Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bush and Gay Marriage: Part 2

Ok, so here are those thoughts about the quotes. I wish I could have included them last night, but looking at the length of this, I'm really glad I didn't try before. I wouldn't have gotten any sleep.

"Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of marriage would undermine the family structure," said Bush[.]

I'm certainly not the first person to ask this, but nonetheless I must ask how does a homosexual union affect another parties' union? How does it cheapen the oath that you pledage with your significant other? People marry in this country for many different reasons. Some people marry for money, others for citizenship, some for possessive control over a partner or because their parents told them to. I've even heard of a few nuts that do it for some absurd backwoods concept called "Love." There are a lot of reasons, and a lot of them seem to undermine marriage a lot more than two people of the same sex. So where is the moral front against those? Where's the constitutional amendment against greedy insincere jerks? Nowhere. Why? Because this is a country where people have the right to do those things. They have a right to swear before any god they want that they will devote their life to someone, only to turn around and screw them over because they didn't sign a prenuptial agreement. I don't think the government should get involved with many of these kinds of things, but they do bother me a lot more than homosexual marriage, and none of them will have any effect on the sturdiness of any oath I choose to pledge with someone I love.

There is no way that a homosexual marriage will undermine any heterosexual marriage. The only thing that can undermine marriage is to embark upon it insincerely. By changing the definition of marriage to include homosexuals, it will not undermine the family structure either. This will not destroy current or future heterosexually parented families. Heterosexuals are not going to form homosexual marriages, let alone leave their heterosexual marriages to do so. If anything this will help prevent the awkward scenario of homosexuals in heterosexual marriages, which is usually a very unhealthy environment to raise a child in when one considers the often-overlooked sensitivity of children towards their parents' marital infidelity and unhappiness. Broadening the potential for happy families to exist is a far cry from undermining.

Traditional marriage, Bush said, is the cornerstone of a healthy society and the issue should be put "back where it belongs: in the hands of the American people."

The thing is that's the exact opposite of what this is doing. By making this a constitutional amendment he is taking this out of the hands of the American people. He's taking away our right to grapple with this issue on a state, city, county, and household level where we can decide what marriage is to us. He's telling us what it is, and threatening to rap us on the knuckles if we try an alternative.

"Marriage between one man and one woman does a better job protecting children better than any other institution humankind has devised," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. "As such, marriage as an institution should be protected, not redefined."

This one disturbs me on so many levels I almost want to give it an article of its own. On what grounds has the Senate Majority Leader come to this conclusion? What exactly does he mean by "protecting children" and how is that achieved more so by "one man and one woman" than by any other union?

If there is a concern that by being raised in a homosexual union a child will by exposure become a homosexual, it should be noted that many children have been raised by homosexual unions and gone on to live average heterosexual lives. The concern has never fully made sense to me. I mean... do people think the children see their same-sex parents have sex? And if so, is that because they were exposed to that much of their parents' sex life? I know I wasn't to mine. Also, it seems to me that people that are so concerned about this tend to forget that most homosexuals come from heterosexual families. Actually, I've never really head of a case of homosexual parents rearing a homosexual child, but I must admit I really haven't sought them out.

In many ways there isn't that much difference between a single parent and homosexual parents, except that, by being two, they can provide more and devote more time to their child(ren). A single parent (of any orientation), though capable of bringing up a child better than two of lesser competence, is generally considered less fit for rearing a child than two parents. This alone however, does not deem them unfit. They still maintain the right to raise their child or even adopt a child. I admit that the absence of exposure to a gender, notably the child's opposite and especially if that opposite is female, can run the risk of distancing, detachment and even chauvinism and misogyny. I've been chewing on the notion for a while now that a great deal of such behavior in this country and abroad has been the result of generations of mothers dying in childbirth, leaving male children with no sexual role model in isolated areas such as farmlands or northern country but their widowed (and perhaps resentful) fathers... passing from one generation to the next till the present. In any case this concern has been shown not to be too serious when in the face of single parents that are not so ignorant to the opposite sex and when in environments where one can be exposed to role models of gender diversity. In either case single parents are found competent with little regard to my concerns, and thus I think the same should be found for homosexuals.

Which brings up another oddity concerning numbers. It is radical, and one that does not exactly agree with my personal preferences regarding relationships, but why only one man and one woman? Why not two men and three woman, or five or six? Couldn't more parents provide more and give a child or multiple children more attention? Couldn't more parents beat down an assailant trying to harm their child? What exactly is the threat that Bill Frist feels "one man and one woman" are better than "any other institution humankind has devised" at protecting a child from? It's abstractions like this and their ability to rally people that really give me a headache. (Kind of like the one I have now.)

On a less radical note, I can't help but notice a particular focus on the nuclear family, with no mention of extended family. It's an oddity, in face of a country that is becoming increasingly urban, with suburbia and many counties developing at an alarming rate into subdivisions and condominiums. Why in all this rhetoric of family values is there no mention of the benefits of grandparents in a child's upbringing? Some of the most intelligent, outgoing, and generally decent people I've known can credit at least one grandparent for contributing to their education. I can't help but be tempted to comment on the current administration's disregard for the elderly. Taking care of our ninety-three year old grandmother, my family's seen first hand the effects of many of the funds Bush has cut along with all those taxes. Looking at such moral family agendas that don't mention the elderly when talking about protecting the family structure, I can't help but feel cynicism towards any concept that his administration actually cares about the elderly.

That's all for now. Possible revisions and additional thoughts later. For now... I sleep and reply to comments if any emerge.

Take care.

10 Comments:

Blogger Cory Capron said...

I hate commenting on my own blog posts... but in the first draft (now corrected) of this, there was without doubt the finest typo of my entire life thus far and I'd liek to share it with pride for its comic gold.

"I've been chewing on the notion for a while now that a great deal of such behavior in this country and abroad has been the result of generations of mothers dying in childbirth, leaving male children with no sexual role motel in isolated areas such as farmlands or northern country but their widowed (and perhaps resentful) fathers... passing form one generation to the next till the present."

"sexual role motel"

Accidents will happen indeed...

And now back to serious talk.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Dan Kachur said...

Well said.

A staffer for Sen. Martinez let is slip... to paraphrase, Martinez is not interested in preserving marriage, just the definition of marriage.

It's not about looking out for the welfare of children, families, etc. It's about placating a right wing base.

It's just my hope that the right will find the GOP's pandering disingenuous while the GOP moderates get pissed off in the process.

I guess my solution to this whole mess is a bit radical. It seems a lot of this debate centers on semantics. The word "marriage" is so loaded, that many people think any form of marriage, even that in the realm of government, should fit into their own narrow definitions.

So why not change the name? Would it not make more sense to give ALL couples civil unions, with all the rights now inherent in a civil marriage? Then, anything called "marriage" could be left to the respective churches to interpret as they wish.

Of course, a lot of people would hate this idea, even though it goes to the very core of the first amendment and protecting the right to free practice of religion.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Larry Rouse said...

There is much more to the debate than you have covered. But for now I will give a quote from an excellent article on this subject for your consideration:

The real reason the overwhelming majority of African-Americans and two-thirds of all Americans oppose same-sex marriage is because they understand it fundamentally redefines the family and says mothers and fathers don’t matter for children. And the black community, more than any other, has suffered under the ravages of this. The Rev. Walter Fauntroy, coordinator of the 1963 March on Washington and president of the National Black Leadership Roundtable, recently warned, “Don’t confuse my people who have been the victims of deliberate family destruction by giving them another definition of marriage.”

This is a very real issue for black leaders, because their children and communities have been profoundly wounded by the lie that families don’t need fathers. It is just as wrong to say mom’s lesbian lover can replace a father as it was to say a daddy could be replaced by a welfare check. Neither can teach a little boy how to grow to be a man and neither can make sure a little girl receives healthy, appropriate love and affirmation from a caring man.

And while a loving and compassionate society comes to the aid of motherless or fatherless families created by fate, there is no “civil right” to intentionally subject children to fatherlessness or motherlessness in order to fulfill adult desire. That is what every same-sex family does, and exactly why the African-American community, and Americans, oppose the idea in such large and growing numbers.

http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/
0,1413,36~158~1988182,00.html

9:09 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

I totally agree Dan.

The religious and cultural connotations of the word “marriage” do tend to make it unfit for government to regulate beyond the realms of intervention where civil rights are abused and even there it’s a murky mess. I’m totally for your civil unions only idea. The problem is, this amendment is not simply out to get rid of homosexual marriage, but all same-sex civil unions if I’m not mistaken. Does anyone have a good link to the purposed amendment? I’d love to chew the fine print.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

My day has become more hectic than predicted, so I’d like to apologize upfront for slow replies. I’d like to give these serious attention and consideration.

I’m writing a response to your post right now Mr. Rouse not sure when I’ll get around to finishing it though. I’d like to read this article in full, however your link did not send me to it. Perhaps I’m not just not seeing it? If you’d be kind enough to link me directly I’d appreciate it.

Thanks for your patience everyone.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...

“There is much more to the debate than you have covered.”

I agree. This was focused on a few points that stuck me. The entire issue of gay marriage is a bit much for any one article to take on.

”The real reason the overwhelming majority of African-Americans and two-thirds of all Americans oppose same-sex marriage is because they understand it fundamentally redefines the family and says mothers and fathers don’t matter for children.”

I appreciate the concern in the African-American community towards this. I’ve seen a few surveys that show the majority of homosexuals in America are African-American. The black community needs to have a louder voice on these issues and more attention should be given to them.

I disagree though that it says mothers and fathers don’t matter. I think the real radical implication of accepting same-sex marriage is the break down of gender roles and their societal structure. It would put more enthuses on parents as parents and less on their specific genders. This is something feminists have been pursuing since Simone de Beauvoir. I see how it could be very intimidating to the ideologies of some churches, but I don’t believe this to be a bad thing. In reality though, this is extremely ideological talk. Just as marriages structured around domination and submission, superiority and inferiority, there will always be gender roles and traditional marriages.

“And the black community, more than any other, has suffered under the ravages of this. The Rev. Walter Fauntroy, coordinator of the 1963 March on Washington and president of the National Black Leadership Roundtable, recently warned, “Don’t confuse my people who have been the victims of deliberate family destruction by giving them another definition of marriage.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in a predominantly white area of the county, and by the age of seventeen noted Jean Toomer and Richard Wright as two of my literary heroes, but no matter how many episodes of Boondocks I watch… I can’t seem to shake my disbelief that black people are stupid. Undereducated, occasionally misinformed perhaps… but not stupid. Besides, people have culture. We are shaped very little by what the government says (beyond the economic realm), but by what is in our culture. Again, changing the definition of marriage is not going to make traditional marriage fly away.

”This is a very real issue for black leaders, because their children and communities have been profoundly wounded by the lie that families don’t need fathers. It is just as wrong to say mom’s lesbian lover can replace a father as it was to say a daddy could be replaced by a welfare check.”

This is touching on a very interesting divide between how race and economic class deal with this issue. If for nothing else, this may prove to be the best thing to come out of posting this blog entry for me. I’d never have expected something like this to have been brought up. Thanks!

Where I’d differ from Beauvoir is in the insinuated notion that the father is not needed for child upbringing. The idea that one gender role is unnecessary feels wholly inaccurate to me. As artificial constructs (following her and similar philosophers for the moment) both gender roles seem to possess unnecessary if not unhealthy attributes. However

In this specific case, once more the devil’s in the semantics. The word “lover” is misleading. We are not talking about lovers. We’re talking about partners. A lover can be a partner and depending on the context they can be almost synonymous. However, a lover is not necessarily a partner. It can be used (accurately or not) for any relationship where one has sex or even simply expresses deep affection with another. The language is very misleading.

A partner is by definition someone who is engaged in the rearing. Like a husband or wife, they are accepting obligation by their status. As I’ve said before, by having two parents a child can be provided with more time with a parent. If both are working than there is more financial support, and if one is a stay at home, than the child is being looked out for and educated at home. It should be pointed out that to an extent, this is not so radically different from many traditional family structures where the father figure is out working long hours a job, only to come home in the evening exhausted. Throughout the primary developmental years of my childhood, my father worked the late shift and slept most of the day to prepare, meaning that my mother and older sisters were a much larger influence on my upbringing. I recognize the difference in a complete absence of a father, but a mother’s lesbian partner is much better than a welfare check and a lot more than many children at present receive.

“Neither can teach a little boy how to grow to be a man and neither can make sure a little girl receives healthy, appropriate love and affirmation from a caring man.”

I acknowledged this concern in my comments already, but the context that they are being argued in now seems worth revisiting.

First off, exactly how can they not teach a boy to be a man? Is a man nothing more than his penis and testicles? Is it simply a matter of chromosomes? An absence of a female reproductive system? It would seem odd if that were the case in a society that tends to (on its surface level) disapprove the visibility or exposition of such anatomy, even in the benign context of a mother breastfeeding her infant. I’m being perfectly serious here; this notion of a man is an abstract concept. What is a man, and how is a woman inherently inadequate to teach a boy to become one?

I shouldn’t have to point out that many lesbians (to the point of stereotype) are out-going in many arenas typically classified as masculine. Likewise many homosexual men do not fall into the depiction show in media like Will & Grace, but maintain rugged masculine characteristics. The latter often classified as “Bears.” If there is some concern that a boy would be raised without some absence of machismo, I’m far from worried about it.

”And while a loving and compassionate society comes to the aid of motherless or fatherless families created by fate, there is no “civil right” to intentionally subject children to fatherlessness or motherlessness in order to fulfill adult desire. That is what every same-sex family does, and exactly why the African-American community, and Americans, oppose the idea in such large and growing numbers.”

I do not believe that the problem in urban and suburban African-American communities is the lack of good father figures. A father that abandons his child and his or her mother sets a terrible example. That and similar situations are very real problems that I’m not trying to ignore. To me though the problem is an absence of a good parental figure of either gender in their direct lives. There are countless black mothers who are great mothers, and I’m not trying to discredit them at all. The reality is that for many of them, the conditions of trying to support a home and be a parent are VERY difficult. It is very hard to be present in those most developmental years to encourage better moral values than their father had, and the alternative influences of their surroundings are all too often terrible role models.

It’s always easier to attack alternatives that are not to one’s preference than to try and solve the problem. If the churches and the black community want better fathers, then that should be their agenda. There shouldn’t be time wasted on matters like this. The energy should be put forth to promote better values in fatherhood. They should promote abstinence and thinking in the face of wave after wave of unwanted children that fathers unprepared flee the responsibility of. If that is the problem than worry about fixing it, not preventing people whom genuinely want to be good parents from having the chance.

As for subjection, I repeat the fact that many children have come out of same-sex upbringings as heterosexual as well as all around decent people. It should also go without saying that many children have grown up to be fine individuals that were raised by only a single parent. Bad upbringing is the product of bad circumstances and or simple bad parenting. It is not due to the gender of a parent or parents. The idea that the government should protect children from being subjected to “fatherlessness or motherlessness” reminds me all too much of another radical idea. If one is of a varying faith such as an agnostic, Unitarian Universalistic, or of no religious faith at all, the idea of subjecting children to a single religion such as Christianity or Islam can be potentially frightening. It can be argued that it limits their capacity for individual thought. When faced with an ethical question, if the very presence of the question isn’t in itself too much for them to accept, such as evolution or homosexuality, they find themselves unable to articulate a reason beyond that it is their beliefs. It is what their scripture has told them.

The subjecting of a single interpretation of a religion seems all the more wrong and dangerous. To be unable to articulate beyond scripture through what the direction and interpretation of their minister or other such figure has told them, is only harmless so long as that interpretation is harmless. Let us not forget that the KKK considered (and still do) themselves “Christian soldiers.” By permitting parents to teach their children whatever religion they want at infancy when children are recognized to be incapable of complex individual thought, it can be presumed that you are actually doing a disservice to their sincere moral fiber. If I had chosen paganism instead of Christianity, many readers would perhaps not mind had I used the word brainwashed to refer to this behavior.

Ok… I’m hoping that, though perhaps portions of that example might be reasonable, the overall conclusion was found disturbing and even appalling. There are too many unethical factors in the government telling you how to raise your child on as intimate a level as religion. By the same token, a distorted view of the world can be far more dangerous than this concept of “fatherlessness or motherlessness” that is being found fit for constitutional amendment. If an ideology or a specific interpretation of one truly is dangerous, than it should be challenged by theologians, philosophers, scholars and other kinds of intellectuals and NOT by legislators. The same applies for the issue of same-sex parenting.

Thanks for contributing.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Tim McCormack said...

Cory, you have become quite the social analyst, and your writing is excellent. This is one of the best blog entries I've seen in a while, anywhere.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:09 AM  
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3:00 AM  

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