On October 10th, 2014 then again the previous July, Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate for Texas governor defended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage based upon economic benefits to the state and its citizens. He continued his position by stating:
“The State is not required to show that recognizing same-sex marriage will undermine heterosexual marriage,” the court reply brief read. “It is enough if one could rationally speculate that opposite-sex marriages will advance some state interest to a greater extent than same-sex marriages will.” Abbott and Perry continued that “First, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in encouraging couples to produce new offspring, which are needed to ensure economic growth and the survival of the human race. Second, Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the State’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births. By channeling procreative heterosexual intercourse into marriage, Texas’s marriage laws reduce unplanned out-of-wedlock births and the costs that those births impose on society. Recognizing same-sex marriage does not advance this interest because same-sex unions do not result in pregnancy.”
There are a number of flawed preconceived ideas about Greg Abbott’s and Rick Perry’s argument and brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. None of them more glaring than unions which do not result in pregnancy. That logic implies that couples who are unable to conceive but adopt, do not and cannot advance the state’s interests. To read their brief click here.
Economically Conducive Babies
The first and flagrant flaw of their position is their idea that babies created and born inside traditional heterosexual marriages produce economically conducive state citizens. Apparently, as archaic as it sounds, babies have a varying monetary value attached to them based upon their parents, and that value is determined not by love, but by anonymous (to the child) governing officials an anonymous (to the child) population elects. And aside from contrary national statistics on heterosexual homes, Greg Abbott and Rick Perry are essentially pretending to be psychics who can predict the futures of newborn babies or toddlers — or perhaps the better description would be playing God.
Knowing Texas Republican politics well – I am an eighth generation Texan living in the state the majority of my life – it is safe for me to assume that Perry and Abbott are firmly pro-life advocates and politicians. Abortion of an unborn child conceived in an illegal rape, in their view, deserves a chance in life to become possibly (probably?) a model citizen. They’d likely argue that no one, not even a 47-year old mother, can predict whether that rape-child (or out-of-wedlock child) would be a detriment to society. In that particular case they’d argue a pro-choicer is horribly illogical and essentially a murderer pretending to play God. Therefore, since no one can precisely predict how a newborn baby will turn out as a person or as an upstanding citizen, they must be given the chance. Perhaps their words would be having faith in God that He can turn seemingly horrendous circumstances into later miracles. But therein lies the paradox or flaw in their political position.
How would a one- or two-year old, placed into or adopted by a stable, economically set, ethically irreproachable same-sex couple surrounding their home in plentiful love…be predicted prematurely to turn out as a productive or detrimental young adult for society decades into the future? Then I’d be the first to proclaim “Have faith in your God that He can turn seemingly untraditional circumstances into later examples of tremendous love!” But I’d later add, “think also of the possible or probable societal issues that child would face – especially in a bullying or hateful anti-gay community or schools – when his/her “parents” attend PTA meetings or hometown gatherings and sports games.” Is it not just as much the environment and community the child grows up in as it is the time-of-conception circumstances? Is it not as much the community that either makes the child’s life miserable or happy as it is the parents?
It is at this point where I think I understand where economics might play into the debate. A young malleable vulnerable child typically has a better chance of becoming a productive citizen and taxpayer if it is raised in a home and community of love, stability, education, equal opportunity, and positive support. Many indigenous cultures today do exactly that, where the tribe raises the children as much as its biological parents, and they do it quiet successfully! There is no heavy favor between one couple or one man and woman. In contrast, a child born into a neighborhood of strife, violence, hate, bullying and ill-founded prejudices has much less of a chance to become a productive citizen and taxpayer regardless of male-female parenting. Wait a minute! Are Abbott and Perry presuming children born into those negative influences are found purely and only within every LGBT home, community or neighborhood? Yes, an utterly ridiculous question, right? But if it is presupposed, as Abbott’s and Perry’s brief state, that a newborn or toddler has a reduced chance of becoming an economically productive citizen based upon its parents, then sticking with that absurd logic also means we need to ban heterosexual marriages where one or both parents have negative detrimental civil and/or criminal records (e.g. bankruptcies?) to sustain and advance the state’s interests. Is that sound logic?
The child’s prenatal neurological and genetic wiring may (probably?) be perfectly fine, at least giving them that advantage. But how is the planetary leap made from postnatal rearing straight to heterosexual parents? If the child is simply born or placed into a home and community of love, stability, education, equal opportunity, and positive support, is not much of the child’s future success dependent on the community’s support, sociably and economically? But I simply cannot fathom how those positive influences onto a newborn child, toddler, and adolescent can only be provided by a heterosexual home!
presupposed ideas on marriage or parenting are firmly backed by family and sexual-orientation statistics? America’s appalling rising divorce rates, I’d imagine are numbers based strictly on heterosexual marriages. Is that supposed to support their position!? Furthermore, what basis do anonymous lawmakers or citizens have in dictating that child’s healthy loving home? Well, in this case you’d have to ask Rick Perry and Greg Abbott. They are not only experts in state law, party politics, and apparently love, but now licensed doctors in medical prenatal genetics, obstetrics, and gynaecology. Even though a perfectly normal prenatal and postnatal child can be born (adopted?) into a very loving stable home, based on Abbott’s and Perry’s unwavering position and careers, and only if it is done in heterosexual homes. And herein lies more problems.
Proper and Appropriate Home Construction
Are all and exclusively heterosexual homes the best and safest environment for newborn children? The Brookings Institute in Washington D.C., is consistently ranked as the most influential, most quoted and most trusted think tank in the nation’s capital and throughout most political campaigns. What do they believe are the best family planning methods? Simply answered: “A Job.” That certainly falls in-line with Abbott’s and Perry’s economic position.
The October 14th blog-post by Andrew Cherlin is a delightful insightful article that for this subject begs the question: Are you implying births strictly by heterosexual partners or by non-heterosexual partners? I strongly urge you to click over to Andrew’s post to answer that question yourself! For those of you who are too busy to go read it (or too lazy), I give my synopsis:
The dissolution rates for cohabiting [and therefore heterosexual] couples over the subsequent years during the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study were very high.
What does that mean? Well, for starters it means that being heterosexual is no guarantee of a happy stable home for the unborn or newborn child. They are just as likely to be raised by a single parent as they are by a loving team or partnership. And by the simple but profound concept of “strength in numbers,” the child raised within a home and community of love, stability, education, equal opportunity, and positive support has much higher chances of a good future as one raised in a single parent home.
Therefore, is the parenting issue really heterosexual or non-heterosexual, or is it entirely something else? It honestly seems to be the latter. That begs the question of WHO builds a healthier and appropriate home for the child. It is here that I can speak amply on that question as a heterosexual male raised by heterosexual parents.
I know and am close to many friends, family members, and couples that are heterosexual, gay-lesbian or bisexual, of various careers from various ethnic backgrounds, levels of education, and even with civil and criminal records. It most certainly provides (at least) me with a wide, wide lens. One example I want to first mention is a heterosexual couple in Houston, Texas. I will change their and everyone else’s names for obvious reasons.
Kimberly and Paul had been married for eight years. He wanted a son or sons badly. She was open to the idea, however was not ready to give up her rising career as a flight attendant with a world-wide airline corporation. After giving in to her husband’s incessant pushing, they began trying to conceive. But after two or three years it wasn’t working. Years later and after many expensive doctor visits and alternative conception methods, it still wasn’t working. Kimberly gave up; Paul soon followed. And suddenly one evening when there was no more pressure, wham, it happened. Six years later another boy. For those twelve years – then in the Baltimore, MD area – they ended up having two happy normal boys doing very well in their respective public schools. Then the marital problems began. She began feeling ignored and taken for granted as a stay-at-home Mom who gave up her incredibly good and potentially rich-through-retirement career. The husband and father neglected his marital and fathering responsibilities by always, always working very long hours. After trying to mend and repair the marriage, Kimberly moved to Houston where two of her brother’s and their wives and kids were located, with the boys and without Paul. The official separation had begun. But then other serious problems arose.
As she enrolled her two boys into an exceptional south Houston school and district, her boys soon began to be heckled and bullied by students, and unfairly treated by certain staff. You see, Kimberly was white-Caucasian, Paul was African-American. Their kids, were by some Texas citizens, considered half-breeds, inferior simply due to their skin-color and heterosexual parents. Yes, I emphasized heterosexual to make a point.
These two normal happy boys now faced a problem they knew nothing about or why it was happening to them: social injustice.
You see, it is just as much a community’s responsibility to give children the best opportunities possible, economic or otherwise, as it is the children’s home! Does it really have everything to do with the sexual orientation of people parenting the child? Is love and happiness ONLY available from heterosexual parents and dare I say pure-bred heterosexual parents? Do I honestly need to answer the last question? I really hope not.
My second and third example will be from Barry, a gay man who I have befriended the last eight years – who is recently married to his partner – and a lesbian friend over the last seven years. I cannot count the stories they have shared with me about their social and occupational struggles.
As a teenager my male gay friend Barry was so bullied and so mocked and mistreated in school that he eventually caved-in to alcoholism and drug addiction for relief. His parents were not overly involved or committed to raising him – yes, they were heterosexual. My good friend has now been clean-and-sober for over twenty years, working hard at two jobs, and to me and our circle of friends is one of the most understanding, patient, and tolerant of society’s harsh flaws, I consider him and now his husband to be remarkable stories of survival in an often hateful jungle of taught bigotry and prejudice.
My third example, my good close lesbian friend Sally, faced the same unnecessary adolescent pressures and abuses in her heterosexual household and later high school and occupational years. Many times in her childhood she saw and heard her father and mother fight, scream, and throw objects. Many times they threatened divorce on each other but could never take that path for fear of the backlash by their Catholic Church and members. As a result, her brother has felony convictions of drug-trafficking and prescription drug abuse. The mother also abuses prescription drugs, possibly due to her marriage. Her sister has fallen in and out of abusive relationships, likely because of the model presented to her by her own parents. Sally, however, is now a college graduate and employed LPN at a Dallas hospital. All three of these friends are incredibly productive taxpayer citizens offering told and untold important value to their communities! All three of them have acquired an unbelievable amount of patience, tolerance, understanding, and pain provided by their heterosexual homes and harshly insensitive communities. I will happily go out on a limb and say these three human beings have a TREMENDOUS amount of wisdom to offer a newborn child to last their lifetime!
Dare I say their children would know how to build the most stable impregnable healthier appropriate home that our society could not tear down? Duh!
Then my last example is someone I’ve already written about in an April 2011 post that takes the subject of parenting and families on a different but relevant direction, which is how significantly a community/society takes on the responsibility of its children, their future success or failure, and how it is achieved. Fortunately, on a few levels, the story/post has a happy ending. One moral of my intersex birth story is that the meaning of love between human beings is defined in many ways and cannot be defined in just one or two ways. In my June 2013 post A Supreme Decision and February 2013 post Toss the 2-D Glasses, I further explain scientifically how non-heterosexuals are just as capable of happy, loving, stable parenting as anyone, including heterosexuals. In a 2010 review of practically every study done on gay-lesbian parenting, New York University sociologist Judith Stacey and USC sociologist Timothy Biblarz found no differences between children raised in homes with two heterosexual parents as children raised in homes with gay-lesbian parents. Besides, why are there orphans and fostering opportunities in existence anyway? How did they come to life? A hunch tells me it wasn’t because their biological parents were gay or lesbian. Is the real issue Abbott and Perry something else?
More Than Economics
To say that love is more than economics is like saying medieval marriage arrangements are out of date. Medieval marriage practices were, at least with the nobility and most of their peasants, entirely based on property and its economics. Today, at least in many Western nations, marriage is increasingly based upon attraction as it is on economics. What exactly is attraction? Does it involve feelings? Are feelings a powerful force inside a person? Will passion about something or someone make them go to the ends of the world for their beloved? Will a soldier gladly risk his life for his country or a way of life he is passionate about?
In ancient Greece love was defined in six ways and they promoted all six equally. In his book How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life, Roman Krznaric writes about the Athenians expressions of nurturing love or attraction…
“[Our] contemporary coffee culture has developed a sophisticated vocabulary to describe the many options for getting a caffeine fix – cappuccino, espresso, flat white, Americano, macchiato, mocha. The ancient Greeks were just as refined in the way they thought about love, distinguishing six different kinds. This is the opposite of our approach today, where under a single, vague term we bundle an enormous range of emotions, relationships, and ideals. A teenage boy can declare ‘I am in love’, but he is unlikely to mean the same thing as a sixty-year old who says he is still in love with his [spouse] after all their years together…
…The inhabitants of classical Athens would have been surprised at the crudeness of our expression. Their approach to talking about love [passion] not only enlivened gossip in the market square, but allowed them to think about its place in their lives in ways that we can barely comprehend with our impoverished language of love, which in terms of coffee is the emotional equivalent of a mug of instant.”
Krznaric goes on to list the six Greek definitions of expansive love/passion: philia, ludus, pragma, eros, agape, philautia. He gives brief definitions at the Yes Magazine website of which I will share here.
- Philia, or deep friendship. It concerned the deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who had fought side by side on the battlefield. It was about showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them. (Another kind of philia, sometimes called storge, embodied the love between parents and their children.)
- Ludus, or playful love. This was the Greeks’ idea of playful love, which referred to the affection between children or young lovers. We’ve all had a taste of it in the flirting and teasing in the early stages of a relationship. But we also live out our ludus when we sit around in a bar bantering and laughing with friends, or when we go out dancing. Dancing with strangers may be the ultimate ludic activity, almost a playful substitute for sex itself. Social norms today may frown on this kind of adult frivolity, but the classic Greeks were unabashed of publically showing it.
- Pragma, or longstanding love. Greek love was the mature love known as pragma. This was the deep understanding that developed between long-married couples. Pragma was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance. The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.” Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it. With about a third of first heterosexual marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, the Greeks would surely think we should bring a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.
- Eros, or sexual expression. Named after the Greek god of fertility, it represented the idea of sexual passion and desire. But the Greeks didn’t always think of it as something positive, as we tend to do today. In fact, eros was viewed as a dangerous, fiery, and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you—an attitude shared by many later spiritual thinkers, such as the Christian writer C.S. Lewis. Eros involved a loss of control that frightened the Greeks. Which is odd, because losing control is precisely what many people now seek in a relationship. Don’t we all hope to fall “madly” in love?
Intriguingly, in ancient Greek texts eros was often associated with homosexuality, especially the love of older men for adolescents, a practice prevalent in fifth- and sixth-century Athens amongst the aristocracy.
- Agape, or love for everyone. The most radical of the six, was agape or selfless love. This was a love that you extended to all people, whether family members or distant strangers. Agape was later translated into Latin as caritas, which is the origin of our word “charity.” S. Lewis referred to it as “gift love,” the highest form of Christian love. But it also appears in other much older religious traditions, such as the idea of mettā or “universal loving kindness” in Theravāda Buddhism.
There is growing evidence that agape is in a dangerous decline in many countries. Empathy levels in the U.S. have declined sharply over the past 40 years, with the steepest fall occurring in the past decade. Kzrnaric feels we urgently need to revive our capacity to care about strangers. I am in complete agreement!
- Philautia, or love of self. Here is where the ancient Greeks can teach mountains of wisdom. The idea was that if you love yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love to give others (as is reflected in the Buddhist-inspired concept of “self-compassion”). Or, as Aristotle put it, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” The ancient Greeks found diverse kinds of love in relationships with a wide range of people—friends, family, spouses, strangers, and even themselves. This contrasts with our typical focus on a single romantic relationship, where we hope to find all the different loves wrapped into a single person or soul mate. The message from the Greeks is to nurture the varieties of love and tap into its many sources.
I believe posting these six forms of love are critically important in not only showing the wonderful expanse of deep love, but also that it is not exclusive to any specific type of person or their lifestyle. Everybody can give it and receive it. To demand that it is exclusive would be, to put it nicely, grossly ignorant. Perhaps the only people who are incapable of such love are the ones who choose to be closed off to it, restrict it.
Where in any of those six forms of love could it exclude non-heterosexual relationships and parenting? How could any of them justify exclusion from any man or woman? Does love or economics distinguish itself by any one person, male or female? No, apparently people do – apparently governors, lieutenant governors, and lawmakers do. But according to our federal constitution and my state’s constitution, those elected officials represent what the majority of registered voters want. But does a crowd or majority make it right? Ask the German people of 1940 and their Wehrmacht and SS units. Ask the 19th century slaves of America’s southern states. Before that dark part of American history, ask the Native American tribes during Manifest Destiny. All three of those historical eras had communities, groups, states and nations that stood by or followed while a few led thousands or millions of “citizens” to do their bidding.
Influences Upon the Majority
Because I have now almost 4,000 words in this post, I will continue this subject of Abbott’s and Perry’s Out-of-Wedlock Babies and conformity by the masses on my next post Influences Upon the Majority.
I try (to the extent possible) not to impose my own personal world-views onto others as a show of respect and hope that they can find on their own a way of life that benefits the most freedom and responsibility to the largest number, while protecting against those who would reduce, restrict, even eliminate both. As a Freethinking Humanist from heterosexual non-religious parents, I do feel a certain civil obligation to offer in an understandable format all sides to an uncomfortable issue, or at the very least cause them to consider solutions outside, maybe way outside their own “box.” I hope I have succeeded so far and you will return for my next post. If I have not succeeded, I truly want to hear/read your comments below how I have fallen short and why.
Footnote – I am a college graduate, professional teacher, and also an out-of-wedlock conceived baby. My two kid’s mother also has a college degree, comes from an ultra-conservative Christian family and parents whose first child was conceived out-of-wedlock. My daughter, the older of my two who is now a third-year college student making outstanding grades, was also conceived out-of-wedlock. None of us are “imposing on the state” as Abbott and Perry wrongly assume or speculate. However, we are indeed all heterosexuals!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
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