FAMILY VALUES: LET’S HAVE AN HONEST DEBATE
“The family exists to propagate the race, and to provide a safe and secure haven in which to nurture, teach and love the younger generation.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
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“Family values” hits me in the gut
When I hear a politician, commentator, or minister brandish the phrase, “family values,” I cringe and take personal umbrage. It sounds as though, we need to prop up conventional man-wife families with children by penalizing or discriminating against all childless adults - including most singles, gays and lesbians - and not just by condemning divorce and chasing after persons who have abandoned children. The new individualism simply has to be reversed. The “me generation” had assumed that its freedom and wealth would just trickle down to children; and, well, trickle-down didn’t trickle. We have to re-engineer society so that the pressing needs of families with children come first.
I also flinch at the way many adults - both men and women - characterize their self-images in terms of their families and children. Echoing the “old maid” phobia of a famous scene in Gone with the Wind, young women do stupid things (including conceiving) in order to please, impress, or trap boy friends, and find their lives messed up after the inevitable separation or divorce. A woman, taking twenty minutes to check out a quartermaster’s mess in a suburban grocery line, shouts, “you can tell who I am by the child seats in my van.” Men humble themselves, stating in workplace team-building workshops that their most important motive in life is “four kids.” A colleague tells me that nothing “changed him inside out” like becoming a father for the first time. The intimacy in many well-knit families is touching indeed. Once, ABC 20-20 did a spot on families where all the children actually sleep in the same bed as the parents. When a family man is a victim of a violent crime or is killed or maimed in war, everyone speaks of the wife and children left behind, as if that were the only reason his life had really mattered.
Barbara Bush once told ABC 20-20 host Barbara Walters, “you don’t have to get married to have a life, but if you have children, you have to put them first in your life...If you work eight hours a day, you should spend the other sixteen with your children.” The Mormon Church as a program to enforce family connectivity, the Monday night “Family Home Evening.” Conceiving children means taking a risk, to love unconditionally whatever child is born. Rearing a future star will only happen when the parents can love the child for his or her own best abilities. In the meantime, the demands on parents are all-consuming, and these demands go way beyond sexual fidelity: a father gives up writing his novel and works a second job so his wife can stay home with the children, or a mother works graveyard shift so that one parent is home with the baby; or both parents stay home constantly and make heroic sacrifices for a child with leukemia or cystic fibrosis. Psychologically, this is more natural for mothers; it has to be taught to fathers. People who do raise children correctly face an enormous change in their priorities and a change in the selves (resisted even by parents who leave their children in the care of commercial establishments to have more time for themselves), and this process must be increasingly difficult if the culture sends a message that children are burdens or appendages on the adult world. But, children are an obligation that arise only from “voluntary” behavior, or are they?
Indeed, compared to times past, our children seem to be doing very badly, and not just in the ghettos. Is this because we don’t care as much about children, or because we don’t care as much about ourselves, so we behave with dishonor in front of them? Look at how our “best” (today’s answer to my own Science Honor Society peers) are behaving at such prestigious places as the Naval Academy today.
So, “family values” has taken on a generally connotation which is not too pleasant to state. The concept refers to the increasing emphasis our culture has allowed to the development and indulgence to the adult individual, and the apparent complications that this cultural permissiveness (along with economic Darwinism) creates for the raising of children, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Various specifics can be enumerated, such as the difficulties for the one-earner family, the distractions of pornography and youth-obsession to lifelong functioning marriages, the ease of (no-fault) divorce with its effect on children.
In times past, young men were expected to first prove themselves in collective aggression (sports and the military) aimed at demonstrating their capacities to protect women and children, and only then establish themselves as individual adult men by marrying and becoming fathers, before they would even think about spending their energies just on themselves. Women wanted to have their children early, when they were physically stronger. The “Mystery” of marriage consummation and child-rearing” had become the civilizing pinnacle of Life; it made grownups tick and kept them calmed down. For the sake of children and social discipline, many things (like homosexuality) could hardly be mentioned. A willingness to put one’s young first, above all other purposes in life, demanded a certain personal humility. But, those “good old days” were hardly as child-friendly as social conservatives imagine. Children were regarded as assets to be sure - their labor was needed on the family farms or (until child-labor laws) even in the factories and, a multiplicity of adult children could take care of aging parents without returning all their parents’ personal sacrifices. Without modern appliances, women’s work in the home, beyond raising small children, was again of measurable economic value.
Now, we see “self-actualization” as a primary value; if love and parenting are subsidiary, the families and children will suffer. Allegedly, we are unwilling to make the personal sacrifices to form and keep families, and, moreover, to provide a homogeneous culture which favors families.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
We need an honest debate on what “family values” (and “child-friendly” values) means. This dialogue should evaluate the extent various instrumentalities of society, from employers to the state, should actively promote these values, at particularly at the expense to single adults or with restrictions on supposedly “adult” self-expression. Debate should question the healthfulness of individuals’ depending on the approval of the state for their self-concepts . This debate needs to be carried out on nationwide electronic town meetings. The debate should distinguish between how “family values” ought to work through well-intended voluntary arrangements and how the state should be involved. Besides this psychological issue, the debate should address the changing economics and social interconnectedness of family and single lifestyles.
Yes, we need strong traditional families, and they are in trouble
Today, only a minority of the kids grow up in stable, two-parent, first-married families. The kids provide the biggest reason to worry.
People don’t enter the world as adults; and children who don’t get the dedicated commitment of the adults who bring them into the world, don't grow up with these “virtues.” In fact, teenage boys who grow up without a strong male role model (preferably in a two-parent home) will, in a real world, often be severely handicapped in taking care of themselves in any acceptable manner.
So, what we call “family values” is a definite good, and a necessity to carry on civilization with a new generation of mature adults. Family teaches that, to the displeasure of Citizen Kane, a lifeline isn’t experienced on one’s own terms. It teaches that love is eventually what you do - sharing Rosebud - as well as what you feel. But it also can be leveraged into an evil, where “family” (or “tribe”) becomes an excuse for destructive conflict, “class” exploitation and even war. Both the Right and the Left are correct as long as they play in their own home parks.
That parents must raise the children they have is a given. That their kids will do better if the parents stay together is well established by experience. Of course, it is the provision for children that, from a civilization’s point of view, provides one of the most important motives to keep families stable and parents faithful. Well-reared children mean fewer social problems and less reason for government to “legislate morality” aggressively. The impermanence of so many marriages is especially hard on children; studies show that families in which a parent remarries are actually harder on children than those headed by divorced single parents.
Stronger families also do a good job to taking care of grownups, and this is a second major concern. They would provide “safety-net” services that have to be funded by taxes today; conversely the “freedom” that modern young adults feel to live apart from traditional families arguably increases the number of people on the public dole. The major Biblical source (the “divorce” Chapter, Matthew 19) for the ukase towards monogamous marriage seems to have more to do with the spiritual health of the adults themselves. Indeed, the psychic commitment implicit in marriage - the capacity to remain sexually interested in one person for a lifetime and the willing renunciation of the continual search for the perfect partner - seems to correlate, at least for men, with longer life. In early 1996, a study of Hamas suicide terrorists found that almost all were young unmarried men, amazingly with university educations; for a lot of men, knowing that they are really needed at home seems essential their psychological survival as “individual” adults at all. The social mandate for lifetime monogamy - rationing at one to a customer - offers to every willing adult a fair shake at intimacy, if he will only remain “realistic,” and curbs what would otherwise be very Darwinian culture indeed for the benefit of the few strongest “alpha” males.
Today, the notion of “family values” goes much deeper than parents’ obvious obligations to provide stable homes to raise their own children, and even deeper than the common-sense observation that government welfare programs actually discourages couples from getting and staying married when they would otherwise freely choose to do so. If only for the family’s utilitarian benefits, we ask how much support society, especially through the State - government and corporate - should give to The Family as a major “basic grouping” of society. This support seems necessary because the pressures today’s personally combative society places on the family may displace it from the valuable jobs it does. With the workplace becoming increasingly competitive and the social and artistic culture increasingly “adult,” there is today and unprecedented tension between those raising children (or taking care of dependents) and those not. In human resources systems analysis, dependents are often termed “weak entities”! This tension is exacerbated by the self-feeding inflation encouraged by the dissolution of the “family wage”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> and the increase of two-earner families during the past thirty years, with a reduction in the relative percentage of good jobs that go specifically to young men who might otherwise prefer to become fathers,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> and an inflation in the economy in living standards (especially new home prices) geared to two-income households. The acceptance of women throughout the workplace (which is arguably not universal) may likewise take jobs away from men who in the past could have supported families on their own. Until recently, there were even explicit discriminations against families with children, in renting apartments; a practice which also bid up the price of housing and change employment and commuting patterns. Now, the emphasis on female career opportunity is becoming seen as detrimental to women: the appreciation of raising children as a social investment is lost, and the health of mothers and children alike are endangered by later childbirths.
Other consumer patterns may become distorted as family values erode. Take, for example, the previous inflation in the price of homes with purchased with “other people’s money,” and the mortgage interest deduction. Home ownership was once an anchor of stability, although it may have represented a flight to suburbia to maintain racial, cultural, and economic class segregation. Gradually, it became a vehicle for self-indulgence, until the bubble burst.
The suburban flight of the 70’s and 80’s presents the Left with a criticism of the Family, as an instrument of protecting privilege, a sheltered way of life, even de-facto segregation and racial discrimination. The conservatives correctly counter that strong families provide the boost needed to raise inner city living standards, and the personal competence and skills needed to geographically move to the new jobs.
The “de-jobbing” of the workplace raises a deeper concern; young people will eschew starting families and taking the responsibilities as parents because this may undermine their flexibility and advantages in an increasingly Darwinian economy, which create opportunities for people who can “hang loose.” Between 1970 and 1995, the percentage of never-married adults has risen from 16% to 21%, and the percentage of married has dropped from 72% to 61%.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Groups like Focus on the Family make exaggerated claims of the relative affluence of gay men and lesbians when compared to “normal” married adults with children (see Appendix 11), but then hinge on whether this means government should force private companies and interests to favor families more. The excessive involvement of the “State” in modulating family life and “values” concerns me mainly because, with “family issues,” perhaps more today than with race and religion, well-intention activism by the State seems to provide opportunities for rogues and unscrupulous politicians to divide people by exploiting this “zero-sum game” and finger-pointing mentality; it gives government more opportunity to create new “symbolic” problems that just distract people from helping themselves.
The “Family Values” concept operates differently in the various layers of social and political interaction. At the personal level, “Family Values” refers to the importance an individual gives to others of immediate blood or “virtual” kinship, in mutual support and caring. Hardly anyone questions that this priority - to matter to other people in a household on a daily basis - is essential for most healthy people. George Gilder laid out a powerful argument to show how women “civilize” men by enticing them to marry and commit themselves to lifetime family-provider responsibilities in his two manifestos, Sexual Suicide<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> and Men and Marriage<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. Family reinforces the otherwise unpredictable capability of most adults to completely take care of themselves. At the cultural level, “Family Values” form a skeleton or vector basis for most art and culture and for packaging most adult social interaction. “Family” gives private sexual behavior in the bedroom an allegedly legitimate public substance, and in so doing if catalyzes social interactions. Art, music, spiritualism or religion, evoke their transcendental” potentialities because they Family as a fixed point of reference. Richard Strauss, after all, composed not only Thus Spake Zarathustra, A Hero’s Life, and Death and Transfiguration, but also the F-Major Sinfonia Domestica, with all of its literal evocations of the banalities of family life at the Dick, Jane, Baby Sally and Spot level. Hector Berlioz, in his Dramatic Symphony Romeo and Juliet, depicts in sound a love relationship experienced for its own enlightenment, and only then the capacity for love to bring together previously contentious factions now as “friends.”
In public policy applications, “Family Values” has taken on the hidden innuendo that independent adults who craft lives outside of the most traditional gender roles, undermine “the Family” for ordinary, “real men” and women. “Gay marriage” is seen as a sleazy caricature, demeaning the real thing. Sexual non-conformists must be brought home as prodigal sons. The conservative, post-Reagan-esque cry for “government off our backs” applies only to traditional, legally constituted and maintained “families with children”; or, “less government” means that private interests can start casting down gays. Singles are to be forced, or at least coaxed, to join in and take their places in the world of courtship, marriage and parenting, by the power of the “state,” both governmental and corporate; otherwise, they are not to be indefinitely entrusted with the responsibilities of adult men and women. Talented young men and women (like the celebrities coming out of the military) are not to achieve respect, much less recognition, from their peers unless they prove they can marry and parent first! One pro-football star and member of the Mormon Church told 60 Minutes, “if you’re an unmarried man over 27, you’re a menace to society.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The Catholic Church, possibly admitting that conventional procreation doesn’t work for everybody, has provided a way out, a “priesthood” of celibacy (another “ban”) and, particularly, “poverty”; many of the Protestant denominations don’t even want to recognize such self-denial. You must “be like other boys”; you must play and not just pay; you must take the same risks and undergo the same rites as the rest of us; you must conform! At it’s best, however, pro-marriage rhetoric can become optimistic, when it emphasizes that many men, especially, only find their real “adult selves” once they do become fathers - so that marriage becomes quite the un-sacrifice. Indeed, at the executive level, men who are sole breadwinners tend to earn more than men in two-earner families, and married men tend to earn more than singles, although gifted gay men often confound these statistics if you believe Focus on the Family.
Our “modern world” - indeed our “strange days” at the end of the century, have come to reward individually motivated efforts much more than it did in the past. The “internationalization” of the world marketplace and the diversifying demographics of the workplace are creating pressures which undermine the incentives for companies in to provide stable, upwardly mobile careers for family breadwinners as they supposedly did in the Eisenhower years (although this lost “American family dream” so evoked by Pat Buchanan often involved its own evils of unsafe work, racism, class antagonism, environmental destruction). Instead, the emphasis is on individual competition and hustle, and the results can be individual excesses of oddly parasitic, destructive behaviors.
There is hardly any question that some of the individual indulgences of modern life, especially pornography and the violence on television and movies (and in cyberspace), must, in practice, present an undue burden on parents trying to raise their children to “grow up straight” (no pun). Violence may provoke imitation. In my childhood, little-old black-and-white TV (complete with Sylvania’s “halo light”) was a big deal; I would cry when it went to the shop. Just as teachers criticized television for competing with reading; my parents early-on were very concerned about even the tame violence on television westerns (such as the stagecoach wrecks) in those primal days. My parents would not let me see horror movies as a child; I can remember my dread of learning the gory details of House of Wax on my first day of summer day camp back in 1952 (the other boys called me “lazybones.”) Today, pornography apparently desensitize young people and even adult males to wholesome, permanent relationships and particularly to maintaining sexual interest in their spouses as they age. I’m already personally desensitized to hard-core pornography (especially hairless gay porn) as if every nude photo were an allergy shot; now, it’s boring.
If the family seems like an brake to unfettered individualism, the Western family may seem, when compared to social practices in some other cultures, the first institution to make personal choice of a life partner both feasible and a life-defining event, for both men and women in different ways After all, other cultures have arranged marriages, polygamy, and the notion that women are the property of men, all of which would contradict the possibility that marriage could have any psychological content. At worst, some of these cultures promote serious sexual abuse, such as female “circumcision,” actually labial and clitoral mutilation. At best, arranged marriages could bring together klans to bring about larger cooperative units based on kinship, probably essential to community survival as well as to nation-building. The erosion of the pedestal beneath “the family” is not in itself a “moral” issue. It may related to genuine moral problems, such as the inclination of people to avoid commitments to others. The position of the family is a practical one, because its decline surely undermines the maturation of our children, increases crime, polarizes groups, and increases public expenditures. It’s misdirected support has also justified wars and destructive exploitations. The healthful recovery of the family may best be facilitated by flexible workplace policies and decentralized entitlements, which encourage people to work out their commitments to one another creatively and informally.
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Do even “single” gays and lesbians really compromise the traditional family?
Indeed, there is a bit of a “cultural war” between individual pursuits and family values, and gay men and lesbians find themselves both forward observers and targets of this grassroots conflict. Gay men and lesbians are viewed as further sundering “The Family” for everyone else merely when they live their own personal lives successfully. They live “for themselves” and, at least by axiom, are incapable of the gender complementation that needs to be present in the optimal environment for raising children. Their obvious retort, deserving separate treatment later, is to coax society into recognizing their own committed adult couples as virtually, if not entirely legally, “married.”
Most of the arguments to this effect are presented sloppily, or at least deceptively, with plenty of double-entendre. Consider a rather benign critic of homosexuality, Morton Kaplan, as he writes “We already see in our cities the lawlessness that is less a product of poverty than of lack of a sense of direction. In a society in which everything can be tolerated, anything can be morally justified. Just as an individual whose moral choices are not limited by the moral beliefs of his or her peers lacks grounds for the moral distinctions that permit the expectations of others to be met, a society without rules is one that collapses into anarchy. It is one thing to argue that we can accommodate much homosexual behavior and quite another to take a principled general position of private choice.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Gary Bauer (the “Family Research Council”) writes “Human error is never the only alternative-note when healing and self-restraint are possible. Thousands have been freed from homosexuality through gender-identity therapy, prayer, and family support, so we cannot ‘compassionately’ consign anyone to deadly behavior.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
While there may be some substance to fragments of these writers’ claims (especially the public health ones) against homosexuals, they are clearly not coming clean on what really “bothers” them or many other “conservatives.” For, beyond the natural tendency to rationalize a criticism of others to advance one’s own political goals or even maintain one’s psychological defenses, several observations about the gay mediation of the family must stand out.
First, the “narcissism” and pre-occupation with self-perfection and youth attributed to the homosexual community allegedly degrades the value of permanent bonds for everyone. The gay community resists this charge in the gay marriage debate. But, as George Gilder writes, our “me” culture readily encourages middle-aged men to desert their aging attractive wives a for “nubile” young women, leaving “average” and otherwise barbarian young men with fewer possible spouses and with less incentive to even try to marry. This, Gilder claims, contributes to homosexuality<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> , but he could claim turn his argument around and blame male gay culture for devaluing the lives of the less attractive, like me! Since most men are conditioned easily to visual gratification, a fascination with the young and “cute” seems like an untamed male quality, homosexual or not.
Second, the “singleness” and childlessness of the usual homosexual lifestyle seems to undercut the meaning of a permanent, monogamous, socially-supported marriage between man and woman, as a self-transcending, lifelong experience. In like manner, the devaluation of the sex act, and its expansion (because of AIDS) into masturbatory and non-penetrative forms, seems to divest heterosexual wedding-night consummation of its mystery as procreative self-giving and pedestal as a motivational goal for young adults. “In other words, the public acceptance of homosexuality actively offends the identity-or “self-understanding” -of married heterosexuals and so makes it harder for them to practice marriage as it should be practiced.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Heterosexual marriage (and child-rearing) becomes just another “lifestyle” choice, to be click-selected from a computer menu on merely utilitarian grounds. But the 1995 shoestring film The Brothers McMullen dramatized how women channel men away from their own personal pursuits into “really” wanting families. Indeed, when a man goes through the due diligence of a formal wedding ritual, his sense of identity changes, as his life will center around a “we” rather than an ‘I”; he now has a “purpose” as an adult individual and is highly confident he is needed by others. The homosexual, however dilettante his life, seems to show it up as a social contrivance, perhaps for the good of the kids, perhaps more for the men who otherwise would generally drift into self-indulgence and destructiveness, out of a biological propensity to sow their oats. Human beings are not like birds who make their nests first, and marriage will not survive as its own rewards: women may seek to become mothers without the possible abuses of marriage, and men won’t give up the excitement of the chase, the hunt, or the Star Trek voyage. This male recklessness itself essential for warriors that defend the community and its women and children may derive from social contrivance; gay men, while sharing the same promiscuous instincts, already know they don't need to behave in a physically aggressive manner to get what they want. When a “straight” man comes to terms with his own vulnerability as a pawn who has already used up his first-time privilege of advancing two chess squares, he falls in love with one woman, marries her for life, dedicates himself to raising her children, and that is it. Without question, many married men, especially, remain healthier and live longer since they know that other people really need them, even as they mature into old age.
Only occasionally will commentators criticize frankly the market-driven “meroticratic fantasy” of the “freedom to ‘make it’ on your own,” which leads to the pervasion of human relationships with a “market,” utilitarian, transaction-driven consciousness.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Marriage (even “gay marriage”) would not be a contrivance if people, in the run of personal lives, internalized the notion that committed lifetime marriage should work in synergy with a larger community, and if young people would ease up on the titillating notion of perfection in themselves and their partners. According to the just-footnoted commentator, religious communities must help single people meet in wholesome, non-competitive circumstances (as does the gay community today with, for example. the Whitman-Walker clinic’s “Dating 101”). Indeed, religious and cultural communities should, without the involvement of government, foster altruistic and caressing values among children who, however, can reshape their own personal values once they are mature enough to earn livings as young adults. However, the personal self-blame of many isolated people might be seen as a result of “breakdown in social responsibility” by leadership in government, church, and business as a whole, rather than of the inadequacy of the individual.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> I would disagree; there is nothing inherently wrong in staying single, and what is lacking is not so much a willingness of people to build relationships in a “tribally” motivated and contributory environment as it is a readiness of people to shed the psychological defenses and go into relationships with something to give of themselves<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> - indeed, of their own “uniquely crafted existences.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
The discomfort at observing the self-servedness and apparent non-procreativity of homosexuality points to an underlying assumption that, First Lady Bush’s reassurances notwithstanding, there indeed must be an inherent obligation in adult citizenship to court, marry, and have or at least raise children. “Obligation” here is a bit like a duty a child has to do his chores a member of a family, without remuneration. It’s a bit like national service or, in earlier times, the draft. But if this is so, do people have kids because they want them or because they think they have to. Most women, at least, really want them; men have to learn to want them. Obligation needs to beget passion.
A third major observation now follows. A visibly successful homosexual “culture”, expanding from the large cities to be apparent practically everywhere, forces “straights” to classify themselves, to pin labels upon themselves as “heterosexuals,” to take responsibility for who they are. No longer can they prattle about their families in the workplace under the guise of their “normality” (because all real adults marry and raise kids) without at least stopping to think about the gay man in the next cubicle who simply remains silent (and sometimes outwork or outperform them, or do their nightcall duty).
They have come up with rhetoric to get around this, which amounts to our fourth observation. To wit, there is no such thing as homosexual orientation or (to quote Bill Clinton in particular) “status”; there is only “homosexual conduct” - homosexual acts, or (to follow the government’s official military policy), a “propensity” to commit homosexual acts. The norms of proper behavior are to be the same for all persons: no sex except with one lifetime marital partner with whom one is open to having children. But such a position can hardly stand up. First, there is increasing evidence that homosexuality has, at least, some basis in biology<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>, if only indirectly (as an outgrowth, for boys, of an inborn hypersensitivity to visual forms or a lack of “defeminization.”). Of course, it is possible to compare homosexuality to genuine pathologies, such as alcoholism, which have a clear biological basis but which still cause troubling behavior. Second, this position seems to imply that the apparent narcissism of homosexuality (at least for men) is a troublesome temptation to most “normal” men, particularly when they come together in intimate circumstances to defend the community, as in the military. Third, and most important is that homosexuality has a profound, aesthetically centralizing influence on the culture at large, because it provides a stereoscopic view of the larger society in which it participates, and because it, in our culture at least, requires a greater attention to the individual self; and it is this cultural influence, after all, which conservatives see as diluting “The Family” or, at least, providing it unfair competition.
Most conservatives who criticize homosexuality are willing to accept the idea that the State will only go so far in penalizing private, consensual behaviors. (A few kooks, as we have seen, want to see our military, or something like Kathryn Bigelow’s LAPD in Strange Days, round us all up.) Even Newt Gingrich talks of “toleration,” but not “acceptance.” But, then, what is their point? One might speculate, they like to see society stigmatize homosexuals in situations where “common sense” (they think) says they will be “found out” and then create disruption, such as in the military, the Boy Scouts, the church, law enforcement, teaching, or jobs involving security. Let’s keep them second class citizens. Keep the sodomy laws to hammer them into place when we need to, and to remind the masses of what is “right” and “wrong” - that is, civilian “good order and discipline.”
And, for heaven sakes, don’t tell the kids in school that it’s OK to grow up gay; in fact, teach them that they should aim towards getting married and raising their own families. When the New York school system offered the booklets Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate,<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> parents screamed enough to get school officials fired, when these tracts made no reference to homosexual acts; they simply presented same-sex couples in loving relationships actually raising children. Conservatives raise objections to presenting in the schools factual material about homosexuality, particularly materials which educate on STD and AIDS transmission and also in discussions of history, such as the Holocaust, and literature. Furthermore, many politicians want to claim credit for sanitizing the media for children, by proposing, for example, in the 1995 “Communications Decency Act” that it be a crime to post “indecent” materials (any explicit sexual reference, regardless of well-intended context) on any (tautologically “public”) computer discussion boards, because a child might find it, despite parents best efforts to control their children’s access to adult materials. Since Federal law now has (for defining the “new” policy regarding gays in the military) specific definitions of the terms “gay” and “lesbian” as relating to a “propensity “ to engage in homosexual acts, it is conceivable that, were the “indecency” standard for cyberspace to become law, zealots prosecutors would find excuse to chase anyone even discussing gay issues on the Internet. These measures would “dumb down” our entire culture, even the presentation of medical and political debate, into an Ozzie-and Harriet mentality so that children would grow up believing that the only legitimate adult life starts with marriage and parenthood Keep homosexuality a secret from most of visible civilization and culture so that our kids can grow up straight and carry on our family names.
The allure of an entire adult life to be experienced for one’s own benefit, ranging from aesthetic expressions to outright sexual conquests, seems to confound the sense of bloodline loyalty that used to keep rambunctious young men really interested in wives and children. Left to their own immediate interests, men would not want to come alive through lifelong monogamous marriages set up for children; as they age, their partners just won’t provide “excitement.” Less intact or less attractive men might prefer the power trips in inherent sexual conquest. This whole viewpoint takes a pessimistic view of human nature, and the rewards of marriage, which we all know really does enrich at least a simple majority of adult lives. But the economic competition and cultural distraction seem to hide the hope that marriage, commitment, and parenthood could become their own rewards. Single households, polyandrous formations, and group homes, all compete with families in raw dollars and on the hidden fronts of psychological motivation. To people who see society as a zero-sum game of competing group interests (even when these groups are “extended families”), with government as a kind of entitlement bank whose shares can be bought with the most campaign contributions, the obvious question is, how to shore up the dikes around the traditional family, and from whom to extract the tariffs and tribute.
For government’s granting of “privileges” to the married keeps us quarreling. If the state can reward persons in certain interpersonal relationships (defined as “marriages) at the expense of those not in this relationships, it would follow that adult, interpersonal relationships, even “friendships” are very much public business, even if privately experienced. In the military, for example, people are judged not just on their “performance” but on the way others are likely to feel about their interpersonal attachments. On the other hand, the obligations and commitments of such legally recognized relationships, such as the liability for a partner’s debts in a joint account, seem like fair consideration for these privileges as a subtle benefit to “society.” The only reasonable way the state can evenhandedly continue to grant marital benefits is first, to base them on real economic interdependence, and, second, to reassure the “unmarried” that all persons will be judged on their performance, honor, and civility and that no one will be excluded from opportunity, or excused from personal responsibility, simply on the nature of their adult interpersonal relations.
In 1996, various proposals circulate (in connection with the Contract with America and the 1995 Budget Reconciliation Act) to give tax credits to families with children, in direct proportion to the number of children, without limit. While one may argue that this tax cut is paid for with other spending cuts (particularly welfare) and duly offsets the “marriage penalty” in the tax code or the indirect tax of inflation (which hits families harder) , it is inevitable that the tax cut will be subsidized by people with fewer or no children. More radical proposals, such as allowing encouraging employers to return to the previous generation’s practice of paying a “family wage,”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> and of requiring or encouraging employers to provide paid maternity or paternity leave, would definitely play Robin Hood with the labor of singles, gays, and lesbians.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> This suggestion is bemused by the complicated way health insurance benefits work. A few commentators have suggested also that men should earn more than women for the “non-rational” purpose of preparing to support women and children.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Even respected, progressive commentators such as Jonathan Rauch have proposed that strengthening of the family will have to be done at the expense, not just of most gays and lesbians, but of all people who do not elect or who cannot have or adopt children.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Of course, these proposals offset the notion that parents should be accountable just for their own children, and encourages us to weigh the degree to which having children and experiencing parenthood should be its own reward against the measure of children as a community resource. This inherent contradiction or paradox in the family-values debate seems very difficult for the “pro-family” lobby to answer. Occasionally, smaller employers have weighed in on this by terminating women who become pregnant, claiming that the disruption in work burdens the business owner and other employees against their wills. Most attempts to force employers to pay more (in either salaries or time-off benefits) to people with present or future family obligations will, in a real world of atomized competition, just reduce the number of jobs for everybody. But that’s the self-serving culture the Buchanan-style “populists” want to reverse. One suspects that Barbara Bush’s advice to put one’s own children first requires a corollary, that the workplace requires a systematic re-engineering to make it economically feasible for parents to spend more time with children, and for mothers to spend all their time at home. Our present First Lady’s answer is, “it takes a village.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
Public policy, then, must come clean on the status of gays. Either homosexuals are second-class citizens or they are not; one can’t have it both ways. If public policy, derived through genuinely democratic processes, demands that the state explicitly and strongly favor the nuclear family, then gays and lesbians must slip into servitude, and exist at the pleasure of others. There is no way to favor the traditional family without at least nominal cost to the unmarried. There is no way to “re-invent” or “restore” the traditional family from ashes without systematically excluding the unmarriable from some areas of society. Indeed, the Mormon Church speaks of “eternal marriage” in the afterlife, with slave status for the unmarried. This is not general relativity; there is no twin paradox. Political operatives concerned about social justice for gay men and lesbians should force groups like “Focus on the Family” to come clean on their intentions.
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There are benign ways to strengthen the family
Some “libertarian” proposals to strengthen the family, however, would actually encourage individual responsibility and lead to increased personal empowerment (and would take some of the heat off of gays and lesbians). The main one is to stop giving welfare to women to intentionally have babies outside of marriage, and to come up with creative ways to get welfare recipients back into the work force, especially if this work included caring for children or working in the school systems.
In education, a good proposal is gradual privatization of the school systems, as long as poor families are given access to privately (that is, parent) run schools. Yet, parents should not be able to blackmail their schools, as with lawsuit threats, into lowering education standards to protect their own kids. Privatization depoliticizes school curricula and would allow parents with like minds to decide what kind of treatment of controversial areas they wanted to pay for. In the long run, progressive parents who really wanted their children to know what was going on in the adult world would tend to choose to “tell the truth” in health, English, and social science classes. It is indeed ridiculous if a High School cannot teach Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> in drama or English class, or could not let a student write a book report on Joe Steffan’s Honor Bound in civics class. School curricula should cover controversial social areas by teaching facts. It is certainly appropriate to mention (without excessive emphasis) Walt Whitman’s homosexuality when teaching American literature to high school students, but not to grade school kids. It is certainly appropriate, when teaching world history, to mention that homosexuals were forced into concentration camps and branded with pink triangles. It is appropriate, in health and physical education (in a gender-separated environment) to explain how STD’s are transmitted and how transmission likelihood may be reduced; this does not contradict adherence to abstinence at least until adulthood and independence. It is wrong to insinuate to high school kids they will be outcasts if they don’t take dates to their senior proms or plan to marry and have children. The Arlington school system did not try to do this to me, and I don’t want my tax money used to do this now. But, parents, of they are to really claim a right and responsibility to control the education of their own children, need a decentralized and private mechanism to make these decisions themselves. This would mean a complete end to bussing and to artificial schemes to achieve racial balances in the schools.
Proposals to slow down no-fault divorce with legal “speed bumps” and encourage families to stay together until children are grown cut both ways: they interfere with adult personal choice in relationships, but they emphasize the awesome responsibility one takes when one chooses to bring a child into the world. Finally, if there is parental responsibility for children, maybe sometimes the responsibility needs to be returned. Proposals which could require more affluent “adult children” to contribute to their aging parents health care costs (starting with Medicaid nursing home care) and have some involvement in caretaking decisions, would certainly return some responsibility from government to families and would reinforce a message that, you don’t make your own mark on the world until you can take care of your own. The so-called “generational war” results partly from the desire to dump notions of personal responsibilities for the elderly in one’s family back onto the “public,” where no one really has to care as much about people who are becoming dependent again. This provides an example of how politically popular tax-financed “entitlements” shield people from obligations and continue a false sense of freedom.
The workplace can actually be made more family-friendly by voluntary team empowerment and decentralization, with some additional deregulation from government, as discussed in the next essay. One good example might be permitting employers to give compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay, allowing parents a comfortable choice of more time with their children. The various possible voluntary arrangements may sometimes result in “unattached” people being expected to work longer hours for the same pay. It is curious that the political left, back in the 1960’s, used to criticize the “family” as a vehicle for maintaining inherited wealth which could maintain a grip of “workers” and exploit them; in the modern information age of personal autonomy, this is no longer a believable paradigm.
Violence, pornography, and “indecency” in the media and in telecommunications media, can be controlled by technology which vendors are eager to develop, as long as parents will take the responsibility to use these new filtering devices properly. If parents insist on these which they shop for entertainment and computer access, the market will certainly have ample incentive to provide protection for children, without more government bureaucracies and without infringing on legitimate debate or private expressions among adults.
Taxes can be more “family friendly” without implying discriminatory favoritism. A flat tax or a otherwise simplified tax with a large per person exemption (child or not) per household would give most middle class families a break without implying directly that unmarried people are somehow socially “inferior.”
Public policy, is indeed tested in its drive toward individual freedom. Homophobia can easily make us forget to be responsible for ourselves, and can drive us back into the clannish, feudal way of doing things that brings out the worst in “The Family,” the tendency for people to substitute their “Family Group” (or their country, for that matter) for themselves.
All of these pragmatic suggestions recognize that there is indeed, a minimal cost to all adults, including financial or time support and modest behavior constraints, in allowing society to provide a reasonable environment to parents raising the next generation. But they ease the tensions between persons socialized by themselves and those motivated by family, by placing the largest emphasis on personal responsibility, rather than on tradeoffs of entitlements and privileges associated with the legal status of various living arrangements. Tensions could be reduced further by reducing government involvement in the most personal areas of adult personal relationships, such as by repealing sodomy laws and stopping the attempts to categorically exclude gay people from some areas of society, such as the military.
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So, why is ‘gay marriage’ such a big deal?
The capability of gay men and lesbians for form stable relationships and even reliably raise children has only recently been recognized by some of the general public. One gay male couple in Dallas maintained a stable home for 49 years before one of the partners died, of old age.
In New York City, the Ninth Street Center, motivated by the writings of Paul Rosenfels, sponsored “gay talk groups” and peer counseling (between 1973 and 1991) that encouraged gay men to explore their own “inner identities,” as psychologically masculine or feminine, and operating in an objective or subjective manner, in building stable, committed and “creative” relationships with others. Paul probably saved a lot of lives in New York City during the 1980’s holocaust. Paul’s notion of “femininity” in men was reinforced by Warren Farrell with the observation that most men, in conventional society, kid themselves into believing that what is really a necessary submission to the needs of women and children can seem like the exercise of power or achievement or valor or glory.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The practice of wives’ adopting their husbands’ surnames (often modified today by maiden-name hyphenation) only fed this artificial illusion of reward. As late as 1957 (about the time Ayn Rand’s revolutionary Atlas Shrugged would appear), one major women’s magazine urged women not to go to college, in order to leave more room for their future husbands.
Relationships, or what they were based on, were always difficult for me. The Ninth Street Center had called me a rather self-indulgent “subjective feminine.” The “subjectivity” refers to my pursuit of goals chosen by me alone, regardless of whether they meet the immediate needs of others. I found myself seeking an upward affiliation, a kind of juvenile narcissism (even as I was still curiously unaware of the details of my own personal appearance), and would tend to plunk myself down into situations where I was clearly off-limits. I would sense the truth underneath the hypocrisy protecting a lot of conventional lives, and take sadistic pleasure in exposing it, indeed, stepping on toes to get attention. Eventually, I would take to heart the idea that you have a relationship because you have your act together on your own and have something to give - because you feel good about yourself, not in order to feel good about yourself. Yet, it is this sequence of priorities that upsets commentators who claim that individualism destroys the family! Rosenfels would stress that, while the need for personal, separate growth ultimately challenges the permanency of a marriage bond with a partner (and indirectly contributes to heterosexual divorce), growth also entailed finding new ways to love or “master” the spouse. He saw the intention to stay with one (same sex) partner for a lifetime as a distinct moral virtue.
Would not everybody - that is larger society as well as gays and lesbians themselves - benefit from the increased incidence of commitment and stability and social cohesion if society would recognize legal marriage for homosexuals, not just as a civil rights matter but as a way to encourage for gays what Gilder calls “a better way to live.” The Economist points out that “single people are economically vulnerable, and much more likely to fall into the arms of the welfare state...Homosexuals need emotional and economic stability no less than heterosexuals.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Andrew Sullivan writes “Gay marriage is not a radical step; it is a profoundly humanizing, traditionalizing step... it is the most central institution to the nature of the problem ... the emotional and sexual bond between one human being and another.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Contrary to conservatives’ claims about “civilization,” other cultures, such as Native American, have “legally” recognized same-sex unions.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In the natural world, lifelong same-sex attachments occur, as with bottlenose dolphins.
It does look as if the Hawaii courts may force the nation’s 50th State to give legal recognition to same-sex domestic partnerships as legal marriages. On the surface, there is a constitutional question, whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause requires all other states to recognize “gay marriages” cemented in Hawaii. Perhaps the military has already anticipated this legal change by declaring “an attempt to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex” as grounds for discharge.
Of course, the “Christian” Right reacts with it’s usual comedy of rallies (yoking Presidential political candidates) and resolutions, and bills in state legislatures exempting them from the Full Faith clause on this one issue. There have been dire predictions of Hawaii becoming to gay marriage what Nevada used to be for gambling, divorce, and (legal) heterosexual prostitution. Could states secede over this? Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice has even proposed a one sentence Constitutional amendment, stating simply that “there is no right to homosexual marriage.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Even more recently, a proposal to ban gay marriage by constitutional amendment as ratified by referendum by Hawaii voters has surfaced, and Congress now (in May, 1996) is considering a (probably unconstitutional) bill to exempt states from the Full Faith and Credit Clause in recognizing same-sex marriages of other states. Should the majority in the public be able to vote itself special privileges at the expense of others? No, the “conservative” says. Any one can enjoy the special privileges of getting married by just falling in love with a member of the opposite sex and making it legal. Isn’t that the same distance to the outfield fences for everybody?
I doubt, unlike many commentators, that gays, given the opportunity to marry and stuff it down the Bible Belt’s throat, would rush to the altar and bring the next Civil War. I know my own community better than do the righteous. But even if many gays marry and even if states had to recognize the marriages, Western civilization “as we know it” will survive; the Earth will not be reduced to Titan. Arguably, the world will benefit from at least the attempt at domestic stability from a population known for its promiscuity or, at least, “openness.”
The “conservatives” are starting to give themselves away, all right. Marriage is supposed to give some privileges. Slowly, they ‘re admitting that these privileges are subtracted from the rights of others. Heterosexual couples are treated with some “preference” or “privilege” when they marry. But this implies that heterosexual people, as individuals, have privileges at the expense of others; that’s the real hooker.
The demand of gay couples for legal marriage runs into the goal line stand of Biology 101. You either believe that having and rearing children (whether breeding like 17-year locusts or becoming real parents) is the most important mission in life, or you don’t. Homosexuals do, well something else; it at least seems self-serving and idolatrous. Andrew Sullivan argues that homosexual couples actually magnify the achievement of heterosexual marriage by complimenting it with aesthetic diversity, the way a scherzo relieves the passion of a preceding Adagio in a symphony (or, as often, paves the way for it by preceding it). Sullivan’s comparison is rather like comparing the monathematicism of Haydn with the polarities later develop in Sonata form by Beethoven. Critics insist that homosexual marriage will complicate and confuse things for everybody else (heterosexuals). If, for instance, gay marriages are more “open,” the cohesion of heterosexual families will be undermined and divorce would rise even more.
Are Gay Couples like childless Straight Couples?
To bring some common sense to this debate, a commentator like Pat Buchanan might demand, actually to his credit, “what is the big deal?” Unmarried people often have it pretty good in today’s world, compared to times past, when they (like my father before World War II) often could find places to live outside of Y’s and rooming houses. The burdens of raising children seem to demand at least a modicum of consideration from others like me to parents. Isn’t this just a debate about nothing?
Let’s play “Quiz Show.” Isn’t it unfair to deny gays the privileges of marriage when they are given to sterile or infertile straight couples? This sounds like a simple, primitive way to frame not just the “gay marriage” debate but to answer our call for “family values” with an uncomplicated path to absolute political equality; answering affirmatively would cloture off serious awareness of underlying cultural and psychological divisions.
Economically self-sufficient gay men and lesbians don’t notice, in today’s world, any significant loss of living standards due to ineligibility to marry. A systems analyst ignores the “difference” in resource usage between a COBOL program and one in Assembler on a high-powered mainframe computer.
The heterosexual can put his spouse on a company’s health insurance, but contributory family policies often cost several times one for a single. But this analysis gets complicated by the employer’s partial payment of premiums (often about 80%), a practice which current tax laws encourage. A company often pays between 5%-10% more on a married employee for the same face salary, although this may be balanced out by employees who take no benefits because they have spouses! The employer-sponsored health care benefits actually do shift a small percentage of compensation, otherwise destined to go to individuals in a given compensation level, to pay for the medical expenses of families with children and to legally married “straight” couples. But the shift is hidden because of the employee copayment for family coverage is so large; singles still wind up with more left in their paychecks. More serious is the possibility that this “hidden payroll cost” reduces the number of jobs an employer offers. Were the employer involvement in health care to be dismantled in favor of an “individual mandate” system, the burden on families would become more obvious, and there would be calls to adjust compensation in other ways.
What if employers routinely offered domestic partner benefits, and adjusted the premiums to allow for the unlikelihood of children? The result would still be a hidden skewing of compensation favoring those either married or at least having “lovers.” But when employers offer health and fringe benefits to unmarried domestic partners, the value of the employer contribution is taxable income (to the employee). Gay couples with both partners working in jobs offering full benefits usually do better when each partner gets his own coverage from his own employer anyway. If same-sex marriage did become legal everywhere, then employers would have to extend the same benefits to gay couples as previously to straights. Critics maintain, two men, one of whom is self-employed, may “marry” so they can used the salaried partner’s health benefits; this becomes so expensive that companies eliminate health benefits for everybody. Of course, the higher salaries might let associates with smaller families come out ahead. Taking health care completely out of the workplace would eliminate this potentiality,
In other areas, discrimination against unmarried couples (same-sex or not) is noticeable but usually minimal. The lower income tax rates for legally married couples are balanced by the “marriage penalty,” although that might be done away with. Surviving spouses can collect social security benefits. Some landlords will object to adding “roommates” or remove roommates remaining after an original tenant leaves or dies; and, rather rarely, whole neighborhoods may be zoned “families only”; but many home builders and apartment building today cater intentionally to “roommates.” In the middle class and above, the free market definitely balances things. More discriminatory is the practice of charging single men higher automobile insurance rates; but this seems justified by actuarial experience that shows “untamed”, risk-taking unmarried men do have more accidents. In the workplace (next chapter), both the type of career, and the involvement of the person with the public, are determinants of the likelihood of favorable treatment because of marriage.
And most of the privileges that come with the social approbation given to heterosexual marriage, can indeed be obtained or otherwise compensated, one by one, by any persistent gay person with a few hundred dollars to spend on lawyers. Most, that is. Gay people can own property together, and there are right ways to do it.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Gay people prepare powers of attorney (including health care), to honor their wishes in case of accident or terminal illness. Unmarried couples can buy joint annuities from life insurance companies to provide survivors with incomes.
No doubt, gay people who happen not to be totally self-sufficient economically do have real problems. The economic benefits of legal gay marriage would seem to accrue mainly to “poorer” gays and lesbians; however, they would also help couples where one partner works to put the other through school or free the other to start a new career, or where one partner quits a job to relocate with a partner. (At the Ninth Street Center, I would recoil when a “feminine” in a talk group would speak of “creating a home” for his partner, as if I should be prepared to the same. Sometimes (in inheritance taxes and sometimes with regular income taxes, despite the "marriage penalty") gay partners do have to pay more in taxes (as when an estate goes over $600,000). This may be serious when real estate or businesses (such a “family farm”), instead of liquid assets, are passed. A unmarried domestic partner would not be able to use the protections of the 1993 Family Leave Act to take (at least unpaid) leave to take care of an ill same-sex partner (AIDS or not). And lower-to-moderate income gay men and lesbians do sometimes face discrimination in securing rental housing or qualifying for mortgages as couples (although some states forbid a landlord’s to consider the legal marital status of any couple in renting, an observation which still draws complaints from defenders of traditional marriage)<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. In early 1996, the Commonwealth of Virginia sought to exclude unmarried couples (including gays) from it’s moderate-income mortgage assistance, with Gov. Allen bragging he was helping “the traditional family.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Sometimes, "blood relatives" challenge wills, and deny visitation rights, again, usually, in situations involving lower incomes. And gay men and lesbians trying to immigrate often cannot get visas (or even asylum) for spouses. A more sinister example of the favors that marriage has offered the otherwise powerless, can be found in our recent history. For a time, up until the escalation of the Viet Nam war in 1965, married men (even those with no children) were kept a the lowest priority for draft call up. In the views of the Cold War days, single men were more expendable as cannon fodder than men with families.
Most of these problems can, and should, be resolved by local and state legislative bodies as issues of individual rights; others will certainly grab the attention of progressive employers and universities. For example, commercial landlords should not be able to refuse to rent to qualified, legally unrelated tenants except on a reasonable square footage requirement. Taxes on non-liquid inheritances should be made deferrable. And, while companies definitely should not be required to offer "domestic partnership" benefits (or to offer benefits at all), local governments, under the influence of "religious" constituencies, should not restrict companies' attempts to offer them, as has already happened with Apple in Texas and Disney in Florida.
Even so, there will inevitably be situations where the legally married - say young graduate students looking for inexpensive housing - get breaks; in a sense, these benefits come out of the pockets, ultimately, of people like me who can’t legally get married.
But marriage is supposed to be more than a “lifestyle choice”
Under the threat of court-mandated insults to their world, conservatives are indeed starting to come a bit cleaner on what really bothers them about “gay marriage.”
Martin Mawyer, of Christian Action Network, writes that the benefits of heterosexual marriage “are not doled out so that a couple can more easily express their love of one another. No. Such benefits are granted to ease a family’s burdens. They are awarded to encourage married couples to have children.” <![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
Philip Lawler, of Catholic World Report, is even more blunt: “Why does sexual intercourse involve any more commitment than, say, exchanging valentines? Until the advent of modern contraception....what made sex unique was the prospect of procreation. Mindful of that prospect, responsible couples saw sexual intimacy as the sign of a profound commitment - not only to each other, but also to the children they might produce.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Lawler goes on to criticize the decoupling of sexual intimacy from having children, and the propagation of morally and now, perhaps, legally neutral “lifestyle choices.” The secession of sex from childbearing also runs through the “moral outrage” over abortion, while the talk on the surface (with obvious simplicity) focuses on the unborn as a person with full right to life. Likewise, the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment to pass, even granted the accomplished “virtual equality” of women without ERA in the step-by-step process I suggest for gays, stems again from subliminal resistance to tinkering with our “sexual constitution.” Marriage, then, is not intended to be “fair.”
The legality of marriage for a childless heterosexual couple, in these formulations, is easy to rationalize; the couple can adopt and provide an “optimal” environment for child-rearing. Of course, shortly, this will also be questioned.
But on this Katadhin “knife edge” of the “purpose” of sex, our culture approaches impasse. In a sense, “gay marriage” becomes an oxymoron. Even if children are possible by insemination arrangements between gay male and lesbian couples (or ultimately without men at all), the connection of children to the sex act is broken. Still, what strikes me, is how much even a societal concession of “virtual marriage” for gays seems to hurt the feelings of some self-righteous “heterosexuals.” The self-image of the otherwise precarious straight male, who might otherwise fight with fellow barbarians for the right to propagate his genes through a particularly nubile young lady (witness the sock-em scenes from Mailbu Shores), evaporates like snow in the mid-March sun when there is no societal imperative that others imitate the sacrifice of “freedom” he makes by settling down and becoming a reliable Dad and faithful Husband (and not just friend) for “life,” especially if he has waiting until the wedding night to prove himself. When the Bible weighs in on this ( Matthew 19), Jesus (himself allegedly single and past the temptation of his own earthly goals) talks of marriage as the peak, self-transcending experience where “two become one flesh” and follows with sermonizing on the hard-heartedness of divorce; yet he admits that marriage and consummation is not intended for everyone. For the truly faithful, there may be other choices, even if they are God’s, rather than one’s own.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> If sexuality really offers equally expressive “lifestyle” choices, how can heterosexuals continue to believe their own lives are really especially meaningful? Perhaps some of them have little faith. They sound like children scrambling for the right to make the rules for a recess “soccer” game: if I give something up to be a better person, then you have to give it up too.
Come on, now! How about responsibility for one’s own choices? For the really responsible person, the “choice” becomes self-defining. He or she can remain faithful to a spouse and raise the children regardless of the choices of others who seem so very “different” anyway. What does it really take to say, “I am proud of who I am?”
The libertarian paradigm: marriage is a private contract
Some libertarian groups have thoughtfully questioned why the state needs to sanction marriage at all. People don’t have to prove their competence to be married or to perform as parents, as they do to drive a car, so the term “marriage license” is already misleading. So, “Eliminate marriage licensing. Strip the law of all references to marital status. Decide here and now that affairs of the heart are none of the government’s business.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Churches and denominations would continue to perform marriages for their members as they saw fit; they could still allow fathers to give away tribal blessings to deceitful “Jacobs.” Any two adults could enter into domestic partnership contracts, and be held to legal responsibilities for one another, resulting in claims of “palimony” and, particularly, child support. This is practically what happens today in the military when gay men marry lesbians in “contract marriages,” in part as a cover. The financial obligation to support children could be maintained without formal state recognition of “marriage.” There is nothing to stop any two competent adults from drawing up such a partnership contract today; it just isn’t called “marriage” and offers no privileges. Homosexuals could enjoy the psychological satisfaction of legal obligations to their partners without any “defined benefits” from the state. Bigamy or polygamy would no longer be crimes; the state would simply not recognize them.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Then, maybe we can have peaceful co-existence, as democracy once did with communist “world domination” ideology. The marriage conundrum unscrambles once you recognize a distinction between voluntary cultural support or celebration and state subsidy. Really, why should an Ozzie-and-Harriet family function any differently if a gay-couple lives opening across the street? It won’t, if Ozzie and Harriet take responsibility for their own self-concepts and can celebrate their family lives in their own cultures. They can even go to their gay neighbors’ block parties.
If “marriage” is reduced to a simple utilitarian contract, it is no longer a marriage at all. If it engenders no privileges, whether preferred off-base housing in the military, preference in employment or benefits in the workplace, on in obtaining mortgage loans, it is merely a private agreement, enforceable like any contract. And this ought to be all right in a society which understands the importance of holding people to contracts, and of people knowing who they are before they enter into these contracts. The prevailing and overriding concern is, indeed, a person’s accountability for self, as introduced in this book’s Preface, rather than statistical results of social policy. The celebration of the wedding ritual, complete with religious ceremony and Mendelssohn march, is personal, spiritual, partly aesthetic, and partly social as the relationship gains recognition of one’s network of friends, but it need not be recorded by the state.
So, I am skeptical of "gay marriage," if it confers any privileges beyond the rights the participants have as individuals. After all, we can have our own impressive "holy union" ceremonies, even in public as on the March on Washington. (Maybe the public takes this about as seriously as the Moonies’ mass weddings.) Who cares whether the "state" sanctions it?
But a practical matter, one can hardly propose that we simply do away common law surrounding heterosexual marriage altogether. In a real world, no proposal to reduce “marriage” to a private contract, with no privileges at all, will go anywhere. What is “right” for this issue, then? Voluntary interests should certainly recognize commitments between adults, particularly when one of the adults is dependent, or when children or elderly adults are present.
When two unrelated adults come together in a long-lasting bond, they can help each other accomplish things that would often be impossible for them alone. This has to be good for everyone, on balance. Current public policy is that government will grant small but sometimes significant special privileges (even at a mathematical or expressive expense to others) to opposite-gender couples, largely because they can, at least in form, function in bearing children and creating optimal home environments for them, and also because “families with children” are supposed to stabilize a sense of balanced and ordered liberty. Voluntary corporate and cultural practice tends to follow suit. Is it “fair” that same-sex couples don’t get the same break? Sometimes they do, with voluntary efforts, but government will not take a stand on this. Conservatives will argue, ”of course, everyone is equal; if you want the official respect of legal marriage, then get married to a member of the opposite gender, and have or adopt kids!” This is word salad; what about falling in love and finding “passion” (as in the “telling” scene in Making Love) in the first place? In an imperfect world, there is no “perfect” answer to this; “society” may encourage a climate in which everyone is included and encouraged to form stable relationships; but it would be foolish to pretend that society won’t give some simple and apolitical favor to couples whose partners are positioned for the demanding, self-redefining calling of raising children<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>, subsequent to their own personal “wavering.”
I have just admitted, there is no practical way to declare “gays” and “straights” absolutely equal in the way the state (including the larger “corporate state”) will treat their partnerships or personal lives. There are realistic ways to include everyone into the community and allow them the recognition and wealth they earn as individuals for themselves and their own chosen loved ones. Gays and heterosexuals cannot be absolutely equal because in some fundamental ways, their lives are so different. “Gay” and “straight” can no more be absolutely equal than are the White and Black pieces (no pun) in a chess game, except in an endgame known from chess theory to be a draw. Urvashi Vaid talks about “virtual equality,” but a better term can be borrowed again from chess: “dynamic equality.” It is said, when Black plays a Sicilian or Kings Indian, if Black equalizes the opening, then Black is already better. When White gambits a pawn, as in a Morra gambit, his attacking chances are supposed to give “dynamic” equality. So it is with lifestyles. People achieve a certain parity of opportunity, not just equality, which is a rather barren concept, “equality before the Law.” Our social debate needs to emphasize not so much “equality” (or “fairness”) as “inclusion.” It may not be realistic to guarantee gays and lesbians absolutely equal social benefits and entitlements or even “per-job” compensation in the workplace; we can guarantee everyone a chance at full participation in society (even in the military, even in high public office) based on person achievement and ability. At a personal level, “inclusion” means that I don’t have to fight the system for my place in society because I am gay; I can eventually move on to other issues that envelop everybody.
Denial of the privilege of marriage drives some gay men (including myself) to simply place even more importance on their absolute control over their own lives. This goes beyond the desire to know that “I am proud of who I am” before starting a relationship. Eventually, this encourages the “sour grapes” or “sweet lemons” of total independence, and alienation from “entangling alliances” that might lead to dangerous dependency on others. How often, in my younger days, I will construct my whole self-awareness around someone who fulfilled my fantasy, only to resent the loss of independence association with that person represented. Whether or not you have dependents, keeping "yourself" means more than just keeping a relationship.
Both some gay men and lesbians are indeed parents, and good ones!
. There is a joke, when you talk about progeny of gay couples, you say, “dogs!” Human dogs, to be sure. Or cats who think they are heads of households. There have always been plenty of dog grooming contests on Cedar Springs in Dallas.
As individuals, some lesbians and gay men have made excellent parents. I personally know of cases where gay men have retained custody of (teenage) children after divorce, and of one gay man who adopted an (African American) child as a single parent; in some more progressive states, adoption by gay men and lesbians, as couples, single parents, or as second parents, are becoming easier.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> I know several arrangements where lesbians have had babies by artificial insemination, sometimes from gay men as donors and other times with anonymous donors (legally safer). A lesbian may feel that bearing and raising her child is part of her identity, as much as her choice of lover, and society ought to respect that inner drive, even if many people (myself included) have difficulty imagining themselves, beyond intellect, wanting to do this. Studies of children raised by lesbian mothers (along with anecdotal information on children raised by gay men) suggest that these children are not more likely to “become” homosexual as adults.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
But several states bar or are attempting to bar gay adoptions or custody in all cases. The Bottoms case in Virginia also is disturbing, when a grandparent sued to take custody away from a biological parent because she was in a lesbian relationship. Even though Sharon Bottoms, according to the trial record, did show some deficiencies as a parent, the "third party" intervened when learning Bottoms was a lesbian, the trial court judge referred to her as an unapprehended felon because of Virginia's sodomy law, and the Virginia Supreme Court gave deference to the possibility of the child's suffering social ostracism (much like the military's giving in to the "prejudices" of soldiers). On appeal, another judge criticized Bottoms’s desire to sign a movie contract as putting her own self-promotion over the interest of the child! How about finances? The conduct of the Virginia courts in this case shows a shocking desire for the state to intrude into a parent-child relationship when there was no evidence of abuse.
Another controversial case in Florida resulted in a husband, who had been convicted of second-degree murder of an earlier spouse, gaining custody from a lesbian mother. The courts showed a shocking prejudice, as they veered from their usual inclination to favor the biological mother.
My take on custody (either adoption or after divorce) is quite simple: the best available parent(s) should be able to raise the child, according to case by case reckoning. But it would be folly to maintain that, in most cases, a two-parent, opposite-sex home will not turn out to be the best environment for the child. Yes, this is "discrimination" that may undermine the “virtual equality” of gays and lesbians, but it is so only in the abstract. The best of today's gay men and lesbians usually came from strong, two-parent homes.
This must mean, that usually, gay couples will not be able to raise children of their own. Most adult homosexual relationships will be practiced for the enrichment (and stability) of the lives of the adults involved, not to raise children.
Perhaps on another planet, in another solar system, gays and lesbians are treated as indigenously separate genders (with four sets of pronouns and possessives) and are expected to participate in the raising of children. Maybe they get the same “privileges” for doing so. But it is hard to see how society could reach that state without performing what sounds like a live-vaccine experiment on children. However, some gay activists have almost conceded the “obligation” to become a parent, and have tried to construct an imaginary model where “Adam and Steve” form stable families just as often as Adam and Eve; in a real world, it won’t happen.
But, if the very recent findings connecting homosexuality and genetics<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> stand up, the notion that gays and lesbians can raise children without changing their children’s sexual orientation will become more understandable to the public. In science embraces homosexuality as benign and controlled by natural mechanisms of biology, it will become easier to depict same-sex couples as appropriate, if alternative, parents for children after all. Conceivably, in two or three decades, the notions that gay couples will adopt could become widely accepted, and even expected.
The fact that the state does regulate adoptions and can inspect home life to protect the welfare of children seems like a contradiction to all of our other postulates about intimate privacy. But not really so - when children are present in a household, there is not the same substance of privacy. Some adults even let their children sleep with them.
An “Honorable Compromise” on domestic partnerships (gay or straight)
We have taken marriage back to its contractual nature, and hedged, for practical reasons, on completely divesting it “to the people.” But my suggestion will come pretty close.
The best policy would be for society to recognize two kinds of associations: "partnerships," legal contracts in which persons have all the rights and prerogatives they should have as individuals, and "marriages," specifically in which there is at least a potential for raising children. Partnerships, which impose mutual legal obligations without special state-sanctioned privileges, still can be a good thing when supported by peer networks. Possibly, same-sex "marriage" (in substance and actual benefits if not name) could be eventually defined for situations where a dependent third party, such as an aging parent and an overseas sponsored child (with a certain minimum yearly gift), is supported by the couple, or even when one spouse is dependent on the other for good reason (such as disability), and the other has shown “commitment” or “obligation” by reliably providing support. Same-sex marriage, if not optimally open to making a home for children, would at least require that one person support another. This suggestion could become critical if the Hawaii case works its way to the Supreme Court. But developing this concept so that it could be accepted and would not be abused, will take care and time. Indeed, it may be necessary to lay the proper framework for doing this in the Constitution (particularly the application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause), just as it will be necessary to do so to anchor the right of privacy. I believe that the Constitution should allow, but not require, states to recognize same-sex marriages and not require them to recognize such unions from other states unless the care of a dependent (whether child, elderly parent, or disabled lover or other adult) in the same household takes place. The same exemption would be allowed to the military.
The state could go just as wrong favoring gay couples over gay singles as it would with “families with children” over singles. Both admit that the state may pass a value judgment on the way people lead their personal lives. Support for those raising children or taking care of other dependents is justifiable in “libertarian” culture when it encourages people to make and keep commitments that would otherwise be made by the government, with taxpayer support and coincidental diffidence. But some people see supporting and raising some kind of family as a moral obligation that goes beyond utilitarian ends. A major finding of the biological immutability (particularly for men) of homosexuality could buttress the idea that society ought to find ways for gays and lesbians to care for children and other dependents, and clearly strengthen the case for absolute equality of marriage benefits for committed same-sex couples. But, even as Barbara Bush admitted, to claim you have to be “married” to have a self-image, is very destructive. The late Reverend Larry Uhrig of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Community Church, said it right: “There is no better half.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>
- 11 -
Families will do better if government does less
It is ridiculous to maintain that sodomy laws, or that throwing gays out of the military, or that harassing a company which voluntarily gives gay employees domestic partnership benefits, somehow “protects the Family.” Are the lives of “heterosexuals” really so vulnerable to mere knowledge of the diversity of others? Must we have a culture where no adult is taken seriously until he or she has first been planted into the social hive of marriage and parenthood? Is the mystery of courtship, honeymoon and long-lasting marriage so shallow that it must dissolves once anyone challenges our traditions of virginity until the wedding night, the “blessed event,” and of the subsequent adult gender roles? Perhaps, the “pro-family” rhetoric is really appealing to the difficulties so many parents have “making it” and raising their kids in a society where competition is much more individualized than it was in the past, and where the value of “breadwinning” has fallen in relation to more immediate measures of personal performance.
In a free and stable society, people do need healthy incentives to make and keep firm emotional commitments, both for the good of their children and for their own good. Withdrawal of government from attempts to directly legislate morality and facilitation by government of private solutions to the issues posed by welfare, conflict between workplace and unequal family demands among workplace associates, would improve the lot of families without creating new conflicts, blame, and exclusions against various tribes of people, including gay men and lesbians when viewed “as a group.”
Few “conservative” commentators admit it, but the implication of their “pro-family” rhetoric is, to be blunt, that the state must actively promote procreation and a simple public culture behind the raising of children, at the expense to and exclusion of, especially, gay men and lesbians..” Relatively few other conservative writers (besides George Gilder and Gary Bauer) are as blunt as Mawyer and Lawler (mentioned previously) on the need for society to reinstate affirmative rewards for parenting (even Focus on the Family hedges on this) as more than just the responsibility for a “choice.” This cultural direction distinguishes between people who have children with no commitment to raise them, and people who really want to “play by the rules” but who can’t compete in an individualistic economy or who feel the whole point of marriage and parenting has been trashed by neo-modern culture. But such a poorly concealed agenda ultimately pits families from different economic class or genealogy against one another. It articulates the ultimate of sweet-lemons rationalization and circularity: human nature requires the state to certify the psychologically committed, enlightened behavior that a cohesive community needs, yet this same certification implies people really won’t be responsible for themselves and their children on their own initiatives. The capability of the state to declare its relative moral judgments on peoples’ lifestyles by confiscatory taxation (taxing singles more) subjourning workplace discrimination (as in the military), or symbolic criminal statutes (sodomy laws) relieves the people of the moral ukase to do the right things themselves. Indeed, Mussolini, in a pro-birth policy, intentionally “taxed bachelors.”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The solution is not necessarily either to deconstruct the legal foundation of the family, or equate heterosexuals and homosexuals in some abstract family policy at the obvious loss of concern for the ability to place children in appropriate homes, or to undermine private and local efforts to provide some families the community support they really need. The aim of a cultural initiative should be to get people to realize that they don’t derive their sense of personal identity principally from the approbation of the State. Gay men and lesbians are in a special position to communicate this idea, as was so well said in the teachings of Paul Rosenfels and the Ninth Street Center.
Partnership in marriage does take on obligations.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> One chooses a specific spouse through one’s parameters of selectivity, for the creative experience of the relationship, and perhaps for the visuality of self. In a real “marriage” (whatever the legal status), each partner has the obligation to make the other’s well-being highest priority whatever tragedy might happen even the first night, whether AIDS, some other illness, or an accident. I have seen childless couples (both gay and straight) where one partner was totally consumed by caring for the other. Someone who buys into the old-fashioned Freudian paradigms of autoerotic, fantasy-generated homosexuality will not believe this possible in a same-sex couple, but the honoring of “till death” commitments has been happening with gay couples all the time (and not just with AIDS). One does not choose this obligation, since one does not choose one’s luck; one merely improves the odds (greatly) with prudent and faithful behavior. Likewise one does not choose one’s parents or children. Obligations place pre-existing conditions upon one’s own agenda for “self-actualization,” even as they may reveal unanticipated, unusual opportunities for causes and self-definition (as in the 1992 film, Lorenzo’s Oil). The ideal of withholding sexual intercourse until the consummation on wedding night is supposed to heighten this Maslow-style “peak experience” when its time finally comes. But sex is just a subset of possible self-defining experiences, and parenting children in the preferable two parent family is just one of a set of possible obligations that precede real freedom. In my own time, military service was viewed as such an obligation; in earlier generations, so had been taking care of elders. Obligations free one from the threat of rejection.
Am I less of a man because I have not raised a family of my own? I would say I have missed a great experience, and I take full responsibility for it. Perhaps NIH is right, I prefer a private astral world of fantastic ideals rather than surrendering myself to a self-compromising intimacy, which must grow more functional as I and a potential partner grow old together. (This is just as true with a potential male partner; I hate to watch the ultimate meltdown.) I will not know the self-transformation that is supposed to occur with the wedding vows, the rice throwing, the father-of-the-bride’s generosity, and the subsequent “deep sexuality.” I will not know, beyond intellect, the feeling that wedding marks as the beginning of an adult life that is indeed “one’s own.” I will not personally know the mystery of a new life that I have created and of nurturing it into its own autonomy and unique identity. I will not know the change in heart that being a dad is supposed to bring. On the other hand, no one will tell me, that roots planted like sessile tunicates in a coral of wife and children are supposed to become my “life” as a man. I have contributed to an international children’s charity since 1977. This is conscience money, to be sure; that is better than nothing.
But sometimes, I have internalized the notion that, since I don’t have a family to support, I should step aside rather than push too hard for my rights or well-being; this has led to some self-handicapping behavior. I have eschewed promotions that would have people reporting to me and perhaps juggling their family problems.
Maybe even this is all right. I pay the additional taxes, and take no personal offense. If I pay school taxes, I ought to have a say in the curriculum, to know that it is evenhanded when respecting diversity - and this opus feeds a good book report. I object that it doesn’t occur to others with families that perhaps I am subsidizing them, as when I take an unreturned nightcall when a workplace colleague suddenly has a family responsibility. Or when I am looked at with suspicion by a potential employer because I can’t claim to be married-with-children on a resume, as if I were an AIDS risk.
I agree that I have perhaps not played completely fair. I like to live in fantasies constructed of little pieces, of part-objects, with a continual chance of winning the lottery and dating a Christ. A man carpooling with me back from an Adventuring hike appoints himself to pass judgment: “Bill, at least you shouldn’t be living alone.” Marriage and “family values” - even gay family values - means settling down and accepting one person as having a special place in your life, for eternity -- and then not looking at other people, giving up those pleasurable, naughty, guilt-bearing fantasies, the way I once had to give up an imaginary playmate. When everyone does this, follows the rule of rationing of one partner for a lifetime, then there is supposed to be someone for everybody. Even the leftists at Berkeley used to believe that. A greater valuation of permanent, monogamous marriage also tends to make a culture more child-friendly; comfort around children, who offer the same unquestioning quality in their love as pets but who demand so much more of one’s attention and purposes, does not come easy for people like me.
Danger does follow from the aloneness syndrome, perhaps. A person who has difficulty, exacerbated by societal focus on “beauty,” forming intimate relationships may seek to gain recognition and power over the lives of others in destructive ways, such as terrorism or tyranny. I am fortunate to have had loving parents (who were married for 46 years until my father’s death) and a stable environment so that I didn’t fall over (or jump off) that cliff, even if I understand how it can happen. People need to form good partnerships as adults before they can provide stable, loving homes for children. Recognition of same-sex “marriage” arguably helps to reinforce a climate which encourages development of relationship skills for most adults, and indirectly would benefit children. Psychologists say people will remain committed to relationships or marriages which reinforce their feeling good about themselves, although this isn’t a good enough reason to start a relationship. One enters a marriage because one has something to give. Yet, in “mainstream” culture we remain drawn back to the idea that creating and parenting life is supposed to be the ultimate “actualization,” and I don’t believe it. Providing for the kids becomes a whole life, one’s highest priority, a reason to build castles in the suburbs and to pay attention to politics only “when there’s something in it for my family,” and even to oppose some political simplifications out of “loyalty” to family. The same-sex marriage debate has oversimplified the moral questions by presenting them as a political or judicial choice between “preferences” and “equality”; this rhetoric bypasses the deeper questions about our attitudes towards children and towards those unable or understandably disinclined to support themselves.
I didn’t buy into this fatherhood motive, and my generation, despite its best intentions, couldn’t offer much more than trying to shaming me into “change.” Once I had knowledge of what it meant to care “creatively,” I wasn’t quite ready to leap. But I did without the personal intimacy without which life, for many, would be unimaginable. Most of the time, I actually feel good, although this is hard for many people to believe. Most of my Christmas cards from old “family” friends who have no concept of what my life could have been like.
There is another mystery, however, that matters as much as would fathering life. That is, the potential of a man to be his own person and to achieve maximality, regardless of the immediate approval of the society or of others, even in a marital relationship. Any son (or daughter) I might have begotten and raised probably would not have turned out as well as some people I have befriended. I feel proud of the men I have known and who have gone on to do some great things after I knew them; and at an astral level, they are in a sense, a family. When a gifted person is gay, there is something special, which I can’t quite define. I would want to take some of them in my arms, and the experience would feel sexual even though there is no sex; its all wholesome. If “love” means having another’s best interest at heart, then I take comfort in having concern over whether a friend finishes college, stops smoking, or remains otherwise “healthy” regardless of whether the person is mine to have. It’s too bad, that I’m not willing to feel that way about any but a select few. And I’m not comfortable with the idea of a “relationship” (“marriage” or not) unless I have definite accomplishments of my own first. But my friends, and my connections to them, do help make me feel proud of who I am.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Focus of the Family, public brochure, 1995.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Claudia Winkler, “Enemies of Marriage,” book review of Maggie Gallagher’s The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love (Washington: Regency, 1995), The Weekly Standard, April 29, 1996, p. 34.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> William Tucker, “A Return to the ‘Family Wage’,” The Weekly Standard, May 13, 1996, p. 27.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> George Gilder, Men and Marriage (Greta, La: Pelican, 1986), pp. 137-156.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Lisa Keen, “Number of ‘Never Married’ Grows,” The Washington Blade, March 23, 1996. Similar numbers are reported on pp 86-67 of Gallagher, op. cit.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> George Gilder, Sexual Suicide (New York: Quadrangle, 1973).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Gilder, Men and Marriage, op. cit.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> 60 Minutes, April 7, 1996.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Morton Kaplan,. “The Republican Party and Moral Issues,” The World and I, March 1995, p. 84.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Gary Bauer, “Reject the ‘Death’ Culture,” The World and I, March 1995, p. 85.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Gilder, op cit., p. 76.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Andrew Sullivan, Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality (New York: Knopf, 1995), p.100.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Michael Lerner, Editorial, “The Oppression of Singles,” Tikkun, A Bomonthly Jewish Critique of Politics, Vulture, and Society, Nov-Dec., 1995, p. 9.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Paul Rosenfels, op. cit.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Joseph Steffan, op, cit. p. 16.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Many sources, such as Chandler Burr’s “Homosexuality and Biology,” Atlantic Monthly, June, 1993, or
Simon LeVey, Dean Humer, William Byne, “Debate: Is homosexuality biologically influences”, 2, May, 1994, p. 43, or Nationmal Cancer Institute study, Natural Science, Nov. 1, 1995.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Leslea Newman and Diana Souza, Heather Has Two Mommies (Boston: Alyson, 1989).;
Michael Willhoite, Daddy’ s Roommate, (Los Angeles: Alyson, 1990).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> William Tucker, op. cit., The Weekly Standard, May 13, 1996, pp. 27-30. Tucker points out that until the late 1950’s, there was an informal policy in American business or “one breadwinner per family,” that women whose husbands worked not b e hired in certain positions and than women not return to work after their first child. “Millions upon millions of men ... were able to support their families by doing a day’s work for a day’s pay.” Unlike Tucker, I think this policy very much forced men to do “men’s work” and would result in single people being kept out of many jobs to leave room for “breadwinners.” The new battle cry may be “not minimum wage, but family wage!” I doubt corporate America thinks it can afford this; see next Chapter.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Leon Eisenberg, “Is the Family Obsolete,” The Key Reporter, Phi Beta Kappa, Spring, 1995.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> George Gilder, Sexual Suicide, op. cit.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Jonathan Rauch, “Don’t Blame Gays for Family Problems,” The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 29, 1994.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Hillary Rodham Clinton, It Takes a Village, and Other Lessons Children Teach Us (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Rene Sanchez, “Educators Under Pressure on Gay Issues,” The Washington Post, May 11, 1996, p. 1. The article discusses controversies at Merrimack High School in New Hampshire, and quotes Jerald Newberry, coordinator of family life education for Fairfax County, Va. public schools : “There’s a real push to have parents believe everyone chooses their sexual orientation, that there’s a right one and a wrong one, and that students are being exposed to too much of the wrong one.”
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Warren Farrell, Ph.D., The Myth of Male Power: Why Men are the Disposable Sex (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Editorial: “Let them Wed,” The Economist, Jam. 6. 1996. p. 13.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Andrew Sullivan, Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality, (New York: Knopf, 1995), p. 185.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> William Eskridge, The Case for Same-Sex Marriage (New York: The Free Press, 1996), pp. 27-30, provides some convincing details.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Hadley Arkes, “Gay Marriage and the Courts: Roe v. Wade II?” The Weekly Standard, Nov. 20, 1995, p. 37.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Larry Elkin, Financial self-defense for the Unmarried (New York: Doubleday , 1994), pp 38-39.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Maggie Gallagher, The Abolition of Marriage,: How We Destroy Lasting Love (Washington: Regency, 1996).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> “Only Families Need Apply: Va, board halts loans for gays” - this was the misleading headline for the story in the metro section of The Washington Times, Jan. 24, 1996. The story was written by Gary Scheets. Apparently the order does not affect singles.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Martin Maywer, Christian Action Network, Nov., 1995.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Philip Lawler, “Sex, Love, Marriage, and Babies,” Wall Street Journal, March 3, 1996, p. 14.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> It would be taking liberties to interpret the term “eunuch” at the end of this Chapter as “homosexual,” but in context, the interpretation would make sense.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Gene Cisewski, “Ms. Gingrich Now Pronounces You Woman and Wife,” monograph for the Libertarian Party Council of State Chairs, January, 1996., remarks in The Quill, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, March, 1996.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In 1987, I actually visited Colorado City, Az., home of a religious community that “openly” practices de-facto polygamy.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Rauch, op. cit.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Hayden Curry, Dennis Clifford, and Robin Leonard, A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples (Berkeley: Novo, 1994), ch. 3.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Frederick W. Bozett, Gay and Lesbian Parents (Westport: Praeger, 1987), pp. 46-47 ; the author refers to numerous studies of lesbian mothers.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Chandler Burr, A Separate Creation, op. cit..
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Rev. Larry Uhrig, “There is No Better Half,” advertisement in The Washington Blade, 1991.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Crane Brinton, A History of Civilization, Vol. 2, “The Rise of Fascism,” (New Jersey, Printice Hall, 1960)., pp. 459-502.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> William Eskridge, The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: From Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment, (New York: The Free Press, 1996), p. 70.