Influences Upon the Majority

texas babyIn my previous post Out-of-Wedlock Babies, Texas gubernatorial candidate and state Attorney General Greg Abbott, along with current governor Rick Perry, appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals defending the state’s ban on same-sex marriage arguing that “unions that do not result in pregnancy… do not ensure economic growth and the survival of the human race.”  Somehow both politicians connected out-of-wedlock babies to same-sex marriages into their argument.  “Texas’s marriage laws are rationally related to the state’s interest in reducing unplanned out-of-wedlock births.”  This in turn reduces “the costs that those births impose on society.”  I am going to attempt to show how detached Greg Abbott and Rick Perry are and have been from national heterosexual trends and worse, their own state’s alarming heterosexual trends, as well as the state’s rising educational and social inequalities.

Unplanned Births – National vs. Texas Numbers

I can’t help but ask myself why I am addressing economic and social consequences by heterosexual individuals, when the original debate is supposed to be about homosexual marriage.  I guess the simple vague answer is I am attempting to decipher Abbott’s and Perry’s Defense of Moral Prosperous Texas argument.  That’s the best I can do.  Here goes.

United States –
The average American home today looks nothing like it did fifty-years ago, even twenty-years ago.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) 2013-Table 16 p.70, in 1970 of every 1,000 U.S. births by women age 15-44 years old, 26.4% were unwedded, 44.3% in 1995, and 45.3% in 2012.  Of those births, 22.4% were unwed teens age 15-19 in 1970, 43.8% in 1995, and 26.7% in 2012.  The largest number of unwed women in an age group of those three time-periods were women age 20-24 years old in 1970 (38.4) and 1995 (68.7), but age 25-29 in 2012 at 67.2% — see table below.  These are the national numbers and age trends.
Table 1-Unwed Births US

Texas –
Finding the Texas data was more difficult.  Nonetheless, I did manage to find limited hard data for the twenty-two-year period 1990-2012 from the CDC and NVSS (Table 89).  Unfortunately, if you’re a die-hard political Texas Conservative, all the unwed childbearing data falls exactly during George W. Bush’s, Rick Perry’s, and Greg Abbott’s times in office.
Table 2-Unwed Births Texas

In 2000 in Texas, for every 1,000 births by women, 30.5% were unwed and 15.3% of those were teenaged mothers.  In 2009 in Texas, 42.4% were unwed and 13.3% of those were teen-mothers.  In 2011 in Texas, 35.8% were unwed mothers and according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy in Washington D.C., Texas ranks 47th out of 50 in teen-pregnancy rates and ranks 37th out of 50 in rate of decline in teen-pregnancy between 1988-2010.
Table 3-Unwed Births Texas vs US

Over a 22-year span, why is Texas not keeping up with well over half the nation in reducing unwed pregnancies and births, especially with teens?

Sex-Education

If a people wish to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, particularly with teenagers, if for no other reasons than to counter the dollar impact upon a state’s economic interests, rational thought would say educate thoroughly and broadly those kids and their parents.  But that’s rational thought, not Texas GOP policy mandates.

A Brief Political History of Texas –
Since 1994 the Texas Congress, or both the House of Representatives and Senate, has firmly been held by the conservative Republican party.  Governor Ann Richards lost her bid for re-election with her Democratic party against Republican candidate George W. Bush.  Once Governor Bush won his 1998 re-election in a landslide victory across the entire state’s races, the Republican tsunami had begun.  By 2002 after twice redrawing congressional districts that favored Republican candidates (map below), and despite federal judge’s ruling for the status quo, in unprecedented fashion Gov. Perry and his party controlled both chambers of the Texas Congress since Civil War Reconstruction.  Today Texas is considered one of the most puritan conservative Republican states in the nation’s history.

Comparison of U.S. House election results for Texas in 2002 and 2004 after the creation of new boundaries for congressional districts following mid-term redistricting in 2003. Blue denotes a Democratic hold, dark red denotes a Republican hold, and light red denotes a Republican pickup. (Wikipedia)

Comparison of U.S. House election results for Texas in 2002 and 2004 after the creation of new boundaries for congressional districts following mid-term redistricting in 2003. Blue denotes a Democratic hold, dark red denotes a Republican hold, and light red denotes a Republican pickup. (Wikipedia)

Texas Teens Today –
Conservative Texas politicians, especially those in rural and suburban areas, are quick to sound their bull-horns for the right to bear arms, to laugh in the face of taxes, and to defend infinite individual freedom until their dying breath and stand by it all with unflinching fervor.  The same fervor exists for sex-education, but for the last twenty-three Republican years with ghastly disheartening results.

Quite ironically Governor George W. Bush embraced President Bill “Unfaithful” Clinton’s multi-million dollar sex-abstinence-only campaign in the mid-90’s then further funded it and passed it when elected the 43rd U.S. President.  Governor Rick Perry, anxious to make his mark in history, rallied his very powerful pro-life allies to sweeten the funding pot and by 2009, 94% of all Texas public schools were teaching abstinence-only, in other words the only choice available, while completely eliminating any and all alternative education to sex – see spike in Texas unwed births, Table 2.  The repercussions of these political mandates have had a massive economic impact not only on federal tax funding dollars, but Texas taxpayers as well.  In this time period, Texas has been one of the largest recipients of federal sex-education funding, at $1.5 billion granted for abstinence-only programs.  According to the U.S. Sexuality Information and Education Council, in 2009 alone Texas received $10-million to teach and promote abstinence-only sex-education in public schools.  From 2008 to 2011 the Texas Department of State Health Services has rung-up $23.3 million in Rick Perry’s and Greg Abbott’s total-abstinence-only programs.  These figures become significant when in the next ten years Texas makes-up over one-tenth of the U.S. population and continues to be the 2nd highest GDP-state in the nation.  Fair warning America!

What have been the results of Texas’s single-choice just-say-no sex-education?  Texas now has the third highest rate of teenage births in the nation, and the second highest rate of repeat births to teenage girls (Table 3 above)!  What does this look like compared to the world’s highest teenage birth rates?  See Table 4.  It’s ugly.
Table 4-TX vs NationsIf there is one glaring point that the Texas Congress and Governors Bush, Perry, and favored candidate Greg Abbott have demonstrated over the last two decades are that “Out-of-Wedlock Babies” are and have been a heterosexual problem not a homosexual one.  And channeling federal and state resources into abstinence programs such as “Worth the Wait”, or “Speedy the Sperm” (an 18-foot classroom model with shark-like teeth), or “Woman Dry, Sperm Die”, clearly fails miserably while billions of federal tax dollars go squandered.  Period.

So why have Texas voters been so ignorantly stubborn for so long in putting in and keeping those failing policies and programs?

The Influences

With 268,581 square miles within its borders and three of the top ten largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Texas is one of the most diverse states in the Union as far as geography, people, culture, and economies.  However, this diversity doesn’t necessarily translate over to its politics.

Six Influences on Texas Voters

Family – Generally children grow up thinking, behaving, and living similar to their parents despite any disagreements or generation gaps.  Except perhaps for families below the poverty line, this general rule holds true in Texas.  The family is typically the most influential and most enduring influence upon a young adult’s civil views and life.  As the child ages their attitudes can diverge from those of their parents, but the core values and influence basically remain.  This is of course true throughout America, however, inside Texas it tends to be more so due to the state’s “Lone Star” history, of which I’ll address later.  Another influence is how the Texas family values higher education and if it’s a viable opportunity.  Below is a comparison of levels of education for Texans versus the national averages from CensusScope.org and the U.S. Census Bureau.  Cost, financial aid, and income are additional factors toward under-graduate degrees.
Table 5-Levels of TX Ed vs USGender – Due to the climate of the early 20th century in America, moving from patriarchal dominance toward more equality – Women’s Suffrage Movement – Texas was the first Southern state to ratify the nation’s 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  However, amending the Texas Constitution to reflect the national winds of change proved to be a much harder task for Texas suffragists.  Only after it was clear the changes and amendments would succeed in Washington D.C. in 1920, Texas — being one of the original eleven Confederate states — and Texan anti-suffragists fought the amendment to the last day.

Religion – Naturally religious affiliation will be influenced by a child’s parents.  Typically those values carry over into young adulthood until the young adult becomes more exposed to Texas’ diversity, maybe the world’s as well, and those views may then be modified.  As of the 2010 TSHA Almanac, 60% of Texans are religiously affiliated or attending members.  The Chart and Maps below show specific breakdowns.
Dominant Religious Bodies in Texas

TX Dominant Faiths by County

TX Religious Adherents by County

With regard to sex-education and out-of-wedlock births, religion definitely influences most young adults.  As the chart and maps above indicate, Texas’ religious 34% are primarily Catholic and Southern Baptist, two faiths with traditionally rigid black-or-white guidelines on sex-education:  one choice, total abstinence until marriage.

Teen birth-rates per county 2010

Teen birth-rates per county 2010

Race and Ethnicity – As a general historical rule African-Americans and Latinos have been politically liberal.  Since before 1990 the racial and ethnic makeup of Texas has changed.  From the 2000 census the Latino population made up 63.5% of the state’s population growth and is expected to surpass the white non-Hispanic population by 2014.  The Charts below show specific changes and breakdowns from U.S. Census Bureau data tables.
TX Population by Race 1990-2013For the sixth and last influence, along with addressing the “Lone Star” tradition and origin, I will also draw the connections from race-ethnicity to family economics, and how those three dynamics construct the Texas political culture.

Region – As was clear in the above two Texas maps of religious dominance, a Texan’s regional location plays a big part in their employment-type and therefore income, two significant factors in their political tendencies.  The Map below illustrates the political areas by county across the state and further expounds Texas’ economic culture and is directly connected to political affiliations.

Note the political counties to other counties by educational attainment, and teen birth rate maps

Note the political counties to other counties by educational attainment, and teen birth rate maps

Political and Economic Culture – Since Texas became part of the U.S. (1845) it has had two political sub-cultures:  Traditionalists and Individualists.  Both still survive and thrive today in various forms and greatly influence(d) Texas politics.

In pre-Civil War Texas Traditionalists made-up just a few agricultural families with large land-grants and several hundred slaves, and hence came to dominate state politics.  During and after Reconstruction Jim Crow laws were passed to limit freed slaves from Texas public services.  This limiting carried over into literacy tests, grandfather clauses, poll-taxes, and all-white primaries, further hampering minority voting rights.  Texas Traditionalism is reflected today in economic and social conservatism.  In the Rio Grande Valley the Patronage System still prevails in civil business and management.  Religious groups influence government policies in the state’s Blue Laws, liquor laws, and gambling regulations.  Several powerful families in Texas still influence state politics such as the Hunts, Bush’s, Bass, Perry’s, Crows, Dewhurst’s, and of course maverick Clayton Williams.

The Individualists echo Texas’ long history as a colony of Spain then Mexico.  Having “inherited”(?) Spanish land-grants, Mexicans as well as Eastern-American settlers flocked to Texas for the cheap land and early economic stimulus policies by both the U.S. and Mexico.  This lead to revolution and upon achieving independence from Mexico – with covert American support – individuals began implementing more economic stimulus policies for the upstart government with more land-grants or with basement prices.  This sub-culture lingers in today’s Texas politics in four major limiting ways:

  1. Congress meets only biennially
  2. Legislators can only receive pay-increases if the state Constitution is amended
  3. The Governor has very limited budgetary and appointment/removal powers
  4. Judiciary process is complex and in a multi-tiered structure

Texas has extremely favorable laws and attitudes toward big-business and business owners in three major ways:

  1. No personal income tax
  2. No corporate income tax
  3. Employment At-Will doctrine

For much of Texas’ history, its Economy has been driven by three industries:  oil, livestock, and cotton and similar cash-crops.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the state’s acquired landmass.  For the better part of the last century Texas oil production and refinery was the bulk of the economy.  By the 1980’s oil and natural gas production made-up around one-third of the economy and job market.  Then came 1986, the crash of oil prices, followed by the state’s national-leading bank, savings, and loan crashes, causing mass job losses and bankruptcies statewide.

Livestock production has always dominated the revenues of Texas.  Texas livestock and its byproducts make up about two-thirds of the state’s economic revenue and ranks first in the nation in livestock production.  This industry’s influence is reflected in the state’s private land-holder percentage.  Of the state’s 268,581 square miles of land, 95% is privately owned.  With the state’s continued population growth, it’s a matter of time before controversial issues ignite, if they haven’t already, and another political tsunami rolls through.

Cotton and other cash-crops are major contributors to the Texas economy.  Since 1880 Texas has led the nation in cotton production with over 25% grown, produced, and exported from Texas.  Corn, hay, soybeans, pecans, citrus fruits, and peanuts are the state’s other high-revenue crops.  These industries still employ a large number of blue-collar workers with a growing mix of Latinos the last decades.

Part of the recent economic winds-of-change come in the Services and Technology sectors, Dell Computers for example.

Both above political sub-cultures and the state’s economic environment have delightful attractive benefits to individuals and families, but not for everyone.  They have some unfavorable civil and social side-effects and influences as well.

The Polarizing of Texas
TXquarter-unveiling2004

Gov. Rick Perry unveils the new 2004 Texas state quarter

As touched on earlier, Texas has begun to change.  With change there is inevitably friction and controversy, particularly from the state’s Traditionalists and Individualists and their long-standing way of Lone Star life.

In 2004, as the U.S. Mint was continuing its nationwide state-to-state release of new quarters representing each of the fifty states, Governor Perry remarked about the state’s nickname and meaning at the unveiling of the U.S. “Texas” quarter in Austin, TX:

Today it becomes official: Texas’ rich and vivid history will gain even greater currency as the Lone Star of Texas becomes a regular feature in the pockets and purses of Americans from sea to shining sea.  On one side will be the face of George Washington, and on the other side a renowned symbol of Texas Independence.  The Lone Star is one of the most identifiable symbols of Texas, and a historic representation of the independent spirit of our people.  Its origins can be traced back to the movement for independence, and its continued presence today reminds people that Texans are a different breed, set apart by their fierce individualism and their unrelenting desire for freedom.

2004 Texas state Quarter

2004 Texas state Quarter

That is the short, proud, Conservative public version of the story behind the symbol and nickname.  The broader more diverse representation is a bit different.

As a Texas certified teacher of all four core subjects, including my passion Social Studies/History, and as an eighth-generation Texan, I feel I too have a more balanced version of Texas Then and Now to share.  As noted, many Texans are proud, proud of their heritage, proud of the state’s size, proud of the state’s influence on national politics, national economic revenues, and the state’s implied attitude We Can Take It or Leave It – “It” being the United States as a whole.  Yes, as Governor Perry’s speech above indicates, Texas fervor for individualism, independence, and freedoms are alive and well today.  At least in his party’s mind and business circles it is.

The less exaggerated version of Texas history, particularly its independence from Mexico, i.e. the distinction between Texians and Tejanos, is a lesser-known side to the territory’s colonists and their struggle (or fight) to make a peaceful prosperous living.  Of the fourteen historic leaders (Giants of the Texas Republic) of early Texas, only two of them were actually born and raised in Texas – Bexar, or today San Antonio – and therefore are/were prominent Tejanos.  Eleven other Giants, who also represented their deep American ideologies, were all Texians, or immigrants from the United States enamored by the territory’s “cheap” opportunities.  Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, Mirabeau Lamar, William Travis, Davy Crockett, James Bowie, Thomas Rusk, Anson Jones, Edward Burleson, David Burnet, all hailed from east of the Mississippi River.  However, the Tejanos of early Texas – namely Juan Seguin and José Navarro – relentlessly sought to ease tensions between their Mexican heritage and principles, and the “Texian Giants” from the east.  Of course, that couldn’t did not happen.  The meaning of “Lone Star State” is actually more an American-Andrew Jackson political movement westward than a true Texas-Tejano story.  It is the commonly enduring, though very porous, Anglo-American extrapolation of Texas history.
Table 6-Pop-Vreg-VturnoutDue to a 178-year “entrepreneur” spirit of Texas and six major influences upon its social, political, and economic culture which divides as much as it invigorates, Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates, particularly for state and local primaries and runoffs (see Table 5 above) for the last five decades.  Why the despondency?

I’ve given ample assessments of the factors that go into Texas’ diverse cultural and political climate.  Now I will give one last factor that plays a big part in Texas’ complex economic climate and therefore its voter climate:  education.

Percent 9th Graders Finish etc

A History of Educational Polarization in Texas

A particular answer to Texas’ consistently poor voter turnout rate overly argued hundreds of times by both political parties is illegal immigrants.  While this may be true, partially true, or hardly true, the data and facts paint a much bigger problem.  In a comprehensive study by TG Research and Analytical Services (2014), Texas ranks in the bottom tenth of U.S. states among 9th graders who graduate from high school or college on time – Table above.  Comparatively Texas has a high-rate of students exiting the higher-education pipeline toward post-secondary degrees beginning in 7th grade up to college freshmen (see Table Texas Student Pipeline, p. 73).  Texas is below the national pace to meet projected targets for Hispanic enrollment according to a June 2013 study by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), p. 19 – and the Texas Hispanic population has been the state’s fastest growing race for the last 20-30 years!  And the most telling of all studies and data?  College completion rates are noticeably lower in Texas than the U.S. average and have lagged behind national averages (U.S. Census Bureau – Current Population Survey) for at least the last decade.
Undergrad Completion Rate by Race, Texas vs U.S. Age 18-64

In my estimation these educational indicators explain in large part why the majority of Texas citizens (registered or not) have little motivation or skilled capacity to stamp their voice at voting booths.  This is also a national trend, particularly in the young adult ranks.  With that aside, the politics of modern Texas along with the economic urbanization of new industries and increased mechanization of agriculture, all converge demanding a college-educated (or higher) workforce.  Furthermore, the current higher-educated sector in Texas, i.e. the white-non-Hispanic Traditionalists and Individualists, hold and have held the key socio-economic and political positions in the state.  It is no leap of reason that “knowledge” and a quality education provides an advantage, and power.  The influences upon voters doesn’t end there.  One more factor deserves attention.

The cost of attaining a college-degree or higher is difficult at best for Texas families hovering around the poverty line, UNLESS financial aid (grants and loans) is accessible.  However, wading through all possible financial aid programs and conditions can be daunting and frightening for impoverished parents or non-Caucasian parents with or without a high school diploma.  What I found interesting in my research and preparation on this subject, is that Texas relies very heavily on federal aid for college admissions; significantly more so than its own state or institution’s aid.  That aid is also in the form of interest-bearing loans, not grants.  Federal grants for college-bound students have been steadily declining over the years.
Direct Student Aid by Source TX vs US

Direct Student Aid by Type 91-92, 11-12Assuming some of you have read this far, dissecting and deciphering the Texas and federal programs/conditions would need another two or three separate posts minimum, of which I or likely you have no time to read.  Semi-apologetically I will skip it.  But it is reasonable to conclude that for a state that prides itself on self-reliance, self-motivation, and self-direction, a Lone Star if you will, it sure leans heavily – at least for the last decade – on 49 other states to help.

* * * * * * * * * *

If Texas continues on its twenty-year path of rising educational and economic disparity, by 2040-2050 Texas will no longer be capable of supplying an adequately educated work force for employers and businesses that demand college-degreed-or-higher employees they need to remain competitive, innovative, and profitable.  The option for those future Texans?  Low-pay undesirable service jobs with little to no vertical movement.  Texas, this trend must be reversed!

Cutting or limiting the scope of broad education, including sex-education, as Rick Perry and Greg Abbott have done over their political terms, only handicaps Texas’ future generations.  Cutting or limiting a diverse education and experience among all types of Peoples – including the LGBT communities which by the way empowers students and young adults to better address and manage social, political, and economic factor — will actually handicap future young Texans.  The repercussions of bias, limited, inflexible, faith-based social and political polices and mandates in 1990-2010 were far more reaching than Texas voters could’ve possibly imagined.

What Next?

Voter ID TestIn a north Texas-based Star-Telegram January 2014 interview, Steve Murdock, a former Texas state demographer and director of the U.S. Census Bureau, offering causes for Texas’ increasing wealth inequality explained “if we don’t [correct] educational levels, Texas will be poorer and Texas will be less competitive”.  The same can be said about Texas’ socio-economic issues exacerbated by decades of GOB faith-based politics (Good Ole Boy).

A new generation of Texans, a more diverse population of Texans – though not so highly educated by national percentages – have a golden opportunity this November to reverse Texas’ decades of spiraling downward turns in education…ALL FORMS of education!  Getting to the voting booths – and out of people’s bedroom (heterosexuals) and personal life-choices – is the easiest first step, reversing our abysmal voter-turnout rate.

I am one eighth-generation Texan who wants that to happen and permanently.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Out-of-Wedlock Babies

Greg AbbottOn 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.

Discrimination-FactorsKnowing 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!

What Abbott-Perry 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
This plural family, all parents being heterosexual, from a Mormon background faces larger challenges in their tradtional monogamous hetero neigborhood and town.

This plural family, all parents being heterosexual from Mormon backgrounds, face larger difficult challenges daily in their traditional monogamous hetero neighborhood and town.

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.

marriage equalityAs 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

Krznaric How Should We LiveTo 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.

Conclusion

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!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Love Gas – Part Two

Regrettably (or not) this is my second part of my temporary rant and venting from Love Gas – Part One.  My apologies again to those readers who prefer funny, informative, or inspiring posts.  I prefer them as well.

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* * * * * * * * * *

gas maskIn Part One I mentioned two other times when two previous close female friendships had been sacrificed and severed for new exciting, hopeful love with a new partner or fiancé.  One of those two was by a former girlfriend and lover when she started dating a serious potential.  I will start with her and make it short because the other “sacrifice” deserves much more time.

In the scheme of these two posts, closing down or allowing to fade away the relationship/friendship of former lovers or ex-spouses is commonly understood, accepted, and nothing really out of the ordinary.  Mainstream society, or at least mainstream conservative society, seems to believe that once sexual relations have been had between a man and woman, woman and woman, man and man, or that they once passionately loved one another, then if that deep love doesn’t end with married until death, or until divorced, then it cannot be shared continuously and simultaneously with the newest lover.

I do not agree at all with this (American?) societal stigma, but for the sake of time and space I will not argue against it here and now.  Prior to my entrance into the open-swinger polyamorous lifestyles many years ago, I have not had contact with any of my pre-open/poly lifestyle partners, except one.  And she asks that for the sake of peace and her children, we keep it very discreet; at least until her children are grown and out of the house.

Ugh, yes it is complicated; especially for her.  It is also too complicated to get into here.  I considered not even mentioning it.  Fortunately for the sake of peace and her children, we live over 300-miles a part and nothing at all has happened physically between us since 1989; way before her current marriage.  We do have a long great friendship and she completely understands my warnings and the risks she – and to be fair me too – are taking inside traditional frameworks by NOT including him in the friendship!  I’ve accepted that we agree to disagree on how divulging she might/should be with her husband.  In the end, it is her business…. and it could become mine too somewhere down the road.

But in my honesty I have wandered off track.

Regarding my former open-swinger girlfriend – who I deeply care for and will always, and have loved deeply and still could – since we ended our “official” relationship, we have always maintained a close friendship.  However, what has always frustrated and angered me is when a new “vanilla” man enters her life… our close passionate friendship vanishes.  Then when it ends with Mr. Newman (probably because he senses there is another former lover he could NEVER surpass… like it’s a fucking competition anyway!) our closeness picks right up where it left off.  I have expressed to her several times, ever since our official ending, how much that irritates me!  But apparently (and we both laugh at this point) “I just don’t get it!”  Well yeah, no shit Sherlock.

I have learned thoroughly now that I cannot be held or kept responsible for everyone’s “feelings”… and that so includes those men (BFH’s) I have never met!  No surprise there Sherlock; duh, there’s a reason why I’ve never met them and may not ever!  HAH!  Hence, there’s the double-amplified curse/repellant I mentioned in Part One.  Yes, I have been told that I would make the worst spy or secret agent.  I will own that, proudly.

Now For the Really Big One
A likeness of my Aphrodite

An exact likeness of my dear lesbian “Aphrodite” friend.

Several years ago at my favorite club to dance and to the best dancing music by one of Dallas’ best DJ’s, I boldly introduced myself to one of the most stunning women I had ever seen dancing.  She was also there with a guy and noticeably dancing only with him; but he seemed very, very young.  Here, I will call her Aphrodite and the image left, though not her… does not do her justice.  Simply put she turns everyone’s heads; man and woman alike.  She defines a pin-up girl to the max.

A day or two later we met for an afternoon lunch around the corner from her apartment.  She had many questions for me.  What made the afternoon more enjoyable, was her unabashed lack of timidness in expressing her thoughts and feelings; all carefully thought out.  What I appreciated most about Aphrodite was that in less than ten-fifteen minutes, she let me know clearly she was lesbian.  And she did it with no pomp or bitterness due to society’s treatment of gays and lesbians.  I really liked that.  I immediately respected her person and discarded every one of my heterosexual fantasies with her… as much as I hated to hear her proclamation.  Imagine a boy with a 10-inch frozen icicle and it quickly melts under the 110 degree heat.  Nevertheless, we have been close dear friends for over six years.  Yet as is usually the case with gorgeous people, we were not immune to vulnerable moments sneaking into our close friendship.

The Risk versus Reward Dilemma

In the third year of our friendship, and during an emotionally disastrous ending to her then relationship with a pseudo-psychotic girlfriend, Aphrodite made many a wee-hour phone call to me asking me to drive over and be with her.  She asked because she wanted support in not calling the ex-girlfriend and trying to quickly fix it all or understand it prematurely.  This is not an easy road to tread as anyone can attest.  Sometimes it really is best to leave things alone until the hatchets are buried.  That was hard for her.  Ring-ring, my phone goes off 12-midnight, sometimes 1:30am.  Grab my keys, get in the car, drive forty-minutes to her place, talk, hug, hold her until we fell asleep.  This continued for some three or four weeks.

Then one night late, while thanking me and kissing my cheek, she puts her hand down my shorts and proceeds to maul me.  I cannot move — unlike my manly hetero part down there — DAMN IT!  She notices my paralysis. I don’t want to stop” she whispers, “but I will if you tell me.  Are you fucking kidding me!?  I manage barely 3-seconds of brain activity and reply “The last thing I want is something like this to fuck-up our friendship.”  That did not stop her.  In fact, it probably fueled the moment.

A day or two later we talked about that “moment” and wonderfully made nothing big about it or let it define our friendship or situation.  It was what it was.  I wasn’t going to study it to death.  More pressure was not what she required then.  Many of our friends would later ask if we two were dating…an item.  We had been seen spending a lot of time together.  We’d laugh.  I had surmised that she was maybe 90% lesbian, 10% bisexual (with the right guy?), but it was left up to her to determine that not me or the rest of the world.

Then a new “incredible” woman came into the picture three-four weeks later.  Aphrodite was obviously very attracted to her and very hopeful and excited about their possibilities.  Then the grand piano dropped from the 10th floor:  “When you come over to hang out and spend the night, you must sleep in my guest bedroom now.”

The 2011 movie

The 2011 movie “Your Sister’s Sister” where the lesbian sister sleeps with her sister’s hetero boyfriend.

I understood, but what she said did not sit well with me.  She noticed my shocked perplexed expression.  She explained to me that in the LGBT community, she would be ostracized for “being with” a heterosexual man.  She kept saying “you can’t understand it” as if I were some dumb blood-flows-one-way horny Neanderthal.  Granted that is the median in the male high-T world today, I mean there are a shitload of hetero alpha-males who delusionally want to CONVERT hot lesbians, but I am not even consumed by what or where I can stick my dick like the average hetero high-T male!  I asked her “have I ever pushed you to be someone you’re not just to satisfy my brain-consuming libido!?”  Never” she answered, “and that is what I have always loved about you!”

But my simplistic logic wasn’t going to change anything.  Her own image in the “abnormal” different culture of the LGBT community was more important than our intimate supportive friendship.  Now I knew what it felt like to be a nigger in the 1800’s or 1940’s, 50’s, or 60’s – or more accurately all during European and North American slavery.  Now I knew what it felt like to be a gay man in a horribly violent binary life-system in the bigot south.  Now I knew what it felt like to be considered an inferior human being; pick any historical setting.  Take it from me….it really feels like shit.

For 8-10 months Aphrodite and I did not talk.  Since then she has been involved in a later new 18-month relationship to a truly wonderful woman.  I am proud of Aphrodite for how she’s learned and matured, but to this day she doesn’t really know the depth of platonic hurt she caused.  I have moved on from it and we still talk freely and openly as we always have.  But she’s asked that I avoid alluding to that evening to her girlfriend or anyone else… and so that damn annoying question rears its ugly head again:

Why can you not openly comfortably talk to your B-GFH the way you talk and act around me!?

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