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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Marriage is for Breeders, Part V: Q&A » Marriage is for Breeders, Part V: Q&A

Marriage is for Breeders, Part V: Q&A

D Christian Harrison - February 16, 2006

I promised a Q&A, and here it is.

A few of the questions are ones that y’all have raised… and some of them are one’s I have myself.

Hopefully, I’ll do them all justice.

“What has changed?”

In his otherwise bile-filled comment, John W. Redelfs asked a question that I think deserves an answer… and while I’m not an historian, I’d say that we’re suddenly discussing gay marriage because gays have so recently come into their own in our nation. And despite our differences, Americans are fundementally interested in doing the right thing… and in treating people fairly. So a discussion about gay marriage was inevitable — just as women’s suffrage and the dismantling of the Jim Crow laws were inevitable. I just hope that this discussion gives us something other (and better) than gay marriage.

Colorado SB 166

Last Lemming asks what I think of Colorado state’s Senate Bill 166, which creates a form of civil union that appears to sidestep my particular beef with gay marriage (namely, it gives gay couples equal standing in questions related the bearing and rearing of children) by excluding those perks from its list of benefits. So what do I think of the bill? Well… I think it’s missing the point, and we’re missing an opportunity here to do something important.

If the benefits of marriage (outside of those which touch upon the bearing and rearing of children) are so coveted, then maybe it’s time to have a national discussion about each of them… but no one wants to have that discussion, because it would be boring. Instead, people scramble to inact laws such as these which refuse to look carefully at the matter. Some throw around a number like 1800 when discussing the number of perks that come with a marriage certificate… I don’t know how accurate it is, but whatever the number, some of those perks have no place being attached to marriage… some are germane to marriage, but should be available more widely… and some should be available only to married couples as they provide either a useful incentive to marry, or are necessary for the expeditious and effective execution of ones parental duties. Yet we’re not having that discussion… and it’s a darn shame. Personally, I’d like to see a discussion about how employer health insurance comes so effortlessly to a spouse… I’d like to see employer health insurance cover everyone living in the same residence. Imagine how this would benefit adult children with ill parents… bring them home to live with you, and they’re covered by your insurance! … And think of how that would, in turn, bless families across the country as generations (once again) came to live in close proximity to each other. But no one’s having that discussion because everyone’s yelling so loudly about gay marriage.

Britney Speares & Other Mockeries of Marriage

MahNahvu asks several questions… and I’ll start with this one: “Where do we draw the line of discrimination? Would it be wrong to deny marriage to Britney Spears, who makes a mockery of marriage and drives with an infant on her lap?”

I focus on this one, because it touches on a larger issue (at least in my head)… and that’s the issue of defending marriage on all fronts, and not just against a threat on its left flank. Frankly, I’m surprised that so many who are up in arms against gay marriage have nothing to say (or pay only lip service) to the very real — and perhaps even more-serious issues of no-fault divorce; absentee fathers; domestic violence; adultery; and the myriad difficulties of adopting children; not to mention some wonderful ideas out there to make marriage better, like mandatory pre-marriage counseling. If these people want so badly to preserve marriage, they should really be waging a much broader war.

Gay Breeders

MahNahvu asks about people who have left hetero relationships that have resulted in offspring… and while John C Mark B chuckles, the fact of the matter is that there are many many people out there that fit this description. In my small circle of friends, I know of three people who married straight, had children, and latter divorced. How should society treat these people? Should their gay partners be treated as second-class citizens (or worse)? My personal opinion is two-fold:

First, regardless of orientation, custody laws in the US are a mess, and the body of legal opinion that forms the basis of interpretation for those laws offer no help at all. We really need to overhaul custody law, and to put children first by making them the center of the decision and by making parenting them well, easier.

Second, it’s my opinion that the custodial parent should have the greatest latitude possible to raise the children as best they can — and that includes the ability to assign to other responsible adults limited rights of custodianship. We were never meant to raise children alone, and single parents need all the help they can get. Government should be _helping_ these people by supporting them in the effort. In the end, this approach would bless gay couples who have complete or partial custody of a child by affording gay partners a firmer standing in the eyes of the law — as well as anyone else the custodial parent wants to name as a partner in child rearing. Once again, here’s a discussion that could have wide-ranging benefits for all sorts of people… if only we’d have it.

Gay Breeders, Too

One of my dearest friends is in a committed gay relationship. He intends to marry, eventually — going to Canada, if need be — and wants children. They could adopt… they could use a surrogate mother… or (if the promise of the scientific literature is to believed) they could actually have children together (he explained it to me — he’s a medical student — but it all sounded like science fiction). Anyway, he’s been reading this thread, and he asked me, in all sincerity, what I would do with them.

It’s so much easier to talk about these things in the abstract… but, in the end, there are always casualties of any policy decision, so the discussion can’t remain abstract for long.

I’m torn, to be honest… I think D and J would make great parents. But in the end, I think that any path they choose would end-up treating children as objects of desire, because any choice they make would deny the child a mother and a father — which I think cheats the child. There are many, many healthy hetero households that want desperately to adopt — but can’t because it’s just too difficult, and because the supply (in-country) is so tight. ( I’m avoiding the discussion of adopting out-of-country, because it’s so complex… and is really another issue, entirely ) If he and his partner were to adopt in-country, they would most-likely be denying that child a place in a healthy hetero home. Surrogacy has its own complications… not least of which is treating another person ( in this case, the mother ) as a birthing chamber. Surrogacy is emotionally taxing on the mother, and ( I imagine ) has an impact that is felt long after birth. And the last option falls within an area of science that has jumped the bonds of our humanity… I think the ethical implications of such science are deep and ill-understood, and I wouldn’t really look kindly on a society that countenanced such proceedures.

In the end, though, they will most likely succeed in securing children… and I think they’ll make good parents… and I would love the children like any good god-father and would enjoy spoiling them rotten.

So there you have it… a short Q&A… and the end of a series that I hope has explained (if only in part) how a gay man can be opposed to gay marriage. I’m frustrated that life got in the way of my posting everything more closely together, and I’m sorry that the series has suffered from light readership because of my failure to deliver it in a timely manner. I hope that y’all have taken some good from it all, though… and I look forward to your comments below.

10 Comments »

  1. This is by far the worthiest of your threads, Silus, thanks for that.

    Just reiterating for my own clarity: it seems like you oppose gay marriage for two reasons; the first is that the dialogue about gay marriage obscures other issues that you think should be addressed more fully; and second, you still believe that children will be more successfully parented by two genders, regardless of the characters of the people becoming the parents. In other words, two exemplary men should not bid for a child that might better be raised by a man and woman of perhaps less stature, and it’s in the state’s interest to see that the two men… don’t even get the chance to try.

    I don’t have anything of particular value to add, except the obvious opinion: I disagree, and I certainly hope you change your mind about this.

    The surprise to me is that you haven’t mentioned the Church at all here, what it means to be LDS, have a gay but celibate orientation, and how that might color your thinking about legalized marriage for gays.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 16, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

  2. “If these people want so badly to preserve marriage, they should really be waging a much broader war.”

    Silus, they have. And will continue to do so. The church has long been fighting on behalf of multiple aspects of marriage, and BYU has been holding conventions and discussions of strengthening the family for a long time now. Tons of articles, studies and talks have been devoted to the issues of the family that you speak of.

    The issue of gay marriage has come into the spotlight just in the last few years simply as a reaction to gay activists and judges who have been making unprecedented moves.

    Comment by Eric Russell — February 17, 2006 @ 12:56 am

  3. I don’t know, Silus, something you said struck a nerve with me. Ideally, a father and mother are best for a child; however, I’ve seen first hand some terrible adoption stories. Children I know personally adopted into two parent homes that were totally unsuitable at the least and abusive at their worst.

    Don’t even get me started about birth parents.

    Your friends, D& J, could possibly be better than a traditional family’s best efforts, in individual cases.

    Were I a judge, that argument would not work with me. I’m not intentionally playing the devil’s advocate, I wish I could accept your argument, but that part, at least, doesn’t wash.

    Comment by annegb — February 17, 2006 @ 12:59 am

  4. D Fletcher & annegb: I need to correct something right off the bat… I do not think that gay couples are _bad_ for children or that they should be forbidden from adopting or accepting custody of blood children. Rather, I believe that the state should be given the broadest latitude in finding the best possible solution for the child in question — one important ingredient of which is (ideally) a healthy hetero household to live in. But that’s not always possible or desireable.

    Scenario One: Two couples are vying to adopt a child. One is a hetero couple of modest means that have saved for years to cover the adoption fee. They are fit to be parents in every discernable respect, but would only be able to offer the child a state-funded schooling at a decent area public school. The second couple is a gay couple. Both of the men work, though one will be leaving his employ to be a full-time father. They have substantial means, and can offer the child private education. All else being equal, I personally believe that a home with the first couple is preferable… but were gay marriage legalized, that determination would not be made, as the only issue that would then be relevant would be the question of income.

    Scenario two: A hetero couple with a daughter divorce. The wife goes from boyfriend to boyfriend and from job to job and the husband dates a little as he comes to terms with his orientation — a secret he hid from everyone until after the divorce was finalized — but holds-down a job that he’s had for years. The wife wants complete custody of the child… during the hearings, she raises the specter of her ex being gay. In the months that have passed since the divorce, the husband hasn’t been serious with anyone, but has opted instead to focus on his daughter. In this case, I would hope that the judge would award custody to the father.

    Eric Russell: my comment on a broader war was not a quip about the church. There are many actors in this effort, and many of these actors — especially the loud, annoying ones — are missing the point. But since you bring-up the church, I don’t know of any recent efforts of the church to repeal no-fault divorce laws or to enact any legislation that in any way improves the lot of married couples, besides the well-publicized anti-SSM efforts. I may be missing something, though, so please let me know if this is the case.

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 17, 2006 @ 10:27 am

  5. Even though your example is very specific, Silus, I’m not sure that I agree with you, that that heterosexual couple would be better than that homosexual couple at raising a child, *all things being equal* except of course, the genders of the parents involved.

    Still, you continue to make the point that gay marriage should be prevented because gay couples should not adopt (because they will rob other couples of adopting), and they would be given a better chance at adopting if legally married.

    I just completely disagree. Gay people should marry if they want to, and the state should bless their union as it does all other adults who want to marry. The state doesn’t determine which couples might make bad parents at the time of the marriage, and then deny them a license because of it. Yet, this is essentially what you are arguing for gay people.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 17, 2006 @ 10:45 am

  6. I’m confused. When did I chuckle or imply that I think lightly of this issue (or, more specifically, when did I laugh at the prospect that people might leave hetero relationships for homosexual ones)? I apologize if I gave that impression, for it is not one that I hold.

    Comment by John C. — February 17, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

  7. Op. That should have been “Mark B.” not “John C.”.

    And it was in Part IV.

    Thanks for the heads-up!

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 17, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  8. and it’s a darn shame. Personally, I’d like to see a discussion about how employer health insurance comes so effortlessly to a spouse… I’d like to see employer health insurance cover everyone living in the same residence. Imagine how this would benefit adult children with ill parents…

    This is one of the reasons that more and more and more employer health plans (a) offer that as an option and (b) have exploded in price and pass the price along to the insured.

    I’ve known small businesses that dropped their health plans over such issues. One person doing that can triple the cost of the plan to the business.

    Otherwise, we are seeing dramatic drops in fertillity and child bearing all over the world, except in arab countries (which used to have severe fertillity and population shrinkage problems).

    It is a broader issue, as is the well established rule of “best interest of the child” which has such problems in application.

    Do we allow forceable adoption? If someone richer than you are spots your kids and decides they want them, can they take them away? Remember, in our culture “richer” = “better.”

    I’m not sure of solutions, but there are a lot of issues. I think the only way we get through them is to talk about them, and I’m glad to see you doing that.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — February 19, 2006 @ 8:48 am

  9. While a single individual may throw a business’s health plan into a tailspin, a more far-reaching program would, I believe, lower costs… as one of hte largest issues in health care today (beside prescription costs, and the absense of a national healthcare system) is the failure of healthy adults to join the system… it seems that only sick people (or people likely to get sick) join-up, which artificially raises the per-user costs of insurance. Were a “household” to be redefined, it would encourage more people to sign-up because there would be ancilliary benefits.

    That’s my belief, at any rate.

    : )

    Comment by Silus Grok — February 19, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  10. Why does health insurance come effortlessly for a spouse?

    Because traditionally marriage creates dependants for the wage earner. Sex leads to babies, and babies need someone to take care of them…the spouse. The spouse cannot simultaneously give the best care to their children and hold down a full-time job that provides health insurance. It’s in society’s best interest to make sure children are raised well, and providing health insurance for a dependent spouse helps that happen.

    Adult children are in theory supposed to be independent and be earning their own health insurance.

    Comment by Sara R — March 29, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

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