Author archives: Peter Sprigg

Marriage Wins Despite Liberal Control of Washington

by Peter Sprigg

November 5, 2008

The traditional, historic, and natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman was a winner on Election Day, despite the simultaneous victories for Democrats in capturing the White House and expanding their majority in Congress.

The latest results as of midday on Wednesday (November 5) show that state constitutional amendments to define marriage as a one-man one-woman union had passed in Florida and Arizona and one was likely to pass in California as well.

Although many states that have already adopted such amendments did so fairly handily (especially in 2004), each of the amendments on the ballot in 2008 faced unique challenges.

Florida was the only one of the three states where adoption of the amendment required not just a simply majority of the vote, but a super-majority of 60%. The Florida Marriage Protection Amendment was the only one of the three on the ballot this year that was a “strong” or “two-sentence” amendment, meaning that included language to prevent “domestic partnerships” or “civil unions” as well as same-sex “marriage.” Florida’s amendment campaign was also probably the most under-funded of the three-yet they still managed to clear the higher hurdle set for them, winning 62.1% to 37.9%, with 99% of the vote counted (official results).

Arizona was the only state ever to see a marriage amendment defeated at the polls. In 2006, an earlier “two-sentence” amendment was defeated-ironically, not because of its impact on same-sex couples, but because of publicity about its potential impact on opposite-sex couples who sometimes enter into “domestic partnerships” to avoid losing Social Security benefits to a “marriage penalty.” This year Proposition 102, a revised, “one-sentence” amendment focused only on the definition of civil marriage, was successful by a margin of 56.5% to 43.5%, with 99.1% of the vote in (see official results). Turning the 2006 defeat into a 2008 victory is a great accomplishment for pro-family forces in Arizona.

The most closely-watched and heavily-funded (on both sides) campaign was the one in California. That state’s Supreme Court issued a 4-3 ruling on May 15 of this year that overturned two state laws defining marriage, thus opening the door for same-sex couples to begin receiving marriage licenses a month later. The idea that the amendment would “take away rights” that same-sex couples were already enjoying undoubtedly made passage harder. This was reinforced by the biased language which California Attorney General (and former Governor) Jerry Brown ordered on the ballot, declaring that the amendment primarily “eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry,” rather than more neutrally stating that it “defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Despite this finger on the scale, and a vicious campaign against the amendment that included anti-religious ads, vandalism, and even violence, California’s Proposition 8 appears to have passed, 52.2% to 47.8% with 96.4% of precincts reporting (official results). As I was writing this piece, it was reported on TV that the Associated Press had declared victory for Proposition 8. Congratulations to the people of California for successfully exercising the ultimate check against judicial tyranny in our political system.

The only disappointment on the marriage front was in Connecticut, whose Supreme Court followed the lead of California’s (also by a one-vote margin) on October 10 by fabricating a constitutional “right” to same-sex “marriage.” Connecticut does not have an initiative process whereby the people can place constitutional amendments on the ballot by petition. However, they did have the opportunity yesterday to call for a constitutional convention. Pro-marriage forces hoped that a convention might adopt an initiative process, which in turn could be used to place marriage on the ballot. Unfortunately, this three-step process may not have been understood by the voters, who rejected the idea of a constitutional convention by 59% to 41% (results here).

In addition to the three marriage amendments, however, there was one other victory yesterday for traditional family structures. Arkansas adopted a law (Proposed Initiative Act No. 1) by 56.8% to 43.2% (see here) which prohibits adoption or foster care by persons who are cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage. While this would effectively bar homosexual couples from adopting, it also applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex couples. (Single people would still be allowed to adopt, without regard to sexual orientation). Thus, while this bill is being described as “anti-gay-adoption,” it would be more accurately described as “anti-cohabitation.”

Whatever “mandate” President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress may claim from yesterday’s results, it is clearly not a mandate (even in Florida and California, which Obama carried) to change the definition of marriage or the family.

Homosexual TV Characters — Proportional Representation, or Propaganda?

by Peter Sprigg

October 2, 2008

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reported in triumph last week that the number of “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)” characters on broadcast TV will more than double in the new TV season.

Of course, TV writers, producers, and networks are free to create whatever type of characters they want, but the public needs to look at those characters and programs with a discerning eye. Are they just there to reflect what America actually looks like (GLAAD’s claim)? Or are they really there for propaganda purposes, to promote a sociopolitical agenda demanding affirmation of homosexual conduct?

There are two ways to test this question. One is to ask whether the depiction of homosexual characters is accurate. Does it accurately reflect the higher rates of sexual promiscuity, STDs, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse among homosexuals? If the homosexual characters are always depicted as the smartest, funniest, most noble characters on the show, on the one hand, or only as victims of persecution, on the other, then you know you’re seeing propaganda.

The other test is whether other groups are proportionally represented on TV as well. For example, how many evangelical Christian characters are there on TV series, and how are they portrayed? There are many times as many evangelical Christians in America as there are homosexuals, but I doubt you’ll find that reflected on TV.

[See also CNN.com: In Hollywood, sexuality is less secret, still can be big deal]

Gay” Soldiers in George Washington’s Army?

by Peter Sprigg

July 24, 2008

One of the most bizarre aspects of the July 23 Congressional hearing on homosexuals in the military was the effort to read 21st-century political correctness back into American history.

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) insisted, “We’ve had gays in the American military from the first unit that was ever formed.” Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) echoed this astonishing claim, saying that “gays have served in every conflict, every war” this country has fought.

In fact, Shays was even more specific, noting a patriotic event in his district at which they read the names of “everyone who lost his life in the French and Indian War—some of whom were gay.”

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) declared that allowing homosexuals to serve would be an expression of the high value Americans place on the principle of equal opportunity. He even claimed the father of our country, George Washington, as an ally who believed that “the way to the top should be open to everyone.” In context, that referred to the respect Washington had for enlisted men in relation to officers—but Sestak apparently would have us believe that Washington felt the same way about equal opportunity for homosexuals.

Actually, though, we have some very precise evidence in the historical record of what Gen. Washington thought about homosexual conduct. It can be found in his General Orders issued on Saturday, March 14, 1778, toward the end of his army’s long, bitter winter at Valley Forge. Like today, his army was at war. Like today, his army had serious problems of recruitment and retention. Perhaps, like today, there might have been some people who would have argued that his army could not afford to lose a soldier over something like his sexual conduct.

But that argument carried no water with Washington. On the 10th of March, a General Court Martial was held to try Lieut. Frederick Gotthold Enslin “for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier.” Having been convicted, he was sentenced “to be dismiss’d the service with Infamy.”

That may have been the verdict of the court martial, but is there any evidence of what Washington himself thought? In fact, there is: “His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return . . .”

If members of Congress and homosexual activists want to argue for repeal of the existing law in order to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military, let them make their case. But it is sheer nonsense to claim that such an action would be anything but a radical deviation from the unbroken practice of the American military throughout our country’s history.

Inside the Brain of Homosexual Activists

by Peter Sprigg

June 23, 2008

Three studies in the early 1990’s gave birth to the widespread belief that homosexuality is determined before birth by some biological (possibly genetic) factor. Although those three studies have been largely discredited, the search for the “gay gene” or, in some cases, the “gay brain,” goes on. Now another such study is in the news, reporting difference between the heterosexual and homosexual brain.

Studies like this are invariably reported as providing evidence that people are “born gay” and can’t change, when they don’t provide anything of the kind. All they show is a limited correlation between certain biological markers and homosexuality, but one of the first principles of statistics and science is that “correlation is not causation.”

I can’t critique this entire study on technical grounds, although I have read it. The sample size of 20 to 25 in each group (by sex and sexual orientation) seems fairly small, but the authors claim statistical significance for their findings. However, they give no explanation of how the study subjects were recruited, so there’s no way to evaluate whether this sample is likely to be representative of the larger population.

What many people don’t understand is that conservatives on the issue of homosexuality have never denied that there may be biological factors which correlate with homosexuality, or even ones which may, to some extent, influence its development. But what has never been found is any such factor that can be proven to cause homosexuality in a deterministic way.

If there were a genetic or biological factor which could fix and determine for all time that a person would be homosexual, then you would expect that factor to be present in every homosexual and in no heterosexual. That’s not what you find in this study, or in any of the similar studies. While there may be a difference is the average level of “cerebral asymmetry,” for example, there’s also considerable overlap between members of the homosexual and heterosexual sample.

One irony in this study is that, in essence, all it is saying is that the brains of homosexual men are more “feminine” that those of heterosexual men, and the brains of homosexual women are more “masculine” than those of heterosexual women. But don’t homosexual activists object to that as stereotyping? I thought they liked to claim that sexual orientation and gender identity are two completely different things.

The real bottom line here is that the “gay brain” and “gay gene” studies have so far produced findings that are only marginally interesting from a scientific perspective. The real reason these studies get so much media attention is because proving that people are born homosexual and cannot change would serve the political purpose of persuading people that sexual orientation is like race, and that it should be treated like race under the law. That’s all that’s really going on in the brains of homosexual activists.

(To learn more, order Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows about Homosexuality)

An Open Letter to Rob Boston on Secular Arguments against Same-Sex “Marriage”

by Peter Sprigg

June 21, 2008

[Note: On June 17, Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State posted an item on their blog criticizing Family Research Council for ads that we ran in several California newspapers for Father’s Day. Below is a response.]

Dear Rob,

I read your June 17 blog post in which you said, “I challenge the FRC and other Religious Right groups to come up with one good secular reason against same-sex marriage. I don’t think they can do it.”

Perhaps you just haven’t been paying attention. I am sending you a complimentary copy of my book, Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges Are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage (Washington: Regnery, 2004-also available online). You can ignore Chapter 8 if you like, since it offers nine pages of religious arguments. Concentrate instead on Chapters 1-7, which offer 107 pages of secular arguments against same-sex marriage.

If that’s too much for you, you can read my paper “Questions and Answers; What’s Wrong with Letting Same-Sex Couples ‘Marry’?” It’s 16 pages, and 100% secular.

You might also want to read our paper titled “Ten Arguments from Social Science against Same-Sex ‘Marriage.’” (I can’t take credit for that one). All ten of the arguments are secular.

If even that 6-page paper is too long for you, take a look at my very short piece that answers the perennial question “What Harm Would Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Do?” It describes (briefly) eight specific harms to society that would likely result from same-sex marriage. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that this publication was originally produced as an issue-oriented “tract” in cooperation with the American Tract Society. However, the eight arguments are all secular (the American Tract Society had to request that we tack on a Scripture verse at the end in order to give it a religious flavor).

Finally, let me recommend to you David Blankenhorn’s book The Future of Marriage (New York: Encounter Books, 2007). Blankenhorn hardly qualifies as a member of the “Religious Right,” since he explicitly rejects the biblical teaching on the immorality of homosexual conduct. However, he argues vigorously against same-sex marriage in 261 pages of 100% secular arguments. My review of his book is on our website.

One final note-in your challenge you say, “And don’t try to give me that ‘marriage-is-about-raising-children’ line.” This comment is roughly equivalent to me challenging the advocates of same-sex marriage-but then adding, “And don’t try to give me that ‘equal-rights-under-law’ line.” If you want to have a serious debate, you have an obligation to interact seriously with your opponent’s chief argument-in this case, with the overwhelming historical and anthropological evidence that links marriage with procreation.

Here’s how Blankenhorn responds to what we might call “that ‘marriage-is-not-about-procreation’ line:”

By the way, did you know that cars are not intrinsically connected to driving? When you acquire ownership of a car, society does not impose on you a binding obligation to drive it. If you buy a car but fail to drive it, the state does not for that reason revoke your driver’s license or refuse to grant you one, or take your car away. If you do not drive, but do collect antique cars, there is nothing wrong or illegal about it. Cars can be about many things, including pleasure, aesthetics, economic gain, and social status. Driving is therefore not fundamental to cars.

… This way of arguing is clearly preposterous. That it is widely employed by prominent journalists, eminent judges, and tenured professors does not make it any less preposterous. We can either think like analysts looking at a social institution, or think like lawyers looking for a loophole. The evidence … shows overwhelmingly-I believe beyond any reasonable doubt-that marriage as a human institution is intrinsically connected to bearing and raising children. To argue otherwise is to argue like a lawyer looking for a loophole; it is not intellectually or morally serious, at least insofar as we actually care about the institution we are discussing (The Future of Marriage, pp. 152-153).

Rob, whether you find these arguments “good” or “solid” is a matter of opinion. But please don’t accuse us again of failing to offer secular reasons to oppose same-sex marriage.

Sincerely,

Peter Sprigg

Vice President for Policy

Family Research Council

Washington, DC

Heterosexual AIDS Pandemic Won’t Happen

by Peter Sprigg

June 9, 2008

25 years after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the leader of the World Health Organization’s efforts against the disease has finally admitted the obvious—there will be no worldwide AIDS pandemic among the general heterosexual population.

Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients,” reported the British newspaper The Independent, which published an interview with Kevin de Cock of the WHO on June 8

In the article, however, one line stood out in particular:

Any revision of the threat was liable to be seized on by those who rejected HIV as the cause of the disease, or who used the disease as a weapon to stigmatise high risk groups, he said.”

In other words: We couldn’t tell the truth, because it might have made people think there is something wrong with homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use.

Theres no such thing as a pregnant man

by Peter Sprigg

April 16, 2008

There has been a flurry of attention in recent weeks over the revelation that a female-to-male transgender (that is, a person born female who now self-identifies as male) is currently pregnant. Although she had her breasts removed and took male hormones (which allowed her to grow a beard), this woman chose not to have her sexual organs altered as part of her transition to manhood. Still possessed of a uterus, this individual has now become pregnant by artificial insemination. Both as the butt of jokes and as a pop culture phenomenon (as certified by an appearance on Oprah), this person has been widely referred to as the pregnant man.

We owe a debt of thanks, therefore, to Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby for pointing out the obviousthat Tracy LaGondino, who now uses the name Thomas Beatie, is not, in fact, a man at all, but a woman with a serious psychiatric problem known as Gender Identity Disorder. The sensation surrounding this pregnancy should remind us yet again of the ironyand utter absurdityof the claims of the homosexual and transgender movement. They would have us believe (on no evidence whatsoever) that homosexuality is genetic, fixed at birth, and immutable; while our sex, which is written in the chromosomes of every cell of our bodies, is malleable and can be changed at will.

Statement by Peter Sprigg

by Peter Sprigg

March 27, 2008

In an interview with Medill News Service that was posted on the Internet last week, I discussed FRCs opposition to an immigration bill that would allow foreign nationals who are the same-sex partners of American citizens to immigrate to the United States on the same basis as foreign spouses of American citizens. FRC does not believe that homosexual relationships are the equivalent of marriage, and we therefore oppose any legislation that would treat such relationships as the equivalent of marriage.

In response to a question regarding bi-national same-sex couples who are separated by an international border, I used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God. I apologize for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace.

Fire Those Who Protect Child Porn Users, Not Those Who Report Them

by Peter Sprigg

March 18, 2008

The recent firing of a California librarian provides a dramatic example of how political correctness can turn both morality and common sense on its head. What did Brenda Biesterfeld do that cost her her job? When she saw a patron at the public library where she worked in Lindsay viewing illegal child pornography on a library computer, she did what any good citizen should doshe reported it to the police. They arrested him, and found more child porn on his home computer as well. But Biesterfelds reward for her good deed was a termination notice.

The Lindsay City Council and Tulare County Board of Supervisors are both looking into the incident, and the pro-family legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel has intervened on Biesterfelds behalf. One hopes that Biesterfeld will get her job backand that her porn-defending supervisors Judi Hill and Brian Lewis will lose theirs.

In fact, maybe its time to make public librarians mandatory reporters of child sexual abuseincluding child pornographyjust so that they know where their responsibility lies.

(See also Family Research Councils pamphlet Dealing With Pornography: A Practical Guide For Protecting Your Family and Your Community)

A Defining Moment for Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

February 21, 2008

[Note: On Wednesday, February 27 at 11:00 a.m., FRC will be welcoming David Blankenhorn for a lecture on his book, The Future of Marriage (Encounter Books, 2007). The lecture will also be available via live webcast at www.frc.org.]

In 1995, David Blankenhorn made one of the most important contributions to the debates over family structure with his book Fatherless America. In it, he compiled the overwhelming social science evidence in support of the common-sense truth that children need fathers as well as mothers.

Now, after years as what he calls a Morally Anguished Fence Sitter on the issue of so-called same-sex marriage, Blankenhorn has finally followed his earlier findings to their logical conclusion by declaring that marriage should be defined as the union of one man and one woman. His new book, The Future of Marriage, lays out in a thorough, scholarly, yet accessible way exactly why marriage exists as a social institution, why the male-female union is intrinsic to it, and how redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would damage it.

Blankenhorn takes the reader on a fascinating tour across time and cultures, noting that the origins of marriage appear to coincide with the origins of civilization. Blankenhorn describes how in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, older cultures which practiced temple prostitution and sex for its own sake came to be replaced by ones (like that of the Hebrews) that recognized marriage and the social importance of fatherhood.

In contrast to such patriarchal societies are ones like the Trobriand Islands in the Pacific, which emphasize a childs descent through her mothers line. Yet even here, marriage and fathers are considered crucial for the raising of children. These two illustrationsas well as quotes from numerous anthropologistsprove that marriage has some features that are virtually universal, and that bridging the male-female divide is one such feature.

Another such feature is that marriage is about sex and procreation. To argue that marriage is not intrinsically connected to bearing and raising children as advocates of same-sex marriage routinely do, is like saying cars are not intrinsically connected to driving because those who purchase them are not required to drive them.

Advocates of same-sex marriage love to ask, What harm could it possibly do? Blankenhorn carefully answers this question by spelling out the dangers of deinstitutionalizing marriage. Marriage is a social institution, defined as a relatively stable pattern of rules and structures intended to meet basic social needs. But if the rules are intentionally violated and the structures are torn down, then the institution will cease to fulfill its social purposewhich, in the case of marriage, is to provide every child with both a mother and a father who are committed to him or her, and to each other.

Some homosexual activists, such as Jonathan Rauch, argue that allowing same-sex couples access to marriage would actually strengthen the institution. Blankenhorn thoroughly refutes that notionin part by pointing out that many of the scholars who are most hostile to the institution of marriage are also the most enthusiastic about legalizing same-sex marriage. One, Judith Stacey, is described as a determined cheerleader for divorce, unwed childbearing, and cohabitationand for same-sex marriage.

In addition to citing individual scholars, Blankenhorn also examines polling data from a number of countries to find out how attitudes toward marriage correlate with legal recognition of same-sex unions. Blankenhorn found that countries with same-sex marriage also have the weakest support for marriage as an institution.

Blankenhorn takes on the superficial analogy between banning same-sex marriage and banning interracial marriage, arguing that is actually the advocates of same-sex marriage, not the opponents, who resemble the advocates of racist anti-miscegenation laws. Both, he says, seek to recreate marriage in the name of a social goal that is fundamentally unconnected to marriage.

Although he sees adult freedom and child well-being as being goods in conflict in this debate, Blankenhorn concludes, For me, sustaining the right of the child to her two natural parents is ultimately more important than granting adults more freedom of choice. This is the core message of his book.

The Future of Marriage is carefully reasoned and thoroughly documented, but Blankenhorn is not above revealing his exasperation with the advocates of same-sex marriage and their public talking points, various of which he describes as nonsense, intellectually vacuous, and clearly preposterous.

However, Blankenhorn is not a social conservative. I count myself as a liberal, he declares. While clearly opposing the redefinition of marriage, Blankenhorn is entirely silent about the political debate over laws or constitutional amendments to protect marriage at the state or federal levels. He also says nothing about marriage counterfeits such as civil unions or domestic partnerships. Social conservatives will gag on several things he says, including his declaration, We as a society can and should accept the dignity of homosexual love.

His acceptance not only of homosexual behavior, but also of premarital sex, appears to be the one logical gap in Blankenhorns argument. For him, the link between marriage and children is clearly a two-way streetthe purpose and definition of marriage has everything to do with children, and children do best when raised by their married biological mother and father. Blankenhorn also affirms that marriage has everything to do with sexual unionbut travels only one way on that street, by failing to recognize that sex itself is best confined to the marriage of a man and a woman. Perhaps after another twelve years and in another book, he will come around on that issue as he has on same-sex marriage.

Blankenhorns lingering liberalism actually underlines the importance of his book. With the publication of The Future of Marriage, no one should ever again get away with charging that opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in ignorance, religion, or anti-gay bigotry. For that, we owe David Blankenhorn a major debt of gratitude.

Peter Sprigg is vice president for policy at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., and the author of Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage.

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