I Am A Mother. A Tale of Two Views

I Am A Mother.

As I was reading through NOM blog today, I came across these two posts by women on opposite ends of the marriage debate.  Their heartfelt takes on marriage and what it means really impressed me.  In particular, they are both powerful, emotional statements, yet worlds apart in focus:

“I am a citizen, who desires nothing more than any other citizen. I want children for the exact same reasons any heterosexual does. I want to be married for the exact same reasons any heterosexual does.

I can’t change who I am, or who I fall in love with any more than you can, and I should just accept I’ll never have the same thing as my sister or brother, who are heterosexual?

And because of people like you, my partner and I will probably have a harder time raising our son than you would your children.

The only reason a child would think any less of his or her family would be because people like you do.

Good night, and I really hope none of your children are gay. If they are, make sure and tell them early on why they shouldn’t ever be able to marry. It’ll be easier on them in the long-run.”  —Marci

“Marci,

When I dated, I chose who I made relationships with. I chose who I would live my life with. No one took those choices from me. Because of my choices, my children will have a mom and a dad, and I will work every day to make sure it stays that way because my children need a mom and a dad. I would never deny a child what they are entitled to simply because of my own selfish wants and desires. Children have rights too, rights that can’t be denied simply because they don’t fit a certain parent’s sexual desires. I am prepared to teach my children by example what a family is, and You can bet I will make sure that they know, if they are not prepared to give a child the things they need in life, they ought not be bringing those children into the world. I am a mom, and because I’m a mom, the needs of my children surpass my petty wants. That is a sacrifice I’m willing to make a thousand times over, and one we should comit to as a society. Every child needs a mom and a dad. Death and divorce aside, we should do everything we can to give them the best chance possible to have that in their lives.”  —Sandee

I thought the response to Marci’s letter was singularly powerful.  One letter focused on the writer, what the writer wanted, what the writer felt, and children were an accessory to that.  The other writer’s focus is on her family, her children and what makes a family.

Two mothers. Two world views.

The first takes no responsibility, the second is the embodiment of responsibility.

It was a poignant example of the very basis of disagreement in the marriage debate, excellently articulated by two of society’s mothers.

—Beetle Blogger

NOM: What Happened Behind the Scenes in New York

Dear Marriage Supporter:

What a week! What a great victory for marriage in New York!

Rumors were rampant that gay marriage was going to pass in New York. The night before the vote I got an urgent alert call from an Albany insider reporting that gay marriage was a done deal in New York! News blogs said that Democrat State Sen. Ruben Diaz, the leader of the pro-marriage forces in New York, was visibly upset after the Democratic caucus; Sen. Diaz told reporters he was going into his office to pray. How the bloggers made fun of this great Christian man for that!–as if his prayer was somehow proof that gay marriage was inevitable in New York.

Let me tell you, we were all praying pretty hard at that point!

I didn’t see how the New York State Sen. Tom Duane or the Empire State Pride Agenda was going to pull this one off: by our vote counts, gay marriage advocates were at least 5 votes short.  We were cautiously optimistic gay marriage would not pass. “Nervously optimistic” would be more accurate.

The senate debate was dominated by out-of-touch politicians who made astonishingly arrogant and tone-deaf statements. Politician after politician got up there and said that those of us who know that marriage is the union of husband and wife are somehow similar to racists who imposed slavery or voted for segregationist oppression. State Sen. Suzie Oppenheimer actually cited the Nazi persecution of her husband’s family as somehow a reason to vote for gay marriage. State Sen. Tom Duane, the lead sponsor, was weepily self-congratulatory, implying that his support for gay marriage made him akin to great heroes of history from Harriet Tubman to Nelson Mandela who risked their lives for moral truth.  Senator after senator turned to Tom Duane and suggested that the great relationship he had with his partner was a good reason to publicly redefine marriage over the wishes of their own constituents.

Huh?

Do they have any idea how odd they sound? Not only to the majority of Americans who disagree with gay marriage, but even to a big chunk of their own supporters? Most Americans, regardless of their own views, do not think their friends, family members, and neighbors who support our marriage traditions are not anything like the bigots and racists who wanted to enslave Harriet Tubman, or throw Nelson Mandela in jail for twenty years. Grandma is not like George Wallace because she doesn’t see two guys in a union as a marriage.

Many black Americans in D.C. are making that clear: As Taylor Harris, a young black grad student, put it in a November 28 op-ed in the Washington Post (responding to a column by Julian Bond arguing that African-Americans should support gay marriage as a civil right), “I’m sorry, Julian. I wasn’t there with you in 1963 to fight, but I still can’t be your George Wallace today.”

As I listened to the debate drone on, I remember thinking to myself: Have we done everything we could? Thanks to you, NOM was able to put out an enormous effort. We spent more than $600,000 using sophisticated technology that allows us to reach out to voters across the state to make sure they knew what their politicians were up to. We had just come off a great victory in November, not only in Maine but in New York’s 23rd Congressional District where Dede Scozzafava, one of the few Republicans ever to vote for gay marriage, had just gone down to a very public defeat. NOM spent more than $100,000 making sure voters in her district understood that Dede had voted twice for gay marriage in the New York state assembly. (Fifty percent of Doug Hoffman’s voters told us on the eve of the election that Dede’s vote for gay marriage was a “significant factor” in their decision to abandon the GOP candidate and vote for a third party.) “The Dede Effect” surely helped persuade some squishy GOP state senators of a basic political truth: It is a bad idea for a Republican to vote for gay marriage.

And we know your help made a huge difference! When regular Americans learn their politicians are messing around with marriage, instead of focusing on the big important issues (like jobs, the budget, taxes, education), they rise to the occasion and make their voice and values heard! NOM’s voter outreach generated thousands of calls in every state senate district–in many cases from people who had never before picked up the phone to call their elected representatives.

How big a difference did this make? We know many others in New York were working hard and making a difference on both sides of the aisle. But listen to what one of the key swing senators, State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (Democrat, of Queens) told the New York Daily News about why he ended up voting “no”: “Addabbo said he was simply following what 74% of constituents who contacted him wanted.”

That’s right. In New York City, 74 percent of the constituents who wrote or called Sen. Addabbo said: “We want you to vote no to gay marriage.” Together we can make a difference.

Don’t believe everything you read in the media. After the D.C. city council voted for the first time to pass a gay-marriage bill, we issued a press release that said “We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight!” So what did Tim Craig of the Washington Post report? Somehow he decided that opponents of gay marriage were giving up.

Bishop Harry Jackson and others are not giving up, and we will be there to help fight for marriage every step of the way. Stay tuned.

But our immediate battle shifts across the mighty Hudson to New Jersey. Garden State Equality chief Steven Goldstein promised supporters he would pass a gay-marriage bill in the lame duck session.  Archbishop Myers and the Catholic Conference, however, circulated petitions with more than 150,000 New Jerseyans who oppose gay marriage; the New Jersey Family Policy Council, Mayor Steve Lonegan, and many other are refusing to accept the allegedly inevitable. And NOM is fighting right alongside, using the same powerful technology and techniques to reach tens of thousands of voters quickly and get them in this fight too.

If we win this battle in the next four weeks, Gov.-elect Chris Christie has promised to veto any gay marriage bill that crosses his desk. The stakes are high, the battle urgent.

If you leave marriage to the politicians or the judges, the political insiders will cut themselves deals that leave your values on the outside. But we at NOM promise: We will not let that happen. We will never give up fighting for the truth, for common sense, for democracy, for civility, for the idea that we are made male and female, and meant to come together in love in marriage, for life.

God bless you! Until next week,

Brian S. Brown

Executive Director
National Organization for Marriage
20 Nassau Street, Suite 242
Princeton, NJ  08542
bbrown@nationformarriage.org

PS: NOM relies on your generosity and support to speak up for your values. Can you help us today with a donation of $10, $15, or, if God has given you the means, $100 or $150? Your donations make a difference!

NOM Featured Article
“N.Y. State Senate Votes Down Gay Marriage Bill By Wide Margin”
Washington Post
December 3, 2009
“I think you put it all together and it most likely spells the end of the idea that you can pass gay marriage democratically anywhere else in the United States,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which spearheaded opposition in Albany. “I think the gay marriage lobby will have to go back to a court-based approach.”

NOM in the News

“New York State Lawmakers Vote Against Gay Marriage”
Reuters
December 2, 2009

“This is an enormous victory,” said Maggie Gallagher, the leader of the anti-gay marriage group, National Organization for Marriage. “What you saw was the will of the people. … The culture really hasn’t shifted on gay marriage.”

“Gay Marriage Momentum Stalls in NY, NJ”
Boston Globe
November 28, 2009
“If they are unable to pass gay marriage in New York and New Jersey, ombined with the loss in Maine, it will confirm that gay marriage is not the inevitable wave of the future,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which mobilizes social conservatives to fight same-sex marriage.

“DC Votes to Allow Gay Marriage, But Issue Not Settled”
Christian Science Monitor
December 1, 2009
“Please take a moment right now to call your state senator, urging him to vote NO on the same-sex marriage bill. Then call three friends and ask them to do the same,” read an alert put out by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

“Few Roadblocks Remain to Gay Marriage in DC”
Wall Street Journal
November 28, 2009
Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, said his group would apply pressure on Capitol Hill to scrap the bill. “It’s a difficult thing for Congress to actually overturn a law in the District,” Mr. Brown said.

“The National Organization for Marriage’s Bill for NY-23: $112736.75″
The Washington Independent
November 23, 2009
The National Organization for Marriage spent more than $100,000 on get-out-the-vote efforts for the failed (yes, really) campaign of Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in NY-23. NOM’s work for Hoffman — it also paid for hand-outs distributed by the Susan B. Anthony List — was a minor blow to the organization on what was otherwise a good election night for it, given the voter repeal of gay marriage rights in Maine.

“Gay on Trial”
The American Prospect
November 23, 2009
“The law affects marriage primarily through its capacity to ‘name a shared reality,’” says Maggie Gallagher, president and founder of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage. “Gay-marriage advocates understand this on their side of the issue — the name matters, because words matter, symbols matter, naming reality matters.”

“Religious Leaders Unite Against Abortion and Same-Sex Unions”
New York Times
November 20, 2009

The document was written by Mr. Colson; Robert P. George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, who is Catholic; and the Rev. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, an evangelical interdenominational school on the campus of Samford University, in Birmingham, Ala.

“Voice of the Nation” —Marriage Victories Ripple Through New York and Beyond

Join Heather and Angela for

Voice of the Nation

Family Values Blog Talk Radio

sandstrom_rockwood

On Thursday– This week on “Voice of the Nation” We will be talking about the great success yesterday in New York and the ripple effect recent marriage victories had there.  Join us as we talk with Scott Loveless about protecting marriage and family as we move forward from the big wins in Maine and New York to the coming fight in New Jersey.

Guest: Scott Loveless – Scott Loveless served eight years as the Executive Director of the World Family Policy Center at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.  He initially practiced law for 20 years with the U.S. Department of the Interior, focusing on issues affecting environmental concerns:  water law, environmental law, public land law, and mining and mineral leasing law.  However, he pursued a Ph.D. in Family Studies (BYU 2000) after having observed the adverse consequences of divorce within his circle of acquaintances while living in the Washington, D.C. area. His dissertation sought to understand the human-relational effects of personal philosophies of happiness on the marriage relationship.  He has continued to write and publish on related themes, most recently in the 3-volume set, The Family in the New Millenium  (Praeger), on which he served as lead editor.  His current primary professional interests (and reason for joining UFI) are in the moral/philosophical origins of human rights law, current moral tensions in human rights law at the UN and elsewhere, and the consequences for societies and families of the different possible resolutions of those tensions.  Scott and Cheri, his wife of 35 years, are the grateful parents of 3 sons and 5 daughters and have 8 grandchildren.

TUNE IN HERE

The Family Values Blog Talk Radio show is a joint effort between United Families International, the Digital Network Army, and other Pro-Family organizations in highlighting current issues facing families in the Pro-Family Movement.

Call in to VOICE OF THE NATION every Thursday at 2pm PST.  The call-in number is

347- 215-6801

Long Fought Victory in New York!

New York Soundly Defeats Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Congratulations New York on voting down the gay marriage initiative!  This vote is a win for families, kids and freedom.

Rev. Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said, “Today’s vote results from the efforts made by a bipartisan, multiracial alliance united in support of the proposition that marriage is not just about adult satisfaction or the whims of a special interest group—it’s about kids. The bottom line is that children do best when raised by their biological mother and father. This bill would have encouraged and promoted the deliberate formation of households that deprive children of either a mom or a dad.”

“It is gratifying to see that so many senators from both parties are listening to their constituents and taking heed to the many objections that have been raised regarding this bill. The legislation placed freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in jeopardy.  New Yorkers’ voices were heard today.”  –New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms

Today, New York joins the ranks of states who have rejected gay marriage.  Not only was it rejected, but it was rejected by a far larger margin than anyone had hoped to anticipate.

“I think you put it all together and it most likely spells the end of the idea that you can pass gay marriage democratically anywhere else in the United States,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which spearheaded opposition in Albany. “I think the gay marriage lobby will have to go back to a court-based approach.

“We did believe they were short at least five votes, but we did not expect to win by 14 votes.”

NY Governor David Paterson has been pushing since early last year for this vote.  New Yorkers didn’t take it lying down, they got to the streets to rally pro marriage forces by the thousands.  They rallied, they fasted and they prayed.  I prayed too.

Thank you for the victory tonight in New York!  It was a long time coming.

—Beetle Blogger

See this more in depth account of what went down today from the Baptist Press:

N.Y. Senate debates religion, defeats ‘gay marriage’ bill

ALBANY, N.Y. (BP)–In a lengthy debate Wednesday that often focused more on theology than politics, the New York Senate defeated a “gay marriage” bill 38-24, handing homosexual activists another stinging defeat in the liberal Northeast.

The bill had breezed through the Assembly 86-51 the previous night and Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson had pledged to sign it, putting all eyes on the Senate, where Democrats have a two-vote majority. But after an impassioned two-hour debate that even saw a few legislators shed tears, the bill fell far short of the required 32 votes, preventing the nation’s third most populous state from redefining marriage.

It is the third significant recent defeat in the Northeast for “gay marriage” supporters, who on Election Day saw Maine vote to prohibit such relationships and New Jersey replace a governor who supports “gay marriage” with one who opposes it. The defeat could have ramifications in New Jersey, where homosexual activists are pushing for a vote on a bill there before lame duck Gov. Jon Corzine leaves office Jan. 19.

full article here

Voice of the Nation— The People’s Win in Maine

Join Heather and Angela for

Voice of the Nation

Family Values Blog Talk Radio

sandstrom_rockwood

On Thursday– This week on “Voice of the Nation” We will be talking about the great success in Maine and the election results for both conservative governors in Virginia and New Jersey. Join us as we talk  about protecting marriage and family as we move forward from the big win in Maine.

TUNE IN HERE

The Family Values Blog Talk Radio show is a joint effort between United Families International, the Digital Network Army, and other Pro-Family organizations in highlighting current issues facing families in the Pro-Family Movement.

Call in to VOICE OF THE NATION every Thursday at 2pm PST. The call-in number is

347- 215-6801

And Then There Was Maine

prop8_header

ProtectMarriage.com - Yes on Proposition 8


November 05, 2009

Dear friends,

November 3, 2009 was an auspicious day for traditional marriage in America.  The eyes of the nation have watched and waited for the outcome of a ballot initiative to prevent homosexual marriage from becoming law in Maine.  It was the 31st attempt by a state’s popular vote to protect the definition of traditional marriage.  Thirty times it had succeeded before, and the stakes were exceedingly high.  Both sides needed the victory – one, to keep our nation on the course divined by God and the other to use it as an indication that the national tide is turning away from centuries of understanding and practice of this sacred issue.

But the night clearly and decisively belonged to traditional marriage, with 53 percent of Maine voters restoring the definition of marriage to between one man and one woman!

The outcome was particularly gratifying because the win came in the liberal New England region of our country where surrounding states have legalized same-sex marriage, with Maine widely expected by the media, political pundits and the national gay establishment to follow suit.  And our opponents had every advantage: they tapped into vast financial resources of pro-homosexual activists across the country, raising nearly $5 million from all but 10 of our 50 states, claimed a volunteer corps of thousands, and were, of course, the darlings of the media.

Yet the traditional marriage campaign strategically and diligently went about the business of laying bare the experiences in states that have legalized same-sex marriage, sharing with Mainers what legal experts on both sides of the issue agreed would be an onslaught of legal actions against those who chose to exercise their conscience if gay marriage became law.

As a result of what occurred in Maine, we continue to herald that every single time voters have had the chance, they have supported traditional marriage.  Voters are tolerant of homosexual relationships, but they draw the line at the centuries-old institution of marriage because they understand the serious consequences to society – especially children – when traditional marriage is dismantled.

In the end, our efforts – buoyed by God’s blessing and the prayers and hard work of many involved in Prop 8 – carried the day, for which we are deeply grateful.  Yet with the same breath used to concede the race, our opponents clearly let it be known that they will continue the fight to make homosexual marriage the social norm.  And while this particular battle was waged and won in Maine, the message from our opponents in California was equally clear.

Equality California issued a message to their supporters just yesterday urging them to contact President Obama to engage in the Prop 8 legal battle by asking the court to rule it unconstitutional.  Make no mistake that our victory in Maine was a crushing blow to the gay activists who continue to fight us in federal court over Prop 8 and who, at this very minute, are directing their efforts to overturn it through another campaign.

We must not and will not rest on our laurels when we know that the other side is more focused than ever to push their agenda after Tuesday’s results.  Please help us keep the momentum for marriage going strong by contributing to our fight right here in California. As we learned in the Golden State last year and again in Maine this week, every effort by each individual participating in our mission makes the difference in the final outcome.

Sincerely,

Ron Prentice
Executive Director

www.protectmarriage.com

Maine Poll Tied on Question 1

lighthouse

Maine split on gay marriage question

From Public Policy Polling:  Raleigh, N.C. – Two weeks out from election day Maine voters are divided right down the middle when it comes to whether they will reject the state’s law allowing same sex couples to marry.

48% say they will vote to over turn the law while 48% say they will vote to keep it with only 4% of the electorate still undecided.

Opinion on the issue predictably breaks heavily along party lines. 74% of Republicans are planning to vote yes while only 25% of Democrats are. Independents may end up deciding which way it goes- presently 50% of them support rejecting the law with 44% in opposition. Older voters are strongest in their support of cutting off gay marriage. 54% are in support with 40% opposed. Senior citizens can often dominate the electorate in low turnout elections so the ultimate fate of this measure may lie in how many younger people get out to the polls and vote.

There is a strong gender gap on the issue with 53% of men but only 43% of women wanting to reject the law. It’s also interesting to note that while white voters oppose undoing the law by a thin 47-45 margin, nonwhite voters in the state support rejection by a 55-35 margin, creating the overall tie.

“The fate of Question 1 is going to be decided by which side does a better job of mobilizing their supporters to get out and vote,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.

“Voters in the state know where they stand on the issue and now it’s just an issue of who shows up.”

PPP surveyed 1,130 likely voters from October 16th to 19th. The survey’s margin of error is +/-2.9%. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

Complete results are attached and can be found at www.publicpolicypolling.com

PDF of results here

I can’t teach about homosexuality in schools? “Give Me A Break!”

Teacher:  I can’t teach about homosexuality in schools? “Give Me A Break!”

In a teacher’s own words!  Can there be any question what will happen in our schools?  Don’t let it happen!  Get involved!  and then Vote Yes on 1!

Firefly Dove

See this from Stand for Marriage Maine:

National Public Radio interviewed Deb Allen, a Massachusetts sex education teacher, on the topic of how some teachers have responded to the teaching of sex education following the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts. The content is chilling and should be a wake up call to all those who believe our opponents lies that gay marriage won’t be taught in Maine simply because it is not expressly required in LD 1020.

The NPR reporter tells listeners that when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, homosexual activists went right to work developing a, “gay friendly curriculum for kindergarten and up.” The reporter notes that Allen “says the debate around gay marriage is prompting kids to ask a lot more questions like what is gay sex which Allen answers thoroughly and explicitly with a chart.”  But the most alarming quote in our ad is from Ms. Allen herself:

“I know that, OK, this is legal now. If somebody wants to challenge me I say give me a break.” — Deb Allen, Teacher

The ad actually does not tell the full extent that this teacher instructs 8th graders on gay sex. The news story shockingly reveals that students learn in detail about various ways lesbians engage in sex.

WARNING: Graphic Contents

The full NPR story is available  here.

We entrust our young children to teachers every day that we send them to school. But because marriage has always been understood as being between a man and a woman, we have not had to worry about a trusted teacher teaching our sons and daughters about a new version of marriage and all that it entails. Yet all of that could change, as it has in other states, if we do not prevail on November 3rd.

Please help us get the word to Mainers that there are real consequences if Question 1 fails.  We have been working hard to explain to Mainers that there are significant, negative consequences to legalizing same-sex marriage that reach far beyond the boundaries of the two people who simply want to “marry”. We have laid bare the fact that legal scholars from across the country including those who support gay marriage predict a new flood of lawsuits against individuals, small businesses and religious organizations who may conscientiously object to providing their services to gay couples. We have shown proof that in other states where gay marriage is legal, it is taught to young children in school. We have made it abundantly clear that such instruction is, in fact, a part of public school curriculum. We have further established and the state Department of Education is on record agreeing with us that there is absolutely nothing in LD 1020 that prevents such instruction from taking place.

Time is of the essence to make sure that all Mainers know the very real, very serious, and very negative consequences to society should Question 1 fail on November 3rd. We are counting on your continued support.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

Jane Galt–A Libertarian View

libertarian

A Libertarian View

If this were an essay on economics, it would be the best essay on economics I’ve read in a year or more.
If this were an essay on social structures, it would be the best essay on social structures I’ve read on a year or more.
If this were an essay on conservative versus reformer mindsets, it would be the best essay on *that* that I’ve read in a year or more.
In fact, it was all three of those things, and I’m frankly stunned at how excellently you’ve made so many points in such a short space.
Bravo.

silhouette3.JPG From the desk of Jane Galt:

A really, really, really long post about gay marriage that does not, in the end, support one side or the other

Unlike most libertarians, I don’t have an opinion on gay marriage, and I’m not going to have an opinion no matter how much you bait me. However, I had an interesting discussion last night with another libertarian about it, which devolved into an argument about a certain kind of liberal/libertarian argument about gay marriage that I find really unconvincing.

Social conservatives of a more moderate stripe are essentially saying that marriage is an ancient institution, which has been carefully selected for throughout human history. It is a bedrock of our society; if it is destroyed, we will all be much worse off. (See what happened to the inner cities between 1960 and 1990 if you do not believe this.) For some reason, marriage always and everywhere, in every culture we know about, is between a man and a woman; this seems to be an important feature of the institution. We should not go mucking around and changing this extremely important institution, because if we make a bad change, the institution will fall apart.

A very common response to this is essentially to mock this as ridiculous. “Why on earth would it make any difference to me whether gay people are getting married? Why would that change my behavior as a heterosexual”

To which social conservatives reply that institutions have a number of complex ways in which they fulfill their roles, and one of the very important ways in which the institution of marriage perpetuates itself is by creating a romantic vision of oneself in marriage that is intrinsically tied into expressing one’s masculinity or femininity in relation to a person of the opposite sex; stepping into an explicitly gendered role. This may not be true of every single marriage, and indeed undoubtedly it is untrue in some cases. But it is true of the culture-wide institution. By changing the explicitly gendered nature of marriage we might be accidentally cutting away something that turns out to be a crucial underpinning.

To which, again, the other side replies “That’s ridiculous! I would never change my willingness to get married based on whether or not gay people were getting married!”

Now, economists hear this sort of argument all the time. “That’s ridiculous! I would never start working fewer hours because my taxes went up!” This ignores the fact that you may not be the marginal case. The marginal case may be some consultant who just can’t justify sacrificing valuable leisure for a new project when he’s only making 60 cents on the dollar. The result will nonetheless be the same: less economic activity. Similarly, you–highly educated, firmly socialized, upper middle class you–may not be the marginal marriage candidate; it may be some high school dropout in Tuscaloosa. That doesn’t mean that the institution of marriage won’t be weakened in America just the same.

This should not be taken as an endorsement of the idea that gay marriage will weaken the current institution. I can tell a plausible story where it does; I can tell a plausible story where it doesn’t. I have no idea which one is true. That is why I have no opinion on gay marriage, and am not planning to develop one. Marriage is a big institution; too big for me to feel I have a successful handle on it.

However, I am bothered by this specific argument, which I have heard over and over from the people I know who favor gay marriage laws. I mean, literally over and over; when they get into arguments, they just repeat it, again and again. “I will get married even if marriage is expanded to include gay people; I cannot imagine anyone up and deciding not to get married because gay people are getting married; therefore, the whole idea is ridiculous and bigoted.”

They may well be right. Nonetheless, libertarians should know better. The limits of your imagination are not the limits of reality. Every government programme that libertarians have argued against has been defended at its inception with exactly this argument.

Let me take three major legal innovations, one of them general, two specific to marriage.

The first, the general one, is well known to most hard-core libertarians, but let me reprise it anyway. When the income tax was initially being debated, there was a suggestion to put in a mandatory cap; I believe the level was 10 percent.

Don’t be ridiculous, the Senator’s colleagues told him. Americans would never allow an income tax rate as high as ten percent. They would revolt! It is an outrage to even suggest it!

Many actually fought the cap on the grounds that it would encourage taxes to grow too high, towards the cap. The American people, they asserted, could be well counted on to keep income taxes in the range of a few percentage points.

Oops.

Now, I’m not a tax-crazy libertarian; I don’t expect you to be horrified that we have income taxes higher than ten percent, as I’m not. But the point is that the Senators were completely right–at that time. However, the existence of the income tax allowed for a slow creep that eroded the American resistance to income taxation. External changes–from the Great Depression, to the technical ability to manage withholding rather than lump payments, also facilitated the rise, but they could not have without a cultural sea change in feelings about taxation. That “ridiculous” cap would have done a much, much better job holding down tax rates than the culture these Senators erroneously relied upon. Changing the law can, and does, change the culture of the thing regulated.

Another example is welfare. To sketch a brief history of welfare, it emerged in the nineteenth century as “Widows and orphans pensions”, which were paid by the state to destitute families whose breadwinner had passed away. They were often not available to blacks; they were never available to unwed mothers. Though public services expanded in the first half of the twentieth century, that mentality was very much the same: public services were about supporting unfortunate families, not unwed mothers. Unwed mothers could not, in most cases, obtain welfare; they were not allowed in public housing (which was supposed to be–and was–a way station for young, struggling families on the way to home ownership, not a permanent abode); they were otherwise discriminated against by social services. The help you could expect from society was a home for wayward girls, in which you would give birth and then put the baby up for adoption.

The description of public housing in the fifties is shocking to anyone who’s spent any time in modern public housing. Big item on the agenda at the tenant’s meeting: housewives, don’t shake your dustcloths out of the windows–other wives don’t want your dirt in their apartment! Men, if you wear heavy work boots, please don’t walk on the lawns until you can change into lighter shoes, as it damages the grass! (Descriptions taken from the invaluable book, The Inheritance, about the transition of the white working class from Democrat to Republican.) Needless to say, if those same housing projects could today find a majority of tenants who reliably dusted, or worked, they would be thrilled.

Public housing was, in short, a place full of functioning families.

Now, in the late fifties, a debate began over whether to extend benefits to the unmarried. It was unfair to stigmatise unwed mothers. Why shouldn’t they be able to avail themselves of the benefits available to other citizens? The brutal societal prejudice against illegitimacy was old fashioned, bigoted, irrational.

But if you give unmarried mothers money, said the critics, you will get more unmarried mothers.

Ridiculous, said the proponents of the change. Being an unmarried mother is a brutal, thankless task. What kind of idiot would have a baby out of wedlock just because the state was willing to give her paltry welfare benefits?

People do all sorts of idiotic things, said the critics. If you pay for something, you usually get more of it.

C’mon said the activists. That’s just silly. I just can’t imagine anyone deciding to get pregnant out of wedlock simply because there are welfare benefits available.

Oooops.

Of course, change didn’t happen overnight. But the marginal cases did have children out of wedlock, which made it more acceptable for the next marginal case to do so. Meanwhile, women who wanted to get married essentially found themselves in competition for young men with women who were willing to have sex, and bear children, without forcing the men to take any responsibility. This is a pretty attractive proposition for most young men. So despite the fact that the sixties brought us the biggest advance in birth control ever, illegitimacy exploded. In the early 1960s, a black illegitimacy rate of roughly 25 percent caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan to write a tract warning of a crisis in “the negro family” (a tract for which he was eviscerated by many of those selfsame activists.)

By 1990, that rate was over 70 percent. This, despite the fact that the inner city, where the illegitimacy problem was biggest, only accounts for a fraction of the black population.

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way. Possibly one of the most moving moments in Jason de Parle’s absolutely wonderful book, American Dream, which follows three welfare mothers through welfare reform, is when he reveals that none of these three women, all in their late thirties, had ever been to a wedding.

Marriage matters. It is better for the kids; it is better for the adults raising those kids; and it is better for the childless people in the communities where those kids and adults live. Marriage reduces poverty, improves kids outcomes in all measurable ways, makes men live longer and both spouses happier. Marriage, it turns out, is an incredibly important institution. It also turns out to be a lot more fragile than we thought back then. It looked, to those extremely smart and well-meaning welfare reformers, practically unshakable; the idea that it could be undone by something as simple as enabling women to have children without husbands, seemed ludicrous. Its cultural underpinnings were far too firm. Why would a woman choose such a hard road? It seemed self-evident that the only unwed mothers claiming benefits would be the ones pushed there by terrible circumstance.

This argument is compelling and logical. I would never become an unwed welfare mother, even if benefits were a great deal higher than they are now. It seems crazy to even suggest that one would bear a child out of wedlock for $567 a month. Indeed, to this day, I find the reformist side much more persuasive than the conservative side, except for one thing, which is that the conservatives turned out to be right. In fact, they turned out to be even more right than they suspected; they were predicting upticks in illegitimacy that were much more modest than what actually occurred–they expected marriage rates to suffer, not collapse.

How did people go so badly wrong? Well, to start with, they fell into the basic fallacy that economists are so well acquainted with: they thought about themselves instead of the marginal case. For another, they completely failed to realize that each additional illegitimate birth would, in effect, slightly destigmatise the next one. They assigned men very little agency, failing to predict that women willing to forgo marriage would essentially become unwelcome competition for women who weren’t, and that as the numbers changed, that competition might push the marriage market towards unwelcome outcomes. They failed to foresee the confounding effect that the birth control pill would have on sexual mores.

But I think the core problems are two. The first is that they looked only at individuals, and took institutions as a given. That is, they looked at all the cultural pressure to marry, and assumed that that would be a countervailing force powerful enough to overcome the new financial incentives for out-of-wedlock births. They failed to see the institution as dynamic. It wasn’t a simple matter of two forces: cultural pressure to marry, financial freedom not to, arrayed against each other; those forces had a complex interplay, and when you changed one, you changed the other.

The second is that they didn’t assign any cultural reason for, or value to, the stigma on illegitimacy. They saw it as an outmoded vestige of a repressive Victorial values system, based on an unnatural fear of sexuality. But the stigma attached to unwed motherhood has quite logical, and important, foundations: having a child without a husband is bad for children, and bad for mothers, and thus bad for the rest of us. So our culture made it very costly for the mother to do. Lower the cost, and you raise the incidence. As an economist would say, incentives matter.

(Now, I am not arguing in favor of stigmatizing unwed mothers the way the Victorians did. I’m just pointing out that the stigma did not exist merely, as many mid-century reformers seem to have believed, because of some dark Freudian excesses on the part of our ancestors.)

But all the reformers saw was the terrible pain–and it was terrible–inflicted on unwed mothers. They saw the terrible unfairness–and it was terribly unfair–of punishing the mother, and not the father. They saw the inherent injustice–and need I add, it was indeed unjust–of treating American citizens differently because of their marital status.

But as G.K. Chesterton points out, people who don’t see the use of a social institution are the last people who should be allowed to reform it:

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.

Now, of course, this can turn into a sort of precautionary principle that prevents reform from ever happening. That would be bad; all sorts of things need changing all the time, because society and our environment change. But as a matter of principle, it is probably a bad idea to let someone go mucking around with social arrangements, such as the way we treat unwed parenthood, if their idea about that institution is that “it just growed”. You don’t have to be a rock-ribbed conservative to recognize that there is something of an evolutionary process in society: institutional features are not necessarily the best possible arrangement, but they have been selected for a certain amount of fitness.

It might also be, of course, that the feature is what evolutionary biologists call a spandrel. It’s a term taken from architecture; spandrels are the pretty little spaces between vaulted arches. They are not designed for; they are a useless, but pretty, side effect of the physical properties of arches. In evolutionary biology, spandrel is some feature which is not selected for, but appears as a byproduct of other traits that are selected for. Belly buttons are a neat place to put piercings, but they’re not there because of that; they’re a byproduct of mammalian reproduction.

However, and architect will be happy to tell you that if you try to rip out the spandrel, you might easily bring down the building.

The third example I’ll give is of changes to the marriage laws, specifically the radical relaxation of divorce statutes during the twentieth century.

Divorce, in the nineteenth century, was unbelievably hard to get. It took years, was expensive, and required proving that your spouse had abandoned you for an extended period with no financial support; was (if male) not merely discreetly dallying but flagrantly carrying on; or was not just belting you one now and again when you got mouthy, but routinely pummeling you within an inch of your life. After you got divorced, you were a pariah in all but the largest cities. If you were a desperately wronged woman you might change your name, taking your maiden name as your first name and continuing to use your husband’s last name to indicate that you expected to continue living as if you were married (i.e. chastely) and expect to have some limited intercourse with your neighbors, though of course you would not be invited to events held in a church, or evening affairs. Financially secure women generally (I am not making this up) moved to Europe; Edith Wharton, who moved to Paris when she got divorced, wrote moving stories about the way divorced women were shunned at home. Men, meanwhile (who were usually the respondents) could expect to see more than half their assets and income settled on their spouse and children.

There were, critics observed, a number of unhappy marriages in which people stuck together. Young people, who shouldn’t have gotten married; older people, whose spouses were not physically abusive nor absent, nor flagrantly adulterous, but whose spouse was, for reasons of financial irresponsibility, mental viciousness, or some other major flaw, destroying their life. Why not make divorce easier to get? Rather than requiring people to show that there was an unforgivable, physically visible, cause that the marriage should be dissolved, why not let people who wanted to get divorced agree to do so?

Because if you make divorce easier, said the critics, you will get much more of it, and divorce is bad for society.

That’s ridiculous! said the reformers. (Can we sing it all together now?) People stay married because marriage is a bedrock institution of our society, not because of some law! The only people who get divorced will be people who have terrible problems! A few percentage points at most!

Oops. When the law changed, the institution changed. The marginal divorce made the next one easier. Again, the magnitude of the change swamped the dire predictions of the anti-reformist wing; no one could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, a day when half of all marriages ended in divorce.

There were actually two big changes; the first, when divorce laws were amended in most states to make it easier to get a divorce; and the second, when “no fault” divorce allowed one spouse to unilaterally end the marriage. The second change produced another huge surge in the divorce rate, and a nice decline in the incomes of divorced women; it seems advocates had failed to anticipate that removing the leverage of the financially weaker party to hold out for a good settlement would result in men keeping more of their earnings to themselves.

What’s more, easy divorce didn’t only change the divorce rate; it made drastic changes to the institution of marriage itself. David Brooks makes an argument I find convincing: that the proliferation of the kind of extravagant weddings that used to only be the province of high society (rented venue, extravagant flowers and food, hundreds of guests, a band with dancing, dresses that cost the same as a good used car) is because the event itself doesn’t mean nearly as much as it used to, so we have to turn it into a three-ring circus to feel like we’re really doing something.

A couple in 1940 (and even more so in 1910) could go to a minister’s parlor, or a justice of the peace, and in five minutes totally change their lives. Unless you are a member of certain highly religious subcultures, this is simply no longer true. That is, of course, partly because of the sexual revolution and the emancipation of women; but it is also because you aren’t really making a lifetime commitment; you’re making a lifetime commitment unless you find something better to do. There is no way, psychologically, to make the latter as big an event as the former, and when you lost that commitment, you lose, on the margin, some willingness to make the marriage work. Again, this doesn’t mean I think divorce law should be toughened up; only that changes in law that affect marriage affect the cultural institution, not just the legal practice.

Three laws. Three well-meaning reformers who were genuinely, sincerely incapable of imagining that their changes would wreak such institutional havoc. Three sets of utterly logical and convincing, and wrong arguments about how people would behave after a major change.

So what does this mean? That we shouldn’t enact gay marriage because of some sort of social Precautionary Principle

No. I have no such grand advice.

My only request is that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes. The argument that gay marriage will not change the institution of marriage because you can’t imagine it changing your personal reaction is pretty arrogant. It imagines, first of all, that your behavior is a guide for the behavior of everyone else in society, when in fact, as you may have noticed, all sorts of different people react to all sorts of different things in all sorts of different ways, which is why we have to have elections and stuff. And second, the unwavering belief that the only reason that marriage, always and everywhere, is a male-female institution (I exclude rare ritual behaviors), is just some sort of bizarre historical coincidence, and that you know better, needs examining. If you think you know why marriage is male-female, and why that’s either outdated because of all the ways in which reproduction has lately changed, or was a bad reason to start with, then you are in a good place to advocate reform. If you think that marriage is just that way because our ancestors were all a bunch of repressed bastards with dark Freudian complexes that made them homophobic bigots, I’m a little leery of letting you muck around with it.

Is this post going to convince anyone? I doubt it; everyone but me seems to already know all the answers, so why listen to such a hedging, doubting bore? I myself am trying to draw a very fine line between being humble about making big changes to big social institutions, and telling people (which I am not trying to do) that they can’t make those changes because other people have been wrong in the past. In the end, our judgment is all we have; everyone will have to rely on their judgment of whether gay marriage is, on net, a good or a bad idea. All I’m asking for is for people to think more deeply than a quick consultation of their imaginations to make that decision. I realize that this probably falls on the side of supporting the anti-gay-marriage forces, and I’m sorry, but I can’t help that. This humility is what I want from liberals when approaching market changes; now I’m asking it from my side too, in approaching social ones. I think the approach is consistent, if not exactly popular.

A quick extra note on gay marriage

There are a lot of libertarians who dismiss arguments about gay marriage with the declaration that the state shouldn’t be in the business of sanctifying marriage anyway. I don’t find that a particularly satisfying argument. It’s quite possibly true that in some ideal libertarian state, the government would not be in the business of defining marriages, or would merely enforce whatever creative contracts people chose to draw up. That’s a lovely discussion for a libertarian forum. However, we are confronting a major legal change that is actually happening in the country we live in, where marriage is, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, an institution in which the government is intimately involved. While I’m happy to debate about whether or not the state should define the form of marriage in my libertarian utopia, I don’t think that this is necessarily a good guide to the kinds of laws I want to see enacted in America, which in so many, many ways does not look like my utopia.

For example, in my libertarian utopia, there would be no social security. People would save for their own retirements; social insurance would be for people who had something actually unpredictable and unexpected happen to them.If there is anything more predictable than aging, I don’t want to run into it.

Does that mean that I would advocate, say, getting rid of Social Security today? Shut down the administration, turn off the check-writing machines, and tell our senior citizens to get a goddamn job?

Don’t be ridiculous. People planned their lives around this government assurance; you can’t just rip it away and let millions of people starve. You can’t just import one aspect of my libertarian utopia–no social security–without the crucial things that underpin it, like a population that knows it’s expected to save for its own retirement. Similarly, you can’t just import one feature of anarcho-capitalist life–anyone can marry anyone they want–as if all the vast social changes that an anarcho-capitalist or minarchist system would represent, are already there.

Update: A number of libertarians are, as I predicted, making the “Why don’t we just privatize marriage?” argument. I don’t find that useful in the context of the debate about gay marriage in America, where marriage is simply not going to be privatized in any foreseeable near-term future.

Also, a lot of readers are saying that I’m wrong about marriage always being between a man and a woman, citing polygamy. I have been told this is a “basic factual error.”

No, it’s not. Polygamous societies do not (at least in any society I have ever heard about) have group marriages. Men with more than one wife have multiple marriages with multiple women, not a single marriage with several wives. In fact, they generally take pains to separate the women, preferably in different houses. Whether or not you allow men to contract for more than one marriage (and for all sorts of reasons, this seems to me to be a bad idea unless you’re in an era of permanent war), each marriage remains the union of a man and a woman.

Original article found here: http://www.janegalt.net/blog/archives/005244.html

Stand for Marriage Maine—Safe Schools

In Maine, gay activists are trying to claim that homosexuality will not be taught in schools, but it already is in other states.  These activists target young children

“before they are old enough to have been convinced that there is another way of looking at life…”

Make no mistake.  Those pushing the gay agenda have put schools front and center in the battlefield over homosexual rights.

—Beetle Blogger

Questions & Answers About Question 1

What is Question 1?

A People’s Veto is a simple and straightforward voter-initiated measure that gives voters the power to decide if they accept or reject an act of the legislature. More than 100,000 Mainers signed the petition to place this People’s Veto on the November ballot as Question 1 to repeal the recent same-sex marriage proposal (LD 1020) passed by Maine’s legislature.

Passage of the Question 1 will restore the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman by asking the citizens of Maine, “Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?”

Marriage is a pillar of society and should be protected from distortion by politicians and homosexual marriage activists who want to redefine it to suit their objectives.

Question 1 will preserve the centuries-old definition of marriage.

What does a Yes Vote Mean?

Voting Yes on Question 1 does several important things:

  • It restores the definition of marriage to what Maine Law has always been and human history has understood marriage to be: between a man and a woman
  • It maintains the rights and benefits of Maine same-sex couples who are covered by our domestic partners law. A YES vote does not take anything away from homosexual couples, but protects traditional marriage.
  • It protects our children from being taught in public schools that “same-sex marriage” is the same as traditional marriage as happens in Massachusetts, where children as young as the second grade are being taught that they can grow up to marry either a boy or a girl, and either option is the same, while parents cannot opt their children out of such “instruction.”
  • And, a Yes vote on Question 1 puts the power in the hands of the voters, not politicians!

What does a NO Vote Mean?

If Question 1 is defeated, LD 1020 will take effect and the sanctity of marriage will be destroyed. Maine law will no longer promote monogamous marriages and the interests of children. Marriage’s powerful influence on the betterment of society will be lost.

The defeat of the Question 1 would result in the very meaning of marriage being transformed into nothing more than a contractual relationship between adults.

No longer will the interests of children and families even be a consideration.

Defeat of Question 1 will mean that homosexual marriage activists will have been able to redefine marriage for all of society, even for those people who have deep objections to it.

The marriage between a man and a woman has been at the heart of society since the beginning of time.

It promotes the ideal opportunity for children to be raised by a mother and father in a family held together by the legal, communal and spiritual bonds of marriage.

And while divorce and death too frequently disrupt the ideal, as a society we should put the best interests of children first, and that is traditional marriage.

Voting No on Question 1 would destroy marriage as we know it and cause profound harm to society.
Will Question 1 take away any rights for gay and lesbian domestic partners?
No.

Question 1 doesn’t take away any rights or benefits from gay or lesbian partners who are covered by Maine’s domestic partners law.

Maine law guarantees gay couples many of the rights offered to heterosexual couples.

Passage of Question 1 will not change that.

Federal law controls other rights and changing the definition of marriage in Maine similarly won’t change that.
If Question 1 does not pass, will my children be forced to learn about homosexual marriage at school?
Yes.

Without Question 1, teachers will be required to teach young children that there is no difference between homosexual marriage and traditional marriage and parents will lose control over what their kids learn in school about marriage and sexual orientation.

This is not a hypothesis.

It has already happened.

In states like Massachusetts where same-sex marriage has been legalized.

Children as young as second graders are taught that there is no difference between marriage and same-sex “marriages.”

Worse, parents who do not want their children exposed to this homosexual marriage instruction have been denied an opportunity to opt their children out. (See Parker vs. Hurley)
Why was a People’s Veto needed? Don’t we already have a law clarifying the definition of marriage?
“An Act to Promote Marriage Equality and Affirm Religious Freedom” was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor on May 6, and is scheduled to take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature in mid-June. Without a People’s Veto, Mainers will be denied the right that voters in 30 other states have already exercised, which is to decide this critically important question for ourselves. It is wrong for politicians and homosexual marriage activists to redefine marriage for all of society without giving Maine voters an opportunity to have their say.

Who supports this initiative?

A wide range of national, state and local pro-family organizations, churches and individuals have formed a broad-based coalition to enact a People’s Veto, which more than 100,000 Mainers supported to qualify for the November ballot..

People of a variety of different faiths stand united in preserving the definition of marriage in Maine.

To view a list of supporters, visit http://www.standformarriagemaine.com
What will happen to the existing same-sex partnership laws if Question 1 passes?

Nothing.

All laws on the books regarding same-sex couples will remain intact.

Gays and lesbians in a committed relationship will continue to enjoy all the legal rights and benefits that married couples enjoy, under existing Maine law. Question 1 does not affect those rights and benefits.
Where can I find more information about Question 1 or get involved in the campaign?

You can visit the People’s Veto site at http://www.standformarriagemaine.com or send an email at info@standformarriagemaine.com.

There are a number of ways to get involved with the campaign, including volunteering, donating and helping to spread the word about the importance of voting YES on Question 1.

http://www.standformarriagemaine.com/?page_id=259

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