Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Old posts from Opine Editorials and "The Great Disruption"

I want to thank John E. for the discussion at Alexandra, who asks
"“What is offensive is the claim that this is the only reason a couple should be allowed to register themselves with the State as a married couple is because children might result from their union.”
It was nicely wording on how I weigh the issue.
The issue as I see it “Do I risk offending you (or others), to advocate for the needs and rights of children?”
My conscience says I must advocate matrimony was meant for the expectant need of children conceived from a man and a woman, even though it may be a rough journey ahead for me. “lex et veritas” is what they taught me in law school, and I will abide by that.
I was reviewing old posts and the view hits from Opine Editorials, a collaborative on the issue of marriage. Almost all of my posts were child and the affects of divorce and fatherless, in regards to marriage. I notice because I didn't reference gay marriage often, that my posts compared to others didn't get the same hits. I tried to take a view, that prior to the recent events of the decade that marriage really did mean something.

While many of my posts had low viewing, the most popular posts in the entire blog was 'How to make a kinship chart' and "Why everyone needs a full and complete kinship chart". Some posts feel so surreal, citing the concern for the decline in marriage and reference articles from 1999, pre-gay marriage debates. As you know if it isn't about gay marriage, then it isn't about marriage at all in 2014.

That's why my post 'Untitled for a Reason' has that title. I can't reference the solution as marriage, because then I'm stating marriage is about ensuring a child having a relationship with both biological mom and dad.

For those who may not remember how we use to speak about marriage, and how I use to remember how we use to talk about marriage public policy as a political science student and as a law student. It was a real conversation. Then there was The Great Disruption" a nice conversation there from May 2010 over at Opine.

Men Behaving Badly, excerpt from Francis Fukuyama's The Great Disruption Atlantic Monthly May 1999.
ALTHOUGH the role of mother can safely be said to be grounded in biology, the role of father is to a great degree socially constructed. In the words of the anthropologist Margaret Mead, "Somewhere at the dawn of human history, some social invention was made under which males started nurturing females and their young." The male role was founded on the provision of resources; "among human beings everywhere [the male] helps provide food for women and children." Being a learned behavior, the male role in nurturing the family is subject to disruption.....

When we put kinship and family in this context, it is easier to understand why nuclear families have started to break apart at such a rapid rate over the past two generations. The family bond was relatively fragile, based on an exchange of the woman's fertility for the man's resources. Prior to the Great Disruption, all Western societies had in place a complex series of formal and informal laws, rules, norms, and obligations to protect mothers and children by limiting the freedom of fathers to simply ditch one family and start another. Today many people have come to think of marriage as a kind of public celebration of a sexual and emotional union between two adults, which is why gay marriage has become a possibility in the United States and other developed countries. But it is clear that historically the institution of marriage existed to give legal protection to the mother-child unit, and to ensure that adequate economic resources were passed from the father to allow the children to grow up to be viable adults.
To requote:
" by limiting the freedom of fathers to simply ditch one family and start another."
In one of the past Alexandria comments.
Marriage in a ‘social capital’ context is the insurance a man won’t bail, when you get pregnant even with an unplanned pregnancy. That is when men typically bail in a non-married situation. Sure some married men bail, but you won’t get far and you are easier to track down. Romantic love gets you bed, but it a different type of love to deal with the stresses of children together.


  1. You never did respond to my follow-up question (and I wish you would over there, as well as here), which was:

    Quoting Renee: "If child-center marriage truly obsolete and what does it mean for public policy?"

    The rest is me
    Is it possible that you have an underlying assumption that this must be an either/or thing?

    Here is my mental model of marriage – there is an adult centered component that is concerned with the relationship between the two people getting married. This adult-centered component is applicable to all marriages if for no other reason than that children eventually grow up and move away.

    It seems to me that if for no other reason than to avoid the ‘empty nest’ syndrome, the adult centered component is important to every marital relationship.

    In addition to this adult centered component, there is a child-centered component that is right and proper to be nourished in those marriages where the two people have children and raise them together. I would describe the combination of these two components as both/and – that is to say that marriage has both an adult centered component (for all marriages) and a child centered component (for those who do have children and during the time they are raising them)

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth, Renee, I really don’t – so I hope you will tell me if I am correct or incorrect in thinking that your belief is that by allowing a class of people to marry for whom the child-centered component is not relevant, then somehow that will make the child centered component not relevant for every marriage?

    I confess that I would not understand why that either/or would have to be the case and I truly hope you will elaborate on whether or not you do have that either/or view.

  2. Also, I'd like to clarify for easier reading, but not (I think) changing the meaning of the original quote of mine with which you led in:

    "“What is offensive is the claim that this is the only reason a couple should be allowed to register themselves with the State as a married couple - because children might result from their union.”

  3. I'm only rigid in terms of public policy, because we are getting government involved in personal relationships.

    Laws are really just rules.

    The religious and cultural views of marriage and relationships are not.

    I think marital laws related benefits are too convoluted, and should be simplified especially around taxes.

    1. Before the state laws (rules) on marriage changed, Massachusetts changed the (laws) rules on determining who is a parent at birth. With the use of sperm donation being legal for married heterosexual couples and single women, how could the law not encompass homosexual couples?

      With naturally conceived children, one can not terminate parental rights for adoption until the child is born. And the father can't willfully terminate his responsibilities (child support), if the mother keeps her child.

      As much as I disagree with the redefining of marriage, I understand how the state court could come to different conclusion.

      As children of sperm/egg donors fight for their rights of identity and kinship, very slowly may find ourselves with better rules on who is the mother and father.

  4. Renee:
    "I'm only rigid in terms of public policy, because we are getting government involved in personal relationships."

    But they aren't just personal relationships - they are contractual relationships - and those contracts are enforced by the State.

    Maybe our perspectives are so different because Texas is a community property State. Down here, when two people decide to marry and co-mingle their lives, a non-trivial number of financial and other regulatory processes are automatically handled because of that registered relationship.

    For people who cannot access that registration, all of those processes must be handled through legal implements such as power of attorneys, explicitly listing titles held jointly, and other documents that you, with your legal training, are probably more familiar with than I am.

    Now, my understanding of the problems homosexual partners have run into who have tried to use the implements to mirror the protections that married couples have is that when they try to use their customized Power Of Attorneys, etc, is that these are not always regarded by third party institutions such as hospitals as being binding on them in the same way that my Marriage License is. And there are also the difficulties with inheritance and tax laws you reference above.

    As a simple matter of equitable treatment, I believe that homosexual couples who choose to enter lifetime relationships should have the same protections that my wife and I enjoy. It seems to me that the simplest way to make that happen would be for them to be able to register that chosen contractual relationship through the same process that my wife and I have - by getting a marriage license.

    1. In law school family law and contracts were separate classes.

      Marriage is and isn't a contract. There is the mutual agreement, but marriage doesn't have transactions in the same way goods and services are delivered.

      This applies to personal relationships of differing varieties and degrees, not just marriage.

  5. John, what's unique about the gay marriage thing? I can't run a marathon how ever much I train because of joint issues. Can we redefine "running a marathon" to include walking to the mailbox? After all, I'm a special snowflake, too and my feelings might be hurt if I can't say I'm a marathon runner.

    1. I'm not sure I understand your reference to running a marathon - would you elaborate?

    2. Gays can't call themselves married because two men can't ever make a baby together. That's bad.

      People with joint problems can't call themselves marathon runners. That's bad, too.

      What's the difference?

    3. I'm not sure I understand your reasoning - being able to make a baby together is not a requirement for a couple to be married.

      A couple becomes married through the process of filling out a form and registering with their State as a married couple.

      I'm sorry to hear about your joint problems - is it arthritis? Are you taking anything for it?

    4. That's OK, John. Reasoning by analogy isn't for everyone. I'm sorry I used a simple sports analogy elsewhere. Let's see if we can make this really simple.

      Babies come from one man and one woman. That's how babies are made. Really! Every one of them ever! That means that an intimate relationship between a man and a woman (we sometimes call this a "sexual" relationship) is different from other relationships. It's ... well, it's special. That's because babies come from it. And every person everywhere, every person you will ever meet, was once a baby. That came from one man and one woman.

      Was that simple enough for you?

  6. Second question for John: When do you guys ever have to show positive results? Listening to the gay marriage crowd is like listening to a 4-12 Cleveland Browns coaching staff with extreme malignant narcissism. "We're the greatest coaches ever! We have all the answers! Everyone should imitate us!"

    For the last 40-50 years we've redefined family structures over and over again, always moving farther away from the traditional family. It's been a total catastrophe. Now we all need to call two transvestites living together "married?" Sounds awesome. I'm sure the results will be splendid. Just like the last 40-50 years of civilizational devastation.

    So when do you plan on moving to Camden? After all, it's got the alternative lifestyle thing down pat. The place ought to be heaven on Earth.

    1. I don't understand your question - who are the 'you guys' you are referring to?

      I don't keep up with football, so I don't know anything about the Cleveland Browns coaching staff.

    2. "Now we all need to call two transvestites living together "married?" Sounds awesome. I'm sure the results will be splendid. Just like the last 40-50 years of civilizational devastation. "

      KT Cat doesn't live in a state with gay marriage, so I find this humorous because here in Massachusetts we are beyond this scenario. Marital rates have plummeted so far, that public policy makers have given up on how to integrate marriage laws for poorer families, meanwhile the wedding industry still is strong.

      In Boston the average cost of a wedding is over 39,000 Dollars!!!

      A lot of factors have played into the fall of marriage, where do we begin to rebuild.

    3. Gay marriage is the least of our problems. With Prop 8, we voted clearly and legaly for a constitutional amendment declaring marriage meant one man and one woman. Judges ruled that our legal constitutional amendment was unconstitutional, a complete impossibility. Voting no longer matters. That's a pre-revolutionary situation.

      Don't worry, we'll have gay marriage soon. Besides, we just passed a law saying school children could use whichever bathroom they wanted. Awesomeness squared!

    4. KT Cat

      Our biggest problem is the epidemic of narcissism. Somehow this is being most dramatically played out within marriage/family concepts though, through the past few decades.

  7. Renee, perhaps I am asking the wrong questions, let's try this one:

    I believe that as a simple matter of equitable treatment, homosexual couples who choose to enter lifetime relationships should have the same protections that my wife and I enjoy.

    Do you agree or disagree?

    1. Disagree, because they have different things that need protecting.

      Can adult relationships, which are altruistic and sacrificial in love be honored and respected in society even if procreation is never a part of the equation?


      Why do I consider these relationships different?

      Matrimony literally means "act of becoming a mother", so even if I want to respect and honor a same-sex relationship I wouldn't call it that. It doesn't make sense, and doesn't represent that relationship.

      What will anthropologist think of our civilization hundreds of years from now, when they look at our laws and call a relationship between two men matrimony?

    2. A gay couple is not equal because they are not the same. At all. I can think of 7 billion reasons why not.

    3. It took me a moment to get the 7 Billion reference.