law or to politics pressured by intense campaigns, capable of mustering huge amounts of capital.

The current federal law was signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton and is known as DOMA, an acronym for Defence of Marriage Act.

DOMA defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and also asserts the constitutional right of each state to deny recognition to same-sex marriages celebrated in another state. Following the passage of DOMA, a majority of the fifty states (37 out of 50 and counting) have defined marriage in their own constitutions as a union between one man and one woman.

It was only in 2003 that gay marriage was first recognized. The breakthrough came in ultra-liberal Massachusetts, which set an example for other liberal North Eastern states: Connecticut (2008), Vermont (2009) and New Hampshire (2010). In 2009 it was approved in the Midwestern state of Iowa, followed now by New York (2011). Add to these the District of Columbia (the area surrounding Washington that does not belong to any state) and the decision by Maryland in 2010 to automatically recognize same-sex marriages celebrated in other states, and you have the sum total of US jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage.

But none of these decisions have ever come from the people.

In the 31 states where the people were consulted, what prevailed was always the will to defend marriage between man and woman, even when this opposed verdicts or laws that had already been passed.

In three cases, Hawaii (1998), Alaska (1998) and California (2008), voters actually annulled court verdicts. In Maine (2009) the citizens abrogated a law that had been approved by their State Assembly.

In other words, so far, advocacy for homosexual marriage has succeeded only when the matter was in the hands of a judge or a group of politicians whom the LGBT lobbies managed to win over. But this very significant fact has been drowned out by the fanfare surrounding the news of the recognition granted in the state of New York alone.

The clamour surrounding that piece of news was so great that it drowned out all other news, such as the fact that the same approval had just been denied in Maryland and in Rhode Island, as well as the recent approval of two constitutional amendments to state constitutions -- in Indiana and in Minnesota – to follow DOMA by defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Similar amendments are currently being examined in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

To achieve the approval of same-sex marriage in New York the gay community lobbied Albany long and hard. Five pro-gay marriage groups merged into one and hired a consultant to help them set up an effective lobbying campaign, with phone calls and post cards to politicians, a television blitz costing US$3 million, donations by wealthy benefactors with gay relatives and one-to-one lobbying of politicians.

Effort-wise, gay activists outdid the supporters of traditional marriage, who were financially and numerically incapable of organizing politically to succeed in opposing the New York law. However, to get an idea of how high feelings run on the issue and how attentive to it the public is, suffice it to say that in New York itself, less than two years ago (December 2009), gay marriage had already been put to a vote and lost 38-24. Yet in that case as in others, the governor, who at the time was David A. Paterson, had come out in favour of gay marriage, and the gay rights organizations had steered almost $1 million to election campaigns to support the law.

But California is the case that has seen the most action, involving courts, legislators and referendums. In November 2008, six months after a verdict of the California Supreme Court had recognized the legal quality of same-sex marriages, voters voiced their opinion in a referendum known as “Proposition 8”, whose outcome stipulated that marriage be defined as a union between one man and one woman.

Yet the tables turned once again in August last year when the Ninth District Court in California called this referendum unconstitutional. This decision is currently being appealed and the hearing is scheduled for December. But whatever the outcome, it is probable that this verdict will be sent to the US Supreme Court, which might then validate gay marriage and thereby annul the laws extant in most of the states: an outcome reminiscent of the way abortion came to be legalized in the US almost 40 years ago.

Meanwhile, by the way, it has become known that the judge of the Ninth Circuit who decreed the unconstitutional nature of the referendum was in a situation which could be deemed of conflict of interest, since, as he has freely admitted, he has himself been in a stable homosexual relationship for ten years.

Currently four cases are being tried in as many States, asking that DOMA be declared unconstitutional.

In the White House President Obama has been working on the issue as well. In February his administration made an unprecedented move by officially announcing that it would not defend the constitutionality of DOMA, a federal law. And on July 19 Obama went further, by announcing his support for a bill of law that would abrogate DOMA. Meanwhile the Senate is also preparing to vote on the abrogation of DOMA.

In conclusion, even though over the last eight years same-sex marriage has won the support of judges, politicians, and the media, it remains a controversial subject in the eyes of voters, and has a long way to go before it belongs to the cultural mainstream.

Alessandra Nucci is an Italian writer and freelance journalist. In 2007 she won the Golden Florin in the essay sector of  the Premio Firenze [Florence Award] for her book on gender feminism as an instrument of class warfare, La donna a una dimensione [One-Dimensional Woman], published by Marietti 1820.

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« Reply #63 on: September 06, 2011, 06:25:38 AM »

Third article of the morning

A conspicuous absence of children
Every child deserves to begin life with a mother and father. Gay couples cannot provide the family support they need.

A bigot is someone who refuses to see the other point of view. A number of columnists in Australian newspapers have smeared opponents of gay marriage as bigots, yet by and large they refuse to see the other point of view -- and that means the point of view of the child.

"Marriage is fundamentally about the needs of children", writes David Blankenhorn, a supporter of gay rights in the US who nevertheless draws the line at same-sex marriage. "Redefining marriage to include gay and lesbian couples would eliminate entirely in law, and weaken still further in culture, the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child."

Here is the heart of opposition to same-sex marriage: that it means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that a child must miss out on either a mother or a father.

Marriage is a compound right under Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is not only the right to an exclusive relationship, but the right to form a family. Therefore gay marriage includes the right to form a family by artificial reproduction. But any child created within that marriage would have no possibility of being raised by both mother and father.

Obviously there are tragic situations where a child cannot have both a mum and a dad, such as the death or desertion of a parent, but that is not a situation we would ever wish upon a child, and that is not a situation that any government should inflict upon a child.

Yet legalising same-sex marriage will inflict that deprivation on a child. That is why it is wrong, and that is why all laws are wrong that permit single people or same-sex couples to obtain a child by IVF, surrogacy, or adoption.

Australia’s Finance Minister, Penny Wong, recently announced that her lesbian partner is expecting an IVF child. She is an effective politician, but she can never be a dad to a little boy. She and her partner tell us they have created a baby who will have no father, only a mother and another woman. Their assertion is that a dad does not matter to a child.

As ethicist Margaret Somerville wrote in these pages, such assertions "force us to choose between giving priority to children's rights or to homosexual adults' claims." Yet trivial arguments frame the gay marriage debate solely in terms of the emotional needs of adults, ignoring the child's point of view.

Such adult-centred narcissism raises the wider question: if gender no longer matters in marriage, why should number? If marriage is all about adults who love each other, by what rational principle should three adults who love each other not be allowed to marry? Academic defenders of polyamory are asking that question, and no doubt critics will soon be slurring opponents of polyamory as binary bigots.

Warm and fuzzy images of gay couples leave no room for imagining possible harm to society from gay marriage. However the serious minds behind the movement occasionally let us glimpse their wider purpose. US activist Michelangelo Signorile urges gays "to fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely." He sees same-sex marriage as "the final tool with which to get education about homosexuality and AIDS into public schools."

Sure enough, we now have empirical evidence that normalising gay marriage means normalising homosexual behaviour for public school children.

Following the November 2003 court decision in Massachusetts to legalise gay marriage, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary school children were given homosexual fairy stories such as King & King; some high school students were even given an explicit manual of homosexual advocacy entitled The Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century, which the Massachusetts Department of Health helped develop. Education had to comply with the new normal.

Beyond the confusion and corruption of schoolchildren, the cultural consequences of legalising same-sex marriage include the stifling of conscientious freedom. Again in Massachusetts, when adoption agency Catholic Charities was told it would have to place children equally with married homosexuals, it had to close. As Canadian QC and lesbian activist Barbara Findlay said, "The legal struggle for queer rights will one day be a showdown between freedom of religion versus sexual orientation".

Blankenhorn has warned, "Once this proposed reform became law, even to say the words out loud in public – ‘every child needs a father and a mother’ -- would probably be viewed as explicitly divisive and discriminatory, possibly even as hate speech."

The Australian parliament must say these words out loud, because they are bedrock sanity. It must accept that the deep things of human nature are beyond the authority of any political party to tamper with.

Marriage is not a fad to be cut to shape according to social whim. The father of modern anthropology, Claude Levi-Strauss, called marriage "a social institution with a biological foundation." Marriage throughout history is society's effort to reinforce this biological reality: male, female, offspring. All our ceremonies and laws exist to buttress nature helping bind a man to his mate for the sake of the child they might create.

Not all marriages do create children but typically they do, and the institution exists for the typical case of marriage. Homosexual relationships cannot create children or provide a child with natural role models. Such relationships are important to the individuals involved, and demand neighbourly civility, but they do not meet nature's job description for marriage.

Homosexual couples now enjoy equality with male-female couples in every way short of marriage. It must stop short of marriage, because the demands of adults must end where the birthright of a child begins. Marriage and family formation are about something much deeper than civil equality; they are about a natural reality which society did not create and which only a decadent party such as the Australian Greens, so out of touch with nature, would seek to destroy.

Dr David van Gend is a Toowoomba general practitioner and a spokesman for the Family Council of Queensland. A version of this article was first published in The Australian 29/8/11.
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« Reply #64 on: February 19, 2012, 07:00:44 AM »


Written with typical POTH attitudes , , , What could go wrong?  cry
LORAIN, Ohio — It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

The forces rearranging the family are as diverse as globalization and the pill. Liberal analysts argue that shrinking paychecks have thinned the ranks of marriageable men, while conservatives often say that the sexual revolution reduced the incentive to wed and that safety net programs discourage marriage.

Here in Lorain, a blue-collar town west of Cleveland where the decline of the married two-parent family has been especially steep, dozens of interviews with young parents suggest that both sides have a point.

Over the past generation, Lorain lost most of two steel mills, a shipyard and a Ford factory, diminishing the supply of jobs that let blue-collar workers raise middle-class families. More women went to work, making marriage less of a financial necessity for them. Living together became routine, and single motherhood lost the stigma that once sent couples rushing to the altar. Women here often describe marriage as a sign of having arrived rather than a way to get there.

Meanwhile, children happen.

Amber Strader, 27, was in an on-and-off relationship with a clerk at Sears a few years ago when she found herself pregnant. A former nursing student who now tends bar, Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind. “It was like living with another kid,” she said.

When a second child, with a new boyfriend, followed three years later — her birth control failed, she said — her boyfriend, a part-time house painter, was reluctant to wed.

Ms. Strader likes the idea of marriage; she keeps her parents’ wedding photo on her kitchen wall and says her boyfriend is a good father. But for now marriage is beyond her reach.

“I’d like to do it, but I just don’t see it happening right now,” she said. “Most of my friends say it’s just a piece of paper, and it doesn’t work out anyway.”

The recent rise in single motherhood has set off few alarms, unlike in past eras. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a top Labor Department official and later a United States senator from New York, reported in 1965 that a quarter of black children were born outside marriage — and warned of a “tangle of pathology” — he set off a bitter debate.

By the mid-1990s, such figures looked quaint: a third of Americans were born outside marriage. Congress, largely blaming welfare, imposed tough restrictions. Now the figure is 41 percent — and 53 percent for children born to women under 30, according to Child Trends, which analyzed 2009 data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Still, the issue received little attention until the publication last month of “Coming Apart,” a book by Charles Murray, a longtime critic of non-marital births.

Large racial differences remain: 73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites. And educational differences are growing. About 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62 percent of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.

Almost all of the rise in nonmarital births has occurred among couples living together. While in some countries such relationships endure at rates that resemble marriages, in the United States they are more than twice as likely to dissolve than marriages. In a summary of research, Pamela Smock and Fiona Rose Greenland, both of the University of Michigan, reported that two-thirds of couples living together split up by the time their child turned 10.

In Lorain as elsewhere, explanations for marital decline start with home economics: men are worth less than they used to be. Among men with some college but no degrees, earnings have fallen 8 percent in the past 30 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the earnings of their female counterparts have risen by 8 percent.

“Women used to rely on men, but we don’t need to anymore,” said Teresa Fragoso, 25, a single mother in Lorain. “We support ourselves. We support our kids.”

Fifty years ago, researchers have found, as many as a third of American marriages were precipitated by a pregnancy, with couples marrying to maintain respectability. Ms. Strader’s mother was among them.

Today, neither of Ms. Strader’s pregnancies left her thinking she should marry to avoid stigma. Like other women interviewed here, she described her children as largely unplanned, a byproduct of uncommitted relationships.

Some unwed mothers cite the failures of their parents’ marriages as reasons to wait. Brittany Kidd was 13 when her father ran off with one of her mother’s friends, plunging her mother into depression and leaving the family financially unstable.

“Our family life was pretty perfect: a nice house, two cars, a dog and a cat,” she said. “That stability just got knocked out like a window; it shattered.”

Ms. Kidd, 21, said she could not imagine marrying her son’s father, even though she loves him. “I don’t want to wind up like my mom,” she said.

Others noted that if they married, their official household income would rise, which could cost them government benefits like food stamps and child care. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, said other government policies, like no-fault divorce, signaled that “marriage is not as fundamental to society” as it once was.

Even as many Americans withdraw from marriage, researchers say, they expect more from it: emotional fulfillment as opposed merely to practical support. “Family life is no longer about playing the social role of father or husband or wife, it’s more about individual satisfaction and self-development,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University.

Money helps explain why well-educated Americans still marry at high rates: they can offer each other more financial support, and hire others to do chores that prompt conflict. But some researchers argue that educated men have also been quicker than their blue-collar peers to give women equal authority. “They are more willing to play the partner role,” said Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist.

Reviewing the academic literature, Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University recently found that children born to married couples, on average, “experience better education, social, cognitive and behavioral outcomes.”

Lisa Mercado, an unmarried mother in Lorain, would not be surprised by that. Between nursing classes and an all-night job at a gas station, she rarely sees her 6-year-old daughter, who is left with a rotating cast of relatives. The girl’s father has other children and rarely lends a hand.

“I want to do things with her, but I end up falling asleep,” Ms. Mercado said.

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« Reply #65 on: February 19, 2012, 11:33:13 AM »

Well it is ironic that on one hand we have the gays making a big deal out of gay marriage (I can only wonder if it is all about the money somehow with regards to estates, taxes etc) while at the very same time we have a collapse of the insitution in the heterosexual side of the country. 

Divorce rates over 50%, single parenthood over 50% under age 30 and especially for the blue collars, minorities etc.

I guess one could argue that homosexuals fighting for this "right" is in a way a fight to preseve it as an insitution.

Yet nothing is stopping them from living together, working and the rest.  It has to be either some sort of in your face to the non gay community, or, gays are just as normal as non gays and not just living an alternative lifestyle, or about financial issues that come up related to marriage.  Or a combination thereof.

Who cares anymore when someone is gay?  I am fatigued by all this infatada about marriage, adoption, bullying (for God's sake if I turn on CNN one more time to see Anderson Cooper making a school bullying incident into an international scandal....)... the point is now I feel like I am the one being harrassed.  Yes I know I can change the TV station.
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« Reply #66 on: May 15, 2012, 12:12:35 PM »

"New government data reveals a continuing trend of declining marriage rates. More women have never been married, and cohabitation rates have increased steadily. And more children are born outside of marriage than ever before. The consequences of these trends include lower economic prosperity for families and an array of poorer outcomes for children. Tragically, as marriage declines, even the very physical safety for women and children is compromised. ... The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that never-married women are over four times as likely to be a victim of domestic violence compared to married women. ... Additionally, children living outside of married, biological-parent homes have a far greater probability of experiencing physical and sexual abuse. Most notably, children living with a single parent and the parent's romantic partner are approximately 10 times as likely to be physically abused and 20 times as likely to be sexually abused. Even children living with both biological parents are at heightened risk of physical abuse (over four times as likely) and sexual abuse (nearly five times as likely) if their parents are not married. As marriage rates decline, more women and children are exposed to living situations that jeopardize their safety. As policymakers look to ways to address violence against women, rather than expanding top-down approaches of questionable effectiveness, efforts to promote and strengthen marriage are critical." --Heritage Foundation's Rachel Sheffield
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« Reply #67 on: May 25, 2012, 09:18:59 AM »


A thought experiment about marriage
A world in which sexual intimacy could not produce children would never have come up with the idea of marriage.

In previous articles, I have asserted that if sex did not naturally lead to children, no one would ever have conceived the idea of marriage. My claim may be obvious to most people, but we live in a world in which people who never intend to have children get married; so, of course, do some people who want children but are infertile. In generations past, we felt compassion for those who married but did not have children, because it was presumed that they wanted children, since, after all, they married one another. No longer can we presume this. The era of contraception and surgical sterilization has altered the face, so to speak, of the childless couple, and consequently the face of the married couple.

The quest for same-sex marriage begins here. In a world where seeking marriage is seeking a community-endorsed way to have sex and bear children, the idea of same-sex marriage is like the idea of a square circle. The very idea of same-sex marriage is conceivable only in a world that is using the term “marriage” in a completely different way, to refer to something of a completely different nature.

Allow me, then, to make a case for my assertion about sex, children, and marriage through a “thought experiment”—a scenario in which human beings have no word for, no concept of, marriage.

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« Reply #68 on: May 29, 2012, 10:45:14 AM »

By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles Times
May 28, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
The roots of the modern family — monogamous coupling — lie somewhere in our distant evolutionary past, but scientists disagree on how it first evolved.

A new study says we should thank two key players: weak males with inferior fighting chops and the females who opted to be faithful to them.

These mating strategies may "have triggered a key step in the very long process of the evolution of the family," said study author Sergey Gavrilets, a biomathematician at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "Without it, we wouldn't have the modern family."

The mating structure of humans is strikingly different than that of sexually promiscuous chimps, in which a few alpha males dominate other males in the group and, by dint of their superior fighting prowess, freely mate with the females. Lower-status males are largely shut out from mating opportunities.

In addition, male chimps don't contribute to rearing their young — that is left to the female.

Some scientists believe that ancestors of humans had chimp-like patterns of mating and child-rearing. The transition to pair-bonding was a key step for our big-brained species, because our children take years and much energy to raise to independence. It's hard for a mother to go it alone.

How did the transition take place? It's not a simple question, Gavrilets said.

Dominant, promiscuous males have it good — they don't have to invest in their young because they'll have plenty of offspring regardless, Gavrilets said.

Males that help feed and protect a smaller number of offspring can also be very successful, reproductively speaking — but only if they can be sure who their children really are or if they provide for all the young in a group. Otherwise, the "providers" will be wasting their resources on offspring that are not their own, and there is ample opportunity for some males to cheat and not do their part.

Gavrilets wanted to see how we might have gotten from A to B. In his work published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he used mathematical models to test factors that scientists believe may have driven the transition to pair-bonding. These include mate-guarding (males hang around the females they've mated with so others cannot mate with them too) and provisioning (males offer food or other resources to a female in return for sexual favors).

His number-crunching found that these factors alone were not enough to move a species away from promiscuity. The models did work, though, with a few adjustments.

First, he stopped assuming that all males would act the same. Instead, he tested what would happen if only the low-ranking males in the group offered food to females in return for mating opportunities. These weaker males had less to lose by switching strategies because they wouldn't get very far through fighting anyway.

The other key change was realizing that these low-ranking males would select faithful females.

"When I factored those things in, then things start to happen with the formation of pair bonds," Gavrilets said. Pair-bonding ultimately swept through almost the entire group.

For all the talk of the free-love 1960s, he added, "people don't realize that the most important sexual revolution for our species happened much, much earlier — probably several million years earlier."

Owen Lovejoy, a biological anthropologist at Kent State University in Ohio, said the paper fits with his own thoughts on the evolution of monogamy.

Lovejoy, who edited Gavrilets' paper, said he had theorized for decades that monogamy could be traced to males providing food to females. In a 2009 research paper, he proposed that monogamy was already in place in a 4.4-million-year-old member of the human family, Ardipithecus ramidus, based on such features as a lack of large, slicing canine teeth that would signify a lot of male competition as well as an upright skeleton that would leave arms free to carry food.

But David Buss, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin and author of "The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating," said that although the paper offered a "plausible" explanation for what may have jump-started monogamy, it hugely simplified human sexual behavior.

Human mating behaviors, for men and women, are quite varied, he said — including not just committed, long-term pairing but a smorgasbord of other strategies such as casual sex, serial monogamy, having a long-term mate with sexual partners on the side, and combinations thereof.

The study also fails to address the possibility that males didn't move straight from promiscuity to monogamy but instead to an intermediate pattern of polygyny — guarding a number of females on a long-term basis, said primatologist Bernard Chapais of the University of Montreal.

Once polygyny was in place, it would have been much easier to move to monogamy without Gavrilets' assumptions about providing food and care, Chapais said.
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« Reply #69 on: May 30, 2012, 05:17:22 PM »

To the best of my knowledge, gorillas are a good example of polygyny.
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« Reply #70 on: May 31, 2012, 11:53:34 AM »

Marriage Law Struck Down by Appeals Court.

A federal appeals court in Boston ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional Thursday, finding that the 1996 law denying benefits to same-sex spouses improperly targeted a minority group and infringed on states' prerogatives over family law.

The decision is the second federal appeals ruling this year to side with gay-marriage proponents, after a court in San Francisco struck down a California voter initiative that rescinded a state constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Neither Thursday's decision, from the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, nor the February ruling by the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, recognized a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Both opinions cited narrower grounds to invalidate measures. The courts found that neither the federal Defense of Marriage Act nor California's Proposition 8 could be justified in light of the penalties they imposed on same-sex couples.

Both cases raise issues all sides expect to be resolved ultimately by the Supreme Court.

In Thursday's ruling in Boston, a three-judge panel, including two appointees of Republican presidents, unanimously found the 1996 federal law, passed by bipartisan congressional majorities and signed by President Bill Clinton, couldn't stand under Supreme Court precedents.

Read the Appeals Court Opinion
View Document
.Writing for the court, Judge Michael Boudin, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, observed that Supreme Court precedents limit government's power to take action against "historically disadvantaged or unpopular" groups, including gays and lesbians. The 1996 law imposes "serious adverse consequences" on them, he wrote, and the apparent justifications of the law—"defending and nurturing the institution of traditional, heterosexual marriage" and "traditional notions of morality," among others—were insufficient, Judge Boudin said.

Legal Patchwork
See where each state stands on the same-sex marriage issue.

View Interactive
. More photos and interactive graphics
.In recent years, Democrats have largely embraced same-sex marriage, and earlier this month President Barack Obama said he favored allowing it. Earlier, the Justice Department had dropped its defense of the 1996 law, saying it failed constitutional scrutiny. The GOP-controlled House picked up the mantle, hiring a former solicitor general, Paul Clement, to defend the law.

Under the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government may only recognize heterosexual marriages, thereby denying Social Security survivors benefits, burial privileges in veterans cemeteries and other entitlements to same-sex spouses. Massachusetts is one of a half-dozen states that authorize same-sex marriage. Both that state and several couples and surviving spouses challenged the federal law for violating constitutional principles of equal protection and due process, as well as the state's own authority over family law.

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« Reply #71 on: June 02, 2012, 02:21:12 PM »

The single-mom catastrophe

The demise of two-parent families in the U.S. has been an economic catastrophe for society.

By Kay S. Hymowitz

June 3, 2012

The single-mother revolution shouldn't need much introduction. It started in the 1960s when the nation began to sever the historical connection between marriage and childbearing and to turn single motherhood and the fatherless family into a viable, even welcome, arrangement for children and for society. The reasons for the shift were many, including the sexual revolution, a powerful strain of anti-marriage feminism and a "super bug" of American individualism that hit the country in the 1960s and '70s.

In its broad outlines, the story is familiar by now. In 1965, 93% of all American births were to women with marriage licenses. Over the next few decades, the percentage of babies with no father around rose steadily. As of 1970, 11% of births were to unmarried mothers; by 1990, that number had risen to 28%. Today, 41% of all births are to unmarried women. And for mothers under 30, the rate is 53%.

Though other Western countries also concluded that it was OK for the unmarried to have kids, what they had in mind as the substitute for marriage was something similar to it: a stable arrangement in which two partners, cohabiting over the long term, would raise their children together. The embrace of "lone motherhood" — women bringing up kids with no dad around — has been an American specialty.

"By age 30, one-third of American women had spent time as lone mothers," observed family scholar Andrew Cherlin in his 2009 book, "The Marriage-Go-Round." "In European countries such as France, Sweden and the western part of Germany, the comparable percentages were half as large or even less."

The single-mother revolution has been an economic catastrophe for women. Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. census puts only 8.8% of them in that category, up from 6.7% since the start of the Great Recession. But more than 40% of single-mother families are poor, up from 37% before the downturn. In the bottom quintile of earnings, most households are single people, many of them elderly. But of the two-fifths of bottom-quintile households that are families, 83% are headed by single mothers. The Brookings Institution's Isabel Sawhill calculates that virtually all the increase in child poverty in the United States since the 1970s would vanish if parents still married at 1970 rates.

Well, comes the response, maybe single mothers are hard up not because they lack husbands but because unskilled, low-earning women are likelier to become single mothers in the first place. The Urban Institute's Robert Lerman tried to address that objection by studying low-income women who had entered "shotgun" unions — that is, getting married after getting pregnant — on the theory that they represented a population roughly similar to those who got pregnant but didn't marry. The married women, he found, had a significantly higher standard of living than the unmarried ones. "Even among the mothers with the least qualifications and highest risks of poverty," Lerman concluded, "marriage effects are consistently large and statistically significant."

Women and their children weren't the only ones to suffer the economic consequences of the single-mother revolution; low-earning men have lost ground too. Knowing that women are now expected to be able to raise children on their own, unskilled men lose much of the incentive to work, especially at the sometimes disagreeable jobs that tend to be the ones they can get. Scholars consistently find that unmarried men work fewer hours, make less money and get fewer promotions than do married men.

Experts have come to believe that these are not just selection effects — that is, they don't just reflect the fact that productive men are likelier to marry. Marriage itself, it seems, encourages male productivity. One study by Donna Ginther and Madeline Zavodny examined men who'd had shotgun marriages and thus probably hadn't been planning to tie the knot. The shotgun husbands nevertheless earned more than their single peers did.

It's true that some opportunities — particularly well-paying manufacturing jobs — have declined for men. But a father's contribution to the family income, even if it's just $15,000, can dramatically improve the mother's lot, not to mention that of her — or rather, their — children. And it's still possible for families to move up to the middle class, despite the factory closings of the last few decades. Ron Haskins of the Pew Center on the States' Economic Mobility Project puts it this way: "If young people do three things — graduate from high school, get a job and get married and wait until they're 21 before having a baby — they have an almost 75% chance of making it into the middle class." Those are pretty impressive odds.

On the other hand, those who opt for single motherhood are hurting not just themselves but their offspring. The children of single mothers are twice as likely as children growing up with both parents to drop out of high school. Those who do graduate are less likely to go to college, even if you control for household income and the mother's education. Decades of research show that kids growing up with single mothers (again, even after you allow for the obvious variables) have lower scholastic achievement from kindergarten through high school, as well as higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, behavior problems and teen pregnancy. All these factors are likely to reduce their eventual incomes at a time when what children need is more education, more training and more planning. The rise in single motherhood was ill-adapted for the economic shifts of the late 20th century.

Kay S. Hymowitz, the author of "Marriage and Caste in America," is a contributing editor at City Journal and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This piece is adapted from the spring issue of City Journal.

Los Angeles Times
« Last Edit: June 02, 2012, 04:55:52 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #72 on: June 02, 2012, 03:54:55 PM »

"The single-mom catastrophe
The demise of two-parent families in the U.S. has been an economic catastrophe for society."

Thanks JDN for a great post.  As a single parent with custody since almost birth I can tell you that while you play the hand that life deals you, you don't in fairness to the kid choose or plan a home environment that does not include a mom and a dad, married, in love, all under one roof.

Not only welfare programs, but also so-called feminism and liberalism in movies, television, schools etc that act to break down our society from its foundation.  Too bad. 
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« Reply #73 on: June 15, 2012, 01:20:56 PM »

The kids are all right”? Think again
Michael Cook | 15 June 2012

Kids thrive in families with same-sex parents. This is beyond serious debate. The science says so. Get over it.

Denying this self-evident truth has become tantamount to homophobia. In 2010 a Florida court, the Third District Court of Appeal, was certain enough to state complacently that: “based on the robust nature of the evidence available in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise”.

The Big Bertha of the artillery defending gay parenting is the 2005 official brief on same-sex parenting by the American Psychological Association (APA). It declares that “there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation”. This is a bold claim. There is no more question about gay parenting, the APA implies, than there is about the earth revolving around the sun. Without a quaver of uncertainty it summarises its findings with pontifical aplomb:

“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.”

In fact, a rigorous analysis of the evidence to date suggests nothing of the kind. The APA views on the beneficent effects of same-sex parenting are poorly researched, according to a blistering report released this week. Loren Marks, of Louisiana State University, finds that much of the science that forms the basis for the highly regarded report does not stand up to scrutiny.

"The jury is still out on whether being raised by same-sex parents disadvantages children," explains Marks. "However, the available data on which the APA draws its conclusions, derived primarily from small convenience samples, are insufficient to support a strong generalized claim either way."

In his study, published in a leading peer-reviewed journal, Social Science Research, he found numerous shortcoming in the 59 studies which the APA brief used as  the basis for its assertions.

What were these shortcomings? Marks writes in the detached, sober voice of an academic, but his analysis of a study which has been one of the main props of the “the kids are all right” argument is devastating.

Most of the studies looked at short-term outcomes. There have been numerous in-depth studies about cohabiting, divorced, step, and single-parent families. Researchers have looked at adult outcomes of childhood experiences in tens of thousands of families. They assessed these different family structures with respect to health, mortality, and suicide risks, drug and alcohol abuse, criminality and incarceration, intergenerational poverty, education and/or labor force contribution, early sexual activity and early childbearing, and divorce rates as adults.
Research on gay parenting is in a completely different class. None of the 59 studies in the APA report examined these outcomes – even though these are desperately important as background knowledge in a national policy debate.  Instead they looked at “gender-related outcomes” like sexual preference and gender identity.

Social science research into other kinds of family structures shows that the differences in outcomes for children increase with age. A major study published in 2001, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, by Judith Wallerstein, found that the impact upon children really kicked in when they became adults and tried to form their own families. But none of the 59 studies in the APA Brief tracked “societally significant long-term outcomes into adulthood”.

Most of the studies involved fewer than 100 participants and were biased toward well-educated white lesbians with high incomes. This is a problem that researchers have known for years. But, incredibly, the APA report insisted that its conclusions were “extraordinarily clear” despite the lack of diversity.

Furthermore, the 59 studies failed to examine parenting by male homosexuals. Of the 59, only 8 focused on male couples. Of these 8, only 4 had a heterosexual comparison group. Of these 4, only 1 (one) focused on outcomes for children. This is an example, says Marks, of “a recurring tendency in the same-sex parenting literature to focus on the parent rather than the child”.

Many of the studies compared homosexual couples with single mothers, not intact families. Instead of comparing gay and lesbian parents to marriage-based, intact families as heterosexual representatives, many of the researchers studied single mothers. This is called stacking the deck. Social science research shows that “children in single-parent families are more likely to have problems than are children who live in intact families headed by two biological parents”. It's entirely possible that two well-organised, well-heeled women in a leafy inner-city suburb will do a better job than a single mother in a housing commission flat. But that's not the question.

Of the 59 studies, only 33 involved comparisons with heterosexuals. Of these 33, 13 explicitly involved single mothers. Of the remaining 20, it was impossible to determine whether the “heterosexual parents” were single mothers, cohabiting mothers and couples, remarried mothers, or continuously married mothers and couples.

In the light of this, the APA’s pompous claim that “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” takes on a whole new meaning. What it really means is that “Not a single study has compared children of lesbian or gay parents to children of heterosexual parents”.

Not a single study? Not even one? There was one study -- and the APA trashed it. In 1996 an Australian researcher, Sotirios Sarantakos, did a comparative study of 58 children of heterosexual married parents, 58 children of heterosexual cohabiting couples, and 58 children living with homosexual couples. The combined sample size of 174, says Marks, made Sarantakos’s study the largest one to examine children’s developmental outcomes rather than adults’ feelings. In fact, it was probably the strongest of all the studies mentioned in the APA report. However, its finding undermined the tidy consensus. Sarantakos found that “children of married couples are more likely to do well at school in academic and social terms, than children of cohabiting and homosexual couples”.

So what did the APA do with this report? Nothing. In the annotated bibliography, its entry says “No abstract available”.

This single dissenting voice was relegated to the ignominy of a footnote: “Children Australia, the journal where the article was published, cannot be considered a source upon which one should rely for understanding the state of scientific knowledge in this field, particularly when the results contradict those that have been repeatedly replicated in studies published in better known scientific journals.” In other words, “your results undermine our consensus, you live in a grass hut, and none of Us thinks you fit in. Thanks for coming and next time use some deodorant”.

A consensus based upon poorly-designed studies which have been “repeatedly replicated” is probably not reliable. Replication is a pillar of scientific method. If a scientist’s findings cannot be replicated by colleagues, they are deemed suspect. But if a number of researchers use the same small sample sizes drawn from the same biased population samples, the same results are likely to emerge. This does “not seem to constitute valid scientific replication”, Marks observes drily.

Furthermore, most of the studies cited in the APA’s brief were very small, which, in combination with other statistical shortcomings, weakens their conclusions. As a kind of benchmark, Marks lists 15 large studies which contrast children’s outcomes in various kinds of heterosexual family formations. The average sample size in these studies is 9,911, while all 59 same-sex parenting studies combined only reached 7,800.

Asserting the emergence of a new kind of family which is every bit as good as the traditional one is a big claim. Proving it requires big data. But not one of the 59 studies referenced in the APA brief is based on a large survey.

From a social science point of view, Marks concludes, the jury is still out on gay parenting. There are simply no solid studies which prove or disprove whether gays and lesbians make good parents. Fans of the traditional family can rest easy: a stable family with a married mother and father is still the best place to raise kids.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

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« Reply #74 on: June 15, 2012, 01:24:30 PM »

second post

Does it really make no difference if your parents are straight or gay?
Walter Schumm | 15 June 2012

The claim that children raised by lesbian and gay parents thrive, on average, just as well as those raised by heterosexual parents has become a commonplace of opinion journalism, especially since the American Psychological Association reported that conclusion in 2005. However, two studies published online this week in the July issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Social Science Research, puts a large question mark over that view of the subject.

In one article Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, reveals the results of large-scale, robust study showing poorer adult outcomes for children whose parents had same-sex relationships, compared with those raised by their own married mother and father.* The other article, by Loren Marks, an associate professor of Family, Child, and Consumer Sciences at Louisiana State University, reports on a review study that finds no firm basis for the APA’s view that gay parenting is equivalent to heterosexual parenting.

“How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?” asks the title of Dr Regnerus’ article. His answer -- decidedly different -- is based on a “first cut” at data from the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), a new data collection project funded at this point by two conservative organizations, the Bradley Foundation and the Witherspoon Institute. 

The study screened over 15,000 current or former members associated with Knowledge Networks, a research firm that obtains samples representative of the US population. Adults between 18 and 39 years of age were asked if their parents had ever had a same-sex romantic relationship, which yielded 163 mothers and 73 fathers in addition to 2,752 parents with other family structures. Regnerus reported results for 40 different outcomes, among them whether the subject ever had suicidal thoughts, identifies entirely as heterosexual, ever had an STI, their closeness to parents, attachment, condition of current relationship, frequency of use of various drugs, and numbers of various sexual partners.

Household instability

The answers revealed a number of significant differences, even with statistical controls for respondent’s age, gender, race/ethnicity, level of mother’s education, perceived household income while growing up, experience of bullying as a youth, and state legislative gay-friendliness. Comparisons of the children of intact heterosexual couples to other family forms were generally favorable to those of the former group of parents.

As Regnerus himself writes in Slate, children of women who had had same-sex relationships “were more apt to report being unemployed, less healthy, more depressed, more likely to have cheated on a spouse or partner, smoke more pot, had trouble with the law, report more male and female sex partners, more sexual victimization, and were more likely to reflect negatively on their childhood family life, among other things.” Household instability was a major theme among the adult children of same-sex parents, the children of women in lesbian relationships reporting a much higher incidence of time spent in foster care, grandparent care and living on their own before age 18 than those in the rest of the sample.

Strengths and weaknesses

Box Turtle Bulletin and other internet sites have been ablaze this week with arguments about the strengths and weaknesses of the NFSS, not to mention numerous ad hominem attacks against Regnerus based on the assumption that his work is part of a campaign against gays. In fact, its purpose was to gather objective data that no previous study on this subject had tried or managed to get -- from large samples of gay or lesbian parents from truly random samples of the general population. Previous research, as noted by Dr Marks in his article, has too often relied upon convenience (non-random) samples to study the children of gay or lesbian parents.

Another strength of his study is that Regnerus attempted to look at possible long-term outcomes of different family structures, by surveying adult children. The downside of this important concept is that it forces the reported parenting process back into the 1990s when society was probably less accepting of non-traditional family structures. However, it also might remind us that when we debate controversial topics such as gay marriage, we may not know for decades what the consequences will be of policy changes. For example, no fault divorce was intended to help highly conflicted couples avoid contentious divorce proceedings, but it may have also helped increase the overall heterosexual divorce rate and rates of poverty for women and children -- clearly unintended, often adverse social consequences.

The NFSS study also featured more statistical controls than many previous studies and included a large number of multiple-item scales (many sociological studies rely upon single item measures). One important omission from the tables in the article was the standard deviations, without which effect sizes cannot be calculated. However, Dr. Regnerus indicates that the full data set will be available for re-analysis by other scholars, regardless of their political interests.

Importance of random sampling

Whatever the limitations of Regnerus’s research, it appears that most of those reviewing his study commend him for the random sample aspect of the study. More controversy emerges with respect to the nature of the lesbian or gay families aggregated into his same-sex parenting group(s). It appears that very few of the same-sex parental relationships identified by the young adults were stable relationships. For example, only five lesbian couple parents, among the 173 families where a mother had been involved in a same-sex relationship at some point, had been together for 13 or more years of the first 18 years of the participant’s life. Given the random nature of the sample, that paucity of long-term lesbian parental relationships suggests that such relationships are relatively rare, at least in terms of percentages. However, it is possible that many such relationships involve higher-income families who may be able to insulate themselves from “opportunities” to participate in such survey research. It also remains possible that some other flaw in the family selection process inadvertently overlooked a disproportionate number of such families.

Several critics have argued that he was actually comparing stable heterosexual parents to MOMs – mixed orientation marriages or to other structures, such as a heterosexual couple in which one partner had a same-sex affair. Because he asked each participant detailed questions about household composition, year by year, from age 1 to age 18, he has a goldmine of data, with a lot of room to deal with the concerns of his critics, if he or others wish. For example, I think his dataset could be used to look into differences among parents who had a same-sex relationship in the past but are now married straight; same-sex parents who raised a child from birth; or parents who came out later in life and now are in a same-sex household.

The significance of family structure

Furthermore, even if one accepts the MOMs thesis, it is still of interest that many different family structures did appear to predict a variety of outcomes. As noted, the effect sizes of those outcomes were not elucidated in the article but sociology professor Paul Amato, in a comment on the NFSS in the same issue of Social Science Research, suggested they were small to moderate in nature, depending on the group comparisons involved. Sociologists tend to study structures while psychologists tend to study processes. Thus, these two groups of scholars tend to debate the relative importance of structure vs. process. Dr. Regnerus’ model academically looks, roughly, like this: structure predicts process, process predicts (in this case, child) outcomes. Probably few would dispute the importance of process (e.g., parents having a loving relationship with each other and their children). Scientifically, the challenge comes when you try to determine which factors mediate the structure-to-process relationship.

Regnerus wasn’t trying to do that in this initial report, but I think his data have the potential to permit far more detailed analyses that would help scholars get at some of those issues – that is, far more complex models of how family structure impacts process. The NFSS contains a number of measures that might be useful mediating variables between family structures, family processes, and child outcomes.

One thing is certain: this study represents a serious attempt to obtain objective information that has seldom been available before, and it should not be dismissed simply because of its uncomfortable suggestion that a variety of nontraditional parental structural characteristics may not bode well, on average, for long-term child outcomes.

Dr. Walter Schumm served as a consultant (3 days) on the early development of measures to possibly be included in the NFSS, including a method for tracking family structural changes over the life cycle.

* Mark Regnerus, “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” Social Science Research, Volume 41 (July 2012), pages 752-770.

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« Reply #75 on: July 18, 2012, 09:25:40 AM »

Mayer hails from a small town in Wisconsin where she showed an early aptitude for science and math.

A top debater, she was on a high school team that won the Wisconsin state championship while her pompom squad was a state runner-up.

She pulled all-nighters studying artificial intelligence at Stanford and was leaning toward a consulting job at McKinsey advising Silicon Valley tech companies after graduation when, at the age of 24, she decided to take a gamble on a little-known Internet company called Google.,0,5425804.story
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« Reply #76 on: July 28, 2012, 10:24:58 AM »

Marriage, religious liberty, and the “grand bargain”
In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination” liberty and genuine equality are undermined.
In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination,” liberty—especially religious liberty and the liberty of conscience—and genuine equality are undermined.

It was only yesterday, was it not, that we were being assured that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex partnerships would have no impact on persons and institutions that hold to the traditional view of marriage as a conjugal union? Such persons and institutions would simply be untouched by the change. It won’t affect your marriage or your life, we were told, if the law recognizes Henry and Herman or Sally and Sheila as “married.”

Those offering these assurances were also claiming that the redefinition of marriage would have no impact on the public understanding of marriage as a monogamous and sexually exclusive partnership. No one, they insisted, wanted to alter those traditional marital norms. On the contrary, the redefinition of marriage would promote and spread those norms more broadly.

When some of us warned that all of this was nonsense, and pointed out the myriad ways that Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and others would be affected, and their opportunities and liberties restricted, the proponents of marriage redefinition accused us of “fearmongering.” When we observed that reducing marriage to a merely emotional union (which is what happens when sexual reproductive complementarity is banished from the definition) removes all principled grounds for understanding marriage as a sexually exclusive and faithful union of two persons, and not an “open” partnership or a relationship of three or more persons in a polyamorous sexual ensemble, we were charged with invalid slippery-slope reasoning. Remember?

No one, they assured us, would require Catholic or other foster care and adoption services to place children in same-sex headed households. No one, they said, would require religiously affiliated schools and social-service agencies to treat same-sex partners as spouses, or impose penalties or disabilities on those that dissent. No one would be fired from his or her job (or suffer employment discrimination) for voicing support for conjugal marriage or criticizing same-sex sexual conduct and relationships. And no one was proposing to recognize polyamorous relationships or normalize “open marriages,” nor would redefinition undermine the norms of sexual exclusivity and monogamy in theory or practice.

That was then; this is now.

I must say, though, that I still can’t fathom why anybody believed any of it—even then. The whole argument was and is that the idea of marriage as the union of husband and wife lacks a rational basis and amounts to nothing more than “bigotry.” Therefore, no reasonable person of goodwill can dissent from the liberal position on sex and marriage, any more than a reasonable person of goodwill could support racial segregation and subordination. And this, because marriage, according to the redefiners, consists principally of the emotional union of people committed to mutual affection and care. Any distinctions beyond this one they condemn as baseless.

Since most liberals and even some conservatives, it seems, apparently have no understanding at all of the conjugal conception of marriage as a one-flesh union—not even enough of a grasp to consciously consider and reject it—they uncritically conceive marriage as sexual-romantic domestic partnership, as if it just couldn’t possibly be anything else. This is despite the fact that the conjugal conception has historically been embodied in our marriage laws, and explains their content (not just the requirement of spousal sexual complementarity, but also rules concerning consummation and annulability, norms of monogamy and sexual exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence of commitment) in ways that the sexual-romantic domestic partnership conception simply cannot. Still, having adopted the sexual-romantic domestic partnership idea, and seeing no alternative possible conception of marriage, they assume—and it is just that, an assumption, and a gratuitous one—that no actual reason exists for regarding sexual reproductive complementarity as integral to marriage. After all, two men or two women can have a romantic interest in each other, live together in a sexual partnership, care for each other, and so forth. So why can’t they be married? Those who think otherwise, having no rational basis, discriminate invidiously. By the same token, if two men or two women can be married, why can’t three or more people, irrespective of sex, in polyamorous “triads,” “quadrads,” etc.? Since no reason supports the idea of marriage as a male-female union or a partnership of two persons and not more, the motive of those insisting on these other “traditional” norms must also be a dark and irrational one.

Thus, advocates of redefinition are increasingly open in saying that they do not see these disputes about sex and marriage as honest disagreements among reasonable people of goodwill. They are, rather, battles between the forces of reason, enlightenment, and equality—those who would “expand the circle of inclusion”—on one side, and those of ignorance, bigotry, and discrimination—those who would exclude people out of “animus”—on the other. The “excluders” are to be treated just as racists are treated—since they are the equivalent of racists. Of course, we (in the United States, at least) don’t put racists in jail for expressing their opinions—we respect the First Amendment; but we don’t hesitate to stigmatize them and impose various forms of social and even civil disability upon them and their institutions. In the name of “marriage equality” and “non-discrimination,” liberty—especially religious liberty and the liberty of conscience—and genuine equality are undermined.

The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted. Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm.

As legal scholar Robert Vischer has observed, “The tension between religious liberty and gay rights is a thorny problem that will continue to crop up in our policy debates for the foreseeable future. Dismissing religious liberty concerns as the progeny of a ‘separate but equal’ mindset does not bode well for the future course of those debates.” But there is, in my opinion, no chance—no chance—of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve), that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should certainly not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.

The lesson, it seems to me, for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds.

Of course, with sexual liberalism now so powerfully entrenched in the established institutions of the elite sector of our culture (and, let us not kid ourselves, fully embraced by the President of the United States and the leadership of the Democratic Party), some view the defense of marriage as a lost cause. I think that is another mistake—one that sexual liberals have every reason to encourage their opponents to make, and ample resources to promote. We’ve all heard the argument (or taunt): “The acceptance of same-sex marriage on a national scale is inevitable. It’s a done deal. You had better get on the right side of history, lest you be remembered in the company of Orval Faubus.”

Of course, this is what we were told about a “woman’s right” to abortion in the mid-’70s. But it didn’t turn out that way. A greater percentage of Americans are pro-life today than in the 1970s, and young people are more pro-life than people of their parents’ generation. The idea promoted by the abortion lobby when their cause seemed to be a juggernaut—that “the American people will inevitably accept abortion as a matter of women’s rights and social hygiene”—proved spectacularly false.

Or, speaking of “social hygiene,” think back to the 1920s and ’30s when eugenics was embraced by the elite institutions of American society—from the wealthy philanthropic foundations, to the mainline Protestant denominations, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Affluent, sophisticated, “right-minded” people were all on board with the eugenics program. It, too, seemed like a juggernaut. Only those retrograde Catholics, joined by some other backward religious folk, resisted; and the thought was that the back of their resistance would soon be broken by the sheer rationality of the eugenics idea. The eugenicists were certain that their adversaries were on “the wrong side of history.” The full acceptance of eugenics was “inevitable.” But, of course, things didn’t quite turn out that way.

Note that my point here is not to say or imply that redefining marriage is morally equivalent to abortion or eugenics. There are obvious and important differences. My point is about the claim by progressives and some others in each case that the triumph of the cause was “inevitable,” and that those who declined to go along were “against progress” and had placed themselves on the “wrong side of history.”

Does that mean that the reverse is true, that the conjugal conception of marriage will inevitably prevail in law and culture? No. There is nothing inevitable in this domain. As the left-wing—but anti-Hegelian—Brazilian legal theorist Roberto Unger used to preach to us in courses at Harvard Law School, the future will be the fruit of human deliberation, judgment, and choice; it is not subject to fixed laws of history and forces of social determinism. As the Marxists learned the hard way, the reality of human freedom is the permanent foiler of “inevitability” theses. Same-sex marriage and the assaults on liberty and equality that follow in its wake are “inevitable” only if defenders of marriage make their adversaries’ prophecies self-fulfilling ones, by buying into them.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. An earlier version of this essay appeared on Mirror of Justice. Republished on Mercatornet with permission. Read on Public Discourse.
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« Reply #77 on: July 29, 2012, 09:56:52 AM »

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Lisa A. Miller and her daughter, Isabella, started their fugitive lives here in the fall of 2009, disguised in the white scarves and long blue dresses of the Mennonites who spirited them out of the United States and adopting the aliases Sarah and Lydia.

Journey to Managua

Now 10, Isabella Miller-Jenkins has spent her last three birthdays on the run, “bouncing around the barrios of Nicaragua,” as one federal agent put it, a lively blond girl and her mother trying to blend in and elude the United States marshals who have traveled to the country in pursuit.

She can now chatter in Spanish, but her time in Nicaragua has often been lonely, those who have met her say, long on prayer but isolated. She has been told that she could be wrenched from her mother if they are caught. She has also been told that the other woman she once called “Mama,” Ms. Miller’s former partner from a civil union in Vermont that she has since renounced, cannot go to heaven because she lives in sin with women.

Isabella’s tumultuous life has embodied some of America’s bitterest culture wars — a choice, as Ms. Miller said in a courtroom plea, shortly before their desperate flight, “between two diametrically opposed worldviews on parentage and family.”
Isabella was 7 when she and Ms. Miller jumped into a car in Virginia, leaving behind their belongings and a family of pet hamsters to die without food or water. Supporters drove them to Buffalo, where they took a taxi to Canada and boarded a flight to Mexico and then Central America.

Ms. Miller, 44, is wanted by the F.B.I. and Interpol for international parental kidnapping. In their underground existence in this impoverished tropical country, she and Isabella have been helped by evangelical groups who endorse her decision to flee rather than to expose Isabella to the “homosexual lifestyle” of her other legal mother, Janet Jenkins.

In a tale filled with improbables, an Amish Mennonite sect known for simple living and avoiding politics has been drawn into the high-stakes criminal case: one of its pastors is facing trial in Vermont on Aug. 7 on charges of abetting the kidnapping.
The decade-long drama touches on some of the country’s most contentious social and legal questions, including the extension of civil union and marital rights to same-sex couples and what happens, in the courts and to children, when such unions dissolve.

In this case, the passions of any divorce were multiplied by Ms. Miller’s born-again conversion to conservative Christianity and her denouncing of lesbianism as an addiction. Ms. Miller repeatedly prevented Isabella’s court-ordered visits with Ms. Jenkins until an exasperated Vermont judge said he would transfer custody.

And then Ms. Miller fled.

Her supporters say she has been persecuted because of her religion. They made “Protect Isabella” a rallying cry at a time when more gay couples are raising children, whether through adoption or, in Lisa Miller’s case, in vitro fertilization.
“I only want to see my daughter,” Ms. Jenkins said in an interview this spring in the four-bedroom house in Vermont that she and Ms. Miller bought when they dreamed of having five children. Ms. Jenkins, 47, has since married another woman and runs a day care business.

Even as Ms. Miller disappeared with Isabella, the Vermont judge granted Ms. Jenkins formal custody of the girl, as of Jan. 1, 2010. Ms. Jenkins keeps a bedroom piled with toys that Isabella is surely outgrowing.

“What’s hard for me as a parent is not knowing what she’s going through,” Ms. Jenkins said.

At the center of the story is a girl, tall for her age, whose cheerful face appears on a poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Based on the first extended interviews with the missionaries who harbored the pair, visits to places where Isabella and Ms. Miller stayed in Nicaragua and court documents, The New York Times has assembled the most complete picture yet of their getaway and subsequent life.

A Romance Turns Bitter
Page 2 of 4)

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Falls Church, Va., in 1997. In later interviews, with supporters and her lawyers, Ms. Miller described growing up with a mentally unstable mother and dealing with her own problems of pill addictions, food disorders and self-mutilation. After a failed marriage and a suicide attempt, she said, she began seeing women.

Ms. Jenkins, when they met, had recently ended a long-term relationship with a woman.

“It was a normal courtship, and we fell in love,” Ms. Jenkins recalled. “We wanted to have a family and spend the rest of our lives together.”

They became pioneers of sorts: in 2000, soon after Vermont became the first state to offer civil unions, they traveled there to seal the relationship, adopting the joint surname Miller-Jenkins.

When Ms. Miller decided to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, they picked a donor with Ms. Jenkins’s green eyes. Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins was born in Virginia on April 16, 2002. Ms. Jenkins cut the umbilical cord as her own mother, Ruth, stood in the room.

Preferring to raise a family in a state that endorsed same-sex relationships, the couple moved to southern Vermont. They bought a two-story house within walking distance of a grade school in Fair Haven, a small town known for Victorian houses and summer music on the village green.

Isabella learned to call Ms. Jenkins “Mama” and Ms. Miller “Mommy.” In these apparently happier days, Ms. Miller made an Easter card for Ms. Jenkins with Isabella’s handprints and the words, “Mamma I love you.”

Ms. Miller later said in interviews that even before the move, she was rediscovering Christianity and questioning her lesbianism. During her difficult pregnancy with Isabella, “I promised God that if he would save my baby, I would leave the homosexual lifestyle,” she said in notes she left for one of her lawyers, Rena M. Lindevaldsen, associate dean of the Liberty University Law School. Ms. Lindevaldsen describes the notes in “Only One Mommy,” New Revolution Publishers, her 2011 book on Ms. Miller and what she calls the threat of “the homosexual lifestyle.”

But such doubts were not apparent to Ms. Jenkins, who said they lived as Unitarians at the time, nor to Ms. Jenkins’s parents in Virginia, Roman Catholics who said they had warm relations with Ms. Miller and doted over their new grandchild.
Ms. Miller became pregnant again but had a miscarriage. She fell into depression, according to Ms. Jenkins; Ms. Miller later said that she was tortured by guilt. They separated in September 2003, when Isabella was 17 months old. Ms. Miller moved back to Virginia, a state that does not recognize same-sex unions or marriage.

Ms. Jenkins signed a promise to pay child support, and they agreed, she said, that she and her parents would remain in Isabella’s life.

“I wanted to preserve the close bond with Isabella,” Ms. Jenkins said, and she started visiting on weekends, making the 10-hour drive from Vermont. Their civil union was formally dissolved in 2004, and Family Court in Vermont granted custody to Ms. Miller with visiting rights for Ms. Jenkins.

But according to court records, Ms. Miller soon began to block visits, disappearing with Isabella before Ms. Jenkins arrived. As she became more vocal about her religious beliefs she moved to Lynchburg, Va., where she got a teaching job at Liberty Christian Academy, a Baptist school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell with close ties to Liberty University, which he also founded.

Her legal case was taken up by Liberty Counsel, which is affiliated with the Liberty Law School. Her lawyers, led by the dean of the law school, Matthew D. Staver, and Ms. Lindevaldsen, invoked the federal Defense of Marriage Act to argue that Virginia’s laws had precedence and that Ms. Jenkins was not a parent.

Seeing the custody battle as an important test, national gay rights advocates including Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation have given legal aid to Ms. Jenkins.

Initially, a Virginia court sided with Ms. Miller, and for two years she did not allow Ms. Jenkins to see Isabella. She told Ms. Jenkins’s parents that they should not consider themselves Isabella’s grandparents and that the child could no longer call them “Mom-Mom” and “Pop-Pop.”

“I couldn’t believe that Lisa was saying this,” Ruth Jenkins said in an interview. “I was in shock.”

But eventually, setting what legal experts said was an important precedent, the Virginia Supreme Court determined that Vermont still had jurisdiction, regardless of Virginia’s stance on same-sex unions. The Vermont court laid out a new schedule of visits.

The Flight

In 2009, Ms. Miller’s options were shrinking.
Page 3 of 4)

That January, she again started blocking visits. She complained, in a court filing and to friends, that Ms. Jenkins had upset Isabella by taking a bath with the child and was undermining the girl’s conservative beliefs by reading her “Heather Has Two Mommies.” When Isabella returned from a rare visit to Vermont showing anxiety and wetting her bed, Ms. Miller blamed Ms. Jenkins.

The exasperated judge in Vermont held Ms. Miller in contempt once again but gave her another chance, specifying visits in Virginia and in Vermont. But none took place. In August, the judge warned that he would transfer custody and ordered a weekend visit for late September.

Ms. Miller’s written appeal to the judge that fall gives some idea of her thinking.

“What is at stake is the health and well-being of an intelligent, delightful, beautiful, 7-year-old Christian girl,” she wrote. Isabella “knows from her own reading of the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman,” she wrote, “that she cannot have two mommies, that when I lived the homosexual lifestyle I sinned against God, and that unless Janet accepts Christ as her personal savior, she will not go to heaven.”

Ms. Miller was also under financial pressure because her teaching position had not been renewed.

She prayed long hours, hoping God would tell her what was best for her daughter, said Linda M. Wall, a conservative activist and self-described “ex-gay” who befriended her in Virginia.

“I told Lisa that she should have a Plan B,” Ms. Wall said, but Ms. Miller, she added, seemed to resist the idea.

In fact, Ms. Miller made a secret plan, the government alleges, based partly on recovered e-mails and phone records.
One person named in the court papers is Philip Zodhiates, the owner of a conservative Christian direct-mail-list service who lives in Waynesboro, Va., and owns a beach house in Nicaragua. The other is Kenneth L. Miller, a pastor of the Beachy Amish Mennonite sect in Stuart’s Draft, Va., and manager of a family garden business five minutes from Mr. Zodhiates’s home. (He is not related to Lisa Miller.)

Mr. Zodhiates has not been indicted, but Mr. Miller’s trial is set to begin on Aug. 7. Prosecutors, citing extensive e-mail correspondence, say that he helped make arrangements for the escape to Nicaragua. If convicted, he could be sentenced to three years in prison. E-mails in the court documents suggest that Mr. Zodhiates also helped with the flight and later sent “care packages” with items like peanut butter to Lisa and Isabella.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Zodhiates declined to comment for this article.

Just how Ms. Miller got in touch with Kenneth Miller remains a central legal question, said Sarah Star, Ms. Jenkins’s lawyer in Vermont.

One of Mr. Zodhiates’s daughters, Victoria Hyden, is an administrative assistant at the Liberty Law School. But Mr. Staver, the dean, said that while he had met Mr. Zodhiates a few times, neither he nor his colleagues had ever discussed the Miller case with him or Ms. Hyden, and that they, too, were surprised when Ms. Miller disappeared.

On Sept. 21, 2009, Ms. Miller and Isabella drove south to meet Kenneth Miller, who, according to court documents and missionaries in Nicaragua, gave them Mennonite dresses and scarves for their journey. That evening they were driven to Buffalo, a trip documented by the F.B.I. in a trail of calls from two cellphones registered to Mr. Zodhiates’s company, Response Unlimited.

Just after midnight, prosecutors allege, Ms. Miller and Isabella took a taxi over the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls and were met by a Mennonite pastor who put them on a plane to Mexico City, where they continued on to El Salvador and Nicaragua.

The tickets had been bought at Kenneth Miller’s request, according to the indictment, with the purchase arranged by a fellow Mennonite pastor in Nicaragua who had his mother-in-law in the United States buy them. She was reimbursed with a money order from Virginia.

Ms. Wall said that after no one had heard from Ms. Miller for three weeks, she let herself into her house outside Lynchburg.
“Inside, it looked like she had just gone to the grocery store,” Ms. Wall recalled. The curling iron was sitting out and the closets were filled. When she discovered the dead hamster family, she said, she knew they were long gone.

“I thought, wow, congratulations Lisa Miller, you did it,” she recalled.

Embraced by Mennonites
Page 4 of 4)

Ms. Miller and Isabella were met at the Managua airport by Timothy D. Miller, 35, known as Timo, an ebullient pastor who was born to missionaries in Honduras and runs the Beachy Amish Mennonite outpost in a rough area of this capital city. He drove them straight to the interior town of Jinotega, in the coffee-growing hills of northern Nicaragua, he said in an interview, where they lived for two months on a farm. (Timo Miller is not related to either Kenneth or Lisa Miller.)
to Managua

Isabella enjoyed the animals, but it was a rainy, foggy time of year in Jinotega and Ms. Miller felt isolated, Timo Miller said. The pair moved to Managua, to a $150-a-month one-bedroom home near the Mennonite mission.

The mother and daughter came to visit nearly every day, as Lisa helped with home schooling. Some evenings, Isabella sat on the pastor’s lap as he read to her and his own four children the American Girl books, “Little House on the Prairie” and Bible stories. “We were like family,” he recalled.

One of his daughters, RuthAnna, 9, said she and the girl she knew as Lydia used to ride bicycles in their courtyard and enjoyed giggle-filled sleepovers at each other’s homes. “We were best friends,” she said.

Mr. Miller’s wife, Joanna, said that when they went shopping together, “people would gawk over Isabella and her blond hair.”

But “the isolation is driving her and little Lydia crazy,” Timo Miller wrote of Lisa and her daughter in an e-mail to friends.
He noted that the girl’s 8th birthday was coming up on April 16, 2010, and said that she could use cheering up with a party. “She is going through a lot,” he wrote to his parents, also missionaries, who lived in the remote town of Waslala.
Timo Miller’s family and their guests made the rugged five-hour drive to Waslala, where the Mennonites have five scattered churches and a clinic among small cattle ranches and bean farms. The family of Pablo Yoder, another pastor, hosted a birthday party at their tranquil homestead with a green lawn and a pet macaw.

Isabella was feted by some 25 Mennonites with a cake, homemade ice cream and a piñata for the children. After a dinner of rice and chicken, they sang hymns in the yard, Mr. Yoder said in an interview in Waslala.

The group from Managua returned home within a day or two. But personal relations with Ms. Miller, who tends to see things “in black and white,” Timo Miller said, were getting strained. Within weeks after the party, she and her daughter moved back to Jinotega, renting a house on their own in town.

Missionaries in Jinotega, too, indicated that Ms. Miller struggled with depression.

“Lisa is very independent-minded,” said David Friesen, 45, a Canadian Mennonite in Jinotega. “She needed spiritual help,” he said, and there were issues of anger and forgiveness from her past life.

But eventually, he said, she embraced the fundamentalist faith of the Mennonites. She also showed initiative, inviting neighborhood children into her home to read them Bible stories through an interpreter.

Everything changed on April 18, 2011, a year after the birthday party, when Timo Miller, returning for a vacation in the United States with his family, was arrested at Dulles Airport and charged with aiding a kidnapping. Ms. Miller and Isabella quickly disappeared from their house in Jinotega, and there have been no reported sightings since, but federal agents believe the pair remain in Nicaragua.

In December 2011, federal prosecutors dropped the charges against Timo Miller in return for his testimony and filed charges against Kenneth Miller for what they allege was his more central role in the flight from the United States. Up to Timo Miller’s arrest, the missionaries in Nicaragua said, they had not realized they could be prosecuted.

“We had no idea what we were getting into,” Mr. Friesen said of the decision to shelter Ms. Miller and Isabella. But he added, “We are willing to be persecuted for God’s will.”

Timothy Schrock, 46, bishop of the Mennonites in Nicaragua, originally approved Kenneth Miller’s request to help Isabella and her mother. Speaking in Waslala, where he is pastor of a remote church, he said that the “brethren,” as they call themselves, now feel under siege, their phones and e-mails presumably monitored, and some are afraid to return to American soil.

But he supported Ms. Miller’s decision to flee on religious grounds.

“As many rights as Janet may have, this child is being pushed into a situation that God has not agreed with,” Mr. Schrock said.  Ms. Lindevaldsen, the lawyer, said she knew that her former client could face jail time if caught, and that Isabella’s life could take another wrenching turn. She blames a misguided legal system.

“It’s sad that in America a woman was faced with this choice,” she said. “The court overstepped its bounds, calling someone a parent who is not a parent and turning a child over to a person who lives contrary to biblical truths.”

Ms. Jenkins said she had learned to shrug off the personal attacks and worries only about Isabella’s welfare, after years in hiding in a strange land, with all her former ties lost.

“Isabella was such a happy child,” she said. “That’s one of the things I hope has stayed the same.”

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« Reply #78 on: September 28, 2012, 11:17:11 AM »

 By Henry Samuel, Paris
10:00PM BST 27 Sep 2012
In what appears to be a slap in the face for gender equality, the report found the divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.

“What we’ve seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn’t necessarily contribute to contentment,” said Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled “Equality in the Home”.

The lack of correlation between equality at home and quality of life was surprising, the researcher said.

“One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite,” he said.

The figures clearly show that “the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” he went on.

The reasons, Mr Hansen said, lay only partially with the chores themselves.

“Maybe it’s sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity ... where one person is not stepping on the other’s toes,” he suggested.

“There could be less quarrels, since you can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling his or her own weight.”

But the deeper reasons for the higher divorce rate, he suggested, came from the values of “modern” couples rather than the chores they shared.

“Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage” as being less sacred, Mr Hansen said. “In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially.

They can manage much easier if they divorce,” he said. Norway has a long tradition of gender equality and childrearing is shared equally between mothers and fathers in 70 per cent of cases. But when it comes to housework, women in Norway still account for most of it in seven out of 10 couples. The study emphasised women who did most of the chores did so of their own volition and were found to be as “happy” those in “modern” couples. Dr Frank Furedi, Sociology professor at the University of Canterbury, said the study made sense as chore sharing took place more among couples from middle class professional backgrounds, where divorce rates are known to be high.

“These people are extremely sensitive to making sure everything is formal, laid out and contractual. That does make for a fairly fraught relationship.  The more you organise your relationship, the more you work out diaries and schedules, the more it becomes a business relationship than an intimate, loving spontaneous one. That tends to encourage a conflict of interest rather than finding harmonious resolutions.” he said.

While the survey applied to Norway, he was confident the results would be the same in the UK.

“In a good relationship people simply don’t know who does what and don’t particularly care. “Unless marriage is a relationship above anything else, then whenever there are tensions or contradictions things come to a head. You have less capacity to forgive and absorb the bad stuff.”

The survey appeared to contradict another recent one across seven countries including Britain that found that men who shouldered a bigger share of domestic responsibilities had a better sense of wellbeing and enjoyed a better work-life balance.  The researchers expected to find that where men shouldered more of the burden, women’s happiness levels were higher. In fact they found that it was the men who were happier while their wives and girlfriends appeared to be largely unmoved.  Those men who did more housework generally reported less work-life conflict and were scored slightly higher for wellbeing overall.  Experts suggested that, while this may be partly because they felt less guilty, the main reason could be that they had simply learnt the secret of a quiet life.
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« Reply #79 on: October 30, 2012, 11:56:24 AM »
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« Reply #80 on: November 23, 2012, 06:58:32 AM »

Same-sex marriage ten years on: lessons from Canada
Bradley W. Miller | 19 November 2012


Would recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages be much of a game-changer? What impact, if any, would it have on the public conception of marriage or the state of a nation’s marriage culture?
There has been no shortage of speculation on these questions. But the limited American experience with same-sex marriage to date gives us few concrete answers. So it makes sense to consider the Canadian experience since the first Canadian court established same-sex marriage a decade ago. There are, of course, important cultural and institutional differences between the US and Canada and, as is the case in any polity, much depends upon the actions of local political and cultural actors. That is to say, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Canadian experiences will be replicated here. But they should be considered; the Canadian experience is the best available evidence of the short-term impact of same-sex marriage in a democratic society very much like America.
Anyone interested in assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on public life should investigate the outcomes in three spheres: first, human rights (including impacts on freedom of speech, parental rights in public education, and the autonomy of religious institutions); second, further developments in what sorts of relationships political society will be willing to recognize as a marriage (e.g., polygamy); and third, the social practice of marriage.
The Impact on Human Rights
The formal effect of the judicial decisions (and subsequent legislation) establishing same-sex civil marriage in Canada was simply that persons of the same-sex could now have the government recognize their relationships as marriages. But the legal and cultural effect was much broader. What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.
A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.
When one understands opposition to same-sex marriage as a manifestation of sheer bigotry and hatred, it becomes very hard to tolerate continued dissent. Thus it was in Canada that the terms of participation in public life changed very quickly. Civil marriage commissioners were the first to feel the hard edge of the new orthodoxy; several provinces refused to allow commissioners a right of conscience to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings, and demanded their resignations. At the same time, religious organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, were fined for refusing to rent their facilities for post-wedding celebrations.
The Right to Freedom of Expression
The new orthodoxy’s impact has not been limited to the relatively small number of persons at risk of being coerced into supporting or celebrating a same-sex marriage. The change has widely affected persons—including clergy—who wish to make public arguments about human sexuality.
Much speech that was permitted before same-sex marriage now carries risks. Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly.  Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.
Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn andMaclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’saffair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue “hate speech.”
But the financial cost of fighting the human rights machine remains enormous—Maclean’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, none of which is recoverable from the commissions, tribunals, or complainants. And these cases can take up to a decade to resolve. An ordinary person with few resources who has drawn the attention of a human rights commission has no hope of appealing to the courts for relief; such a person can only accept the admonition of the commission, pay a (comparatively) small fine, and then observe the directive to remain forever silent. As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions—for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent—to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.
Similar pressure can be—and is—brought to bear on dissenters by professional governing bodies (such as bar associations, teachers’ colleges, and the like) that have statutory power to discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the profession. Expressions of disagreement with the reasonableness of institutionalizing same-sex marriage are understood by these bodies to be acts of illegal discrimination, which are matters for professional censure.
Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.
Parental Rights in Public Education
Institutionalizing same-sex marriage has subtly but pervasively changed parental rights in public education. The debate over how to cast same-sex marriage in the classroom is much like the debate over the place of sex education in schools, and of governmental pretensions to exercise primary authority over children. But sex education has always been a discrete matter, in the sense that by its nature it cannot permeate the entirety of the curriculum. Same-sex marriage is on a different footing.
Since one of the tenets of the new orthodoxy is that same-sex relationships deserve the same respect that we give marriage, its proponents have been remarkably successful in demanding that same-sex marriage be depicted positively in the classroom. Curriculum reforms in jurisdictions such as British Columbia now prevent parents from exercising their long-held veto power over contentious educational practices.
The new curricula are permeated by positive references to same-sex marriage, not just in one discipline but in all. Faced with this strategy of diffusion, the only parental defense is to remove one’s children from the public school system entirely. Courts have been unsympathetic to parental objections: if parents are clinging to outdated bigotries, then children must bear the burden of “cognitive dissonance”—they must absorb conflicting things from home and school while school tries to win out.
The reforms, of course, were not sold to the public as a matter of enforcing the new orthodoxy. Instead, the stated rationale was to prevent bullying; that is, to promote the acceptance of gay and lesbian youth and the children of same-sex households.
It is a laudable goal to encourage acceptance of persons. But whatever can be said for the objective, the means chosen to achieve it is a gross violation of the family. It is nothing less than the deliberate indoctrination of children (over the objections of their parents) into a conception of marriage that is fundamentally hostile to what the parents understand to be in their children’s best interests. It frustrates the ability of parents to lead their children to an understanding of marriage that will be conducive to their flourishing as adults. At a very early age, it teaches children that the underlying rationale of marriage is nothing other than the satisfaction of changeable adult desires for companionship.
Religious Institutions’ Right to Autonomy
At first glance, clergy and houses of worship appeared largely immune from coercion to condone or perform same-sex marriages. Indeed, this was the grand bargain of the same-sex marriage legislation—clergy would retain the right not to perform marriages that would violate their religious beliefs. Houses of worship could not be conscripted against the wishes of religious bodies.
It should have been clear from the outset just how narrow this protection is. It only prevents clergy from being coerced into performing marriage ceremonies. It does not, as we have seen, shield sermons or pastoral letters from the scrutiny of human rights commissions. It leaves congregations vulnerable to legal challenges if they refuse to rent their auxiliary facilities to same-sex couples for their ceremony receptions, or to any other organization that will use the facility to promote a view of sexuality wholly at odds with their own.
Neither does it prevent provincial and municipal governments from withholding benefits to religious congregations because of their marriage doctrine. For example, Bill 13, the same Ontario statute that compels Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs (and to use that particular name), also prohibits public schools from renting their facilities to organizations that will not agree to a code of conduct premised on the new orthodoxy. Given that many small Christian congregations rent school auditoriums to conduct their worship services, it is easy to appreciate their vulnerability.
Changes to the Public Conception of Marriage
It has been argued that if same-sex marriage is institutionalized, new marital categories may be accepted, like polygamy. Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.
In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them? I will not here evaluate this claim, but simply report how this scenario has played out in Canada.
One prominent polygamist community in British Columbia was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalization of polygamy. Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government. The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practiced in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.
The lesson is this: a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.
The Impact on the Practice of Marriage
As for the practice of marriage, it is too soon to say much. The 2011 census data establish that, first, marriage is in decline in Canada, as it is in much of the West; second, same-sex marriage is a statistically minor phenomenon; and third, there are very few same-sex couples (married or not) with children in the home.
There are approximately 21,000 married same-sex couples in Canada, out of 6.29 million married couples. Same-sex couples (married and unmarried) constitute 0.8% of all couples in Canada; 9.4% of the 64,575 same-sex couples (including common-law and married) have children in the home, and 80% of these are lesbian couples. By contrast, 47.2% of heterosexual couples have children in the home. Canada stopped tracking divorce after 2008, and has never provided data on same-sex divorce.
What we can gather from these data is that same-sex marriage has not, contrary to arguments that it would, powered a resurgent marriage culture in Canada. Nor are there any census data (one way or the other) for empirical arguments tying the institutionalization of same-sex marriage to marriage stability.
Without empirical data on divorce rates (which are not forthcoming in Canada), we are left with conceptual arguments that must be evaluated on their merits. Here, the Canadian experience cannot provide much information. We are left with the question, does the institutionalization of same-sex marriage rest on a conception of marriage that places a premium on stability, as does the conjugal conception? If it does not, then we can reasonably believe same-sex marriage will speed up cultural acceptance of a conception of marriage—the adult companionate model—that has done much social damage over the past fifty years.
Bradley W. Miller is an associate professor of law at the University of Western Ontario and a Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. This article has been reproduced with permission from Public Discourse.
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« Reply #81 on: November 30, 2012, 10:51:01 AM »
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« Reply #82 on: December 10, 2012, 04:23:33 PM »

What Is Marriage?
Shawn Murphy | 7 December 2012


American gay rights activist and radio host Michaelangelo Signorile recently wrote triumphantly of what lies around the corner for a country that just re-elected its “First Gay President” -- as a Newsweek cover last year dubbed Obama. Claiming an early victory for his movement in the Huffington Post Signorile proclaimed that “[n]o longer will politicians -- or anyone -- be able to credibly claim to be supportive of gays, and to love and honor their supposed gay friends and family, while still being opposed to basic and fundamental rights like marriage”. Like many other same-sex marriage advocates, Signorile believes the re-election of Barack Obama is a harbinger of nationwide same-sex marriage legislation.
Few can deny that the movement is on the march. At the time of the election four states moved in favour of same-sex marriage and other states are quickly gathering momentum on the issue. Disturbingly, the thought embedded in Signorile’s spiel is that even polite disagreement and opposition to the claims of same-sex marriage advocates amounts to wholesale bigotry and intolerance. Heterosexual marriage supporters vehemently deny this, but many people now think that principled opposition to same-sex marriage is a delusion.
One reason why supporters of traditional marriage are losing elections is that they are losing the war for intellectual credibility. They are too often mired in facile arguments about “tradition”, Bible passages, and bleeding heart litanies about children. Supporters of gay marriage have succeeded in ridiculing these fumbling attempts at a rationale as ignorant and homophobic.
So a robust intellectual defence of the traditional view of marriage by Princeton law professor Robert P George is a welcome addition to the debate. Labelled by the New York Times as “America’s most influential conservative Christian thinker”, George, a convert from the ranks of the Democrats, is responsible for the interdenominational manifesto The Manhattan Declarationsigned by a number of Christian leaders in support of traditional marriage, sanctity of life and religious liberty.
In 2010 he published a controversial article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy with co-authors Ryan T Anderson and Sherif Gergis, putting forward a philosophical defence for the conjugal view of marriage. It gained many responses from all sides of the debate and has proved so successful that they have expanded it into a book to further flesh out their claims and answer their opponents.
The authors start by contrasting, with precision, the “conjugal” and the “revisionist” views of marriage. The conjugal view presupposes an exclusive union between a man and a woman that is bodily and mental and distinguishes itself by its comprehensiveness, while, revisionists claim that marriage is just two (no more, for the moment) people committing to romantically love and care for each other for as long as they see fit.
The authors steer clear of discussing the moral implications of homosexuality itself to avoid giving critics a pretext for accusing them of denigrating same-sex-attracted people, or making assumptions about their feelings and motives. Instead they argue that the revisionist view (which informs both homosexual and some heterosexual relationships alike) lacks sexual complementarity and comprehensiveness and is therefore vulnerable to internal contradictions and ambiguities.
“[Revisionists] will not see [marriage] as essentially comprehensive, or thus (among other things) as ordered to procreation and family life—but as essentially an emotional union. For reasons to be explained, they will therefore tend not to understand or respect the objective norms of permanence or sexual exclusivity that shape it. Nor, in the end, will they see why the terms of marriage should not depend altogether on the will of the parties, be they two or ten in number, as the terms of friendships and contracts do.”
What is original in the argument advanced by George et al is their explanation of why conjugal sex is a worthy human ideal. Arguably, homosexual relationships have many of the same contours that heterosexual relationships do. The authors agree but emphasise that it’s the differences that matter. Sex between a man and a woman differs fundamentally to sex between members of the same sex.
The authors contend that
n coitus, and there alone, a man and a woman’s bodies participate by virtue of their sexual complementarity in a coordination that has the biological purpose of reproduction—a function that neither can perform alone. Their coordinated action is, biologically, the first step (the behavioral part) of the reproductive process. By engaging in it, they are united, and do not merely touch, much as one’s heart, lungs, and other organs are united: by coordinating toward a biological good of the whole that they form together.”
With this as an anchor, they tackle other common arguments which are used to subvert conventional marriage. They contend, for example, that understanding marriage as a merely emotional union threatens marital norms such as permanence and exclusivity:
“But why should these be limited to two people? Indeed, how could they be, if we form emotional connections with various loved ones- parents, siblings, close friends – and by various activities? Romantic emotional unions do have a different quality from others and are clearly important for marriage, but emotional hues are hardly enough to mark the difference in kind between marriage and ordinary forms of friendship.”
To the common objection that, if marriage is about making babies, then infertile heterosexual marriages are not true marriages, George et al respond that conjugal acts have a meaning in themselves, not just because they produce babies.
“Here the whole is the couple; the single biological good, their reproduction. But bodily coordination is possible even when its end is not realized; so for a couple, bodily union occurs in coitus even when conception does not. It is the coordination toward a single end that makes the union; achieving the end would deepen the union but is not necessary for it.”
They illustrate this thought in typical American fashion by way of a baseball analogy:
“Infertile couples and winless baseball teams both meet the basic requirements for participating in the practice (conjugal union; practicing and playing the game) and retain their basic orientation to the fulfilment of that practice (bearing and rearing children; winning games), even if that fulfilment is never reached.”
George et al comment on the fallacious argument that equates traditional marriage laws to laws banning interracial marriage, and point out that the current debate is not about who gets to marry but what marriage is really about.
“First, opponents of interracial marriage did not deny that marriage (understood as a union consummated by conjugal acts) was possible between blacks and whites any more than segregationists argued that some feature of the whites-only water fountains made it impossible for blacks to drink from them… By contrast, the current debate is precisely over whether the kind of union with marriage’s essential features can exist between two men or two women.”
Supporters of traditional marriage tend to be flummoxed by the challenge, “How would same-sex marriage affect you and your marriage?” But George and his co-authors show that same-sex marriage would have very real effects. First of all, real marriage would be obscured by altering its civil definition:
“People forming what the state called ‘marriage’ would increasingly be forming bonds that merely resembled the real thing in certain ways, as a contractual relationship might resemble a friendship. The revisionist view would distort their priorities, actions, and motivations, to the harm of true marriage.”
Religious freedom will be at risk. The authors point to the alarming state of religious freedom in places where a same-sex marriage culture takes precedence and provide a number of worrying examples. They point to Massachusetts where Catholic Charities was forced to give up its adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples, and to Damian Goddard, a Canadian sportscaster who was fired from his job for supporting conjugal marriage on Twitter. They provide many other examples.
In positing “comprehensiveness” in union as the crucial element in marriage, the authors distinguish themselves from classic defences of heterosexual marriage. Classical natural law theorists like Aristotle and St Thomas Aquinas considered homosexual acts as “perverted” uses of human sexual organs. As an adherent of the philosophical “new natural law” school of ethics, George, along with his co-authors view this argument as “fallacious”. They don’t argue, like the classical natural law theorists, that certain parts of the human body have in-built purposes or for which they are designed but instead simply argue that if a relationship isn’t comprehensive overall then it isn’t a marriage. The authors neatly avoid the dispute between the two views, presumably to devote more space to the question of same-sex marriage.
Notwithstanding this shortcoming, the authors traverse a solid path between the libertarian view which argues that government should have no role in marriage, and a liberalism that wants government approval and benefits for emotional bonds. Against both positions, they argue that marriage consists of rights between parties that ought to be protected by governments because “wherever reasonably possible, parents are entitled to bring up their own children-and children have a right to their own two parents’ care, as affirmed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
Though their argument is mainly philosophical the authors also provide helpful social science research to bolster their case. Taking studies from both left and right leaning think tanks they conclude that children raised in intact families headed by two biological parents fare best in areas of educational achievement, emotional health, familial and sexual development, and child and adult behaviour. They also conclude that lower-income earners are the hardest hit by a failing marriage culture.
The authors of What is Marriage? offer a sober and resounding answer to the question posed in the book’s title. Marriage, as it has been understood for centuries, is a unique and comprehensive institution that joins mothers and fathers to their children and to each other. The authors show that it is a rationally defensible cornerstone of Western civilisation and a bedrock of societal stability. In confronting the challenge currently facing marriage in parliaments, courtrooms and schools around the world George, Anderson and Gergis put forth a clear and formidable case for one of our most sacred traditions.
Shawn Murphy recently completed a journalism course at Monash University, in Melbourne.
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« Reply #83 on: December 10, 2012, 04:29:58 PM »

Second post of day:
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« Reply #84 on: December 11, 2012, 11:16:27 AM »

Kids from mum and dad families do better at school

William West | 11 Dec 2012 | (1)

tags : child development, same-sex parenting,

Research showing problems with homosexual parenting continues to grow with the release of a study showing that the children of heterosexual couples are more likely to progress in primary school than children from a same-sex household.

The study, "Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress Through School: A Comment on Rosenfeld", is a re-examination of a study by Michael J. Rosenfeld of Stanford University’s Department of Sociologypublished in 2010. The new study, led by Douglas W Allen, and published by the academic journal Demography, found that the children from a heterosexual household are “35 percent more likely to make typical school progress”.

Rosenfeld's study, based on data from 1.6 million children in the 2000 United States Census, claimed that children raised in sex-same households progressed just as well as other children when differences in the socio-economic status are considered. It seems this study limited itself in two ways that did not take into account “the full family experiences of all children”.

The new study found:

When the sample consisted of only biological children, regardless of residential stability, children in married heterosexual households were 25.8 percent more likely to make typical school progress than peers raised in same-sex households; 
When the sample consisted only of children who stayed in the same residence for five or more years, regardless of their biological status, children in married heterosexual households were 29.5 percent more likely to make typical school progress than peers in same-sex households; 
Even when adopted children are excluded from the residentially stable sample (taking into consideration that children adopted by married heterosexual couples may be different from those adopted by same-sex couples), children in married heterosexual households were still 24 percent more likely to make typical progress in school; and 
When the sample consisted of all children, regardless of their biological status or residential stability, children in married heterosexual households were 35.4 percent more likely to make normal progress in school than peers in same-sex households.

In short, the new study sought to compare like with like by comparing only children who were nearly identical in relation to “disability status, race, income, education, birthplace, metropolitan status, private-school attendance, and state residence”.

A blogger at The Foundry website at, Christine Kim, concluded from the findings:

"Consistent with previous research, these findings suggest that when considering how children’s family environment influences their outcomes, it is important to look at both family structure and stability.

Together, the pair of studies underlines the complex dynamics between children’s family situations and their well-being, as well as the difficulty of analysing that relationship even with sophisticated research methods and data. The studies also underscore the necessity for policymakers to weigh the full accumulating research evidence in their decision-making."
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« Reply #85 on: December 13, 2012, 03:12:00 PM »

The current conundrum regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage is what happens when church and state are mixed -- the topics become confusing and confused.

When I married my husband almost 15 years ago, I did so out of love and out of a desire to witness before God my commitment to him and his to me. The legal and tax ramifications did not enter into my head.

But for couples of the same sex, the legal and tax ramifications can be very important because their legal rights differ from those of heterosexual couples in a number of ways, from hospital visiting rights to insurance benefits and taxes on death benefits.

It is time for us to pull apart the institution of marriage from the definition of a legal union.

Marriage should be determined by the church, whatever church you belong to. Some religions agree to same-sex marriages, others do not.

On the other hand, the state should not meddle with the definition of marriage, but focus instead on determining the legality and requirements of civil unions.

Marriage -- and the relationship between partners and their God -- should be defined by the church.

Civil unions and their legalities should be defined by the state.

It would breach the idea of freedom of religion to force a priest or pastor who does not believe in same-sex marriage to perform such a union.

The division? The government should issue civil-union licenses that could be referenced for legal/insurance matters. Churches should continue to perform marriages as they see fit. The churches' determinations would not affect couples' legal standing in terms of taxes, benefits, etc.

Why is this delineation important?

Last week, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear two cases regarding same-sex marriage. One takes on the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as it applies to the government this way: "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."

Lower courts have found that the act is unconstitutional.

The second case deals with California's Proposition 8, a voter initiative that amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Lower courts have declared it unconstitutional because it withdraws rights from a minority group.

The outcome of the cases could affect churches and organizations that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who is the chairman of the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, noted in a National Catholic Register interview that the "real threat lies in the area of licensing of Catholic Charities' adoption agencies and accreditation of schools and universities that maintain their support of traditional marriage."

"It is not unthinkable that defending traditional marriage will be regarded as bigotry and hate speech and that all kinds of strictures will be placed on our schools," Lori said.

The real solution is to create a real division between church and state.
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« Reply #86 on: January 18, 2013, 08:10:42 AM »

There was a huge rally against same-sex marriage in France at the weekend. C-FAM reports an unexpected feature of the opposition -- something that should be kept in mind when various media report what the "gay community" etc says about certain issues:

Perhaps as many as a million people marched in Paris last Sunday and at French embassies around the world against proposed legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in France.  One of the surprises in the French campaign for traditional marriage is that homosexuals have joined pro-family leaders and activists in the effort.

“The rights of children trump the right to children,” was the catchphrase of protesters like Jean Marc, a French mayor who is also homosexual.

Even though France is known for its laissez faire attitude toward sex, pro-family leaders were quick to organize huge numbers. When President Hollande announced his intentions to legalize homosexual marriage last November, a demonstration against the proposal gathered 100,000 protesters. And then what started as a debate about homosexual rights changed to one about a child’s right to a mother and a father, and the numbers in opposition exploded and has come to include unlikely allies.

Xavier Bongibault, an atheist homosexual, is a prominent spokesman against the bill. “In France, marriage is not designed to protect the love between two people. French marriage is specifically designed to provide children with families,” he said in an interview. “[T]he most serious study done so far . . . demonstrates quite clearly that a child has trouble being raised by gay parents.”

Jean Marc, who has lived with a man for 20 years, insists, “The LGBT movement that speaks out in the media . . . They don’t speak for me. As a society we should not be encouraging this. It’s not biologically natural.”

Read more at:
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« Reply #87 on: March 19, 2013, 06:20:00 PM »

Even If Your Child Is Gay...

 Tuesday, March 19, 2013


 Last week, Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio announced that he had reversed his position on same-sex marriage. The reason was that his son had come out to him and his wife as gay.
This is not the first such instance. Periodically, we hear about Republican politicians whose child announces that he or she is gay, prompting the parent to change his mind about the man-woman definition of marriage.

As a parent, I understand these parents. We love our children, and we want them to love us.

Nevertheless I differ with their decisions to support the redefinition of marriage.
In order to explain why, let's analyze some of Senator Portman's words:

"I'm announcing today a change of heart ... "

These words are well chosen. Senator Portman's position is indeed "a change of heart." That's why he didn't say "change of mind." His change comes from his heart.
In this regard, Portman speaks for virtually every progressive/left/liberal position on virtually every subject. To understand leftism -- not that the senator has become a leftist, but he has taken the left-wing position on redefining marriage -- one must understand that above all else leftism is rooted in emotion, not reason. That is why left-wing social positions always refer to compassion and fairness -- for blacks, for illegal immigrants, for poorer people and, of course, for gays. Whether a progressive position will improve or harm society is not a progressive question. That is a conservative question. What matters to progressives is whether a position emanates from compassion.
Progressives do not seem to recognize that in life there is always tension between standards and compassion. Standards, by definition, cannot allow for compassion for every individual. If society were to show compassion to every individual, it would have no standards. Speeding laws are not waived for the unfortunate soul who has to catch an important flight. Orchestral standards are not waived for the musician who has devoted his or her life to studying an instrument, is a wonderful person and needs the job to support a family.
It is either right to maintain the man-woman definition of our most important social institution, or is it not. We cannot base our decision on compassion for gays, whether the gay is our child, our sibling, our friend or anyone else.

Yes, societies have changed qualifications for marriage regarding age and number, but no society before the 21st century ever considered redefining the fundamental nature of marriage by changing the sexes. That is why it is not honest to argue that same-sex marriage is just another redefinition. It is the most radical change to the definition of marriage in the history of civilization.

How then should people of compassion deal with this, or any other, issue? By asking whether we maintain standards or whether we change them because of compassion. Do we change universities' academic standards out of compassion for blacks and their history of persecution, or do we maintain college admission standards? Do we change military standards in order to enable women to enter fighting units or do we ask only what is the best policy to maintain military excellence?

The only answer that works -- and no answer is perfect in this imperfect world -- is to maintain standards in the macro and show compassion in the micro.

Every parent owes the same love and support to a gay child as to a straight child. In fact, all of us, parents or not, owe the same respect to gays as individuals as to heterosexual individuals. That does not mean, however, that marriage needs to be redefined. It does not mean that, all things being equal, it is not best for a child to have a male and female parent.

Compassion was the reason Senator Portman raised another issue: "My son," he said, "told us he was gay, and that it was not a choice."

This raises an obvious question. Prior to his son telling him that he did not choose to find men sexually attractive, did Senator Portman believe that gay men did choose to find men rather than women sexually attractive? Unlikely.

So why did he raise this? Because the "gays have no choice" issue tugs at people's hearts. Once again, compassion individual is supposed to trump all other considerations.

Finally, the senator also said:

"During my career in the House and the last couple of years in the Senate, I've taken a position against gay marriage rooted in part in my faith and my faith tradition." But he has been "rethinking my position, talking to my pastor and other religious leaders."

It would be interesting to find out what exactly his Christian pastor said to him. Did the pastor tell him that Christianity looks favorably on man-man marriage? Or that God made men and women essentially interchangeable? If so, why didn't this pastor tell this to the senator the whole time the senator opposed same-sex marriage?

A final note to parents of gays: Parents who believe in the man-woman definition of marriage do not owe it to their gay child to support the same-sex redefinition of marriage -- any more than gay children owe it to these parents to oppose same-sex marriage. Parents and children owe each other love and respect, not abandonment of convictions.
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« Reply #88 on: March 26, 2013, 08:29:39 AM »

Gay Marriage by Fiat?
The Supreme Court could be about to deem all opposition to same-sex marriage illegitimate.
By Rich Lowry

It is a sign of how far supporters of gay marriage have advanced that the term “opposite-sex marriage” — an infelicitous phrase that once would have been a confounding tautology — is now in common usage.
They have all the momentum. The polls are swinging their way. They had victories in state-level referenda for the first time in 2012. The entire Democratic party is converting to their cause, and conservatives are increasingly split.
This would all seem reason to conclude that their campaign of persuasion is working, and to keep at it. Instead, supporters of gay marriage are asking the Supreme Court to declare the traditional definition of marriage — and by extension everyone who adheres to it — irrational and bigoted. They want to short-circuit democratic deliberation via court ruling as great cultural ukase.


The laws before the court are the Defense of Marriage Act, passed handily by a bipartisan majority of Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, and Proposition 8, the measure passed by California voters in 2008 enshrining the traditional definition of marriage in the state’s constitution.
The Defense of Marriage Act is a modest measure. For purposes of federal programs, it defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and it says that states don’t necessarily have to honor same-sex marriages from other states. This creates a flexible environment whereby the federal government recognizes the traditional understanding of marriage that still applies in more than 40 states, while any state is welcome to adopt any other definition of the institution that it sees fit.
Opponents of the law have concocted an argument against it on federalist grounds. But it is bizarre to contend that a federal law defining marriage for federal purposes is an offense against the federalist structure of American government. The law has done nothing to arrest the progress of gay marriage at the state level, where it now prevails in nine states and the District of Columbia despite the Defense of Marriage Act.
The real reason for the court to invalidate the law would be that it supposedly has no rational basis and is born of “animus” toward gays. This is the brief against Proposition 8, which was struck down by a federal appellate court, the famously activist Ninth Circuit, on grounds that it has no “legitimate reason.”
In this view, the promoters of Proposition 8 came up with a definition of marriage that has stood for centuries in the West and is endorsed by every major religion simply as an imaginative way to stick it to gay people. Every serious contender in the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, including Barack Obama, supported this same definition, presumably also out of the same simmering hostility to gays.
Supporters of traditional marriage believe that the institution exists as an expression of society’s interest in children’s being raised by their biological fathers and mothers. You can say that this understanding is dated, given what has become of marriage the past 40 years. You can say that it is too pinched, given evolving mores. You can’t say it is inherently hateful.
If the Defense of Marriage Act is wrongheaded, the solution is simple and will be within reach in a few years if gay marriage continues to win converts — repeal it. And there is nothing wrong with Proposition 8 that California’s voters can’t fix by going to the polls again.
By seeking a shortcut in the courts, supporters of gay marriage want to end debate through judicial fiat. In an amicus brief in the case, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty points out the consequences if traditional marriage is deemed irrational. Religious people and groups objecting to same-sex marriage will “face a wave of private civil litigation under anti-discrimination laws never intended for that purpose,” and they will be “penalized by state and local governments.”
In other words, supporters of the exotic-sounding practice of “opposite-sex marriage” will be marginalized forevermore.
— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: © 2013 King Features Syndicate
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« Reply #89 on: March 26, 2013, 09:56:38 AM »

Second post of the morning.

The shaky science behind same-sex marriage
Institute for Marriage and Public Policy , Harvey C. Mansfield and Leon R. Kass | 26 March 2013


Today the US Supreme Court begins hearings on two same-sex marriage cases. Scores of organisations have presented “amicus briefs” to the Court as background to the legal arguments. Here we present an edited version of a submission by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and two distinguished scholars. Leon Kass, of the University of Chicago, and Harvey Mansfield, of Harvard University, are experts on the limits of the scientific method and on issues relevant to the appropriate structure of family life. This is a long but extremely valuable contribution to the debate over same-sex marriage.
* * * * *
This case should be decided on the basis of the law, without reliance on the social science studies and authorities that Respondents and their amici will undoubtedly put before the Court. The social and behavioral sciences have a long history of being shaped and driven by politics and ideology. This is partly because researchers often choose to study issues implicating controversial questions of public policy.
And it is partly because it is often impossible to perform the kind of objective observations and controlled experiments that are standard in the physical sciences. History is littered with notorious examples of false theories gaining wide acceptance among respected social and behavioral scientists, some of which supported pernicious public policies.
Although published academic studies typically contain caveats about the limitations of their methodology and of the data available to the researcher, those studies are frequently cited in litigation and in public debate for conclusions they cannot legitimately support. When organizations of social and behavioral scientists purport to speak for a professional consensus on controversial matters of public policy, special caution is warranted.
At one time, for example, psychiatrists almost universally considered homosexuality a mental disorder, and the American Psychiatric Association classified it as such in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM”). After a sustained political campaign against the Association, its members voted in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the DSM. The historical record shows that the change was not made because of new scientific findings, but rather in response to external political pressure and to political maneuvering within the Association.
Amici do not contend that the long-standing classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder was justified by reliable science, or that the alteration of the DSM resulted from scientific error. Our point, rather, is that science had little to do with the Association’s revision of the DSM, and that this episode illustrates why such organizations should not be taken for the voice of science. It would have been a mistake for this Court to rely on the official position of the American Psychiatric Association either before or after 1973.
It would also be a mistake to rely on briefs from this and similar organizations today. There is good reason to believe that the political climate has strongly influenced much of the existing research on issues raised in this case. That body of research, moreover, is radically inconclusive. Same-sex marriage is a very recent innovation, as is the practice of child rearing by same-sex couples. The effects of these new developments could certainly be significant. But only an advocate for social change could claim to know that the effects will be entirely or even largely benign.
Even if same-sex marriage and child rearing by same-sex couples were far more common than they now are, large amounts of data collected over decades would be required before any responsible researcher could make meaningful scientific estimates of the effects.
Social and behavioral scientists, moreover, have inadequate tools for measuring the effects of different family structures on children. Notwithstanding the patent weaknesses of the existing research, Respondents sought to persuade the courts below that there is a scientific basis for constitutionalizing same-sex marriage.
In fact, there is no such basis. There neither are nor could possibly be any scientifically valid studies from which to predict the effects of a family structure that is so new and so rare. The necessary data simply do not exist.
There could conceivably come a time when supporters of traditional marriage are compelled by scientific evidence to acknowledge that same-sex marriage is not harmful to children or to society at large. That day is not here, and there is not the slightest reason to think it is imminent. It is no less possible that scientific evidence will eventually show that redefining marriage to encompass unions of same-sex couples does have harmful effects on our society and its children. That day is also not yet here, but there is no basis for this or any other court to conclude that it will never arrive.
Now and for the foreseeable future, claims that science provides support for constitutionalizing a right to same-sex marriage must necessarily rest on ideology. Ideology may be pervasive in the social sciences, especially when controversial policy issues are at stake, but ideology is not science.
In recent decades, this Court has been inundated with arguments and evidence from social and behavioral scientists. Reliance on such briefing is no doubt sometimes appropriate. But the Court has frequently expressed its skepticism about such submissions, and for good reason. In this case, the relevant scientific evidence on which Respondents seek to rely is manifestly unreliable, and it should be given no weight at all. The case can and should be resolved on the basis of the law.
1. This court has recognized that unreliable expert opinions are a serious threat to the integrity of the legal system.
Modern science advances our understanding of the world by testing potentially falsifiable hypotheses against observable and measurable data. Because it is seldom if ever possible for all relevant data to be accounted for, and thus for all but one of the logically possible alternatives to be falsified, scientific theories are in principle always subject to revision on the basis of new data or better measurements.
Our legal system, of course, cannot treat all scientific conclusions as tentative or inadmissible. It must therefore often rely on expert testimony or on the consensus of scientific authorities. Cases in the Daubert line frequently involve characteristically scientific issues about causation in the physical world.
Even here, experts frequently overstate the reliability of their conclusions, for a variety of reasons including the incentives they may have to favor one party or another in litigation. Accordingly, this Court has recognized that reliance on such opinion evidence is often perilous.
The Court’s deep concern about the use of unreliable evidence in the context of physical causation should be magnified a thousand-fold in a case like this one.
Unlike a tort case, this litigation raises elusive and contentious issues about the nature of homosexuality and the personal and social effects of alternative family structures. A decision constitutionalizing a right to same-sex marriage, moreover, would have social implications far beyond any that might arise from a mistake in a product liability case.
Academic studies of the issues raised in this case, like many others in the various fields of social science, are subject to severe constraints arising from limited data and from a dearth of the kind of controlled and replicable experiments that are characteristic of the physical sciences. This Court should not rely on the social science research that will undoubtedly be cited by Respondents and their amici.
2. Social and behavioral science is frequently shaped and driven by politics and ideology. 
Even in the physical sciences, research is often tainted by the bias of the researchers. These biases can arise from a multitude of causes, frequently invisible to the researchers themselves, including the researcher’s policy preferences, unquestioning acceptance of conventional wisdom, personal ambition, and ideology.
The effort in recent years to close off debate about issues related to global warming provides one example, and a striking one because it has come close on the heels of warnings from scientists about the possibility of a new ice age caused by global cooling.
This Court has not rushed to embrace an end to the debates, and for good reason.  It can sometimes take a very long time for a genuinely settled consensus based on scientifically valid studies to arise. The debate in astronomy over geocentric theory, for example, remained open for hundreds of years after Copernicus.
Only in the 19th century did new technology finally permit observations conclusively demonstrating that the earth does move in relation to what were once called the “fixed stars.” The social sciences are far more prone to biased research than the physical sciences. That is partly because such research frequently addresses questions with immediate implications for controversial issues of public policy. And it is partly because it is inherently much more difficult—and often impossible—to perform the kind of objective observations and replicable experiments that are the staple of the physical sciences.
It is therefore often difficult to definitively disprove theories that have little or no basis. History is littered with notorious illustrations, including phrenology, Marxist economics, and so-called scientific racism, all of which were once widely accepted by respected social and behavioral scientists.
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, himself a distinguished social scientist, acutely diagnosed the susceptibility of social science to politicization:
ocial science is rarely dispassionate, and social scientists are frequently caught up in the politics which their work necessarily involves...
Moreover, there is a distinct social and political bias among social scientists. In all fairness, it should be said that this is a matter which social scientists are quick to acknowledge, and have studied to some purpose. It all has to do, one suspects, with the orientation of the discipline toward the future: It attracts persons whose interests are in shaping the future rather than preserving the past. In any event, the pronounced ‘liberal’ orientation of sociology, psychology, political science, and similar fields is well established.”
When Senator Moynihan wrote this in 1979, the “‘liberal’ orientation” in these fields was indeed well established by surveys of university faculties.  More recent surveys indicate that this orientation has become considerably more pronounced in recent decades,  and that it is stronger in the realm of “social or ‘lifestyle’ liberalism than it is in economic liberalism.” 
Multiple-regression analysis has provided preliminary results consistent with the hypothesis that when academic achievement is controlled for, academics who do not hold progressive political views experience negative effects on their professional advancement. If confirmed by further research, these results might be explained in part by the dynamics of group psychology. These dynamics might also help to explain why research in certain fields can consistently and for reasonably long periods of time support conclusions that are eventually proven false.
When organizations of social and behavioral scientists purport to represent a consensus of their professions, special caution is warranted. A telling illustration is provided by the history of classifying homosexuality in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM”). As recently as the 1960s, there was an overwhelming consensus in the psychiatric profession that homosexuality should be classified as a mental disorder.
This consensus was reinforced by an in-depth study comparing 106 male homosexuals and 100 male heterosexuals under the care of members of the Society of Medical Psychoanalysts. The research was carried out over a period of ten years, and the results were reported in a massive volume signed by Irving Bieber and nine co-authors. Even those who did not adhere to the dominant psychoanalytic approach in psychiatry agreed that homosexuality should be considered an abnormality.
Doubts about the validity of this diagnosis were raised by research from outside psychiatry, including that of Alfred Kinsey and students of comparative anthropology and primatology. That research, however, was subject to various interpretations, and psychiatrists disagreed among themselves primarily about the etiology and treatment of what they agreed was a disorder. Beginning in 1970, the American Psychiatric Association came under sustained attack from an organized political movement determined to force the Association to remove homosexuality from the DSM.
Within the short space of three years, this attack succeeded. As a detailed (and by no means unsympathetic) history of this political struggle has demonstrated, the change in the Association’s position was not the result of scientific advances. Rather, it was a response to political tactics that included public denunciations of the profession and disruption of scholarly conferences.  The intricate maneuvering for change within the Association was not led by experts on homosexuality; those who resisted the proposed change, moreover, alleged that some of its public supporters privately acknowledged that they considered homosexuality a pathological condition, but were afraid to say so publicly.  Eventually a referendum was held, and the deletion of homosexuality from the DSM was approved, though only by 58 percent of the Association’s members.
Amici do not contend that the long-standing classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder was justified by reliable science, or that the alteration of the DSM in 1973 resulted from scientific error. Our point, rather, is that science had little to do with what happened, and that this episode illustrates why organizations of social and behavioral scientists should not be taken for the voice of science. The American Psychiatric Association’s treatment of homosexuality in the DSM was not based on settled science either before or after its political decision to alter its position. It would have been a mistake for this Court to rely on the classification of homosexuality in either version of the DSM.
It would also be a mistake to rely on briefs or official statements from this and similar organizations today.
There is good reason to believe that the political climate has strongly influenced much of the existing research on issues raised in this case. Norval Glenn of the University of Texas, for example, has written: “Given the widespread support for same-sex marriage among social and behavioral scientists, it is becoming politically incorrect in academic circles even to suggest that arguments being used in support of same-sex marriage might be wrong.”
Similarly, two strong opponents of what they call “heterosexism” have attacked the scholarship of those who support traditional marriage, but have also said, “We wish to acknowledge that the political stakes of this body of research are so high that ideological ‘family values’ of scholars play a greater part than usual in how they design, conduct, and interpret their studies.” They have also suggested that many psychologists sympathetic to parenting by homosexuals are apt to “downplay the significance of any findings of differences.”
The record in this case offers some revealing examples. Some of Respondents’ own expert witnesses have acknowledged that opinions (including their own) about whether homosexuality is a psychological disorder are not scientific judgments.
At trial, Respondents’ expert on child development, Dr Michael Lamb, read the following statement by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people have faced more rigorous scrutiny than heterosexual people regarding their rights to be or become parents.” Under cross examination, Dr. Lamb was unable to dispute the proposition that “this statement is not based in empirics, but, rather, in politics.”
Dr Lamb was cited by the district court for the broad and unqualified conclusions that the “gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in the child’s adjustment” and that “having both a male and female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted.” At trial, however, Dr. Lamb had conceded that his own published research concluded that growing up without fathers had significant negative effects on boys, and that there is data indicating that there are significant differences between men and women in their parental behavior.
At trial, he also conceded that there is considerable research indicating that traditional opposite-sex biological parents appear in general to produce better outcomes for their children than other family structures do. The district court’s opinion contains numerous other conclusions that in fact are not and cannot possibly be established by the evidence on which that court relied. The district court’s citations to the testimony of Respondents’ witnesses and to a statement by the  American Psychological Association should not be mistaken for reliance on credible science.
There could conceivably come a time when supporters of traditional marriage are compelled by scientific evidence to acknowledge that same-sex marriage is not harmful to children or to society at large. That day is not here, and there is not the slightest reason to think it is imminent. It is no less possible that scientific evidence will eventually show that redefining marriage to encompass unions of same-sex couples does have harmful effects on our society and its children. That day is also not yet here, but there is no basis for this or any other court to conclude that it will never arrive. Now and for the foreseeable future, claims that science provides support for constitutionalizing a right to same-sex marriage must necessarily rest on ideology. Ideology may be pervasive in the social sciences, especially when controversial policy issues are at stake, but ideology is not science.
3. The effects of same-sex marriage on family life are unknown, and currently unknowable
Same-sex marriage is a very recent innovation, as is the practice of child rearing by same-sex couples. The effects of these new developments certainly could be quite significant for same-sex partners, for children raised by same-sex couples, and for our society.
But only an advocate for the cause of same-sex marriage could claim to know that the effects will be entirely or even largely benign. Such claims can be based only on conjecture or faith, not science. Even if same-sex marriage and child rearing by same-sex couples were far more common than they now are, large amounts of data collected over decades would be required before any responsible researcher could make meaningful scientific estimates of the effects.
Social and behavioral scientists, moreover, do not have adequate tools for measuring the effects of different family structures on children. Typical measures include educational attainments and rates of social deviance (using criteria such as drug use and other forms of delinquency). But these can hardly begin to assess the success of children (or adults for that matter) as human beings, let alone how happy they are.
Accordingly, the statements that one encounters in the existing research literature typically amount at best to claims that “no evidence exists” of bad effects from same-sex marriage or from child rearing by same-sex couples. Such conclusions should hardly be surprising inasmuch as there is manifestly too little evidence from which to draw any reliable conclusions.
Thus, one could just as easily say that there is no reliable evidence that such practices are beneficial or harmless. But that is something one rarely if ever hears from proponents of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Instead, researchers and social science advocacy organizations have promoted the myth that their failure to find evidence of bad effects implies or strongly suggests that such bad effects will not ensue.
A brief filed in the court below by several organizations—including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association for Marriage and Family  Therapy—provides a revealing illustration.
Much of this brief to the Ninth Circuit argued for conclusions that are only peripherally relevant at best, such as the proposition that some homosexuals form long-lasting relationships, or are noncontroversial, such as the proposition that married heterosexuals are statistically more likely than unmarried heterosexuals to exhibit certain indicia of physical and psychological health. On the issues that might be thought central, however, the brief offered only a mélange of weak and unreliable evidence from which unjustified inferences were drawn or suggested.
Consider, for example, Section III.A of the brief, titled “Gay Men and Lesbians Form Stable, Committed Relationships That Are Equivalent to Heterosexual Relationships in Essential Aspects.” In support of this conclusion, the brief cited several studies, based on non-representative samples, for the proposition that a significant fraction of gay men and lesbians are or have been in a “committed relationship.” What the brief called “more representative samples” were said to support this finding.  So far as amici have been able to determine, no studies using the scientific standard of comparing large random samples with appropriate control samples were cited here or anywhere else in the brief.
Instead, the brief drew the following conclusion: “Based on the empirical research findings, the American Psychological Association has concluded that ‘[p]sychological research on relationships and couples provides no evidence to justify discrimination against same-sex couples.’” To the extent that this might be thought to support the brief’s ultimate conclusion that “[t]here is no scientific basis for distinguishing between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples with respect to... civil marriage,”, one could just as well say that there is no scientific basis for denying that such couples should be distinguished. This corollary was conveniently ignored.
Another example of misleading argumentation appeared in the brief’s effort to argue that California’s laws on marriage deny important social or psychological benefits to same-sex couples. First, the brief cited no studies at all that attempt to compare the benefits of marriage with the benefits of California’s same-sex civil unions. Apart from that rather glaring problem, the brief acknowledged that no empirical studies have systematically compared married same-sex couples with unmarried same-sex couples.
Remarkably, however, the brief purported to rely on its signatories’ “scientific and clinical expertise” for the proposition that it is appropriate to extrapolate from research on heterosexual couples to predict the effects of legalizing same-sex marriage. Whatever this “scientific and clinical expertise” may amount to, the brief offered no evidence that such extrapolation is justified by the application of scientific methods to appropriate bodies of data.
Finally, the brief cited numerous studies purporting to support the inference that homosexual parents are indistinguishable from heterosexual parents in their effects on children. Once again, the brief cited no studies based on large, randomized samples.
Once again, the brief could actually claim at most that studies using severely limited data have failed to prove that children raised by homosexual parents fare less well than children raised by heterosexual parents. And once again, we can say that it is equally true that the studies do not prove that children do fare as well with the one as with the other.
Apart from the fact that this brief proves on close examination to have been misleading on its face, its statements about “no evidence” were false. The brief simply ignored research that found, among other things, that the children of homosexual parents had higher levels of problematic behavior (such as excessive drinking, drug use, and lower assessments of educational performance and socialization) than the children of heterosexual parents. This work may not be more reliable than the research relied on by Respondents, but it is evidence in the same sense as the research that Respondents cited.
What is more, there is now a body of new evidence—based for once on recognizably scientific methods—arising from a study using a large randomized sample, objective measures of well-being, and reports of grown children rather than their parents. This study found that children raised in a household where a parent was involved in a same-sex romantic relationship were at a significant disadvantage on several objective measures of wellbeing. This obviously implies nothing conclusive about the effects of same-sex marriage, about which there is too little data from which to draw any clear inferences at all. But neither can its possible implications be dismissed, especially in light of the weaknesses of the earlier research that tended to find little or no difference in the outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples. The earlier research was based on severely biased data. One prominent study, for example, relied on a sample recruited entirely at lesbian events, in women’s bookstores, and in lesbian newspapers. Others relied on samples as small as 18 or 33 or 44 cases. And most of them relied heavily on reports by parents about their children’s well-being while the children were still under their own care.
This is hardly the stuff from which scientifically valid conclusions could possibly be drawn.
Not surprisingly, a detailed re-analysis of 59 studies cited by the American Psychological Association in a 2005 publication showed serious flaws in the research, and concluded that “strong, generalized assertions, including those made by the APA [publication], were not empirically warranted.”
The new research cited above, which suggests that being raised by homosexual parents may have adverse effects on children, is the most scientific of the studies now available, but it certainly is not the last word on the subject. Its author, Professor Mark Regnerus, freely acknowledges that his work is only the beginning of a long-term scientific project. He has, moreover, specifically cautioned against drawing conclusions about causality from his findings, and has warned against basing legal decisions on his preliminary  research.
Amici agree that the outcome of this case should not be determined by Professor Regnerus’ research, any more than it should be affected by the less scientific studies that preceded his. But it is now undeniably false to say that all the scientific evidence points toward an equivalence of outcomes for children raised by homosexual and heterosexual parents.
The simple fact is that nobody knows, or could possibly know, what the effects of legalizing same-sex marriage will be. Human well-being is an extraordinarily complex phenomenon, which is affected by an extremely large and diverse number of causal factors. Decades from now, it may be possible for researchers using scientific methods to provide meaningful measures of the effects of same-sex marriage on individuals and society. Today it is not.
4. Inconclusive studies are often used to argue that controversial policies are scientifically supported.
Studies conducted by social and behavioral scientists are frequently cited to support policy decisions for which the studies themselves offer little or no support. While the results published in academic journals typically contain caveats about the data and methodology used by the researcher, the studies are often cited for propositions far beyond what the research can legitimately support. Journalists, activists, litigants, and interested amici are especially prone to such overstatements, but government officials are not immune and neither are social and behavioral scientists themselves.
A revealing example is provided by two nearly simultaneous commissions that studied the effects of popular media on viewers. The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence found that “[t]he preponderance of available research evidence strongly suggests... that violence in television programs can and does have adverse effects upon audiences—particularly child audiences,” and that broadcasters should accept “the burden of proof that such programs are not harmful to the public interest.”
The President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography found that “extensive empirical investigation... provides no evidence that exposure to or use of explicit sexual materials plays a significant role in the causation of social or individual harms such as crime, delinquency, sexual or nonsexual deviancy or severe disturbances.” The contrast is arresting, as is the fact that at least one academic participated in both commissions and managed to provide support for both.
The “no evidence” conclusion of the pornography commission should have come as no surprise, given the obstacles to obtaining reliable scientific evidence that such effects either do or do not exist. Yet the commission went on to make recommendations about public policies based in significant part on research finding “no evidence” of harmful effects. The violence commission’s Task Force on Mass Media and Violence, for its part, relied on research that manifestly did not support its conclusions. This led a leading social scientist, Harvard’s James Q. Wilson, to say: “The blunt truth is there is almost no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the conclusions of either the Task Force or the Commission... unless what one means by ‘violent behavior’ is a willingness to engage in certain forms of harmless play.”
Professor Wilson went on to lament one feature of the commission’s report in particular: “Perhaps the most distressing aspect of the entire enterprise is the tone of advocacy that pervades some of the chapters written by social scientists who seem more interested in finding any data, however badly interpreted, that will support their policy conclusions.”
Professor Wilson, we should stress, was a strong proponent of modern social science, who believed that it can discover evidence that may have implications for public policy.
But “[w]hen social scientists are asked to measure consequences in terms of a badly conceptualized or hard-to-measure ‘effect’ of one among many highly interrelated ‘causes,’ all of which operate (if at all) over long periods of time, they tend to discover that there is no relationship or at best a weak and contingent one.” Accordingly, he did not invoke science to claim that exposure to media violence is harmless or that pornography is harmful. Rather, his analysis showed that the kind of social science relied on by these two commissions cannot answer—or even meaningfully contribute to answering—the public policy questions they addressed. The same is true of the research that Respondents and their amici have urged upon the courts in this case.
Like Professor Wilson, this Court has frequently been skeptical about the findings of social and behavioral scientists, especially in the area of human psychology. This has led to some frustration among academics. One commentator, for example, castigated the Court at length for its resistance to using the results of psychological research in decisions about trial process.
In the course of his critique, the commentator announced without reservation that “psychologists agree that eyewitness identification of strangers is unreliable,” citing as an authority a 1985 publication by Professor Gary Wells. At the time, such a consensus may have existed among researchers in this area. Subsequently, however, Wells himself, and other researchers as well, have concluded that such broad statements are not supportable. The Court has been right in refusing to change the law on eyewitness identification in response to preliminary research by social scientists. There is at least as much reason not to change the existing law in this case.
5. The court should rely for its decision in this case on the law, rather than on speculation and ideology masquerading as science.
Beginning with the development of “Brandeis Briefs” early in the last century, and increasingly in recent decades, it is fair to say that this Court has been inundated with arguments and evidence from social and behavioral scientists. There undoubtedly are areas where social science can offer meaningful assistance to policymakers and to courts. This Court has found guidance, for example, from economics in the field of antitrust law and from statistical studies in the field of employment discrimination. No such meaningful assistance can possibly be drawn from the kind of studies that Respondents and their amici cited in the courts below, and which they presumably will cite again in this Court. The research they offer cannot possibly confirm that the effects of same-sex marriage will be harmless or beneficial. The scientific evidence cited to support this change in social policy is manifestly inconclusive, and there is no good reason to give it any weight at all. The social and behavioral scientists who make rosy predictions are using their academic credentials to advance a policy they prefer for reasons outside their fields of expertise.
This case can and should be resolved on the basis of existing law, which should not be altered in response to advocacy posing as science.
For all the foregoing reasons, and for the reasons set forth by Petitioners, the Court should decline to remove decisions about legalizing same-sex marriage from the democratic process.
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« Reply #90 on: March 30, 2013, 05:39:10 PM »

The mind boggles , , ,
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« Reply #91 on: April 01, 2013, 10:52:45 AM »

"No progressive 100 years ago could have conceived of gay marriage. In fact, merely a decade-and-a-half ago, the entirety of the Democratic Party supported traditional marriage, codified under law. ... [F]or progressives, where's their next redefinition in the ongoing process of redefining marriage? Does the evolution end with one man and one woman, or one man and one man, or one woman and one woman? Why could it not next progress to one man and multiple women? Could it involve an adult and a minor? Could their evolving redefinition include first cousins or a parent and child? Could it include multiple heterosexuals or homosexuals in single or even joint or group spousal relationships? The answer: progressives, by their very definition, cannot answer you. We do know, however, that progressives are happy to do with marriage what they do with everything: hand it over to the federal government. Render under government what is government's. And what is government's province? It's anything progressives decide. ... [Conservatives] can tell you our end-goal, our ideal. Progressives cannot. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a train-wreck of an ideology, with literally no end to its havoc. It is currently careening into the most fundamental building block of human civilization: the family." --professor and author Dr. Paul Kengor

Faith and Family

"In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that it is more about adults' desires than children's needs. This view reduces marriage primarily to intense emotional bonds. If marriage were just intense emotional regard, marital norms would make no sense as a principled matter. There is no reason of principle that requires an emotional union to be permanent. Or limited to two persons. Or sexual, much less sexually exclusive (as opposed to 'open'). Or inherently oriented to family life and shaped by its demands. Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children and deny the importance of mothers and fathers. It would deny, as a matter of policy, the ideal that children need a mother and a father. ... It would be very difficult for the law to send a message that fathers matter once it had redefined marriage to make fathers optional." --Heritage Foundation's Ryan T. Anderson
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« Reply #92 on: April 01, 2013, 12:48:36 PM »
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« Reply #93 on: April 02, 2013, 06:30:53 AM »

What an odd argument!

Freedom Loses One
Published: April 1, 2013
I don’t think we’ve paused sufficiently to celebrate the wonderful recent defeat for the cause of personal freedom. After all, these sorts of defeats don’t happen every day.

Over the past 40 years, personal freedom has been on a nearly uninterrupted winning streak. In the 1960s, we saw a great expansion of social and lifestyle freedom. In the 1980s, we saw a great expansion of economic freedom. Since then, we’ve had everything from jeans commercials to rock anthems to political conventions celebrating freedom as the highest ideal.

People are much more at liberty these days to follow their desires, unhampered by social convention, religious and ethnic traditions and legal restraints.

The big thinkers down through the ages warned us this was going to have downsides. Alexis de Tocqueville and Emile Durkheim thought that if people are left perfectly free to pursue their individual desires, they will discover their desires are unlimited and unquenchable. They’ll turn inward and become self-absorbed. Society will become atomized. You’ll end up with more loneliness and less community.

Other big thinkers believed that if people are left perfectly free to follow their desires, their baser ones will end up dominating their nobler ones. For these writers, the goal in life is not primarily to be free but to be good. Being virtuous often means thwarting your inclinations, obeying a power outside yourself. It means maintaining a balance between liberty and restraint, restricting freedom for the sake of an ordered existence. As Edmund Burke put it:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites. ... Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

Recently, the balance between freedom and restraint has been thrown out of whack. People no longer even have a language to explain why freedom should sometimes be limited. The results are as predicted. A decaying social fabric, especially among the less fortunate. Decline in marriage. More children raised in unsteady homes. Higher debt levels as people spend to satisfy their cravings.

But last week saw a setback for the forces of maximum freedom. A representative of millions of gays and lesbians went to the Supreme Court and asked the court to help put limits on their own freedom of choice. They asked for marriage.

Marriage is one of those institutions — along with religion and military service — that restricts freedom. Marriage is about making a commitment that binds you for decades to come. It narrows your options on how you will spend your time, money and attention.

Whether they understood it or not, the gays and lesbians represented at the court committed themselves to a certain agenda. They committed themselves to an institution that involves surrendering autonomy. They committed themselves to the idea that these self-restrictions should be reinforced by the state. They committed themselves to the idea that lifestyle choices are not just private affairs but work better when they are embedded in law.

And far from being baffled by this attempt to use state power to restrict individual choice, most Americans seem to be applauding it. Once, gay culture was erroneously associated with bathhouses and nightclubs. Now, the gay and lesbian rights movement is associated with marriage and military service. Once the movement was associated with self-sacrifice, it was bound to become popular.

Americans may no longer have a vocabulary to explain why freedom should sometimes be constricted, but they like it when they see people trying to do it. Once Americans acknowledged gay people exist, then, of course, they wanted them enmeshed in webs of obligation.

I suspect that this shift in public acceptance will be permanent, unless it turns out that marriages are more unstable when two people of the same gender are involved.

And, who knows, maybe we’ll see other spheres in life where restraints are placed on maximum personal choice. Maybe there will be sumptuary codes that will make lavish spending and C.E.O. salaries unseemly. Maybe there will be social codes so that people understand that the act of creating a child includes a lifetime commitment to give him or her an organized home. Maybe voters will restrain their appetite for their grandchildren’s money. Maybe more straight people will marry.

The proponents of same-sex marriage used the language of equality and rights in promoting their cause, because that is the language we have floating around. But, if it wins, same-sex marriage will be a victory for the good life, which is about living in a society that induces you to narrow your choices and embrace your obligations.
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« Reply #94 on: April 03, 2013, 05:25:57 PM »
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« Reply #95 on: April 07, 2013, 07:58:17 PM »
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« Reply #96 on: June 18, 2013, 04:19:04 PM »

Peer Pressure for Teens Paves the Path to Adulthood

New studies on peer pressure suggest that teens—who often seem to follow each other like lemmings—may do so because their brains derive more pleasure from social acceptance than adult brains, and not because teens are less capable of making rational decisions.
[image] Lorenzo Cancian-Kavoliunas

Xavier Corbeil, left, Yannick Stein-Tremblay, center, and Lorenzo Cancian-Kavoliunas, right, friends from Montreal, on a recent visit to New York. They say resisting peer pressure got easier as they grew older.

And scientists say facing the influence of friends represents an important developmental step for teens on their way to becoming independent-thinking adults.

Peer pressure is often seen as a negative, and indeed it can coax kids into unhealthy behavior like smoking or speeding. But it can also lead to engagement in more useful social behaviors. If peers value doing well in school or excelling at sports, for instance, it might encourage kids to study or train harder. And both peer pressure and learning to resist it are important developmental steps to self-reliance, experts say.

Research suggests people are strikingly susceptible to influence as teenagers, but to what degree varies widely. In a growing body of work, including research published in April, scientists suggest that teens are more vulnerable to peer pressure than adults because they get greater pleasure from behaviors they experience as rewarding. They tend to find being liked by other people very gratifying.

Peer influence during adolescence is normal and tends to peak around age 15, then decline. Teens get better at setting boundaries with peers by age 18 according to Laurence Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple University.

During puberty, people experience an increase in novelty-seeking, demonstrated by interest in exploring a new environment.

"It is adaptive to have a [biological] system that encourages you to start exploring outside the home, to start making your new own peer circles," says Beatriz Luna, a developmental cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who studies peer influence and the adolescent brain.

In years past, people thought teens didn't have fully developed frontal lobes, the part of the brain critical for decision-making and other more complex cognitive tasks. But a growing body of work seems to show that teens are able to make decisions as well as adults when they are not emotionally worked up.

Bad Pressure: As teens mature, biological changes in their brains make them better able to work past the negative influence of their peers on issues from clothing to smoking.

Good Pressure: Teens can benefit from the right kind of peer pressure, such as being coaxed into overcoming a fear or trying a challenging activity.

Instead, the key may be that the reward centers of the brain get more activated in adolescence, and seem to be activated by our peers. This heightened rush of neurotransmitters brings the teenager more pleasure than the same experience might in an adult, Dr. Luna says.

In addition, the connections between the frontal lobes and other parts of the human brain are still forming into one's 20s. That means the ability to make decisions when emotional—and peer pressure often induces emotion—isn't at full strength in the teenage years.

"It's not that they don't understand the risks involved," Dr. Luna says.

In terms of who is most resistant to peer pressure, researchers have identified some characteristics of kids who are resilient against peer influence, such as those who are more popular, have families with low dysfunction and have high communication skills. But they still don't know why these kids are less susceptible, according to Mitchell Prinstein, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who studies popularity and peer influence.

Though peer pressure affects all kids, risky, "bad" behaviors like drinking tend to be associated with being popular, so kids who are less popular or have lower self-esteem tend to fall prey to peer influence for these behaviors rather than, for instance, doing well in school.

In a series of studies, including one published last year in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers set up an Internet chat room and led kids to believe they were interacting with three peers who were considered popular or unpopular. The kids were then asked questions like, "Imagine you're in a party scenario and someone offers you alcohol. What would you drink?" If the other people in the room say yes, the effect is "very powerful," says Dr. Prinstein. "We find our respondents dramatically change their response."

When the supposed peers are popular, highly socially anxious kids indiscriminately conform—they would agree with whatever the other kids decided—but low-anxiety kids were more choosy. The kids most likely to be influenced are the least popular—not necessarily because of low self-esteem but because they want to be positively evaluated to fit in.

Another factor that seems to affect peer influence is ethnicity. When the chat room was filled with Caucasians, nonwhites weren't substantially affected by the Caucasians' responses, though it's not possible from the study to conclude why, Dr. Prinstein says. It could be that nonwhites are not as influenced by peers or people outside their own ethnic group.

Also, some of what appears to be resistance to peer pressure is just about wanting to be different. Some people have a higher need for uniqueness, but they're still being influenced, says Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies social influence and consumer decision-making.

Kids from different social circles may wear very different clothing from people in other cliques, but resemble each other, even those outside the mainstream. For instance, a group of friends may sport Mohawk haircuts in reaction to other kids in school wearing preppy gear.

Warm parenting with strict boundaries, so-called "authoritative parenting," is linked to kids who are more independent thinkers. But, Temple's Dr. Steinberg warns, in order for kids to develop the ability to stand up to peer pressure, parents are going to have to let their children stand up to them, too.

"If you're the kind of parent that raises your children with the 'do it because I said so' approach, you're raising a child who's going to be more susceptible to others saying, 'Do this,' " Dr. Steinberg says.

Parents can also help their children anticipate situations of peer pressure, like declining alcohol at a party, and go over strategies to help a child save face while still avoiding an activity. "Sometimes, just having a prepared response can help a teenager get off a runaway train," says Dr. Steinberg, who is also the author of "You and Your Adolescent."

Parents should thoroughly assess their kids' friends, says Dr. Steinberg. It's better to start early and express opinions. Once a child reaches adolescence, friends may wield more influence than authority figures, so simply saying a child isn't allowed to hang out with a particular friend anymore may be met with resistance.

Instead of banning that friend outright, starting a dialogue could get better results. If they have concerns, parents should try to elicit more information, like asking their daughter why she likes a friend who concerns them.

Lorenzo Cancian-Kavoliunas, a 19-year-old Montreal college student, thinks he was able to resist peer pressure more as his confidence grew when he made good friends and began excelling in sports. "It went from below the ground to the heavens," he says.

Having good friends "turns you into a leader," Mr. Cancian-Kavoliunas says. "You don't feel like you have to fit in. You are in.

"Now I peer-pressure people," Mr. Cancian-Kavoliunas says jokingly, "but in a good way," like coaxing friends to train and join him as a lifeguard this summer in Ocean City, Md.
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