These are the “Criteria”

I know that my last post was a little bit of a downer and showed my argumentative side so I just wanted to post this uplifting video. The point that I love is the one that her Nana makes about the criteria for parenting at 2:36.

Her criteria for parents, no matter their race or sexual orientation, are:
“Do you want these children?
Is your home suitable to raise them in?
Do you have room for them?
Are you gonna have enough to feed them?
Do you care about their education?
Are you going to love them?
Are you really going to make them feel like they matter in this world?

I couldn’t agree more.

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An Opponent Close to Home

While doing research for a project that I am working on, I have been sifting through the arguments from those opposing gay marriage, gay rights, gay parenting, etc. In this process, I have recently found one individual who is much closer to me in proximity than I thought because he came up as speaking against marriage reform in my home state of Maryland.

As I have mentioned before, same-sex marriage has been a hot topic recently in many states and my stomping grounds of Maryland is one of them. Peter Sprigg is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, a Christian organization based in DC that is a large opponent to marriage reform and other gay rights issues.

I would like to share this video of Sprigg speaking against marriage reform in Maryland to highlight some of his arguments and explain why I disagree with them. He actually uses my favorite tactic of citing arguments from the ‘other side’ and refuting them, but he must know that return fire is expected if this tactic is to be used.

Sprigg cites and ‘refutes’ several arguments for marriage reform but I would like to examine his first two here. The first is that the current definition of marriage deprives gays and lesbians of the fundamental right to marry. His response to this is that every citizen has access to the institution of marriage on the same exact terms and under the same restrictions. These restrictions keep any individual from marrying a child, a close blood relative, a person who is already married, or a person of the same sex. He argues that if we are to say that it is discrimination to limit one’s choice of marriage partner that indeed all of these restrictions could be seen in the same light.

Let me see if I understand him correctly. He is saying that if it is discrimination to say one cannot marry based on their chosen partner’s sex than it is too discrimination to say that one cannot marry a child, their brother/sister/etc., or someone who is already married. So it is the same to choose a partner of the same sex as it is to choose a five year old? That is his reasoning? I can understand that he is saying that there are limits on marriage for a reason and I agree that the rest of the restrictions do have reasons behind them that I support. Everyone would agree that it is wrong to marry a child because it would be inappropriate and unacceptable for a child to partake in the responsibilities and experiences that come with marriage like sexual relations and owning a home. It can also be agreed on both moral and biological reasons that marriage is not appropriate between close blood relatives, if not just for the simple fact that it is inappropriate to reproduce in that situation, on moral and genetic grounds, like it is between an adult and a child. And it is certainly agreed, by most American citizens at least, that marriage is binding and therefore one who is already married should not marry another individual.

I do not believe, however, that restricting one’s choice of marriage partner based on sex has good reason behind it. It may have before when the church was not separated from the state and even when the citizens did believe in this definition of marriage, but today is an entirely different ballpark. The citizens of today’s America have different opinions than when marriage was first defined and one of those growing opinions is that one should be able to choose a partner of the same sex. This is not in the same category as believing that one should be able to marry a child or their sister and so should not be discussed in the same way. These restrictions do not relate to one another and so should not be logically connected as Sprigg asserts that they should be.

Sprigg’s second argument that he chooses to refute is that banning same-sex marriage is like banning interracial marriage. To refute this argument, he cites the decision of Loving v. Virginia, not as saying that a person has unlimited rights to marry the person of their choice, but that the choice cannot be limited based on race, based on the special protection against racial discrimination in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution. Sprigg argues that the advocates of same-sex marriage resemble those who banned interracial marriage, in that both sought to “burden the institution of marriage in pursuit of social goals that have nothing to do with the public purpose of marriage,” but one with the recognized unworthy goal of enforcing racial segregation and the other with the goal of “advancing the social acceptance and affirmation of homosexual conduct.” Sprigg goes on to say that we have yet to agree on whether or not that second goal is a worthy one, but that in the end it has nothing to do with the historical purpose of marriage of “responsible procreation and childbirth.”

In (a very small) part, I agree with Sprigg, in that the decision of Loving v. Virginia said only that the choice to marry cannot be limited based on race, not that it was unlimited. That is about as far I go with my agreement. Firstly, I think that again Sprigg is lumping together these arguments much like he did with the restrictions on marriage, and comparing them like apples and oranges. Sprigg is arguing that these two movements, the one in support of racial segregation and the other of same-sex marriage, have similar goals and that in that way they can be compared to one another. I disagree, mainly based on his proposed goal of those supporting same-sex marriage. He claims that these proponents are aiming to advance the social acceptance and affirmation of homosexual conduct. This is entirely wrong and I think it is obvious why. Same-sex couples are not looking to make homosexual conduct socially acceptable and affirmed by making same-sex marriage legally recognized. Rather, they are only wishing to be accepted as citizens who deserve the same rights and opportunities as any one else. It seems like Sprigg is saying that proponents for gay marriage want to force homosexuality on society and have it affirmed but that is not the case, because for one thing society already accepts homosexuality. Homosexuality is no longer something to hide and this movement is simply a group of citizens desiring the equality that our Constitution promises them. It’s not that we want homosexuality to be socially affirmed or instantiated like those who desired to support racial segregation. That was about a group looking at a minority and willing inequality on them. Supporting same-sex marriage is about the minority standing up and choosing equality, not defacing it.

This seems to be a long enough post, so I’ll save his other arguments for another time.

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A video to make my point

I made this video for my class. I hope you enjoy it and maybe that it will help you see more clearly that gay parenting does not negatively effect children. Or maybe it will just make you smile. Either way, enjoy!

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The Conservatives Are Coming!

The presidential race of 2012 looks like it will be mimicking the latest runway styles by bringing back the oh so popular wedge.

No, I’m not talking about shoes like this one with a wedged heel, rather I’m talking about the return of the wedge issue of gay marriage to the presidential candidates’ resumes.

What is a wedge issue? According to bbc news, a wedge issue is “an issue that a politician might raise in order to drive a wedge between different groups within his opponent’s supporter base.” The same site even uses the example of same sex marriage as a wedge issue, saying that Republicans might propose to ban same sex marriage in order to attract voters who support the Democrats on most economic issues, but who feel strongly about social issues.

So what does this wedge issue have to do with the upcoming presidential election in 2012? Roll Call Politics says that Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire and Iowa are pushing this issue into the spotlight just as the candidates for presidency are wooing voters for the primaries.

Roll Call also explains that Cornerstone, a socially conservative think tank in New Hampshire, one of only a handful of states in the United States that allows same sex marriage, are moving to make same sex marriage a national issue as the timing seems right. Cornerstone will ask each Republican presidential candidate to sign a pledge agreeing marriage should be between one man and one woman.

Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone, said in regards to pushing the wedge issue on the candidates, “Why not try to leverage the influence of the candidates to get them to declare their support for traditional marriage? If you have a candidate saying they’re not willing to oppose same-sex marriage, I think they’ll have a problem.”

This is a large shift from the 2010 election cycle as it largely kept social issues off of the table. Now, its obvious that social issues like this one are going to be used to energize and rally the conservative voting base.

Heads up! The conservatives are coming, the conservatives are coming!

Be on the look out for more legislative action, especially in New Hampshire and Iowa where this wedge issue is quickly becoming a hot topic. I will, as always, keep you updated.

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The New Normal

There was an article posted on cnn.com recently that I think is worth mentioning here on my blog and certainly worth the read.

Patty Onderko, author of this article and gay mother of three year old twin boys, makes the point that she has realized over the five year marriage between her and her partner Em that they aren’t sensational or worthy of remarks, but rather “just the New Normal.”

I love this idea of the New Normal. This is exactly what gay parenting is and the statistics agree, showing that there are approximately 1 million gay families raising approximately 2 million children in the United States.

This article also cites research that I have used previously on my blog that shows that children of lesbian mothers had fewer behavioral problems and better school performance than their peers with straight parents and Nanette Gartrell, M.D., the lead researcher in this study, explains why such results are not surprising, and a reason that I personally advocate for gay parenting today:

“The children we studied were highly desired,” she says. “They didn’t result from a broken condom or too much alcohol. Their parents worked hard to have them and didn’t take the privilege of having kids lightly. They took parenting classes and educated themselves. That’s what makes for a good outcome, no matter what the family structure. They built strong communities for their families from the beginning.”

Onderko argues that these statistics do not show that children raised by gay parents are any better than those raised by straight parents but that these children “are totally, boringly normal…” and “that’s a salient argument against those who think that having gay parents is patently unhealthy for children.”

The article goes on to show both the hardships facing gay parents today and the shifting opinion of Americans towards favoring gay parenting. In the end, Onderko makes the point that it is the unifying ground of being a parent that is shifting Americans’ opinions to being pro-gay parenting. All parents face the same issues, no matter their sexual orientation.

Parents are parents, and that is the New Normal.

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Anti-bullying = pro gay marriage?

“Homosexual indoctrination.” This one of the terms that an article I recently found uses to describe the way that education is now, apparently, pushing homosexual propaganda on young children.

This article, which can be found through a website run by an organization called “Focus on the Family,” makes the argument that gay activist groups are now pushing homosexuality on children as young as kindergartners by “infiltrating class- rooms under the cover of “anti-bullying” or “safe schools” initiatives.”

I just wanted to cite this article as an example of the idiocy that I see in anti-gay arguments all the time. The argument that this article makes is not based on facts at all, but entirely on opinion, as most anti-gay arguments are.

One of the women resisting the ‘gay agenda’ that she thinks is being pushed on her education system is quoted as saying, “It’s a political agenda being shoved into my school to normalize homosexuality.”

Do you see the underlying opinion that her argument is actually based on? It’s not that she disapproves of a new curriculum in her schools, it’s that she is opposed to homosexuality being portrayed to her children as normal. Without using any kind of facts or statistics actually relevant to this claim, this article is supporting this biased thinking with no evidence to argue it’s supposed truth.

What these parents are lobbying against are certain “special protections” supported by the new anti-bullying laws, which protect categories of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in public schools.

This article sites that these anti-bullying laws are “policies [that] are…used to undermine parental rights and circumvent traditional marriage laws” and are not about protecting the children at all but rather tactics for inserting homosexual curricula into schools.

Think about it. These parents are arguing fervently against protecting children from bullying based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. in order to do what? Do they want bullying to be OK on these terms?

Yes because that’s exactly what they are doing by making these arguments. They are arguing for discrimination so that their children can be sheltered from the big bad monster of homosexuality. They think that bullying should be alright because they want their children to follow in their footsteps and take up their opinions against homosexuality. At least that’s what it sounds like to me.

Another parent quoted in this article sums up the goals of www.truetolerance.org by saying, “There is a huge difference between teaching tolerance, which is by definition being respectful of other people with whom you disagree and saying [the homosexual] lifestyle is to be affirmed and morally praiseworthy.”

These people are advocating for tolerance through intolerance. Now does that sound very logical to you?

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RIP Elizabeth Taylor; A True Ally

Elizabeth Taylor died today at the age of 79 of congestive heart failure. Besides her infamous acting career, Dame Elizabeth was also a relentless HIV/AIDs activist who raised millions of dollars to fight the disease. Taylor helped to found the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and started the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).

The LGBT community will always remember Ms. Taylor as a true ally. David Badash quoted her from her acceptance speech at the 11th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in 2000, as saying, ”There is no gay agenda, it’s a human agenda,” and, ”Why shouldn’t gay people be able to live as open and freely as everybody else? What it comes down to, ultimately, is love. How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding and, God knows, from hate and from ignorance.”

May she rest in peace and her memory be cherished.

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