Category archives: Family

Common Sense from Down Under

by Michael Fragoso

March 6, 2008

Last night former Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave the Irving Kristol Lecture at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual dinner. PM Howard is well known as a relentless foe of radical Islam and an indefatigable supporter of Australia’s special relationship with the United States, so the conservative views he expressed on the War on Terror and Geopolitics were to be expected. What was surprising, however, was his treatment of marriage and family as the foundation of any flourishing society. He said:

It remains a reality in Western societies that two of the greatest contributors to poverty are joblessness and family breakdown.

We should maintain a cultural bias in favour of traditional families. That doesn’t mean discriminating against single parents but it does mean ceaselessly propounding the advantages for a child of being raised by both a mother and father.

Marriage is a bedrock social institution - with an unmistakable meaning and resonance. It should be kept as such.

He only goes on from there to lay out strong family policy he introduced-the entire speech is worth checking out. What can one say but, “Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!”

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.

The Right of the Child to the Marriage of His Parents

by Family Research Council

February 14, 2008

The Vermont Marriage Advisory Council recently sponsored a forum at the University of Vermont, entitled, Does Traditional Marriage Matter? FRC Senior Fellow Dr. Pat Fagan, Director for Marriage and Religion, presented a host of data from the social sciences which deal directly with the institution of marriage and the implications of genderless marriage.

The VMAC’s website contains a video of Dr. Fagan’s presentation, The Right of the Child to the Marriage of His Parents.

Learning to Lie

by Family Research Council

February 14, 2008

The latest New York magazine has a fascinating article by Po Bronson on how and why kids lie:

Out of the 36 topics, the average teen was lying to his parents about twelve of them. The teens lied about what they spent their allowances on, and whether theyd started dating, and what clothes they put on away from the house. They lied about what movie they went to, and whom they went with. They lied about alcohol and drug use, and they lied about whether they were hanging out with friends their parents disapproved of. They lied about how they spent their afternoons while their parents were at work. They lied about whether chaperones were in attendance at a party or whether they rode in cars driven by drunken teens….

For two decades, parents have rated honesty as the trait they most wanted in their children. Other traits, such as confidence or good judgment, dont even come close. On paper, the kids are getting this message. In surveys, 98 percent said that trust and honesty were essential in a personal relationship. Depending on their ages, 96 to 98 percent said lying is morally wrong.

So when do the 98 percent who think lying is wrong become the 98 percent who lie?

Bronson’s article contains a number of revealing tidbits, including:

1. Lying is related to intelligence. The smarter the kid, the better they are at lying.

2. On average, a 4-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a 6-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half.

3. Scholars have found that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment dont lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier agelearning to get caught less often.

4. Children lie because they see their parents lie, and learn to imitate them. Adults inadvertently teach children that honesty only creates conflict, and dishonesty is an easy way to avoid conflict.

5. Permissive parents dont actually learn more about their childrens lives.

6. Most rules-heavy parents dont actually enforce them since its too much work.

7. Parents view arguing with their teenager as destructive to their relationship, while teens see it as strengthening their bond.

Read the whole article here.

Keeping Marriage Public

by Jared Bridges

December 6, 2007

Responding to last week’s NY Times op/ed by Stephanie Coontz, who suggested that marriages shouldn’t recognized by the state, FRC’s Michael Fragoso argues that marriage should be kept public:

Coontz misstates the historical record to give the impression that marriage has typically not been a province of law and only became such in an effort to preserve the narrow interests of certain powerful sects of society: wealthy parents in requiring parental consent, Catholic authoritarians in proscribing divorce, and Southern racists in preventing miscegenation. This could not be further from the truth. As a rule, the more marriage was enshrined in law, the more freedom under the law was given to men and women who sought marriage. This was often the case in the ancient world, and emphatically the case in the medieval world.

Read it all at First Things.

Christians can now adopt in India

by Jared Bridges

December 5, 2007

I was unaware that until recently, only Hindus were allowed to adopt children in India. Thankfully, the second most populous country in the world — and one with a huge sex-selection abortion problem — has now opened the door for adoption to non-Hindus:

NEW DELHI, November 30 (Compass Direct News) Ending a long era of absence of adoption rights for non-Hindus, the government has cleared the way for all religious communities in all Indian states to adopt legally.

The government of the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance on October 26 gave notice of new rules under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act or JJA of 2006, making room for all communities to adopt, reported national daily The Times of India on November 17.

This has ended a long wait by the Christian community, which for many years has been urging the government to grant them the right to adopt, a representative of the Christian Legal Association (CLA) told Compass.

Christians from almost all denominations are happy with the governments move.

Hopefully, the increased availability of adoptive parents will be good news for survival chances of Indian girls.

Now And Not Yet: Live Webcast

by Jared Bridges

November 7, 2007

Today at 12:00 pm EST, Family Research Council’s Witherspoon Fellowship will present a lecture by Jennifer Marshall. She will be discussing her new book Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of Single Life in the Twenty-First Century.

Jennifer Marshall is the Director of Domestic Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Marshall formerly worked at Family Research Council as the Senior Director of Family Studies. She has authored numerous studies of marriage, family, education, and civil society.

Follow this link to see the live webcast at 12:00 pm EST.

Straw Poll on the Issues

by Jared Bridges

October 23, 2007

The FRC Action Values Voter Straw Poll has been making lots of news, but one of the poll questions that hasn’t yet gained as much attention was question #3, which asked participants to rank the order of importance among a set of issues. Here are the results:

Please indicate which issue is the most important in determining your opinion of the candidate that you will most likely vote for?

Here’s the statistical breakdown:

ISSUE VOTES PERCENTAGE
Abortion 2398 41.52%
Same-sex “Marriage” 1141 19.76%
Tax Cuts 626 10.84%
Permanent tax relief for families 563 9.75%
Federal “hate crimes” legislation 331 5.73%
No vote on this question 181 3.13%
Taxpayer funding for abortions 151 2.61%
Prayer in schools 93 1.61%
Reinstatement of the “Fairness Doctrine” 88 1.52%
Public display of the Ten Commandments 57 0.99%
Enforced obscenity laws 54 0.94%
Embryonic stem cell experiments 48 0.83%
Voluntary, student-led prayer in schools 44 0.76%
Total 5,775 100%

Now that you’ve got the numbers, feel free to crunch away.

Right Matters on “A Judge’s Marriage Decree”

by Family Research Council

August 31, 2007

The Washington Post recently launched a new Discussion Groups section where readers can join WP staffer and others in talking about politics, culture and other topics. Our friend Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for National Review, is the moderator for Right Matters, a section devoted to “Talking About the Future of Conservatism.”

Today’s discussion is on a ruling by Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling that declared Iowa’s marriage laws unconstitutional, and ordered the county recorder in Des Moines to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Judge Hanson is utterly dismissive of the concerns of opponents of same-sex marriage, which he treats as irrational and illegitimate.

The decision is a gross act of judicial activism. Advocates of same-sex marriage make a serious case: but that case should be made to voters and legislators, not to judges. When the people of Iowa adopted their constitution, they surely did not mean to embrace principles that would lead to same-sex marriage. If they want to do so now, they can; but courts should not pretend that they already have.

If judges can rewrite our most fundamental laws, are we still a self-governing country?

This is a great forum for conservatives to explain our rational and legitimate reasons for opposing same-sex marriage, so drop by and present our case.

No wedding, no benefits

by Jared Bridges

June 25, 2007

FRC’s Vice President for Policy, Peter Sprigg, pens an op-ed in today’s edition of USA Today on the benefits of marriage to society. Here’s an excerpt:

The legal and financial benefits of marriage are not an entitlement for every citizen regardless of lifestyle. They give an incentive to enter into the socially beneficial relationship of authentic marriage and give protection to the social institution of marriage.

Awarding such benefits to the unmarried makes no more sense than giving veterans’ benefits to people who never served in the military.

Read it all here.

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