[On Sunday, November 2, 2008 I was a guest on the XX Factor, a radio program on LA Talk Radio.   The subject was California’s Proposition 8.  Time ran out while I was making a comment, so I later emailed the rest of my thought]

 

***

 

Susan,

 

To finish my thought, the CA Education Code, Section 51933 reads “School districts may provide comprehensive sexual health education, consisting of age-appropriate instruction, in any kindergarten to grade 12, inclusive…Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships.”  Thus technically, Kim is right in that schools are not required to teach about marriage at all.  But in fact, 96% of schools already do teach about marriage.  At that point, when schools choose to teach about marriage, then they will be required to teach about homosexuality.  Savvy?

 

This has already been occurring in my children’s school and many others, including as you know the ‘teachable moment’ when the kids at the school in SF attended their school teacher’s lesbian wedding.  It is absurd to assert that homosexual marriage will not be taught in schools based on the word ‘may.’  Schools already teach marriage, and if Prop 8 loses, they will indeed be required to teach homosexuality as morally equivalent to traditional marriage.

 

Worse, while we have both a ‘notification requirement’ and an ‘opt out provision’ currently in California, Massachussetts has already stripped both of these rights from parents (Parker v. Hurley), maintaining that they can choose a private school if they do not want their children educated in homosexuality.  And now this is occurring in California.  Just a few weeks ago in Hayward, a grade school celebrated ‘National Coming Out Day’ without notifying parents (http://forums.mercurynews.com/topic/yes-on-prop-8coming-out-day-at-a-public-elementary-school).

 

I am not ignorant nor a recluse.  I can relate to Kim’s comment that kids are already talking about this.  I think kids should be aware of social issues, but I believe it is a parent’s responsibility to teach about marriage and family.  If children are the cathedral we are building, parents are the foundation and schools are the buttress.  Schools support parents, not vice versa.

 

On a lighter note, great show, and thanks for having me on.  My only feedback is that if you make an argument, allow the caller to respond to it before making another (several times you or Kim made two or three arguments in a row which of course I could not respond to).  It will add more substance to your healthy passion.

 

Your friend,

 

Anthony

 

PS: Please forward to Kim.  She did a great job!

 

***

 

I will absolutely forward this to her.  Again, I am sooo sorry.  I would NEVER have cut you off.  Kim hasn't done much radio before.  My husband was supposed to board op but had some problems getting their this morning.  He would not have cut you off either.  She said she's going to apologize to you on the next show.  Even though I disagree with you I thought you were a GREAT guest!  My parent were pissed off that Kim cut you off too.  They really wanted to hear what you had to say.  So with that said, I'll forward this to Kim.

Thanks again...and I'll talk to you soon on Facebook!  

 

***

***

 

[I have been updating my Facebook status with something about Prop 8 every day.  The latest was that I had yet received a response to my question about what Prop 8 opponents will tell the child who asks ‘Why can I not have a mommy?’  Or ‘Why can I not have a daddy?’  Some were finally brave enough to respond]

 

***

 

[Kimberly]

 

"OK, you asked...I don't believe that a specific formula of gender and chromosomes is what drives the meaning of "family."  I would tell a child what I believe, which is that having a parent who loves them and provides a nurturing environment is omni-important.  Discrimination against gay couples is ugly and unfair, as it has been and is against people for their gender, ethncity, religious views, political beliefs, etc.  What person has the right to deny anyone else a right or status that doesn't even directly affect his/her life?"

 

***

 

How can you possibly say that this doesn't affect that child's life?  EVERY child deserves to be raised by a mother and a father, with the kinds of qualitative love only each can provide.  No matter how much a mom loves a child, she cannot provide the kind of love a father provides (almost every social ill for youth can be traced to fatherlessness, though these mothers loved their children).  Supposed 'rights' end when they impose on the rights of others.  And let's not forget that this isn't even about rights since gay couples already have every right currently given married couples.  This is simply about differentiating two qualitatively different kinds of unions.  Differentiation is not discrimination.

 

I do not think those who have had a loving mother and father would so easily dismiss either.  Final question: Do you really think that the right of an adult to have his/her own union called marriage is greater than the right of a child to have a mother and a father?

 

Think about it.

 

Incidentally, don't confuse my passion for this issue and for the rights of children as anything but honest concern...you're awesome to engage me on it!

 

***

 

[Courtney]

 

"So I will throw in my two cents about this, in a friendly manner, of course!

 

While I do agree that every child benefits from having both a mother and a father figure in their life....eliminating the rights of same sex unions to be called marriage in NO WAY solves this issue on a state or national level.  If we could achieve a perfect world scenario for every child through legislation, that would be amazing...but we can't.  What do you say to those parents who are abandoned by a spouse and left to raise children on their own?   How do you single those people out and remove their right to get married ever again? Or remove their right to divorce?  You can't. What about the people who choose to have children outside of marriage?  Just because the parents are of opposite sex does't guarantee a child a perfect, loving environment....there are PLENTY of families out there with MAJOR issues but they have a female and male at the helm of the family."

 

"Having the love of a mother and a father isn't the ONLY kind of love that can fulfill a child. Every child deserves to have food on their table, no abuse, a good education, traveling experiences....the list could go on and on...but you can't possibly provide that to every child out there.  Some of us just have to go without…that is a fact of life.  So I don’t agree that using a child’s right to a mother and a father as a valid argument to pass prop 8.  You can’t solve the issues facing the children of the world by eliminating the rights of one segment of the population.  With the divorce rate so high, why don’t we eliminate the right to divorce from the same segment who believe prop 8 will protect marriage?  You just can’t do that…."

 

***

 

[Kimberly]

 

"Well said, Courtney.  My opinion may be much more "out there," but your words truly resonate with me. 

 

Anthony, I wanted to clarify--in my statement ("What person has the right to deny anyone else a right or status that doesn't even directly affect his/her life"), "his/her" refered to the person denying the right/status, not the child. 

 

It's very interesting to hear people's opinions on this.  Have a great Monday."

 

***

 

Courtney,

 

No law or group of laws solves all of society’s problems; the law is not medicative, it is prescriptive.  It is a guide and acts as a moral deterrent.  No one is suggesting that preserving traditional marriage solves marital problems.  Laws against stealing deter stealing, but people still steal.  Shall we then change the definition of stealing to match the reality?  Certainly not.  The reality is that marriage sometimes breaks down, and we have to live with it.  But Courtney, learning to live with it is a far cry from encouraging it!

 

You bring up divorce, fornication, and single parent homes.  We all know, and society acknowledges, that these things are bad for people and bad for children, even though people still do them.  Law cannot control these things from happening, but it can discourage them.  But you are arguing that we not only encourage homosexual unions and parenting, but make certain that some children will never have either a mother or a father!  We tolerate societal ills because of individual rights, but we do not sanction them, we do not say that divorce and single parent homes do not matter, that they are no different than homes with a mother and a father.  Instead, we acknowledge that they are unfortunate realities and we then do all we can to help children in those less-than-ideal circumstances.  You, however, would have society actually sanction the exception and put it on par with the ideal!  Anyone, as you forcefully argue, has the right to be with, to sleep with, to form a union with, to have civil rights with, any other with whom she pleases.  However, no one has a right to demand that government and society actually sanction a particular behavior.  Allow it, yes; but sanction it, no.  But that is what would happen.  Adoption agencies will not be able to favor homes with a mother and a father, all other things being equal.  Thus, just as the right of someone to take something is trumped by the right of another’s ownership, so the supposed ‘right’ to marry must be trumped by the much more important right a child has to be raised by a mother and a father, all other things being equal.  Remember, under the domestic partnership law, gay couples can still adopt.  What Prop 8 will ensure is that the mother/father ideal can be taken into consideration when placing a child, not that it must be the only or even the primary consideration.  Again, all prop 8 does is it allows us to take into consideration the fact that children ideally need and deserve a mother and a father (as well as the other things you mention, obviously), not that they exclusively need a mother and a father.

 

As to ‘rights’, what rights of same sex couples are being eliminated?  None but the right to call their union marriage.  That’s what this comes down to.  If in fact a loving mother and father is the best scenario for a child, then shouldn’t it be distinguished in some way from other possible, even favorable, parenting scenarios?  We don’t call single parents ‘marriage’ and rightly so because it doesn’t fit the model, one is not two.  Similarly, why pretend that homosexual unions and parenting are exactly the same as heterosexual parenting?  By definition, they are not.  To distinguish the two is not to discriminate, it’s just plain sense.  The shrill voices that cry ‘Discrimination!’ are loud but empty.  There is a fundamental difference between mothers and fathers, and no amount of legislation can change that.  Morality cannot be legislated, but legislation can and should encourage behavior that is best for children.

 

While death, divorce or other circumstances may prevent the ideal, the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married father and mother who honor marital vows.  Contrarily, same-sex families always deny children either their mother or father, thus they are driven not by the needs of children but by the selfish desires of adults.  Government gets into the business of marriage (which is a religious concept anyway) in the first place not to pander to adult sexual desires and not because there is some adult fundamental right to it (the fundamental right is to be with whomever one wants, not to have the government invent some institution that will honor that union).  It is not for an adult’s right that government gets involved but for a child’s right to be raised by a mother and a father, and this because when children are raised in that kind of environment, society benefits enormously.  The family is the fundamental unit of society.  Marriage, at least as a government-sanctioned civic virtue, is as much if not more about children than it is about adults.  Marriage is a responsibility, not a right.  Else, the government would have little reason to encourage it, especially given the fact that divorce, so easily obtained, waters down the stabilizing commitment aspect of marriage almost entirely.  Thus it is preposterous to assert that the right of an adult to force government to validate his or her aberrant behavior (not to behave that way, which is a fundamental right, but to be validated in that behavior) is somehow greater than a child’s right to be raised by a mother and a father!  This is the kind of value system that makes a woman’s ‘right’ to abort her unborn baby greater than that baby’s right to live (I acknowledge that there may be some cases when abortion should be legal, as in rape or incest, when the health of the mother is in jeopardy, or when the baby is not likely to survive after birth).

 

As to eliminating the right to divorce, actually you are may be on to something here.  This is the case in other countries (such as Argentina where I spent two years) because of the Catholic influence.  A more likely option, however, would be eliminating ‘no-fault divorce’ or divorce for convenience, a concept which was made legal in the late 60s.  Please note the following which I put together a while back on this very issue:

 

***

Social experiments are costly and devastating to the health of humans and societies.  It is a superficial kind of individualism that does not recognize the power of emerging social trends that often start with only a few individuals bucking conventional patterns of behavior. Negative social trends start with only a few aberrations. Gradually, however, social sanctions weaken and individual aberrations become a torrent.  Think back to the 1960s, when illegitimacy and cohabitation were relatively rare. At that time many asked how one young woman having a baby out of wedlock or living with an unmarried man could hurt their neighbors. Now we know the negative social effects these two living arrangements have spawned: lower marriage rates, more instability in the marriages that are enacted, more fatherless children, increased rates of domestic violence and poverty, and a vast expansion of welfare state expenses.  The sexual revolution, abortion, no-fault divorce, etc. are testaments to that fact, all having led to a surge in unwed pregnancies, single parent homes, and welfare-dependence.  There will certainly be unintended and unforeseen consequences to such a radical overhaul of marriage.  “Forty years ago everybody thought [no-fault] divorce was the solution to everyone's problems, and it was not going to be harmful to adults and children. It was going to be beneficial to them.  We have 40 years of data on the fallout of the divorce culture and social scientists all across the political spectrum, religious and atheist, are pretty much agreed that divorce is not a minor blimp on the developmental landscape.  I think we're going to find that the fallout of this in terms of people's development is probably not entirely what we expected.”  (Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, “Civil Unions: Would Marriage By Any Other Name Be The Same?" Christianity Today, 3/01/2004.)  Maggie Gallagher incisively wrote, “Marriage is not an option, it is a precondition to survival.”

 

“HOW WE GOT HERE?  The story of how approximately two percent of the population has been able to impose its agenda on Americans and marginalize all opposition is one that can only be briefly summarized here–but it is a story we cannot afford to ignore.  The story begins in the 1960s–ironically, with heterosexuals.  The intervention of the Pill and the general loosening of societal mores and insistence on ‘rights’ in various spheres spawned a revolution in sexual attitudes.  Sexual self-expression, which traditionally had been regarded as a privilege, became perceived as a right–something to be expressed publicly, frequently, and outside of monogamous, lifelong marriage.  The consensus that ‘good girls don’t’ (and neither do boys) eroded.  Of course, promiscuity has always been with us, but previous generations shared an understanding that although sex outside of marriage happened, it should not be so.  With the onslaught of pornography, the Playboy philosophy steadily shifted the center of gravity from marital faithfulness to personal enjoyment.  Thus, if your mate no longer fulfilled your needs, you should have the ‘right’ to find someone who would.  To quote Lynn Vincent in World, ‘cohabitation began shedding its stigma, leading to a revolving door family structure that often left children fatherless and economically deprived.’  With divorce available for sake of convenience, the word family began to take on new meanings.  Now it was common for a mother to raise the children alone, or possibly with a new husband–or at least a new lover.  Meanwhile, the husband and father went off to pursue his own relationships which he deemed ‘best’ for him.  Children reared without their father’s love and protection became vulnerable to sexual experimentation and abuse.  Gradually, the notion of a family with a father, mother, and children, all living under the same roof, became something of a relic of a bygone era, at least in some quarters...Meanwhile, tolerance emerged as the one indisputable national value.  This word, which at one time meant that people should be free to believe whatever they wished, now meant that they could do whatever they wished, and it was improper to judge their conduct.  Tolerance now demands an affirmation of virtually all behavior, no matter how immoral, unnatural, and bizarre.  With these streams flowing into our national culture, much of America was ready for same-sex marriages.”  Erwin W. Lutzer, The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage, p17-18.

***

 

I have written nothing yet about how legalizing same-sex marriage will impinge upon the twin freedoms of parenting and religion, and yet the consequences here may be just as tragic as they are with the children.  But I am all too spent to get into that again.  PLEASE consider these issues, Courtney.  I don’t expect to change your mind, but I do honestly think that most people when once they understand all the issues involved, will see clearly that a YES on 8 vote does not take away any fundamental rights from homosexual couples, does not mean you are bigoted or discriminatory, but in fact does mean that children will be better protected, parental rights retained, the freedom of religion safe-guarded, and the sacred, God-ordained institution of marriage preserved.

 

A friend,

 

Anthony