While watching some TV, I couldn’t help but contemplate about ABC Family’s tag line, “A New Kind of Family”. What kind of changes are we seeing among American families and what are the implications of this “new” family upon the future of our nation and society?
A new ABC Family sitcom entitled “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (while I have only seen the previews) seems to glorify the experience of an impregnated high school girl. By “glorify” I mean, using empathy to lead viewers to view such a situation as an acceptable norm, or at lease turn a serious and alarming issue into an entertaining one. But the issue is much larger than this one TV show. To me, the apparent shift to “a new kind of family”…one that abandons and mocks traditional family values…is of much greater concern.
Currently, the battle over homosexual marriage is the most obvious representation of this “shift”, attracting the attention and voices of the media and citizens across the nation. While similar legislative movements exist in Arizona and Florida, as a citizen of California, I will focus on Proposition 8…which proposes to overturn the decision of 4 of 7 California Supreme Court State Justices to make homosexual marriage legal…completely ignoring the voices of 61% of California voters who passed Proposition 22 in 2000.
Before I start, may I be completely clear…this is not a religious issue. No on 8 advocates, along with many in the media, pigeon-hole all those in favor of prop 8 as right-winged religious fanatics…playing on the image of an angry looking and hateful bible-basher holding a large sign that says “God hates fags”. Not many know that the majority opinion author Chief Justice Ronald M. George is a republican family man, while one of the 3 dissenting judges was lesbian Chief Justice Coral Corrigan. I have personally criticised supporters of prop 8 who can’t seem to get out of their little christian bubble where the bible is the end-all authority on the issue…instead of recognizing the many valid secular reasons all concerned citizens, christian or not, can rally behind. While people often vote their conscious and their morals, which may be tied to a religious belief, the words “bible” or “God” need not be included in the debate.
That said, the best secular and cultural reasons in favor of keeping marriage between a man and a woman were clearly articulated in an article issued by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yes, its a church…get over it. It is possible for valid secular arguments to be raised by a religious organization. So as some of my readers may need to be reminded, while biases always exist, address the argument and not the source.
The article reads:
“Strong families serve as the fundamental institution for transmitting to future generations the moral strengths, traditions, and values that sustain civilization….Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations. Rather, marriage and family are vital instruments for rearing children and teaching them to become responsible adults. While governments did not invent marriage, throughout the ages governments of all types have recognized and affirmed marriage as an essential institution in preserving social stability and perpetuating life itself. Hence, regardless of whether marriages were performed as a religious rite or a civil ceremony, married couples in almost every culture have been granted special benefits aimed primarily at sustaining their relationship and promoting the environment in which children are reared. A husband and a wife do not receive these benefits to elevate them above any other two people who may share a residence or social tie, but rather in order to preserve, protect, and defend the all-important institutions of marriage and family.”
This highlights a fundamental difference between the arguments being offered by either side of the debate. Those in favor of homo-sexual marriage argue its an issue of rights and being viewed as equals in the form of having their love “legally sanctioned” as it is for hetero-sexual couples. But who ever suggested the government was in the business of legally sanctioning love? As if the benefits and tax-rights offered to married couples (most, if not all, are provided for through civil unions) are the government’s way of celebrating and rewarding those who are in love. Those fighting to protect traditional marriage choose to focus on what is best for the up-bringing of children, and thus the future of our nation and society, than on adult desires. Indeed, its not about being mean and discriminating against those with different lifestyles of our own, but about what the government should do to respect and recognize what is best for the up-bringing of children. Just because a group of people shouts “we want” or “we deserve” doesn’t mean we should overlook or ignore the silent voices of children and what they deserve. I have yet to hear the pro-homosexual marriage side argue that having two mommies or two daddies are better than or even equivalent to hetero-sexual parents in regards to child development. This is likely because they know this is an argument they can’t win…standing against the majority of sociologists, psychologists, and other child development experts and professionals.
As the LDS articles states:
“Extensive studies have shown that in general a husband and wife united in a loving, committed marriage provide the optimal environment for children to be protected, nurtured, and raised.  This is not only because of the substantial personal resources that two parents can bring to bear on raising a child, but because of the differing strengths that a father and a mother, by virtue of their gender, bring to the task. As the prominent sociologist David Popenoe has said:
The burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender differentiated parenting is important for human development and that the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable. 
Popenoe explained that:
. . . The complementarity of male and female parenting styles is striking and of enormous importance to a child’s overall development. It is sometimes said that fathers express more concern for the child’s longer-term development, while mothers focus on the child’s immediate well-being (which, of course, in its own way has everything to do with a child’s long-term well-being). What is clear is that children have dual needs that must be met: one for independence and the other for relatedness, one for challenge and the other for support.”
Obviously we cannot completely eliminate non-ideal situations. Divorce and other unfortunate scenarios will always arise. And yes, I recognize that not all hetero-sexual married couples will raise children…or that if they do, that they will all be good parents. However, this does not change the fact that the purpose of the government recognizing marriage is to provide for what we, the people, feel is best for children and society.
Opponents to proposition 8 have also used “separation from church and state” to suggest that legally recognizing homo-sexual marriage won’t negatively effect any religious organization and how they practice marriage and live their own morals. This is an outright lie, as made obvious by existing case studies.
As reported in the Boston Globe, the catholic church was forced out of providing adoption services because adopting children to homo-sexual couples disagrees with their religious views.
This conflict also reaches individuals who wish to follow their personal moral compass in how they run their business. As reported by the LA Times, Dr. Christine Brody was successfully sued by a lesbian woman for refusing to artificially inseminate her. Due to the California supreme courts decision, what used to be exercising your right to live what you believe and what you feel is morally correct, now legally condemns individuals, businesses, and churches as being discriminatory…and thus, illegal. While I do not claim to be a legal expert, it seems obvious to me that churches will be forced to either perform homosexual marriages or loose their tax-exempt status…or even worse…further down the line, be denied to right of have their marriages recognized by the government.
Another easy answer to opponent’s “how would this affect you?” question is that public school teachers, legally obligated (Education Code §51890) to teach about marriage, would be forced to teach that there is no difference between hetero-sexual and bi-sexual marriage. Prop 8 supporters feel that parents should have the right to teach (one way or another) this issue to their children without having the government indoctrinating their children.
In short…No on 8 is about what adults want and feel is their right and about the government legally sanctioning love, and Yes on 8 is about what is best for children and the future of society….backed by numerous studies and experts, regardless of the fact they are painted to look mean and heartless and against what’s politically correct. If that is what it takes to protect children and traditional family values…than so be it. I would personally feel more embarrassed to selfishly turn a blind eye to what is best for children…but that’s just me.