Category archives: Marriage

Fathering Confusion

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 18, 2010

In June 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama gave a moving speech on fatherhood in his hometown of Chicago. Here, in part, is what he said:

We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child —- it’s the courage to raise one. We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

All true. So why is a man who acknowledges the central importance of fathers and mothers seeking to corrode marriage? Consider the President’s remarks made in October 2009 to the 30th anniversary dinner of the Human Rights Campaign —- America’s leading pro-homosexual organization. In his speech, Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day when:

..we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman. You will see a nation that’s valuing and cherishing these families as we build a more perfect union —- a union in which gay Americans are an important part. I am committed to these goals. And my administration will continue fighting to achieve them.

Huh? I thought children need moms and dads, not just two mommies or “spouses.”

This is more relevant now than ever, as in 2010 the President and his allies are committed to repealing the military’s ban on homosexuals serving in the ranks and passing the so-called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” which would impose homosexuality in faith-based and other private activities.

Either fathers and mothers are needed in a marriage or they are not. And either an unborn child is a human person from conception (as Mr. Obama suggests in his remarks above) until natural death, or it is merely a complex of disparate cells (as Mr. Obama has suggested elsewhere).

You’re in the White House now, Mr. President. The time for ponderous ambivalence is long past. Gotta make your mind up. Please do so in favor of real marriage and human life.

A New Welfare Program in the Obama Healthcare Bill

by Chris Gacek

January 13, 2010

According to a Washington Times news account by Cheryl Wetzstein in Washington Times (1/12/2010), the Obama healthcare bill will contain $1 billion over five years for a new federal welfare program. It is a maternal home-visit service in which a volunteering mother with a new baby will receive, for up to two years, nurse visits once or twice a month to help the younger mother cope with the daily demands of a growing child. Wetzstein adds, This maternal home-visit service is on its way to becoming a massive federal program….

President Obama touted the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), during the campaign. NFP was devised by in the late 1970s by psychologist David Olds, now a professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. True to his word, Obama is pushing this program now.

In an accompanying analysis piece, Wetzsteins focuses her only fire on the lack of attention paid to fathers by the program. Howerver, there are other concerns. The first that struck me was this: so what happens when the poor, at-risk, poorly educated mother doesnt do what the friendly nurse instructs? What if she doesnt stop smoking, for example? How close is the link between the visiting nurses and social services enforcement division in your local community? These nurses have to be filing reports on their student moms and evaluating them. Are there jurisdictions in which NFP visits have led to mothers losing custodial rights over their children?

Intimations of various degrees of governmental intrusion come in the news article: The House bill also stipulates that home-visiting professionals will, when appropriate, provide referrals to other programs serving children and families. For example, the House bill apparently contains the goal of increasing birth intervals between pregnancies. (Aside: the wife of a colleague with a newborn was recently lectured by her ob/gyn about birth spacing when she indicated that she wanted to soon have another child.)

So, lets say a woman becomes pregnant at a time that doesnt comport with the latest social science models optimal birth spacing. Pro-life advocates like E. Christian Brugger, an ethicist and senior fellow at Culture of Life Foundation, worry that there will be referrals to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providing institutions.

James Harden, president and chief executive of CompassCare Pregnancy Services in Rochester, N.Y., observes:

Increasing birth intervals is a very loaded phrase, and where it goes in the future, no one can know, Mr. Harden said. What is the birth interval? Is it two years between children? Three years between children? Five years between two children? From my perspective, [increasing] birth intervals relates to a backdoor approach to population control.

Anyone who thinks Harden is exaggerating, in my opinion, does not understand the manner in which bureaucracies slowly gain more and more power. Finally, how long will it be before all new families have to have an initial screening from the friendly nurses and the very friendly public health officials.

Wetzstein quotes an NFP spokesman, Julian Kesner, as strongly disputing Hardens idea. Kesner states there has been no documented situation in which a nurse has told a mother to get pregnant or not to get pregnant, he said. Thats good to hear.

However, direct commands arent the only way control can be exerted by governments. Financial carrots and sticks, anyone? The bigger point is that there are numerous deep ethical matters that go into the decisions to form families and have children. Contrary to what the public health community would have us believe, these are not value neutral decisions. Nobody has elected the public healthers to impose these values, nor will they receive much scrutiny.

On the contrary, a good case can be made that with the massive retirements coming from the Baby Boom, our country would be better off reducing spacing between children not increasing the spacing. Where is the public debate on this? Notice and comment periods?

Finally, it seems clear that this program is designed to enmesh the mother and her baby into the welfare system through referrals. Is that a good thing?

In closing, before we create another massive federal welfare bureaucracy it seems that much more needs to be learned about all the various facets of this program and how NFP works in practice where the rubber meets the road.

Funerals, Domestic Partners, and the Meaning of Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

January 11, 2010

On January 5, both houses of the Rhode Island legislature overrode (by large margins) Gov. Donald Carcieris veto of a bill that would have given “domestic partners” the authority to make funeral arrangements for one another. Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr was one who took the governor to task (Carcieris heartless, but not surprising piece of work, November 13, 2009).

Toward the end of this article, Kerr says “if you could let me know exactly what traditional marriage is I’d appreciate it.” Perhaps as good a definition as any is that offered by scholar David Blankenhorn in his 2007 book, The Future of Marriage. He writes:

In all or nearly all human societies, marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from that union are—and are understood by the society to be—emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents… . It also reflects one idea that does not change: For every child, a mother and a father.”

Kerr says, “I always thought it [marriage] was a lasting commitment between two people who love each other.” This sentence describes marriage but it does not define it. To say this about marriage, and conclude that same-sex relationships can be marriages too, is somewhat like saying, “An automobile is a wheeled vehicle of transportation—and therefore a bicycle is an automobile, too.”

In the scope of human history, “love” is a fairly recent addition to most people’s concept of marriage. Many cultures have practiced arranged marriages in which “love” is not a prerequisite, yet no anthropologists would suggest that these are not “marriages.” Even “commitment,” while desirable in marriage, is not a requirement for it. Some people who divorce lack commitment, but it does not mean that their marriage never existed.

No, the one essential, irreducible characteristic necessary for marriage is the presence of both a man and a woman. Some cultures have allowed polygamous marriages with more than one man or woman, but never less than one of each.

The reason why the marriage of a man and a woman is privileged over all other human relationships, and treated as a social institution rather than as a purely private liaison, is because it is the only relationship capable of naturally reproducing the human race. This is an essential social function, without which society cannot survive. The male-female union is the one absolutely necessary relationship.

Of course, not every opposite-sex couple has children, or intends to. But it is a mistake to base the definition of marriage on the reasons why individual couples choose to marry. The real issue is why society treats marriage as a public institutionand the answer is because of its role in the procreation and rearing of the next generation.

This legislation was largely prompted by a man named Mark Goldberg and his frustrations following the death of his partner Ron Hanby. These circumstances were sadand almost unique. Few people die without having any living family members (family being defined as people related by blood, marriage, or adoption) to make decisions regarding their remains. It is a cliche in the legal profession that hard cases make bad law. This was a hard caseand made, unfortunately, for a bad piece of legislation. To deal with a situation like Mark Goldbergs by creating an entirely new, quasi-marital, legally recognized domestic relationship (domestic partners) under state law is like swatting a bee with a hammer.

Gov. Carcieri is absolutely right in saying such laws lead to an incremental erosion of marriage. We have seen exactly that process unfold in the states that have moved (either judicially or legislatively) toward redefining marriage in recent years.

Ironically, the explanation for why Bill S 0195 is unnecessary is found in the text of the bill itself. It delegates decision-making authority regarding funeral arrangements to a domestic partner only [t]o the extent that there is no funeral services contract in effect at the time of death for the benefit of the deceased person. In other words, people in same-sex relationships already have the ability to delegate to their partner decision-making regarding their funeral arrangementssimply by preparing a funeral services contract. Such a contract completely does away with any need for a blood relative to make decisions, and indeed overrides any choices that a relative might attempt to make.

If gay rights activists really want to help people like Ron Hanby and Mark Goldberg, they should work at educating people how to complete a funeral services contractnot exploit a tragic situation to create a Trojan horse for the redefinition of marriage.

Fighting for EqualityOr Obsessed with Sex?

by Peter Sprigg

October 14, 2009

It seems that homosexual activist groups cant even raise money without using sexual innuendo.

I happen to be on the email list for Equality Maryland, the state homosexual activist organization (its always good to know what the opposition is doing). They are planning to raise money with a Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction on Sunday, October 18 in Baltimore.

But I was startled by the poor taste (and the poor proofreading) of the subject line for an email invitation to this event that I received on September 28. It read: Care to engage is [sic] some Four Play? (The gimmick was that you would get a discount when purchasing four tickets.)

I wondered if they would be embarrassed or get any negative reactionbut apparently not. On October 7, I received a follow-up email with this subject line: Forget Four Play … how about a Threesome? Offering a discount for the purchase of only three tickets this time, the message came complete with a publicity photo from the old Threes Company TV show.

When homosexuals promote their political agenda in the public square, they argue that its not about sex. Its about love, families, equality, justice, etc., etc. They dont want people thinking about two men or two women having sex. (This is why they prefer the term gay rather than homosexual.)

But when talking to each other, the agenda becomes more clear.

Its about sex.

How Long Has Marriage Been the Union of a Man and a Woman? Scientists Say4.4 Million Years

by Peter Sprigg

October 7, 2009

Some people believe that religious dogma is the only reason why anyone opposes same-sex marriage. Those who believe the human race began with Adam and Eve, and that their relationship was Gods model for marriage, believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But those who dont believe in the Bible, who think Adam and Eve are a myth, and who dont accept a Christian view of the human person, have no reason to believe marriage is an opposite-sex union. Right?

Wrong. They should take a look at a front-page article in the Washington Post about the newest claim by evolutionary scientists. The scientists believe that a primate skeleton found in Ethiopia is that of a human ancestorone that lived 4.4 million years ago. Almost at the end of this long piece, the article describes what C. Owen Lovejoy, an anthropologist at Kent State University, says about the social organization of this species:

The males, he argues, pair-bonded with females. Lovejoy sees male parental investment in the survival of offspring as a hallmark of the human lineage.

So, how long has marriage (i.e., pair-bonding) been a male-female union? About four million, four hundred thousand years, if this secular scientist is to be believed. And what was its purpose? To insure male parental investment in the survival of offspringsomething which the advocates of same-sex marriage contend is now no longer necessary.

And what will we be discarding, if we change the definition of marriage from being a union of a man and a woman? Only a hallmark of the human lineage.

Marriage is not merely a religious institution, nor merely a civil institution. It is, rather, a natural institution, whose definition as the union of male and female is rooted in the order of nature itself. And it doesnt take a Bible to prove it. In this case, evolutionary theory points to the exact same conclusion.

Washington Post:

Ardi’ May Rewrite the Story of Humans: 4.4 Million-Year-Old Primate Helps Bridge Evolutionary Gap (see third-to-last paragraph)

President Washington and the “Gender Gap”

by Robert Morrison

September 26, 2009

Ive just received news that the most respected editor of the Papers of George Washington—a collection to goes to fifty volumes—has died. My alma mater, University of Virginia, announced the passing of William Wright Abbott III. He was 87.

Mr. Abbott (all the profesors at U.Va. were called mister, in deference to Mr. Jeffersons republican manners) was revered around the Grounds. The official announcement said:

Abbot was hired as the James Madison Professor of History at U.Va. in 1966, serving twice as chairman of the Corcoran Department of History. Although he retired from the University in 1992, he continued to edit individual volumes of the Washington Papers until 1998, when nearly 50 volumes were in print.

I often heard him remark that interpretations come and go, but that a properly edited set of historical papers can inspire scholars for generations to come,” said U.Va. colleague H.C. Erik Midelfort, C. Julian Bishko Professor of History Emeritus. “Bill brought to his editing task a seasoned, literate sense of what a good edition requires: skill, knowledge and tact.

I had special reason to respect Mr. Abbott: He taught me one of the most important lessons I ever learned about politics and, in the process, helped my marriage. I interviewed Bill Abbott in Charlottesville in the mid-eighties. All the talk then was of the recently discovered gender gap. Liberal journalists had noted that President Ronald Reagan was less popular among women voters than among men. Liberal politicians sensed an opportunity. They encouraged Fritz Mondale, the Democratic nominee in 1984, to name a woman to his ticket. He did so. And promptly lost forty-nine states.

When I spoke with Mr. Abbott, however, he noted that George Washington was the first candidate to benefit from a gender gap. I laughed. Respectfully, I hope. Youre kidding, sir, I answered, women couldnt even vote in the 1780s. Bill Abbott indulged me like an upstart First-Year history student.

Actually, some women could vote in the early republic. A few elderly spinsters and widows who met property requirements were eligible in some states. But that was not Abbotts major point.

Even though most women did not vote, their voices were heard. Mr. Abbott said if George Washington had run in a modern presidential election, he would have won 70% of mens votes. But there would still have been a stubborn 30% of men voters—some well-known like Sam Adams, John Hancock, George Mason, and Patrick Henry—who might have opposed him.

Mr. Abbott then told me that in thirty years of studying George Washington, he had never encountered a single letter, diary entry, poem, or note by an American woman that was anything less than fully supportive of His Excellency, General Washington. One hundred percent positive.

So, how did George Washington do it? It was not the fact that he was the best horseman and the most skillful dancer in America—although that surely did not hurt. It may have been the fact that he loved the company of the ladies, always noticed them, always spoke with them, and formed many enduring friendships with women.

Probably, Washingtons solid support from women came from his titanic self-control. He had a fierce temper, it was known, but he kept it under an iron discipline. During the Revolutionary War, some young hotspurs had publicly urged General Washington to line Tories up against the wall and shoot them, to make an example of those who consorted with their British occupiers. Washington would have none of it. Nor would he burn American towns rather than let the enemy take them.

Perhaps a great part of Washingtons appeal was his devotion to home and hearth. He let it be known he would rather be at Mount Vernon with Lady Washington than dine with the King of France.

Certainly, Washingtons faith in God was an important factor. Then, as now, women sense this about a man and appreciate it.

Ronald Reagan appreciated Washingtons stellar qualities, too. Several years ago, I had occasion to tell Mr. Edwin Meese, the Presidents loyal lieutenant, that the online members of AOL had voted Ronald Reagan the greatest American. (It was a dicey competition, since Reagan had to beat out such candidates as Madonna and Michael Jackson.) Mr. Meese was stunned: He [Reagan] didnt think so. He thought George Washington was the greatest American.

So do I. And its a tribute to Ronald Reagan that in his humility, he was inspired by George Washington. I thank God for the great devotion of Professor William Abbott. He not only taught me about Washington and the gender gap, he also taught me to listen very closely to my wifes opinions about public figures. Shes usually right.

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