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Tuesday, June 12, 2012


larry kurtz

Your kids giving you fits and you need a yardstick to find out if it's your fault, Ken? Children of Catholic parents are more likely to seek psychiatric help than children of atheists.

Devout Catholics will even kill their children:


larry kurtz

"The trend lines join other bad polling news for evangelicals, namely that younger Christians are turned off by attacks on gays and lesbians. Such trends don't bode well for the Republican Party."



You might note it is much more difficult to bear the "obligations" of child rearing absent the "rights" granted those who are married.


...about obligations, not rights... I like that point.

I wonder: does biological productivity cause stability? I speak as an adopted child who never doubted the commitment his parents made to stay stable for their chosen children... but in general, statistically speaking, will producing one's own homemade children more powerfully reinforce the sense of obligation to stay together than choosing children through adoption (or in vitro fertilization with a donor's help)?

Bill Fleming

I disagree. It is most assuredly about rights. To be sure there are obligations that come with the exercise of one's rights. But without the rights, discussion of the accompanying obligations is moot point, isn't it?
Seems to me you're putting the cart before the horse, KB.

Jon S.

Ken, one of the most vocal and high-profile supporters of SSM is Andrew Sullivan, who famously wrote that in same-sex marriages we'd naturally have to have more tolerance for adultery. Why? Because Sullivan knows what you do, namely that gay men (woman are different) are extremely promiscuous. Sullivan, considered a conservative by gay politics standards, does not want to give that up. So much for obligation and stability.

Bill, you speak like a true liberal. Thank you for taking the call from central casting. The whole point is that rights are demands that we make as individuals that others are bound to respect. Marriage (and child rearing), on the other hand, is not about demands but about mutual self-giving. It is the denial of the self, not the assertion of the self. Just look at the typical vows. They are not about what you have to give me, but what I owe (i.e., am obligated) to give you.

Bill Fleming

Jon, you miss my point. Let me make it more clear for you. If you are a slave, it doesn't matter what the obligations of a freeman are. If you are a woman in a land where women can't vote, it doesn't matter to you what the obligations of a voting citizen are. This is not a "liberal" point, it is a civil rights point. To speculate as to whether a person (or group of people) would, or would not exercise a right properly if granted is a very thinly veiled position of bigotry. Thanks for helping me sharpen that point.

Bill Fleming

Tangent to this are divorce rate statistics. Studies show that divorce rates among Baptists (29%) are higher than those of other Christian denominations (average around 20%) and that Hindus (5%) have the lowest divorce rate of all. Should we use this as an argument that Baptists shouldn't have the right to marry, or that only Hindus should be allowed to marry? Of course not. That would be ridiculous.


Dr. Regenerus's Respondents were raised in a MIXED ORIENTATION MARRIAGE (MOM), or a MIXED ORIENTATION SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP. A MOM is where one spouse is gay and one spouse is straight. That is who responded to this survey, people who had parents in a MOM. Regnerus confirms that he found only 2 Respondents who were raised in a straight up lesbian home and found NO true gay fathers.. Here is part of his e-mail to me which he asked me to post.

[snip]"By the way, one of the key methodological criticisms circulating is that–basically–in a population-based sample, I haven’t really evaluated how the adult children of stably-intact coupled self-identified lesbians have fared. Right? Right. And I’m telling you that it cannot be feasibly accomplished. It is a methodological (practical) impossibility at present, for reasons I describe: they really didn’t exist in numbers that could be amply obtained *randomly*. It may well be a flaw–limitation, I think–but it is unavoidable. We maxxed Knowledge Networks’ ability, and no firm is positioned to do better. It would have cost untold millions of dollars, and still may not generate the number of cases needed for statistical analyses.[end snip] You can read the full e-mail exchange here-

We know that only 1/3 of Mixed Orientation Marriages attempt to stay together after disclosure and of that 1/3, only half manage to stay together for 3 years or more (and it goes really down hill after 7 years).

FWIW I agree with Dr. Regnerus Mixed Orientation Marriages (or Mixed Orientation Sexual Relationships) that produce children are VERY BAD for the children. And that is what his study proves. It does not attempt and does NOT assess the outcomes of children raised by 2 loving moms or 2 loving dads. It.Does.Not.

This pic by Rob Tsinai depicts this research perfectly.

So 48 hours later Dr. Regnerus BACKS AWAY FROM his research and it is exactly what i said it is. Read this article.


Donald Pay

Two parent child rearing is a historic oddity, not a natural child rearing unit. It is inherently unstable, particularly when placed under economic stress. Humans evolved in multigenerational, mostly related groups that raised children communally.

We think a Mom and Dad plus kids household is what is normal, because for about 100-200 years that has been the norm among white upper and middle income urban dwelling people here in the Western World. That's a pattern that developed because there was enough wealth to make it viable. It may be the stability imparted by an adequate income/wealth more than anything dealing with Mom and Dad that is important.

Ken Blanchard

Comments by Bill and A.I. to the effect that marriage requires rights reminds me of Cory Heidelberger's statement that government subsidies were necessary in order to encourage people to burn wood for fuel. In fact, the family long predates the modern notion of rights. Marriage is fundamentally about mutual obligations: those of the marital partners toward one another and of the parents toward the children and vice versa. Unless this is understood, rights talk with regard to marriages makes no sense.

Deciding who can legally marry is a judgment call. Should first cousins be allowed to marry? I think probably not. Second cousins? The question here should be decided according to our best guesses about what it means for the health of children.

Contrary to what Donald says, the two parent family is by far the oldest and most stable form of family. If I understand what he means, it is true that in most societies, the "nuclear" family was embedded in larger clan units. That doesn't change the essential nature of the union.

I agree with A.I. that the support of the larger community is an essential element in the institution of the family. This doesn't necessarily mean government support, but that is surely helpful in many ways.

Ken Blanchard

Jon: it may well be true a family consisting of two fathers is inherently less stable than one with a mother and a father. This is due to the fact that the adult male is most often the source of instability in a family. That, as the lawyers say, proves too much. Perhaps a man should not allowed to marry a man, but one could almost as easily say that a man should not be allowed to marry anyone.

If a widow with children marries again, bringing a male into the household who is not biologically related to the children slightly raises the probability of abuse and other sorts of dysfunction. It also raises the chance that the children will be provided for. Much the same may well be true of a male with children who takes another male as his partner (or two males who adopt). Teasing apart the percentages is a very difficult business, as the study above indicates. I would only add that there is very little for courts and legislatures to work with, so far as the statistics go. It were better to judge the people standing in front of you.

The family is an institution that suppresses and channels male instincts on behalf of his spouse and his children. Whether the family can work its magic on gay couples remains to be seen. I think there are reasons to be skeptical, at least in the case of male couples, but there is no reason to rule it out.

Donald Pay

You're just totally wrong about the nuclear family. Over the evolutionary history of humans the two parent family has cropped up only in very wealthy urban centered societies, and generally only in the upper wealth strata. The wealth of the Western world made the two parent family possible, even prevalent, in current Western societies. But even in our Western culture, the poorer classes generally have lived in multi-generation households, or had the benefit of nearby grandparents who provided child care. The two parent family is an outlier as a social institution, and probably not very good for rearing of children who are well-adjusted.

Bill Fleming

I'm not going to repeat my argument about rights v. obligations since it's clear that both Jon and Ken are choosing to turn deaf ears to it. I'll presume the rest of you took the point: it's a civil rights issue.

Let's instead look at some stats and discussion in a context where the questions of both rights and obligations have been addressed and see what the data says. By my reckoning, same-sex marriages are every bit as stable as hetero ones. The article points to a few good reasons why.

Jon S.

Bill, shocking as it may seem, not responding to your comments is not the same thing as "turning a deaf ear." Perhaps you should ponder the notion that some people have other things to do than constantly monitor the comments at SDP. But now that I have a moment, I will commend to you this blog post by my man Rod Dreher which sort of makes your point: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/

I will point out that all sorts of people can have or take on obligations to each other without being married or even having the right to marry. So I don't think the legal right to marry is prior to obligations, although the nature of marriage is about obligations not rights. I think you and I talk past each other as I am talking of natural right and you are talking of legal right.

I am guessing, though, that you and I have a fundamental different about what marriage is. If marriage is simply a contractual relationship between two people (although we may ask why just two) then by all means let the gays in, so to speak. But if marriage is something different...well, let me cite myself.

Bill Fleming

You are correct, Jon. Upon reading your essay, it's fair to say that you and I have a fundamental difference in opinion as to what a marriage is, both socially and legally.


Points well taken, Bill. Perhaps I should reformulate: the debate is about obligations and rights. Indeed, we can't have one without the other. Donald's point about the oddity of isolated nuclear families raises enough doubt about Jon's traditional argument that it seems government should focus on Bill's legal/moral argument. I can think of plenty of clearly unstable folks whom I'd love to keep from screwing up each other's lives or their future offsprings'. But we can't do that with government. Meddling mothers, maybe, but not discriminatory statute.

Bill Fleming

Yes, Cory, a marriage is first and formost social acceptance of a couple's bond, a witnessing of that couple's promise of fealty one to another, and social recognition of their new unity. It is a social contract. A merging of families (and extended families) that creates kinship. It's as much about social acknowledgement, recognition, and the blessing of a relationship as it is about the relationship itself.

Bill Fleming


larry kurtz

""It would be like comparing two parent Catholic families and divorced Mormon parents and coming out with a conclusion that Catholics are better parents than Mormons," says Thalia Zepatos, director of public engagement at the marriage equality group Freedom to Marry."



Crafty, Doc:


Ken Blanchard

Bill: you and I are not all that far apart on this issue. I think you describe marriage rather well: "first and foremost social acceptance of a couple's bond, a witnessing of that couple's promise of fealty one to another, and social recognition of their new unity."

The best source on this is Aristophanes CLOUDS, an ancient Greek comedy which is really not all that funny. It is about the disintegration of a family due to the corrosive influence of philosophy. When Strepsiades severs his ties with the larger community, he loses his status as a father.

While the doctrine of explicit rights is modern, the idea of status is not. I agree, then, that marriage cannot exist without rights. I continue to think that obligations are more fundamental. Gay marriage will be real only if the gay community takes the obligations of marriage seriously and enforces them with moral suasion.

I note, finally, that the CLOUDS refutes Donald decisively. Strepsiades' family is as familiar as Fred Flintstone's.


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larry kurtz

Exactly, preschool: Professor Blanchard is a member of the Professional Organization of Federational Scriveners and therefore a blogger's blooger.

Bill Fleming

Ooooh. As KB and I approach agreement, I can hear the Mayan calendar stones clinking into final position... (dig this, KB: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICqcUUF8tMA )

Donald Pay

The problem here is the confusion people have between child rearing systems and mating systems. They are different. Pair bonding and relatively long lasting male-female relationships occurred within a broader evolutionary and social context. Non-alpha males began to be chosen by females because they were better providers than alpha males, and less socially disruptive. They were better providers partly because they were more likely to cooperate, and thus more successful in hunting. But they were better providers in a different sense than in the nuclear family, since a successful hunt was shared with the group. Females had always cooperated in rearing children, which they continued to do in groups of mostly related individuals.

The evolution of the pair bond mating system probably was a necessary precursor to the development of the nuclear family, but it really didn't arise until economic conditions were fortuitous.

Ken Blanchard

Donald: I am not sure I have any disagreement with what you say, though I think it is highly speculative. I am not at all certain that the "non-alpha male" was indeed the most sought after mate by females for most of human history.

However, you seem to concede the essential point. Human females have sought good mates for the sake of their offspring for a very long time. It goes back long enough to mold human evolution. Yes. That means that the male/female bond with children is the natural form of the family. To say that this isn't a nuclear family because the male will share his catch with the larger community doesn't help much, does it? When did males stop sharing with friends and allies for the sake of support? They didn't. They still do so today.

In modern times, the larger clan systems began to diminish, but the basic family form remained. That would be my point.

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