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Gay Marriage Negates Rights of Child

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    Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving. But in all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Protecting marriage to
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2008
      Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving. But in all
      societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood.

      Protecting marriage to protect children

      By David Blankenhorn
      Los Angeles Times

      I'm a liberal Democrat. And I do not favor same-sex marriage. Do those
      positions sound contradictory? To me, they fit together.

      Many seem to believe that marriage is simply a private love relationship
      between two people. They accept this view, in part, because Americans
      have increasingly emphasized and come to value the intimate, emotional
      side of marriage, and in part because almost all opinion leaders today,
      from journalists to judges, strongly embrace this position. That's
      certainly the idea that underpinned the California Supreme Court's
      legalization of same-sex marriage.

      But I spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage,
      and I've come to a different conclusion.

      Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its
      features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In
      all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood.
      Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a
      license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits
      or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children.

      In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next
      generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core
      dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one
      pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man
      and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and
      raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born,
      there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and
      to each other.

      These days, because of the gay marriage debate, one can be sent to bed
      without supper for saying such things. But until very recently, almost
      no one denied this core fact about marriage. Summing up the
      cross-cultural evidence, the anthropologist Helen Fisher in 1992 put it
      simply: "People wed primarily to reproduce." The philosopher and Nobel
      laureate Bertrand Russell, certainly no friend of conventional sexual
      morality, was only repeating the obvious a few decades earlier when he
      concluded that "it is through children alone that sexual relations
      become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a
      legal institution."

      Marriage is society's most pro-child institution. In 2002 -- just
      moments before it became highly unfashionable to say so -- a team of
      researchers from Child Trends, a nonpartisan research center, reported
      that "family structure clearly matters for children, and the family
      structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two
      biological parents in a low-conflict marriage."

      All our scholarly instruments seem to agree: For healthy development,
      what a child needs more than anything else is the mother and father who
      together made the child, who love the child and love each other.

      For these reasons, children have the right, insofar as society can make
      it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought
      them into this world. The foundational human rights document in the
      world today regarding children, the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights
      of the Child, specifically guarantees children this right. The last time
      I checked, liberals like me were supposed to be in favor of
      internationally recognized human rights, particularly concerning
      children, who are typically society's most voiceless and vulnerable
      group. Or have I now said something I shouldn't?

      Every child being raised by gay or lesbian couples will be denied his
      birthright to both parents who made him. Every single one. Moreover,
      losing that right will not be a consequence of something that at least
      most of us view as tragic, such as a marriage that didn't last, or an
      unexpected pregnancy where the father-to-be has no intention of sticking
      around. On the contrary, in the case of same-sex marriage and the
      children of those unions, it will be explained to everyone, including
      the children, that something wonderful has happened!

      For me, what we are encouraged or permitted to say, or not say, to one
      another about what our society owes its children is crucially important
      in the debate over initiatives like California's Proposition 8, which
      would reinstate marriage's customary man-woman form. Do you think that
      every child deserves his mother and father, with adoption available for
      those children whose natural parents cannot care for them? Do you
      suspect that fathers and mothers are different from one another? Do you
      imagine that biological ties matter to children? How many parents per
      child is best? Do you think that "two" is a better answer than one,
      three, four or whatever? If you do, be careful. In making the case for
      same-sex marriage, more than a few grown-ups will be quite willing to
      question your integrity and goodwill. Children, of course, are rarely

      The liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously argued that, in many
      cases, the real conflict we face is not good versus bad but good versus
      good. Reducing homophobia is good. Protecting the birthright of the
      child is good. How should we reason together as a society when these two
      good things conflict?

      Here is my reasoning. I reject homophobia and believe in the equal
      dignity of gay and lesbian love. Because I also believe with all my
      heart in the right of the child to the mother and father who made her, I
      believe that we as a society should seek to maintain and to strengthen
      the only human institution -- marriage -- that is specifically intended
      to safeguard that right and make it real for our children.

      Legalized same-sex marriage almost certainly benefits those same-sex
      couples who choose to marry, as well as the children being raised in
      those homes. But changing the meaning of marriage to accommodate
      homosexual orientation further and perhaps definitively undermines for
      all of us the very thing -- the gift, the birthright -- that is
      marriage's most distinctive contribution to human society. That's a
      change that, in the final analysis, I cannot support.

      David Blankenhorn is president of the New York-based Institute for
      American Values and the author of "The Future of Marriage."


      Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: What is at Stake?

      by John Spritzler

      There are good people on either side of the same-sex marriage debate.
      Unfortunately, however, it has been one of the most divisive issues in
      society. Opponents of same-sex marriage perceive the other side as part
      of a cabal of gay activists and social-engineering judges and
      politicians, intent on making a mockery of important social values.
      Proponents of same-sex marriage often perceive the other side as
      "homophobic" bigots or religious fundamentalists who want to deprive gay
      or lesbian couples of a right enjoyed by others because they hate

      The debate over same-sex marriage has divided people who share common
      values and beliefs on many fundamental questions--war and peace,
      economic security, democracy versus the increasingly anti-democratic and
      repressive nature of American society. This divisive debate cripples the
      ability of ordinary Americans to unite around the things that we agree
      on. Many people who describe themselves as liberals or leftists
      unfortunately use the issue as a litmus test, and treat anybody who does
      not support same-sex marriage as an enemy. This article attempts to turn
      a divisive debate into an evidence-based discussion in which both sides
      appreciate the fundamentally decent values that motivate the other side.

      There are reasons why negative perceptions of people on the opposing
      sides in this debate prevail.

      Opponents of same-sex marriage typically do not give persuasive reasons
      for their opposition. Often they simply cite the Bible or make vague
      declarations to the effect that same-sex marriage is "obviously crazy"
      or "against nature." Many of them seem to feel that everybody already
      knows what's wrong with same-sex marriage, or should know, and those who
      don't already know never will, so rational arguments are not called for.

      Proponents of same-sex marriage, knowing that large majorities have
      voted against same-sex marriage in statewide referenda (2004 election:
      Arkansas 75%, Georgia 76%, Kentucky 75%, Michigan 59%, Mississippi 86%,
      Montana 67%, North Dakota 73%, Ohio 62%, Oklahoma 76%, Oregon 57%, and
      Utah 66%) try to keep the question off the ballot, hoping that judges
      will make it legal by a court ruling, as happened in Massachusetts, the
      only state where it is legal today. In so doing, they have appeared to
      the other side as a social-engineering elite contemptuous of the central
      idea of democracy--that ordinary people are fit to entrust with the
      important decisions in society.

      There are also reasons, however, why these negative perceptions of
      people--on both sides of the issue--are unfair and misleading.

      Proponents of same-sex marriage presumably don't think of themselves as
      elitist social engineers. They simply believe that, as they put it,
      "It's wrong to vote on rights." They see no reason to oppose same-sex
      marriage other than bigotry, and think it is as wrong to let people vote
      away same-sex couples' right to marry as it would be to let people vote
      away the civil rights of racial minorities or to vote against allowing
      mixed race couples to marry. It's not that they are against democracy;
      it's just that they are for fairness and justice even more.

      On the other side of the debate, people are not the irrational
      fundamentalists they are portrayed as. Take the fact that opponents of
      same-sex marriage often cite the Bible as their reason. Does this show
      that they have no rational basis for their beliefs because they believe
      anything if only the Bible says so? If somebody cites the Bible against
      same-sex marriage, does he or she also believe that, to take examples
      from sarcastic put-downs of such people, it is ok to "possess slaves,
      both male and female," as long as they are purchased from neighboring
      nations (Leviticus 25:44), or that one should put to death one's
      neighbor if he works on the Sabbath, as prescribed in Exodus 35:2?
      Clearly, people who cite the Bible against same-sex marriage do not
      believe in Biblical authority in general. People pick and choose from
      the Bible to defend only things that they believe independently of the
      Bible. People don't believe in slavery so they don't cite the Bible in
      support of it. They do oppose same-sex marriage and so they cite the
      Bible on that topic.

      Typically a person who selectively cites the Bible against same-sex
      marriage may have reasons that he or she cannot articulate well. People
      are not used to spelling out clearly why they believe ideas (like the
      rightness of the Golden Rule or the wrongness of same-sex marriage) that
      for thousands of years of human history have not required defending.

      Does society have a legitimate interest in defining who may marry?

      Is there anything about marriage that makes it legitimate for society to
      legislate who can and who cannot marry? After all, nobody says that
      society should legislate who can be friends with each other, or who can
      be business partners with each other. So what concern is it of society
      who marries each other?

      The answer to this question, as almost everybody agrees, is that, in
      contrast to a friendship or business relationship, a marriage
      relationship can (which is not to say "should") produce children, and
      society has a legitimate concern with the interests and welfare of
      children. The point is simply that there is only one fact about a
      marriage relationship that both distinguishes it from other kinds of
      relationships and gives society a legitimate reason for legislating who
      may enter into this relationship (i.e. marry each other), and that is
      its potential for producing children with society's formal approval.

      When society allows people to marry it is endorsing their right to "have
      a child of their own" (which used to be equivalent to the right to have
      sex.) All of the benefits society confers on married couples are
      essentially ways that society promotes and encourages certain
      potentially child-producing relationships.

      Thus, the reason society does not let siblings marry is because it is
      concerned that the children produced by such a marriage are at a higher
      risk of genetic harm.* The reason nobody objected when the British
      government recently ordered the dissolution of the marriage of a man and
      woman, who found out only after they married that they were siblings
      separated at birth, is that virtually everybody believes that the
      welfare of children trumps the desires of adults. Nobody believes that
      the prohibition of sibling marriage is motivated by hatred of siblings.
      By the same token, society has no objection to siblings being friends or
      business partners--relationships that are not called marriages for the
      simple reason that they are not relationships within which people have
      society's formal approval to "have a child of their own."

      It is not logical to dismiss the entire question of whom society should
      allow to marry by declaring, as some do, that, "The government should
      not be involved with marriage at all--it's a private (or religious)
      issue that is none of the government's business." Even those who think
      the government should stay out of people's private affairs would surely
      agree that it is proper for the government to protect the weakest
      members of society, and that when people harm the weakest members of
      society then it is, by definition, no longer a "private" affair but a
      public one. No reasonable person, for example, would argue that the
      government should not prevent people from molesting their children or
      abusing their frail and elderly parents on the grounds that these are
      "private" family affairs. By the same token, nobody who believes that
      the children of siblings are at higher risk of genetic harm would argue
      that the government should not prevent siblings from marrying, on the
      grounds that "marriage is none of the government's business."

      When society allows same-sex couples to marry, it is, therefore,
      officially endorsing their right to "have a child of their own." But
      such couples can only do this by means of test-tube conception, by which
      term I am referring to babies conceived by means of donated (often
      anonymously) sperm or egg. This method of conception necessarily entails
      depriving the child of a normal family connection (and often of any
      connection whatsoever) with its biological mother or father, in order to
      satisfy the desires of a homosexual couple who cannot naturally conceive
      on their own. Making same-sex marriage legal therefore means giving
      formal social endorsement of this practice. If test-tube conception is
      harmful to children, and if we agree that the welfare of children trumps
      the desires of adults, then it follows that society should not make
      same-sex marriage legal.

      The question then becomes, is a child harmed by being deprived of a
      relationship with its biological mother or farther?

      The Psychological Pain and Damage Due to Being a Test-Tube Baby

      There has never been a thorough public discussion about the possible
      harm to children caused by their being conceived as a test-tube baby. We
      all agree that society should protect its weakest members, especially
      children. But we haven't yet, as a society, thoroughly discussed or
      decided how to apply this principle to the question of test-tube babies.
      (Go here for some background facts and statistics about test-tube babies
      in the United States and other countries.)

      There is considerable evidence of the psychological harm done to
      children by being deprived of a connection to one of their biological
      parents by virtue of their being test-tube babies.

      Ellen Singer, LCSW-C, at The Center for Adoption Support and Education,
      Inc., in her article, "Talking with Children Conceived Through Donor
      Insemination, IVF with Egg Donor or Surrogacy," writes about the
      "painful feelings" that a test-tube child will naturally have:

      "Just as an adopted child may wish he had been born to his adoptive
      parents, a child conceived with donor assistance may experience a sense
      of loss that he is not biologically/genetically related to both parents.
      Rather than protecting children from painful feelings through secrecy,
      parents who disclose information need to believe that children can be
      helped to cope with painful feelings."

      Katrina Clark, in her Washington Post article, "My Father Was an
      Anonymous Sperm Donor," writes about "the puzzle of who I am." She
      writes, "I'm 18, and for most of my life, I haven't known half my
      origins. I didn't know where my nose or jaw came from, or my interest in
      foreign cultures. I obviously got my teeth and my penchant for corny
      jokes from my mother, along with my feminist perspective. But a whole
      other part of me was a mystery. That part came from my father. The only
      thing was, I had never met him, never heard any stories about him, never
      seen a picture of him. I didn't know his name. My mother never talked
      about him -- because she didn't have a clue who he was." Ms. Clark tells
      us that she feels harmed by being a test-tube child:

      "I was angry at the idea that where donor conception is concerned,
      everyone focuses on the "parents" -- the adults who can make choices
      about their own lives. The recipient gets sympathy for wanting to have a
      child. The donor gets a guarantee of anonymity and absolution from any
      responsibility for the offspring of his "donation." As long as these
      adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?

      "Not so. The children born of these transactions are people, too. Those
      of us in the first documented generation of donor babies -- conceived in
      the late 1980s and early '90s, when sperm banks became more common and
      donor insemination began to flourish -- are coming of age, and we have
      something to say.

      "I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up.
      We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and
      confusion. It's hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to
      assume that biological roots won't matter to the "products" of the
      cryobanks' service, when the longing for a biological relationship is
      what brings customers to the banks in the first place.

      "We offspring are recognizing the right that was stripped from us at
      birth -- the right to know who both our parents are."

      Ms. Clark makes a powerful point when she notes that a child's longing
      for a biological relationship can hardly be dismissed as unimportant
      when it is precisely such a longing by adults that "brings customers to
      the [sperm] banks in the first place."

      Another child of donor insemination writes of her feelings in the BMJ
      (formerly known as the British Medical Journal) in her article, "How it
      feels to be a child of donor insemination." She describes how, as a
      pre-teen she fantasized about her biological father being a famous star
      or a prince, but that "As the turbulent teenage years passed the fantasy
      lost its appeal. I began to think increasingly about where I came from
      and became angry that I had been deprived of what I believe are my basic
      rights." She explains that,

      "I thought more about my genetic father, a welcome distraction from the
      tedium of revision. I would stare in the mirror analysing features that
      I had not inherited from my mother. I would scour faces in the street,
      in the supermarket, and at school, desperately searching for
      similarities in others—older men could be my father, people my age
      my half siblings. I lived in a surreal world wondering if one of the men
      passing or teaching me was my genetic father. All I wanted was some
      information, not necessarily to meet him and never for him to feel any
      obligation towards me.

      "I am curious about him—he provided half my genes and I have a
      natural desire to know about my biological origins. I am fascinated to
      find out more. Why did he donate? What does he look like? What are his
      interests, his job? Who knows, he might want to know more about me."

      Adopted** children provide more insight into the kind of suffering that
      is caused when a person does not know his or her biological parents, no
      matter how loving the adopting parents may be. One such adopted child,
      Betty Jean Lifton, as an adult wrote Journey of the Adopted Self: A
      Quest for Wholeness. She recounts:

      "As I played my role of the good daughter--repressing a natural need to
      know where I came from--I was unaware that the secrecy inherent in the
      adoption system was shaping and constricting the self through which I
      organized my perception of reality...Having repressed my real feelings,
      I was not consciously aware of my pain. And as a consequence, I was not
      consciously aware of myself, except as someone unreal pretending to be
      real. I did things that my human friends did, even looked real in my
      high school and college graduation pictures, and in the photographs
      taken at my wedding..." [pp. 4-5]

      "Why," Lifton asks, "do adopted people feel so alienated? Why do they
      feel unreal, invisible to themselves and others? Why do they feel
      unborn?" [pg. 7]

      Brian, the 17 year old son of a surrogate mother, writes online, in an
      extremely moving and powerful article, how angry he is at being sold, as
      he views it, by his mother.

      "My name is Brian and I am the son of a traditional surrogate, a
      biological father, and an adoptive mother. I think all of you here need
      to know how I feel about surrogacy...

      "How do you think we feel about being created specifically to be given
      away? You should all know that kids form their own opinions. I don't
      care why my parents or my mother did this. It looks to me like I was
      bought and sold. You can dress it up with as many pretty words as you
      want. You can wrap it up in a silk freaking scarf. You can pretend these
      are not your children. You can say it is a gift or you donated your egg
      to the IM. But the fact is that someone has contracted you to make a
      child, give up your parental rights and hand over your flesh and blood
      child. I don't care if you think I am not your child, what about what I
      think! Maybe I know I am your child. When you exchange something for
      money it is called a commodity. Babies are not commodities. Babies are
      human beings. How do you think this makes us feel to know that there was
      money exchanged for us?

      "Lets look at this from our point of view. Here is our biological mother
      our flesh and blood the woman who would naturally be raising and loving
      us totally denying that we are her child. I'm sorry but you just
      can't do that. We are your kids. We're your kids just as much as
      your own kids, but yet you only think of us as some sloughed off egg
      that you are giving to a substitute mother who no matter how much love
      she has just can't be the same as you? For 25 thousand dollars or
      whatever? You don't bond with us when you are carrying us and you
      deny that we are yours because you have deluded yourselves and deny who
      and what we really are. That is so totally not right that I can't
      believe anyone would think this is normal! And why are you doing this?
      For the most part its money from what I understand. Some of you have
      already admitted that in other posts. Would any of you do it if you did
      not get compensated for it? Or maybe if you didn't get that feeling
      of belonging or acceptance that you never had as a kid? How do you think
      that makes us kids feel? You may be able to deny us but we don't
      want to deny who you are. That makes us feel very rejected. That leaves
      a hole in our hearts whether we admit to it or it manifests some other
      way like in depression or a fear of getting close to someone else.

      "Sometimes it doesn't show up until we are in our teens or young adults
      and like me sometimes it shows up as a baby when I scream my head off
      for 6 weeks and they call it colic. They call it stomach gas or an
      immature neurological system. Nothing can console us. Bull. The truth is
      that nobody is able to explain it because babies can't talk.
      It's the only way a baby knows how to express itself and its rage
      and grief and morning is to scream. I wanted my mother and she
      wasn't there. I just had to accept it after a few weeks so I quit
      crying. Just wait. The evidence of babies having stress and knowing who
      their mothers are at birth is just beginning to come out. You can't
      just substitute mothers and expect us to be okay with it. You can have
      all the love and good intentions in the world but that doesn't make
      it okay with us."

      Note that the kind of pain these individuals (and many more) describe,
      due to the broken bond between themselves and their biological
      parent(s), is not something that would necessarily be manifested as an
      obvious failure to thrive, or in behaviors such as poor school
      performance or criminality etc. that would be easily measured by social
      statistics and written about by academic researchers. And yet the pain
      is nonetheless real.

      Scientific sociological studies also provide insight into another aspect
      of the harm that is done to children when they are not raised by both of
      their biological parents.

      In "The Impact of Family Disruption in Childhood on Transitions Made in
      Young Adult Life" by Kathleen E. Kiernan in the peer-reviewed journal
      Population Studies [Vol. 46, No. 2 (Jul., 1992), pp. 213-234], results
      are presented from a major longitudinal study of 17,000 children born in
      1958 in Britain. The study assessed, among other things, the effect on
      children of being raised in a family with one biological and one
      step-parent versus two biological parents. Of note, this study took into
      account that there are economic and other influences that may make a
      step-parent family different from a traditional one, and so the outcomes
      for children in various family structures were compared to one another
      only after "controlling" for these extraneous factors. The study reports
      "Young men from step-families were more likely to form partnerships and
      become fathers at an earlier age than their contemporaries from intact
      or lone-mother families. For young women from both step and lone-parent
      families the propensity to form unions in their teens, to have a child
      at an early age and to bear a child outside marriage was higher than for
      those who came from intact families."

      In the peer-reviewed journal, Pediatrics ["Household Composition and
      Risk of Fatal Child Maltreatment", Vol. 109 No. 4 April 2002, pp.
      615-621], Michael N. Stiffman, MD, MSPH et al report results from a
      case-control study to evaluate household composition as a risk factor
      for fatal child maltreatment, using data from the Missouri Child
      Fatality Review Panel system, 1992-1994. They report that "Children
      residing in households with adults unrelated to them were 8 times more
      likely to die of maltreatment than children in households with 2
      biological parents."

      Martin Daly and Margo Wilson at the Department of Psychology, McMaster
      University (Canada) write in "The 'Cinderella effect' is no fairy tale"
      that "we proposed long ago that step-parents might be over-represented
      as child abusers, and analyzed U.S. data, which confirmed the
      hypothesized overrepresentation. [Wilson, M.I. , Daly, M. and Weghorst,
      S.J. (1980) "Household composition and the risk of child abuse and
      neglect," J. Biosoc. Sci. 12, 333-340]...In reality, there are now
      dozens of confirmatory studies. In one striking example, we reported
      that the rate of fatal beatings of Canadian preschoolers by (putative)
      genetic fathers between 1974 and 1990 was 2.6 per million children at
      risk per annum, whereas the corresponding rate for stepfathers was 321.6
      per million [Daly, M. and Wilson, M. (2001) "An assessment of some
      proposed exceptions to the phenomenon of nepotistic discrimination
      against stepchildren," Ann. Zool. Fennici 38, 287-296]."

      The importance of large-sample studies like these is that they tell us
      about differences, on average, between children raised by both
      biological parents versus one biological and one step-parent, and they
      provide evidence that, on average, children from intact families fare
      better. Of course some children from intact families fared worse than
      some children from step-parent families, and vice versa. But whenever a
      social policy decision needs to be made, we make it by comparing a
      typical or average result for one choice versus a typical or average
      result from the alternative choice; we don't compare the best result
      from one versus the worst result from the other and choose the worst
      alternative on the grounds that, "some people do better with that choice
      than some people did with the other choice."

      Results like those from these studies suggest that it matters whether a
      child's parent is the biological parent or not. Granted, these studies
      did not compare same-sex parents of test-tube babies to traditional
      parents. One could speculate that conclusions about step-parents versus
      biological parents drawn from these studies might not apply to a
      same-sex couple in which the non-biological parent (the step-parent)
      participated in the decision to use a test-tube baby conception. But the
      fact remains that the widely held perception--that biological parents,
      on average, care more about a child than a non-biological parent, and
      that, no matter how loving a step-parent is, children develop a
      healthier frame of mind, on average, when they are raised by their
      biological parents than when they are not-- is consistent with
      large-sample scientific studies. And the assertion that some people
      make--that biology counts for nothing in determining the benefit or harm
      a child experiences from having an adult in a parental role--seems to be
      contradicted by the data.

      There is certainly sufficient evidence that test-tube babies are harmed
      by this method of conception to warrant a serious public discussion of
      the matter, and to conclude that it is too early for society to formally
      endorse or in any way promote the practice of bringing children into the
      world by means of donated sperm or egg.

      We Need A Rational, Evidence-Based Public Discussion of Same-Sex

      We need people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate to focus
      some of their attention on the question of test-tube baby conception and
      its connection to the marriage question, and try to reach an informed
      conclusion on this topic, based on evidence and logical reasoning, that
      gains the respect of most people, even if not their full agreement.

      We need the anti-same-sex marriage side to do more than cite the Bible
      or simply assert that same-sex marriage is just plain wrong and crazy.
      We need the pro-same-sex marriage side to acknowledge that there are
      reasonable grounds for doubting the wisdom of legalizing same-sex
      marriage that have to do with a concern for the welfare of children, not
      bigotry, and that these concerns need to be addressed. A discussion
      along these lines would be unifying, not divisive.

      Part of the reason why such a discussion is not happening is that the
      corporate/government elite don't want it to happen. They use divide and
      rule to strengthen their power over the rest of us in society, and they
      have discovered that the same-sex marriage question can be used to turn
      people against each other. When people try to discuss same-sex marriage
      along the lines proposed above, they find their views barred from the
      letters-to-the-editor page, or the op-ed page of their newspaper.
      Name-calling and other irrational arguments, on the other hand, are
      given plenty of exposure.

      The fundamental problem is that we don't have a real democracy. If we
      did have real democracy we'd have, among many other very important
      things, the opportunity to discuss important issues with each other in a
      constructive manner. Our mass-media would promote this, not obstruct it.

      It is high time that people on opposite sides of this and other critical
      questions that confront us as a society come together to find a common
      ground of mutual respect and support to discuss and deal with them.


      * I am introducing the topic of sibling marriage and genetic harm to
      children from such a marriage merely to illustrate that laws about who
      can marry are motivated by a concern for children; I am not suggesting
      that genetic harm to children is a concern in same-sex marriage.

      ** I am introducing the topic of adoption merely to illustrate some of
      the consequences for children of the bond between them and their
      biological parents being broken. I am not suggesting here that same-sex
      couples should not be allowed to adopt a child. Nor am I suggesting that
      there is anything wrong with people adopting a child whose biological
      parents are, for some unfortunate reason, unable or unwilling to raise
      the child.

      A key difference between adoption and test-tube baby conception is this.
      In the former case the adopting parents are in no way responsible for
      whatever breaks the bond between the child and its biological parents;
      the cause is something like the death of the biological parents, or
      their physical or mental incompetence to raise the child, or their
      refusal to raise it, or extreme poverty etc. In the latter case,
      however, the couple themselves are the cause of the broken bond between
      the child and one of its biological parents because their decision to
      conceive a test-tube baby is, necessarily, a deliberate decision to
      break that bond.

      Another difference between adoption and test-tube baby conception in
      relation to marriage is this. Adoption doesn't create the child, it
      merely is a way that people help a child who already exists (and who
      cannot, for some unfortunate reason, be raised by its biological
      parents.) Test-tube conception, in contrast, creates a baby. It is
      because of this difference that marriage--a relationship that society
      reserves for people whom it approves creating a child--is not a
      requirement for adopting a child but is a requirement for having
      society's formal approval and encouragement to create a child. Anybody,
      married or not, can receive society's approval and encouragement to
      adopt a child, for example a single grandmother adopting a grandchild
      whose parents cannot raise it.



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