Tag archives: Families

Defining Marriage—When a Loved One is “Gay”

by Peter Sprigg

March 25, 2013

On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, they will consider the constitutionality of the definition as enshrined in the California state constitution by voters in that state when they adopted “Proposition 8” in 2008 (effectively reversing the decision of the California Supreme Court to impose same-sex “marriage” earlier that year). In Windsor v. United States, they will consider the constitutionality of the same definition of marriage being adopted for all purposes under federal law through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In anticipation of those oral arguments, I am running a series of blog posts with questions and answers related to the issue. Today, I look at the suggestion that support for redefining marriage is growing because more people have a loved one—a colleague, friend, or relative—who is openly homosexual. This was recently in the news because of the announcement by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) that he will now support marriage redefinition because his college-age son has said he is gay.

Here, we reprint an op-ed that I wrote last year with Regina Griggs of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.

How Can I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage When Someone I Love Is Gay?

Regina Griggs and Peter Sprigg

The Christian Post

Monday, November 5, 2012

Voters in 32 out of the 32 states where it has appeared on the ballot have upheld marriage as the union of a woman and a man. Advocates of same-sex marriage are holding out hope that their long losing streak will end on Election Day in Minnesota, Washington, Maryland or Maine.

Increasingly, advocates of same-sex marriage are abandoning legalistic arguments about “equality” and “civil rights,” and appealing to emotion and personal relationships instead. “We (gays and lesbians) are your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, your classmates and your relatives,” the argument goes. “If you respect and care about us, how can you deny us what we want?” (namely, to have their same-sex relationships affirmed by the state through marriage licenses).

Polls suggest this approach is having an effect. People who know someone who self-identifies as “gay” or “lesbian” are more likely to support the redefinition of marriage than people who do not.

Is this connection a logical one? We argue it is not. How a person feels about their personal relationship with a gay friend, acquaintance, or relative should not dictate their position on the public policy issue of whether to change the definition of marriage.

We are both affiliated with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), which spreads the truth that it is possible for sexual orientation to change, and defends the civil rights of ex-gays. Note, however, that the title of our organization includes the phrase, “and Gays.” Many of those who look to PFOX for support are parents and/or friends of people who still self-identify as “gay” and engage in homosexual relationships. This is true of us personally as well. One of us (Regina) has an adult child who is openly gay. Peter and his wife have relatives and family friends who are gay as well.

It is a myth that disapproval of homosexual conduct equals “hate” toward homosexuals. If you are a parent, ask yourself – have you ever disagreed with your child? Have you ever disapproved of the behavioral choices she or he has made? The answer is surely “yes.” Those experiences are not inconsistent with sincere love, and can actually be a manifestation of it.

I (Regina) continue to have a warm and loving relationship with my child and gay friends despite the fact that we disagree about whether homosexual relationships should be called “marriages.”

My wife and I (Peter) had guests at our wedding who were divorced and who had children outside of wedlock. I do not approve of those actions any more than I do of homosexual conduct, but that does not interfere with my love for those people.

The myth that disapproval equals rejection stems from the myth that “being gay” is an intrinsic and immutable identity. Yet the decades-long search for a genetic or biological determinant of homosexuality has been a dismal failure.

This is not to say, however, that people “choose to be gay.” Sexual orientation is an umbrella term for a person’s sexual attractions, behavior and self-identification. People do not “choose” to experience homosexual attractions – but they do choose their behavior and self-identification.

Some people with same-sex attractions (SSA) choose to abstain from homosexual sex. Others seek professional help to change their sexual orientation, and many have succeeded. For a loved one to encourage those responses, rather than to affirm homosexual behavior, is just as loving as a parent or friend trying to encourage other choices they believe are in the person’s best interest. Legalization of same-sex marriage would place an official stamp of approval on homosexual relationships, so any person who thinks that such homosexual attractions are changeable and that homosexual behavior is unhealthy will logically oppose this redefinition of marriage – no matter how much they may love a gay person.

However, opposition to the redefinition of marriage need not even rest on disapproval of homosexuality itself. The fundamental reason why marriage is treated as a public institution – and the reason it has always been defined as a male-female union – is the recognition that there is a unique role of heterosexual unions in reproducing the human race, and to keep the mother and father who create a child together to raise that child. Men and women are complementary in a way two persons of the same sex can never be. One need not consider homosexual relationships to be inferior in order to recognize that heterosexual ones are unique in their potential for natural procreation and the well-being of a child. While some same-sex couples raise children, such households are – by design – either motherless or fatherless. This is why even some openly gay people, like Maryland political activist Doug Mainwaring, oppose same-sex marriage.

We at PFOX urge everyone to love their gay friends and relatives unconditionally, and never to cut them out of your life just because they are gay. But personal relationships should not dictate the definition of our most fundamental social institution.

Defining Marriage—Children of Same-Sex Couples

by Peter Sprigg

March 23, 2013

On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, they will consider the constitutionality of the definition as enshrined in the California state constitution by voters in that state when they adopted “Proposition 8” in 2008 (effectively reversing the decision of the California Supreme Court to impose same-sex “marriage” earlier that year). In Windsor v. United States, they will consider the constitutionality of the same definition of marriage being adopted for all purposes under federal law through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In anticipation of those oral arguments, I am running a series of blog posts with questions and answers related to the issue. Today, we look at the claim that we should redefine marriage to protect the children already being raised by same-sex couples.

Q—How normal is “the new normal” (children being raised by homosexual couples)?

This week there was a flurry of news coverage of a new “Policy Statement” (that’s what it was, by its own labeling—it wasn’t a “study”) from theAmericanAcademy of Pediatrics, which endorsed the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

The impression which advocates for marriage redefinition seek to create in the public’s mind is that children of homosexual parents are essentially in exactly the same position as children of heterosexual parents, and children raised by same-sex couples are in the same position as children raised by married opposite-sex couples, except regarding the gender of the parents.

Yet some data reported in the AAP’s own Policy Statement tend to undermine that message. Consider this quote:

The US 2010 Census reported that 646,464 households included 2 adults of the same gender. These same-gender couples are raising ~115,000 children aged ≤18 years and are living in essentially all counties of theUnited States. When these children are combined with single gay and lesbian parents who are raising children, almost 2 million children are being raised by gay and lesbian parents in the United States.”

If the estimate of 2 million children with “gay and lesbian parents” is correct, then comparing it with the figure of 115,000 being raised by same-sex couples indicates that only 1 in every 17 children of “gay” parents actually lives with a same-sex couple. Thus, the model of “gay parenting” held up by homosexual activists in the marriage debate—that of children being raised in a stable household by a loving and committed same-sex couple—is extraordinarily rare in the real world, even as a fraction of the already small minority of children who have a homosexual parent.

Last summer, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus published a groundbreaking study of homosexual parents in the journal, Social Science Research. It showed that children of homosexuals suffered disadvantages in numerous areas—both when compared with children raised in an intact biological family, and when compared with other, less stable (but heterosexual) parenting situations. (I summarized its findings and responded to critiques of it in a series of blog posts.)

One of the chief criticisms of his work (and really, one of the only criticisms of any substance) was that many of the 236 subjects he identified—young adults whose parent had a homosexual relationship while they were growing up—had never actually lived with the parent and the parent’s same-sex partner. Therefore, it was argued, the Regnerus findings could not be considered relevant to debates about children being raised by same-sex couples.

The reason for the paucity of children raised by same-sex couples in the Regnerus study was simple—they could hardly be found in a representative, population-based sample. The data-gathering group hired for Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study screened 15,000 young adults—and found only two who had been raised by a same-sex couple from birth to age 18. In both cases, the couple was a lesbian one—they found no one who had been raised by a homosexual male couple from birth.

In other words, what some liberal activists (and Hollywood) like to refer to as “the new normal”—kids being raised by homosexual couples from birth—is not normal at all, even for kids with a parent who has homosexual relationships.

While the ideal—the “new normal”—of the family revisionists is not normal, what about the “old normal?” Advocates for maintaining the definition of marriage as the union of a woman and a man uphold an ideal also—the married couple household in which a child is raised by a mom and dad (and in particular the natural family, wherein a child is born to and raised by his or her own biological mother and father, who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage).

Revisionists, however, scoff at this ideal, relegating it to the outdated, “Ozzie and Harriett,” “Father Knows Best” world of 1950’s sitcoms. When you consider the high rates of cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and divorce, along with singles adopting and “gay parents,” the old-fashioned nuclear family hardly exists any more—or does it?

The answer to that question can also be found in the AAP Policy Statement, which reports, “In 2010, married adults were raising 65.3% of all children in this country.” Even if the Census Bureau (source of this figure) defied the federal Defense of Marriage Act and chose to include some of the 646,464 same-sex couples in this number, it is still clear that the overwhelming majority of these 48 million married couples are of the opposite-sex.

To summarize, only 1 in every 17 children of “gay” parents is living with a same-sex couple. So the “new normal” isn’t normal.

On the other hand, nearly 2 out of every 3 children of heterosexual parents are living with a married couple. The number of children being raised by a married heterosexual couple is more than 400 (four hundred) times higher than the number being raised by a same-sex couple.

The “old normal” is still the norm.

The Romance Revolution: Effects on Children and Couples

by Sharon Barrett

October 15, 2012

As a fellow MARRI intern recently observed, Watch any Hollywood romance, and you might think the best reason to get married is passionate romantic love because the purpose of marriage is the satisfaction of the couple. Maria Reig Teetor describes how redefining married love paved the way for the no-fault divorce revolution. The Romantic philosophy of the 1700s and 1800s advocated self-fulfillment through experience, and the 1960s sexual revolution carried Romanticism to its logical conclusion: free love.

In past centuries, marriage had been an institution characterized by permanence. But no-fault divorce embodied the values of free love with no strings attached; now, marriage need be only as permanent as the feelings that fueled the couples initial attraction. In Maria Reig Teetors words,

With the legalization of no-fault divorce, it became clear that marriage was only about being in love. This relationship was now independent of common good, community, generosity, hard work, self-giving, children….

If falling in love is as easy as Hollywood makes it look, falling out of love and moving on is nearly that easy. While treating marriage as permanent had kept the couple accountable to the parties who are the reason for marriage (that is, children who need a committed mother and father), now the partners were accountable only to themselves. The romance revolution, by jump-starting the divorce revolution, left a wake of damaging impacts on children: broken relationships; reduced educational attainment and earning capacity; disillusionment with religion; and increased risk of crime, drug abuse, and suicide.

Another, equally disturbing trend has arisen as a result of the romance revolution: couples who choose childlessness in order to focus on their personal fulfillment. In Canada, this trend has risen so far that the 2011 census shows 44.5% of couples are without children, compared to 39.2% with children. According to the Toronto-based National Post, while the 44.5% figure is padded by empty-nest parents, it includes the growing number of Canadian women currently one in five who will never have a child. Without the burden of children, life can be less demanding and more exhilarating:

Having children used to be the point of being a pair. It was the great aspiration along with finding love everlasting a biological impulse to go forth and multiply….

No more. Gone are diaper changes and ballet classes, replaced by hot yoga and shopping trips to New York City.

But is a partnership without children as fulfilling as one with children? Mariette Ulrich, writing for MercatorNet, notes the irony of this lifestyle. Ulrich says the idea that life without kids is a never-ending joyride is as much a myth as the contention that life with children is overwhelmingly stressful, exhausting, expensive and heartbreaking.

This is a myth of the same class as the myth that marriage is about falling in love, rather than providing a permanent home for children and a safe haven for ones spouse. Maria Reig Teetor sums it up:

…As modern love is individualistic, so is modern marriage. The soul of marriage has become myself.

Humans were designed to live in community, which involves giving to others before seeking to receive fulfillment from them. As we recognize that the foundation of marriage is in the human community, not the individual, we can begin to reverse the unhealthy effects of the romance revolution.


Want More Jobs? Lets Build Stronger Families

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 7, 2012

Strong families lead to a strong economy.

This thesis is proven substantially and repeatedly by FRCs Marriage and Religion Research Institute in studies of the effects of family formation on economic growth (see, for example, The Divorce Revolution Perpetually Reduces U.S. Economic Growth).

We are now witnessing the results of family dissolution inAmericas troubling employment situation. The intact family, in which a married mom and dad raise children and worship together weekly, results in a better education for the children and a higher incentive for a Dad, or if need be, for both parents, to provide for their family.

These facts augment this mornings disappointing job numbers, not only because those numbers reflect more than 25 percent fewer new jobs than had been anticipated, but also because a closer look shows them to indicate a growing undercurrent of hopelessness among job-seekers.

Heres how the Wall Street Journals Phil Izzo explains it:

The unemployment rate is calculated based on the number of unemployed people who are without jobs, who are available to work and who have actively sought work in the prior four weeks. The actively looking for work definition is fairly broad, including people who contacted an employer, employment agency, job center or friends; sent out resumes or filled out applications; or answered or placed ads, among other things. That number declined by 250,000 in August, but it was overwhelmed by a 368,000 drop in the size of the labor force. That suggests that many of those 250,000 stopped looking for work not because they found a job, but because they dropped out of the labor force … (the labor force participation rate of) 63.5% is at the lowest levels since women first started entering the labor force in large numbers.

This interpretation is based not on partisan projections, but data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Heres what the BLS said this morning about the true nature of the unemployment situation:

In August, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier … There were 844,000 discouraged workers in August … Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.7 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

According to the BLS, there minimally are 23.1 million persons unemployed, underemployed, or too discouraged to look for work. These are federal, not conservative or Republican, statistics.

To bring it back to families: As Drs. Pat Fagan and Henry Potrykus demonstrate in their new paper, Non-Marriage Reduces U.S. Labor Participation:

The long decline of adult male labor participation represents a withdrawal of able-bodied workers from productive employment. A persistent ‘gap’ exists between the employment rates of married men and unmarried men … Given the cultural-demographic drift away from marriage the risk of (economic) depression will be exacerbated over time.

This paper shows how among working-age men, half of the current labor drop-off is caused by this gap and the population shift away from marriage.

Marriage and children incentivize work. Cohabitation, divorce, and fatherlessness create dependency on government, a fact born out by the fact that now roughly one in seven Americans are receiving food stamps.

Are there other factors, such as tax and trade policies? Sure. But even if we somehow get them completely right, we cannot we meet our need for stable growth, and cannot foster the intangible but essential belief that families and individuals can have a brighter financial future, without a family unit that is sound, secure, and vibrant.

A Brave, if Misguided, Mayor

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 12, 2011

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is a brave man. Anyone doubting this should watch his 25-minute exhortation to the African-American community of his city.

Nutter, himself black, began his message with a moving call for all Americans to pray for our men and women in uniform. And then: “Now: I’m gonna say some things this morning that many of you from time to time may think, but may not say. It will not be PC.”

The mayor’s message was volcanic in intensity but targeted in its aim: In vivid terms, he described the results of the break-up of the black family. His evaluation is entirely consistent with the research done by FRCs Dr. Pat Fagan, who has found only 17% of African-American youth (less than one in five) live with both married parents. Given that children need parents, there should be little wonder that so many black youth are adrift and moving into lives of crime or promiscuity.

Mayor Nutter took a strong line on thwarting the immediate acts of crime, but spoke eloquently about the need for parents truly to parent their children. Speaking to the young people who are disrupting the city, he said: “If you want all of us — black, white or any other color — if you want us to respect you, if you want us to look at you in a different way, if you want us not to be afraid to walk down the same side of the street with you, if you want folks not to jump out of an elevator when you get on, if you want folks to stop following you around in stores when you’re out shopping, if you want someone to offer you a job or an internship somewhere, if you don’t want folks to be looking in or trying to go in a different direction when they see two or 20 of you coming down the street, then stop acting like idiots and fools out in the streets of the city of Philadelphia. Just cut it out.”

Sadly, the Mayor in April also launched “the Freedom Condom” initiative to combat sexually-transmitted diseases. “The Freedom Condom (is) a LifeStyles Ultra Thin Lubricated inside a blue city wrapper - (it) may be ordered free online at www.TakeControlPhilly.org, and also (is being) distributed at more than 100 locations around the city. (It is) easily found via iCondom Philly, the new GPS-enabled iPhone app.”

The Mayor is, no doubt, a sincere man. Yet, logically, he cannot campaign against that which he is subsidizing. The only guarantees against a sexually-transmitted disease are abstinence or, if married, fidelity to one’s husband or wife. Moreover, by distributing condoms to children as young as 11, he is encouraging behavior he knows is dangerous. The fact that some children will be promiscuous does not justify fostering such promiscuity through the distribution of free prophylactics. This is like saying that because some people will become drug addicts, government should provide free, hermetically-sealed bags of heroin on demand.

In addition, the evidence indicates that an increase in contraceptive use actually means a higher level of abortion and disease. Peer reviewed studies in three countries: Britain, Spain, and Sweden demonstrate that an increase in contraceptive use is matched by a rise in STDs and abortions. In a commensurate way, less contraceptive use correlates with fewer abortions. From 1995 to 2002, the rate of contraceptive use here in the U.S. decreased from 64 percent to 62 percent and abortion numbers decreased from about 1.36 million to roughly 1.29 million.

With all of that said, we can still applaud Mayor Nutter for calling on mothers, fathers and children to function as God intended as loving, responsible, respectful families.

Federal Agency Admits Violating DOMA in Conducting Survey

by Peter Sprigg

August 12, 2011

Last months Senate hearing on a bill to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) featured a clash between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and one of the witnesses defending DOMA, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family.

Minnerys testimony referred to the social science evidence showing children do best when raised by their own mother and father. He referred to one such study in his prepared testimony this way:

In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains in its new and exhaustive report, Family Structure and Childrens Health in the United States: Findings from the National Health Interview Survey, 2001-2007, that children living with their own married biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to health care, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and almost never live in poverty, compared with children in any other family form.

Franken, however, triumphantly noted that in fact, these superior outcomes were associated with nuclear families, defined as one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all children in the family. Since the definition made no mention of the gender of the married parents, he concluded that nuclear families could be headed by married homosexual couples, too.

FRCs Tony Perkins, however, noted in his Washington Update that Franken seemed to be forgetting the very law that the hearing was about:

DOMA says, “In determining the meaning of … any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Since this was a federal study published by a federal agency based on a federal survey conducted by federal (Census Bureau) employees, its definition of married is bound by DOMA.

I had made the same point in a longer op-ed about this study in February.

Just to be sure, however, I sent an email to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had published the study. Unfortunately, they confirmed that they had simply ignored the mandate of DOMA with respect to the definition of marriage.

Here, for the record, is the substantive part of their response:

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is conducted under the authority of the National Center for Health Statistics and obtains annual data on various health characteristics (e.g., health status, chronic conditions, disability, access to health care, etc.) of the US noninstitutionalized population. NHIS data are typically obtained via face-to-face computer-assisted interviews using fixed format questions. All NHIS data are based on self reports by respondents who decide for themselves how they wish to answer each question; the interviewer then enters the response on the computer.

Regarding marital status, all household members aged 14 or older are asked if they are now married, widowed, divorced, separated, never married, or living with a partner. NHIS respondents self-identify whether they are currently married, divorced, living with a partner, etc.; they are not asked questions about the type of union (e.g., civil unions, common-law marriages, etc) or date of divorce, whether either the marriage or divorce is legal according to the state they live in, or how long their union has lasted. If NHIS respondents tell us they are married, we accept that response as is. Other than making sure that the data are consistent with the universe (that is, limited to respondents aged 14 or older), no attempt is made by NCHS staff to correct the data. Moreover, the 2001-2007 NHIS did not contain questions that systematically asked about sexual orientation; gay or lesbian respondents, as well as same-sex couples, are contained in the data but are not identified. As a result, the definitions used in sr10_246 (the report on family structure and children’s health) were neutral regarding the gender of parents.

It seems to me that it would be easy enough in the interview process to briefly explain the federal definition of marriage, so that the respondent can reply to the marital status question in a way consistent with the law. Procedures for conducting these interviews should immediately be amended to bring them into conformity with DOMA.

Nevertheless, I will give one round to Franken on this technical point. But the number of nuclear families headed by homosexual couples in this study is likely to be negligible. As Tony Perkins noted in the same Washington Update piece quoted above,

Even if, by chance, the interviewers or authors violated [DOMA], the survey data was collected from 2001 to 2007. During that time (and only from mid-2004 on) there was only one state (Massachusetts) in which homosexual couples could marry.

Furthermore, even married homosexual couples who are raising children are unlikely to fit the definition of a nuclear family. Remember, a nuclear family requires that the married parents are each biological or adoptive parents to all children in the family (emphasis added). Obviously, it is biologically impossible for same-sex partners to each be biological parents of the same children.

Only if a married same-sex couple had jointly adopted all the children in their household would they clearly fit even this studys lawless definition of a nuclear family. However, this is not the most common type of homosexual parenting situation. It is much more common for homosexual parents to bring to their relationships their own biological childrenconceived in previous heterosexual relationships.

Advocates for homosexual parents (and for homosexual marriage) are fond of arguing that children do not need a mom and a dadall they need is two loving parents. But this HHS study, while unfortunately not consistent with federal law in its definition of married parents, still offers no support for that argument.

Households featuring same-sex couples raising children are much more likely to fit one of the other non-nuclear household typesall of which, apart from single-parent families, feature at least two adult caretakers. These include unmarried biological or adoptive, blended, cohabiting, extended, or other families.

All of these family types had outcomes inferior to those of the nuclear family.