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viewpoint

Explore SCOP with an open mind

| Monday, March 31, 2014

Two years ago, when the 4 to 5 Movement was at its height, I confess I found myself suspicious of the motivations and objectives of the group. I did not know, based solely on the signs and slogans, what was truly at the heart of the movement. I could not immediately discern if the movement was guided by the Catholic view of the inherent dignity of every individual and by the mission to lessen and prevent the isolation and alienation many LGBT people feel, which might be particularly acutely felt at Notre Dame. I thought it was equally possible that the movement was pursuing an agenda that was ultimately incompatible with Catholicism, particularly with its doctrines on the nature and purpose of human sexuality.
Although I was suspicious about the intentions of the movement, I had faith that my fellow Notre Dame students had good reasons for their participation, so I decided to look into it more. I read the petition closely, spoke to friends who were involved and even contacted the movement’s leadership. I found that they were arguing in good faith, with good intentions and with strong arguments. Ultimately, I concluded not only that my friends were right to lend their voices to the petition asking the administration to review its approach to addressing the needs of LGBT students, but also that I could not in good conscience refrain from adding my own name to the petition and my voice to supporting the movement.
Now, I am a member of Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP), a group of students circulating a petition of its own asking the University administration to strengthen its promotion of greater public understanding of marriage as a natural institution that unites a man and a woman in a comprehensive sharing of life which is, in the words of the Catechism, “ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.”
The University’s public support for this understanding of the true meaning of marriage was unequivocally stated in “Beloved Friends and Allies,” the pastoral plan issued in response to the 4 to 5 Movement’s efforts; however, given the continuing developments in the debate over the meaning of marriage, the University of Notre Dame should demonstrate ever more clearly ⎯ to Americans as well as to the people and governments of countries like Russia, Uganda, and Nigeria ⎯ that there is no contradiction whatsoever between defending the full dignity of our LGBTQ brethren and promoting man-woman marriage as a natural human institution.
I understand why some people might be suspicious of SCOP, of its petition or of its April 3 conference on the definition and importance of civil marriage. I understand these doubts because they are so similar to the ones I once harbored about the 4 to 5 Movement. I, therefore, encourage anyone who feels doubts about SCOP to do what I did: Talk to us. Attend our events. Understand our arguments for yourself. See whether you are convinced.

Timothy Kirchoff
senior
Dillon Hall
March 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • none

    Who is threatening the institution of heterosesxual marriage? And how?

    • Dillon ’11

      You’re framing it wrong. It’s not heterosexual marriage vs homosexual marriage, it’s conjugal marriage, centered on producing and raising children, with what I’ll call “personal fulfillment” marriage, which is primarily concerned with the feelings of adults. One concept necessitates permanency, monogamy, and procreation, the other only requires temporary consent and attraction. One is a social institution that benefits society and is championed by the Catholic Church, the other is a more recent perversion that has led to sky-rocketing rates of divorce, broken homes, and emotionally damaged children. “Homosexual marriage” viewed in isolation doesn’t necessarily threaten conjugal marriage, but considered properly as the extension of personal fulfillment marriage that it is, yes, it is not good for conugal marriage and society at large.

      • none

        But why ban only homosexuals from personal fulfillment marriage? Heterosexuals, as you pointed out, have been doing this now for decades. Why do gay people pose a new or particular problem?

        And why do you feel as though you get to decide who can and cannot enter into a civil marriage? A civil marriage that does not need to fit inside the tiny box you’ve constructed for it. Marriage can and does mean different things to different people (some of the happiest marriages are happily non-monogamous. Crazy, I know).

        And when talking about what’s best for children, I assume you’re ignoring both gay children and the children of gay parents. Is that accurate?

        • JDD

          He’s saying we need to work to create a marriage policy that promotes the welfare of children over emotional validation for adults. That applies to gay marriage, divorce, and other issues that promulgate the idea that children do not benefit from being raised by their mother and father.

          • none

            This doesn’t answer the question as to why homosexuals should be singled out. Why not restrict marriage to the heterosexual couples who believe what you believe about marriage?

            It is animus and an aversion to something marriage equality proponents have little to no understanding of. Plain and simple.

          • JDD

            A child based vision of marriage should be promoted in all cases, but how do you propose limiting marriage based on beliefs?

            You can’t just claim animus because you don’t understand something or disagree with it. You should try approaching ideas that differ from your own in an impartial manner rather than demonizing those who disagree with you.

          • none

            But this is why I think your argument fails. People who have a dramatically different view of marriage than you do are free to marry in this country… as long as they are heterosexual. The only differing characteristic is sexual orientation. So I think it is terribly disingenuous that this is about promoting some sort of child-centered view of marriage. Especially because many gay people do in fact have children and would like to create a stable family environment for them, and many heterosexual couples have no desire to procreate at all. Your argument does not lead to “all heterosexuals can marry but no heterosexuals can marry.” It leads to “this is what marriage should be, so only people who think the way I do should be able to marry.” And I don’t think anyone would find that acceptable.

          • none

            A couple typos in there. “all heterosexuals can marry but no homosexuals can marry” is what I meant to type.

          • JDD

            You’re misunderstanding. It’s not about sexual orientation. It’s about sexual complementarity. Only a marriage between members of the opposite sex can produce children. All Americans gay and straight have the right to marry a member of the opposite sex because that is what the word marriage means on a fundamental level, and because children, not in every case but generally, do best with their biological mother and father. Of course there will be children who unfortunately will not be able to be raised by their mother and father, but does that mean the state should actively undermine the importance of both parents?

            If you can’t stop accusing those you disagree with of being bad people you will never understand their point of view or broaden your perspective.

          • none

            How is the state undermining the importance of both parents? And as for saying it’s not about sexual orientation, that is a distinction without a difference. I am not sure what you’re understanding of homosexuality is, but a homosexual person marrying someone of the opposite sex would not be good for either party (or society as a whole).

            And no, that is not what marriage means at a fundamental level in many nations and in many American states. So that argument fails instantly.

            And again, could you address why children of gay parents do not deserve the stability that comes with marriage and how it benefits gay children to tell them that their relationships do not deserve legal recognition?

            As I’m sure you know though, this is all academic at this point. The fight for equality in this particular arena has already been won. Again, I support your right to make your own marriage in whatever image you think is right. And I support your church’s right to refuse to marry same sex couples. I think that is a completely logical compromise, especially when you consider the fact that there is not a shred of evidence to support the claim that legalizing same sex marriage is in any way bad for children.

          • JDD

            Until the last 10 years in human history marriage has always been between men and women because it was considered to be integral to procreation. You may want to give that fact a bit more consideration.

            You’re making too many assumptions here. I never said gay people should marry people they’re not attracted to. You’re assuming that for the sake of fairness things which are objectively different should be treated as the same. You’re assuming marriage is somehow superior to other relationships. And you’re assuming that marriage is primarily about fairness and emotionally validating adults.

            You have no evidence that suggests there will be no consequences to redefining the fundamental unit of society, but seem quite eager to do so. Frankly not much thought has been given to this issue because emotional arguments and attempts to demonize or silence any opposition have been the most effective tactics for those in favor of redefining marriage.

          • none

            So at what point will we be able to observe the terrible consequences of loving couples getting married? Honest question. Because Massachuesetts seems to still be doing ok.

            And are you then saying that gay people just shouldn’t marry? And that they can have their romantic relationships but they don’t deserve to have them legally recognized? If that’s the case, this is simply a case of discrimination based on sexual orientation, which a majority of people in this country now see as unacceptable.

          • JDD

            I don’t know, but I’m not the one advocating that we redefine societies fundamental unit of relation. How has the sexual revolution played out?

            I’m saying that marriage has been defined as such by the state because their interest is in mothers and fathers raising the best citizens possible rather than emotionally validating adults. It’s unacceptable to think that children deserve a father and mother? That’s incredible.

          • none

            You still need to make the connection between children deserving mothers and fathers and refusing to allow homosexuals to marry. Civil marriage does not now and has never required couples to have children.

            Children deserve loving parents. If it is their biological mother and father, that is wonderful. If it is two loving fathers or two loving mothers, that is also great. If it’s a loving single parent, that probably isn’t ideal, but you know what? Plenty of people can make it work if they have the desire and ability to be a good parent.

          • none

            And I would say that the “sexual revolution,” whatever you mean by that, has been a net positive for society, for women and sexual minorities in particular. For straight white people with antiquated and over-idealized views about human sexuality, probably not. But this isn’t a theocracy so I don’t think that’s the appropriate barometer.

          • JDD

            Look at divorce rates and single parenthood. These problems have disproportionately affected the poor and minorities. You may want to study that a bit more. Again I’m not sure why you’re referencing religion. You may want to follow the advice of the article and read a bit more with an open mind.

          • none

            Read what? That children deserve mothers and fathers so gay people can’t get married? You still haven’t made that connection.

          • none

            And additionally, it is impossible to prove a negative. So unfortunately for you, you have the burden of proof here, not me.

          • JAB

            Your claim that the only differing characteristic is sexual orientation is false. There are other accepted norms of marriage that would become arbitrary if same-sex unions were to be recognized legally as marriages. Most people, both those who marry and those who do not, would agree that marriage should be an exclusive, monogamous, and permanent union (admittedly with no-fault divorce laws that belief is eroded, still, couples entering a marriage typically do so with the hope that it will last for life). These norms of marriage which are generally acknowledged on both sides of the discussion have a rational basis in the conjugal view of marriage. Redefining marriage to include same-sex unions, and thus enshrining the revisionist view of marriage as law, would leave no rational basis for these generally agreed upon marital norms. If marriage is distinguished by the intensity of the emotional bond between the two parents, this leaves no rational basis for permanence, exclusivity, or monogamy. Emotional bonds are not permanent; they are notoriously fickle. Some people affirm that they foster more intense emotional union with their partners when their relationship is sexually open. Also, some affirm that a relationship involving more than two people is emotionally satisfying for them. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples makes these generally agreed upon marital norms arbitrary, and we know that a law that tries to enforce arbitrary norms will not be respected and obeyed for very long. That is why redefining marriage will lead to the loss of any widespread understanding of marriage as a permanent, exclusive, and monogamous relationship. So there are certainly more differences between the two arguments than merely sexual orientation.

          • none

            I’ve already gone over this, but many, many happy and successful relationships are not monogamous. If that’s not for you, great! Freedom! America!

          • none

            …and I’m including marriages here. In case that wasn’t clear. Not everyone sees monogamy as a requirement, and the law certainly doesn’t. The law also obviously doesn’t require permanence. Your idealized version of marriage is completely separate from what the law does or should require. How are you not seeing this?

          • JAB

            Bigamy is illegal: it seems that the law does require that you only be married to one person.

          • none

            And no one has addressed my point about gay children and how it could possibly benefit them to know that their relationships will always be looked at as lesser in the eyes of the law.

      • Patrick

        Dillon ’11, you can say that it’s not heterosexual marriage vs homosexual marriage all you want. I’m sure that you believe that. But think about this for a moment: do you think a hetero Catholic woman with no uterus should be allowed to marry a man she loves and wants to spend the rest of her life with? She would not be able to have a conjugal marriage, centered on producing and raising children. They would have to adopt. Would that be a “personal fulfillment” marriage? But if you support that particular hetero marriage while arguing against a loving same-sex couple that wants the same things (to spend the rest of their lives with each other and raise a family of adopted children), then it’s not an issue of conjugal marriage at all. It’s an issue of you not believing that same-sex adoptive parents can raise a child as well as heterosexual adoptive parents. So call a spade a spade, yeah?

        Or have I misinterpreted your argument?

  • M.

    Marriage as an institution “that unites a man and a woman in a comprehensive sharing of life” sounds lovely for couples who choose to pursue that. But I don’t buy the argument that these are the only legitimate marriages, or that this is a reason to prevent same-sex couples from participating in civil marriage.

    • N

      So how do you define marriage? And what is its function in society?

      • none

        A union of two consenting adults representing a commitment to each other that encourages social stability and healthy family lives.

        But for purposes of civil law, the only truly relevant part is “two consenting adults.” You can have your idealized version of marriage, and you can work toward that in your own life, and encourage others to do it, and work to make sure your church closes its doors to the kinds of relationships you don’t support. But you cannot translate your religious beliefs into civil law.

        • N

          Your idealized version of marriage very popular, but I have a few questions for you. Why limit the number of individuals to two? Some people are fulfilled by polyamorous relationships. And does the relationship necessarily need to be sexual? Is permanence a requirement?

          Where did I make reference to religion? The traditional view of marriage as being between a man and a woman is nearly ubiquitous across every culture in the world throughout history regardless of religious affiliation.

          • Patrick

            Here’s why you limit the number to two, and it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Two people can promise to love each other completely when they enter the bond of marriage and they can keep that promise. Introducing a third person makes that promise impossible to fulfill because one spouse’s affections would have to be split between the other two, introducing an inherent, inevitable inequality despite the best intentions going in.

  • N

    Three parent children are being created at present due to the inability of gay couples to produce children naturally raising all the same problems you condemn. How is the legal system currently managing?

    Nearly every nation in history has understood that marriages are inherently sexual because they are integrally linked to the raising of children. If the relationship doesn’t need to be sexual should close relatives be prevented from marrying? If so why?

    I should clarify – I meant, is the expectation of permanence a requirement or should marriages only last as long as love lasts?

    Redefining marriage to make mothers and fathers optional sends the message to society that this institution is primarily about the emotional needs of adults rather than being about the developmental needs of children.

    • none

      Those three people do not marry, so no, it does not create the problems I am pointing to that come with dissolving the marital relationship.

      And you didn’t answer my question. Should we forcibly divorce married couples who aren’t having sex? It really is telling that no one can have a conversation about why same sex marriage is wrong without diving into completely different things. I’m not talking about incest or polygamy. I’m talking about same sex marriage. Let’s try to stick with that. If you can’t make an argument with regard to same sex marriage without saying “BUT WHAT IF THIS HAPPENS NEXT?!” then you aren’t really making an argument at all.

      Marriages should last as long as the people in them want them to last. I am not in favor of outlawing divorce.

      And no one is “making mothers and fathers optional.” Again with the straw man. This is a meaningless comment that has no basis in the rationalizations behind the fight for marriage equality.

      • N

        So the judiciary can handle three parent arrangements, but three person marriages are beyond their capability?

        I assumed your question to be rhetorical because it was so farcical. Obviously the government can’t and shouldn’t force divorces. And I’m not changing the subject. I’m asking you to define marriage in a manner that isn’t arbitrary. I am able. Thus far you have not been. This is a simple exercise in logic.

        How can you say mothers and fathers are not optional when marriage is redefined to say that two fathers or two mothers is the same thing as having a mother and father?

        I’m surprised you’re losing your composure over a discussion. The entire point of the article was encouraging you to consider ideas outside of your current perspective.

        • none

          It’s not about what the judiciary can handle, it’s about what the law is. Seriously, read a family law statute from any state. You’ll learn something, I imagine.

          And I already defined marriage in a perfectly reasonable way that is no more arbitrary than yours. It simply changes “one man and one woman” to two consenting adults. You have yet to explain why that is unreasonable. You then, instead of responding to my definition, jumped to polygamy, which would not be included in the definition I provided.

          By your tone, I take it to mean you oppose gay adoption entirely? Two mothers, two fathers, one mother and one father, one father, one mother, no parents. All of these are possible and currently exist in society, and the law surrounding marriage doesn’t really have anything to do with it.

          I’ve considered all of these ideas. There is nothing new. There is no legitimate, secular, reason to keep homosexuals from marrying. Read the transcript from any of the court cases. There has been no credible evidence presented. And that’s why the side I support has won. I’m not saying that to be snarky. It’s just demonstrably and undeniably true.

          • N

            You’re advocating for redefining law already, and limiting marriage to two is the definition of arbitrary. It’s unreasonable because you’re appealing to a tradition you decry.

            Your contention is is that every country on earth concluded that marriage is between a man and a woman in an arbitrary manner? That’s some claim.

            So if a court rules in your favor that’s evidence that your philosophical view of marriage is indisputably correct? You still haven’t explained how fathers and mothers can be essential when marriage redefines them as optional.

          • none

            And the Lovings were advocating for redefining the law too. It’s not a 1:1 analogy, but it still works.

            And my point is that people have tried to make your argument in court cases before, and every single time, those people have fallen flat on their faces because their contentions do not stand up to even the most basic levels of scrutiny.

            And what is this about fathers and mothers being essential? As I already pointed out, children are raised in countless different ways. Is it ideal to be raised by a biological mother and father? Instinctively the answer might be yes, but I think we all see examples of bad parenting from biological parents, and in those cases, the children of those parents may in fact be better off being raised by… a loving homosexual couple! Being a biological parent does not bestow parenting abilities onto people. I could get a woman pregnant this week, and I guarantee you I could find a gay couple that would be better equipped to raise that child than I would be.

            Is it ideal to have a child raised by biological parents who are also loving and in a stable relationship? The answer to that particular question may well be yes. But the relationship between that question and the question of whether or not homosexuals have the right to marry is tenuous at best.

            Your arguments are now so strained, as you all try to stretch and contort yourselves to find a secular reason to discriminate when there is no logical one.

            Have you accepted defeat here? If not, how have you not? Gay marriage is here. We’ve won. It’s over. I will not try to come get married in your church. That’s how different segments of society respect each other. I have to say, everyone on your side of the argument likes to speak of this on a purely technical and academic level while avoiding the fact that you’re telling me that my loving relationship of many years will be destructive to society if I choose to have it recognized by the state. Doesn’t that just seem… inherently cruel?

          • N

            Have I accepted defeat? You’ve failed to offer a vision for what marriage is. You accept that children being raised by a biological mother and father is ideal, but claim the government should promote dissimilar relationships as identical. Your most consistent argument is that if the SCOTUS makes a 5-4 decision then a matter is clearly settled and rational dissent is not possible. And you’ve consistently resorted to demonizing anyone who disagrees with you.

            I suppose that’s to be expected. Next time I suggest you actually approach the subject with an open mind. It’s a good skill to have. Peace.

          • none

            Who have I demonized? I have not demonized anyone, but rather this is another example of the persecution complex people on your side have developed as a result of being called out for supporting discriminatory practices.

            My mind is plenty open. But as a gay man, telling me that my relationship is destructive to society doesn’t hold a lot of water. I have a desire to achieve full civil equality, which I think is plenty reasonable. I have repeatedly expressed my desire to give religious people the right to object in their particular religious communities. But speaking from a secular standpoint, which we must do, you do not have a leg to stand on.

            The matter is not yet clearly settled. But you have to really have your head buried in the sand to think that there is any other possible destination at this point.

          • N

            I respect you thoroughly. I have many gay friends, and the challenges they have struggled with are far greater than any that I have known. I have great admiration for their sense of justice and determination.

            But saying that a gay relationship is a different thing from marriage doesn’t mean I’m claiming it is inherently destructive. My point is that marriage needs to be about children. Unfortunately, people who believe that we should encourage children to be raised by a mother and father are being targeted and silenced with the threat of the law. They are being forced out of the public square. Just look at the current situation with the Mozilla CEO.

            Again, 4 SCOTUS justices concurred with my position, 5 with yours. It’s not nearly as settled as you would make out although your perspective is certainly winning in academia and the media. Nonetheless, a sizable minority still recognize that marriage should primarily be about children’s welfare and that definitions do matter.

            I admire your passion and thoughtfulness. All the best. Peace.

          • Patrick

            N, do you think post-menopausal women or women who have had hysterectomies should not be allowed to get married? They can’t have children. If marriage needs to be tied to having children, like you seem to argue, then it seems like you would also have to oppose marriages of heterosexual couples who cannot have children. That seems incredibly cruel of you. Have I misread your argument?

          • N

            That seems to be a “gotcha” question based on your tone and the fact that you accuse me of being “incredibly cruel.” We’d be better off sticking to rational arguments rather than using slurs.

            I’m surprised you ask this question. Men are fertile their entire lives, so ensuring that older men remain monogamous is important for encouraging stable marriages. Older couples also serve as models of lifelong monogamy for younger generations, and serious problems can be caused even for adult children of divorcees if splits occur. Thus marriages of older people still support a stable marriage culture that is good for children.

          • M.

            Ok. So, I’m a woman who might be infertile. If I find out that I definitely won’t be able to have kids, should I never get married? It seems like the logical extension of your argument.

          • N

            Answered above. Infertility is the exception rather than the rule. Furthermore, how do you propose implementing it? Fertility testing in order for people to get married?

          • Baffled

            What is the rule then? And why do you have the authority to state the exceptions?

          • Patrick

            Woah, woah, wait. I’m sorry, N. You misunderstood me. I completely agree that we’re “better off sticking to rational arguments.” Of course I don’t think you’re cruel! The problem is, I’m not very good at following logical arguments through to their conclusions. So when I followed my understanding of your argument through to the conclusion that you think heterosexual marriage should be forbidden for postmenopausal women, women who’ve had hysterectomies, men who’ve had their testicles removed, or people who are infertile for some other reason, I knew I had gone wrong somewhere. Because I know you’re not cruel, I was just hoping you could show me where I misunderstood you, you silly goofball!

            Here’s my understanding of your key argument against gay marriage:
            –> Marriage must be focused on making and raising children. That’s not all a marriage is about, of course, but it is a necessary component of a true, fulfilling marriage. Same-sex couples can’t procreate. The procreative aspect necessary for a true marriage can never be fulfilled in such a circumstance, so we should not dilute the sanctity of marriage by allowing two people of the same sex.

            Which part in there did I misunderstand?

            I’m assuming that something in there was completely off, otherwise you’d be arguing against heterosexual infertile marriage as well. And as we’ve already established, of course you don’t believe that.

            So did I misunderstand your premise? Is your opposition to gay marriage not based on the procreative aspect? Where did I go wrong, N? Like I said, I’m not very good at following logical arguments through to their conclusions, so you’ll have to just humor me. — Sincerely, Patrick

          • N

            I didn’t say “marriage must be focused on making and raising children.” I said that the state’s interest in marriage is that it helps ensure that children are raised by their mothers and fathers. Infertile couples are can still marry and help contribute to a strong culture of marriage in society.

          • Patrick

            Thank you for clarifying! I’m sorry I misinterpreted that. I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, I’m just trying to make sure I understand your position. Indulge me once more, if you’d be so kind. What is the difference, then, between an infertile couple marrying and raising adoptive children in a stable, loving home and a same sex couple marrying and raising adoptive children in a stable, loving home? How would the infertile, heterosexual set of parents “contribute to a strong culture of marriage in society” more than the same-sex parents? Is your argument that two people of the same sex would never be able to raise a child as well as one man and one woman?

          • N

            You don’t see how having a mom and a dad is different than not having a mom or a dad?

            Obviously my argument isn’t that that a gay couple could never raise children as well as a straight couple. There are many good gay parents and many bad straight ones. You’re veering off topic.

          • Patrick

            I’m completely confused.

            — You believe it’s okay for people to get married even if they know they can’t have their own biological kids: “Infertile couples are can still marry and help contribute to a strong culture of marriage in society.”

            — You believe that gay parents can be just as good at raising children as straight parents: “Obviously my argument isn’t that that a gay couple could never raise children as well as a straight couple. There are many good gay parents and many bad straight ones.”

            What difference is there, then, between the infertile heterosexual couple and the same-sex couple that is significant enough to allow one to get married while barring the other?

          • N

            “I’m completely confused.”

            That much is obvious.

          • Patrick

            So please answer me, N, and enlighten me instead of running away from the question. If you need some time to think about it, I understand. It’s a complex issue. So again, what is the difference between the infertile heterosexual couple and the same-sex couple that is significant enough to allow one to get married while barring the other?

          • N

            I’m not running away. You can continue running in circles asking the same questions repeatedly or shifting the argument, but frankly it’s unproductive at this point because you’re not interested and don’t have an open mind.

            Try thinking about what your definition of marriage is, what basis the state has for regulating it, and why it’s not arbitrary.

          • Patrick

            I’ve been focused on the same issue of comparison to infertility this entire time. I have not shifted the argument. Let me refresh your memory. Here’s what I asked you and here’s what you’ve yet to answer:

            — You believe it’s okay for people to get married even if they know they can’t have their own biological kids. You said: “Infertile couples are can still marry and help contribute to a strong culture of marriage in society.”

            — You believe that gay parents can be just as good at raising children as straight parents. You said: “Obviously my argument isn’t that that a gay couple could never raise children as well as a straight couple. There are many good gay parents and many bad straight ones.”

            What difference is there, then, between the infertile heterosexual couple and the same-sex couple that is significant enough to allow one to get married while barring the other?

            You’ve been able to take enough time to type responses to me the last two times I asked this same question. But because you were either unable or unwilling to answer the question directly, I’ve had to remind you that you ignored it. So now I ask you for a third time. If you haven’t thought about this particular scenario thoroughly enough to come up with a thoughtful answer, that’s okay. If you need some time before responding, that’s okay too. But when you do respond, please answer the question directly. That way, the dialogue can move forward.

          • Baffled

            Its pretty obvious that you failed at attempting to justify your bigotry

          • Patrick

            Hold on, baffled. I don’t think N is a bigot. I think N has good intentions at heart. I just don’t think that N has realized that some of his or her premises lead to contradictions if followed through all the way to their full conclusions. Let’s please let N respond to the infertile adoption question before getting snarky. Lets give him or her the opportunity to point out our misunderstanding of the argument (s)he is making.

          • baffled

            How did you get into SMC/ND?

          • Patrick

            Baffled, please don’t say anything if you’re not going to contribute to a respectful dialogue. Smart people can have opinions that you don’t agree with.

          • Baffled

            lol you really just don’t get it dude

          • Baffled

            You do seem intelligent

          • none

            I’m not sure what SCOTUS ruling you’re referring to. No Justice made the argument you’re making.

            Where did this idea that marriage needs to, in each and every single case, be about children? Here is what I think it actually is, because there was never any uproar about heterosexuals not having children and thus undermining the purpose of marriage. The initial argument against gay marriage was, essentially, “we don’t like gay people, they shouldn’t be allowed to get married.” Then in order to justify that animus, people cited their sincerely held religious beliefs. Then it became clear that those arguments would not cut it on a legal level, and so the people behind the efforts to withhold full civil equality from a minority group in this country worked backward to find some plausible, secular reason to deny gay people full the right to marry. They failed, but this was as close as they got. And it’s spreading like a cancer. But, I take solace in the fact that it’s a futile argument, because my side has won. Decisively. And it’s even more apparent when looking at the demographic picture. It’s over.

            And I’ve learned through the years that “I have gay friends” is usually either an outright lie or a misstatement of the kinds of relationships the people who say it have with gay people in their lives.

          • N

            You resort to accusing me of being a liar and appeal to popular opinion. I had a gay roommate for three years, but go ahead and resort to baseless accusations. Unfortunately we continue to see this type of behavior with ever increasing frequency.

            http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-mozilla-proposition-8-20140331,0,4912994.story#axzz2xksQvDgZ

          • none

            I would very sincerely like to have a chat with your gay roommate about how he feels about the things you’re saying here.

          • N

            You’re shifting the posts pretty regularly here. He disagrees with me – but knows that it has to do with my view of what marriage is, and not any sort of animus towards him.

          • none

            Will you concede that your contention that gays can’t marry but infertile people can marry is nothing more than excessive hair-splitting so that you can successfully discriminate only against gay people and not the infertile? You scoffed at the idea of fertility tests, but why? If marriage is what you say it is, it should be unavailable to those who will not or cannot procreate.

            And you didn’t respond to my point that this is just the result of your movement working backward from animus. I think it’s pretty obvious though, given the weakness of the arguments presented and how they do not even fit into the current legal construct of marriage in this country.

          • N

            So your claim now is that every major civilization in history recognized marriage as being between a man and a woman because of they wanted to discriminate against gay people? I’m sure Plato, Aquinas, Kant, Gandhi all hated the gays and wanted to refuse them civil rights. Either that or they recognized something significant about the union of a man and woman.

          • Patrick

            Plato, Aquinas, Kant, and Gandhi all would have taken enough time to think of a response to the infertility question instead of changing the subject and avoiding it.

          • none

            No, my claim is that the anti-marriage equality movement is saying gays shouldn’t marry because they want to discriminate against gay people.

            Just answer the damn question. Yeesh.

            I think I’m probably done with this though. Like I’ve said a few times already, this is purely academic. So I’m gonna maybe look at some websites for potential wedding venue where I will marry my gay male partner.

          • none

            And I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make with that link. People don’t appreciate political views that result in the discrimination against minorities. Just because it is still legitimate in some backward circles to discriminate against gays via the political process does not mean that employees who find such discrimination appalling should have to remain silent about it.

            It’s a civil rights issue. It’s not about freedom of thought. You can think whatever you want. You cannot legislate the rights of a minority you find to be distasteful. We went over this in 1964.

          • N

            Nice to hear you come right out and state your tolerance. People who don’t think marriage should be redefined along arbitrary emotional terms shouldn’t be surprised if they’re fired. Because recognizing what marriage is (like Gandhi, Plato, etc.) is equivalent to hating gay people and wanting to oppress them.

          • Baffled

            I do not think Ghandi, or Plato, both extremely intelligent people, would appreciate being brought into an argument on your behalf, especially since your entire argument has been incompetent and I doubt they would agree with you given you have used no logic. As a philosopher, I would have to say that Plato most likely appreciates logic. Logically speaking, all the statistic on same-sex marriage as well as same-sex parents’ abilities to raise children point to the obvious conclusion that….you’re absolutely wrong on so many levels – morally, philosophically, intelligently, and factually. If this were a comedy show, you’d be brilliant. Unfortunately, you’re being completely serious.

          • Baffled

            You really do not seem too intelligent

          • Baffled

            You really do not seem too intelligent

        • none

          Oh, and I imagine your view on “three parent families” is a lot different when it’s the result of an unplanned pregnancy being brought to term so that the baby can be adopted. Right? Because there is no reason the legal construct around surrogates for gay couples, for example, would need to be any different than that.

  • Q

    “If someone feels that they need the government to deem their
    relationship legitimate in order to feel like their relationship is
    worthy, it seems that this relationship is not a very strong one.”

    So we don’t need any civil marriages at all? Great. Problem solved.

    • JAB

      The reason the government is involved in the marriage business is because the sexual union of a man and a woman is capable of producing a child, and that child does not come into the world as a fully self-sufficient being. Children need to be raised, and the government has an interest in recognizing marriages because it is the best way to encourage via incentives the biological parents of a child to remain with each other and with that child. If the parents don’t raise their child, someone has to, and thus the government has to get even more involved.

      • Patrick

        JAB, you said “the government is involved in the marriage business is because the sexual union of a man and a woman is capable of producing a child”. But what about couples who know that there is no chance they could ever produce a child? I’ll stick to one example of medical infertility, though there are many. Women without a uterus are categorically unable to procreate. Sex between married, heterosexual couples in which the woman has no uterus is categorically not procreative. Both husband and wife know, before getting married, that there is zero chance that they could ever produce a child. Any sex they have would not be ordered toward procreation.

        How would the adoption of children by a same-sex couple with the intent of providing a stable, loving family environment differ from the adoption of children by an infertile heterosexual couple with the intent of providing a stable, loving family environment.

        • JAB

          There are a few different approaches to answering this objection. One that makes a lot of sense, in light of this article, for the students who are advocating for child-oriented policy is that men and women bring very different skills to parenting. There have been tons of studies done over the years that show the importance in terms of average outcomes for children when they are missing their father (biological father). The same goes for mothers. There is no such thing as parenting in the abstract, there is mothering and there is fathering. One difference between the two types of adoption you mention is that in one case the adopted child has the benefit of a parent of each gender, whereas in the other this benefit is missing.

          • Patrick

            Those “tons of studies” show that not having two parents is bad for kids. Thy show that having adoptive parents in general is worse for kids. Gay marriage wouldn’t force parents to give up their biological children. Please find a study that indicates that, say, having two adoptive mothers is worse for children than having two adoptive opposite-sex parents.

  • Alum ’13

    Listen, I am not even sure if I am for the idea that children are an implicit part of a marriage. But, for argument’s sake, lets say it is. Until I am shown scientific research that hetero couples raise children better than gay couples, this argument is flawed. Let’s not confuse a religious argument with a secular argument here. If you want to argue against gay marriage from a religious standpoint, have at it. Religion does not require scientific verification. From a secular standpoint however, I do not see how this “child oriented policy” will actually help children without serious research backing it up.

    • N

      You’re saying that the logical thing is to redefine the fundamental unit of society throughout the entirety of human history without any evidence that the outcomes will be good or even neutral? What is religious about the argument that children deserve a mother and father?

      • B

        Children deserve parents who provide a stable and loving family structure. Marriage provides that structure. If the research shows that children’s well-being is approximately the same in a same-sex household as it is in a heterosexual one, then a same-sex household is absolutely a desirable alternative to foster care.

        • N

          Children deserve a mom and a dad. Research doesn’t show what you claim. No well large well-sampled study ever has.

          • none

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2336889/Gay-parents-healthier-children-better-self-esteem.html

            I’m sure that won’t satisfy you, but the larger point is that there is absolutely nothing to support your idea that gay parents cannot parent as well as straight parents,

          • N

            Do you know how sociological studies work? Sampling is fundamental. This is just basic science.

          • none

            And what issue are you taking with their sample?

          • N

            It had a total of 500 people.

          • none

            I think you probably overestimate the sample size required to obtain results. In fact, they pretty much explain that in the article.

            “The children of same-sex couples scored so much higher for general health that researchers said it would only occur by chance less than 1 in 10,000 times.”

            Want to try again?

          • Patrick

            N, the sample size isn’t ideal. But can you find any study at all with a sample size at least as large as this that indicates that the adopted children of two same-sex parents are worse off than the adopted children of two heterosexual parents? Thanks in advance for the link.

          • Patrick

            “Children deserve a mom and a dad.” Upon what evidence are you basing this conclusion? Please present any evidence that suggests two adoptive heterosexual parents are better for children than two adoptive same-sex parents. Do you have any evidence for this at all besides a gut instinct?

      • Alum ’13

        Is it really a redefinition? It is still two loving parents. True, there does not have to be an explicit religious argument, but until I read a secular, scientific argument with data, I don’t see what the big deal is.

        • N

          Has marriage ever existed as something other than between a man and a woman anywhere in the world at any point in history before the year 2000? How would that not be a redefinition?

          • Patrick

            N, I agree that it is in many ways a redefinition. But how would the redefinition to allow same-sex couples be harmful? That’s what we need to focus on.

      • Baffled

        Just in case you were wondering, before Christianity even came to be, homosexual encounters were very frequent in Greek society, actually it was quite normal (I am sure that if you read about Socrates or Plato’s symposium, you would know this. But it does not seem as if you do). Oh, and also, we are supposedly a country with a democracy as our form of government…democracy was founded in Greece, right along with all those homosexuals – what do you know, society did not crumble and the children were not corrupted. Sure, they [homosexuals, that is] did not get married back then, but that is because society did not force them into a box and label them as being unequal to the rest of humanity. Now, because being homosexual automatically denies people their fundamental rights, there is a great need to “redefine” marriage so as to include homosexuals. Seriously, it makes no sense for as to why you care so much about this. Do not get gay married if you so choose. Do not allow your children around those destructive gay couples. By all means, start your own orphanage/adoption agency and refuse to allow those children to go to loving homosexual couples. In case you have not noticed, in every civil right case within US history, “tradition” has been the only argument used to deny people their rights – women, blacks, interracial couples..etc. I mean, I could keep going if you would like. Just because you believe the “tradition” of marriage to be between a man and woman, does not justify keeping it that way just to oblige the people who have a problem with progress, for whatever reason that may be (usually ignorance and fear). I have tried SO HARD this year to understand people like you. I have literally had an existential crisis over this. I do not understand why people can justify taking away other people’s rights or flat out denying rights to begin with. That is called oppression, and that is exactly what you are advocating for.

      • happiernow

        The claim that “children deserve a mother and father” is a lovely platitude, but it is ultimately meaningless when it comes to the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. It is a total non sequitur to claim that “because children deserve a mother and father, society must refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry.” The conclusion simply does not follow from the premise. Why? Because the legal recognition of same-sex relationships as marriages does not deprive even one single child of his or her mother and father. Instead, the choices of biological parents are what dictate whether a child will be raised by those parents or not. In no other situation do we deny rights based on a claim that children deserve a mother and father. We do not prohibit divorce. We do not prohibit single parenthood. We do not prohibit single individuals from adopting. There are multiple ways that a child may be deprived of being raised by his or her mother and father (divorce, death, abuse, neglect, adoption, abandonment), but allowing a same-sex couple to marry is not one of them.

        Same-sex marriage does not send the message that mothers and fathers are not important. Instead, it sends the message that all families are valued and valuable. When a same-sex couple adopts a child, that couple does not rip the child from the arms of loving and competent biological parents. It is only after those biological parents have been found unfit or unwilling to parent that the child is placed for adoption. And a child created by reproductive technology would not be raised by his or her biological parents, regardless of whether the couple using the reproductive technology is straight or gay.

        What you are really arguing is that same-sex couples should not raise children. But there is no legitimate basis for this claim. There is no evidence to demonstrate that same-sex parents are inferior parents or that children raised by same-sex parents are harmed by having two parents of the same sex. Arguments about the supposed differences between mothers and fathers are based in large part on gender/sex stereotyping. Being a good parent has nothing to do with one’s sex, gender, or sexual orientation.

        Again, preventing same-sex couples from getting married will not ensure that even one child is raised by both a mother and a father. And allowing same-sex couples to marry does not prevent children from being raised by mothers and fathers. If your problem is with children being raised by same-sex parents, then at least be honest about that. But there is nothing about marriage equality that prevents or inhibits straight couples from getting married, having children, and raising those children together. There is nothing about banning same-sex marriage that encourages straight people to get married and to have and raise children within the confines of marriage.

        I know that it is easy to equate marriage with procreation, but neither is dependent upon the other. One need not be married to procreate, just as one need not procreate to be married. And the government’s interest in marriage is not to ensure that children are raised by mothers and fathers. It is to recognize family units and family relationships, to distinguish between legal strangers and family members, and to promote family stability and commitment. Even if a couple cannot or does not have children, the state still has an interest in their marriage because adults who are legally bound to support each other are less likely to rely on the state for their support in times of crisis.

        Besides, if you are going to base laws on the claim that children deserve a mother and father, then why is no one arguing to ban divorce? Why is no one arguing that the state should remove children from single parents and give those children to married heterosexuals? Why is the sole focus on denying marriage to same-sex couples?

    • Amber Abbigail Barbara

      Empirical research supports that, education and income being held constant, being raised by a same-sex couple has no negative effect on a child’s outcome. There are studies with questionable validity that claim otherwise…

      • JAB

        Actually the case is that there are many studies of questionable validity (that do not stand up to the highest standards for rigorous social science, lacking large, random, representative samples taken longitudinally) that posit no differences between average outcomes for children raised by a same-sex couple and children raised by their married biological mother and father. Every study cited in the APA 2005 report that claimed “no differences” has been shown to be faulty in its methodology (and many of the authors themselves admit to not being able to draw statistically significant generalizations from their results). Some newer studies, which you say have questionable validity, confirm the fact that the optimal environment for raising children is with the married biological parents. These studies, and the one that has garnered the most attention (NFSS), actually follow the children of same-sex parents through their adult years to study their outcomes, as reported by the children rather than the same-sex parents, compared to children raised by their married biological parents, controlling for education and income and many other factors, and they support the fact that the optimal environment for children as judged by expected average life outcomes is with the married biological parents.

  • Patrick

    PVM, if a couple wants to get married and start a family, but they know they’ll have to adopt because for some medical reason they can’t have kids, does that count as “personal fulfillment”?

  • Reality Check

    This is a very well-written article and makes a great point, learn about things before you criticize them

    • none

      What makes you think people who are criticizing them haven’t learned about it?

      You can’t insulate yourself from all criticism by making the baseless claim that people aren’t listening to your ideas with an open mind. Someone with an open mind can still come to the conclusion that this “movement” is terribly misguided and discriminatory at its core.

      • Reality Check

        The criticisms are that the club is ignoring research and arguing against non-traditional families, which is false. The group is arguing for a stance favoring what is best for children, and children in general (one of the two requirements of Catholic, the University is Catholic, marriage). Last time I checked, gay couples could not birth children through their marriage so you might want to re-think your argument against this organization

        • none

          Did you read ANYTHING anyone has said here?

        • Patrick

          Reality Check, please consider the following:

          The group does not oppose the marriage of two heterosexual people who know before they get married that for medical reasons, their union will be intrinsically non-procreative. The group does, however, oppose the marriage of two same-sex people who know that their union will be intrinsically non-procreative. The group is arguing that children are intrinsically worse off with adoptive same-sex parents than they are with adoptive heterosexual parents. I’ve yet to hear the explanation for that argument, though.

          So, Reality Check, upon what grounds do you believe that same-sex adoptive parents are intrinsically worse for children than adoptive heterosexual parents?

        • Check your reality.

          So, is your argument that couples (same-sex and opposite-sex) who “could not birth children through their marriage” should not be married and/or be recognized as married? If this is not your argument, what is it that differentiates infertile opposite-sex couples from same-sex couples that warrants them worthy of marriage?

  • JAB

    I took for granted that adopted children tend towards worse outcomes on average in all these categories you mention compared to children of intact biological marriages. Setting aside the question of children of same-sex married couples, children do worse in any setting that is not the intact biological family. Every child raised by a same-sex couple has been separated from one or both biological parents (either divorce of the previous marriage, non-marital conception, adoption, foster care, artificial insemination donor, or surrogate motherhood). This indicates that children raised by same-sex parents would tend towards worse outcomes relative to the intact biological family. And the reason the study doesn’t attempt to study adoptive same-sex parents who stayed together until their children were adults is that they surveyed 15,058 people before they found 248 who had a parent with a same-sex relationship. Out of these, only 2 had parents who meet the criteria of staying together until the child was 18. 2 is too small a sample to make any comparison between those children and those of stable, intact biological marriages. It is rare to find children who were raised by two same-sex parents who stayed together until the child reaches adulthood, because of the very nature of homosexual sexual relationships, as same-sex attracted people tend to have many more sexual partners during their life than opposite-sex attracted people. That’s one good reason why the social science on this subject is anything but definitive, and invoking Regnerus’ study is completely valid to argue that we can’t yet say that there is no difference between outcomes for children of same-sex parents and those of intact biological marriages. Thanks for bringing attention to these points.

    • Patrick

      JAB, I completely agree that there is something special about the biological connection to parents. It is the ideal family situation. Unfortunately, there will always be a number of children who need to be adopted for whatever reason. The question becomes: would same-sex married adoptive parents be any worse than opposite-sex married adoptive parents?

      I hope you’ll humor me in one final examination of the Regnerus study. I’m not objecting to it because I don’t like its conclusions. I’m objecting to it because, as you’ll see, you can use the exact same methodology to produce results that indicate anything at all is bad for children. Please imagine:

      If I were to tell you that eight different household situations were compared, and then told you that those eight household situations were as follows:

      1) Two parents, plus some other factor A
      2) One or two parents, plus some other factor B
      3) One or two parents, plus some other factor C
      4) One or two parents, plus some other factor D
      5) One or two parents, plus some other factor E
      6) One or two parents, plus some other factor F
      7) One or two parents, plus some other factor G
      8) One or two parents, plus some other factor H

      which household group would you imagine contains data indicating the best outcomes for the children?

      He organized group one so that all of the data came from adults who had two parents growing up. Each of the other seven groups was organized with disregard for “household transitions,” including number of parents. Look at the description for group two: LM: R reported R’s mother had a same-sex romantic (lesbian) relationship with a woman, regardless of any other household transitions (N= 163).

      The great thing about studies like this is that you can repeat them with different variables. So let’s imagine, for a moment, that Regnerus conducted another study. This time, he compares intact biological families to five other groups. The first of these others is described like this: R reported that R has a parent whose name begins with the letter A, regardless of any other household transitions. This group would, of course, contain all of the households of single parents with an A name in addition to the two parent A-name households. There’s another group for each of the vowels. Compare those one or two parent households to the Intact Biological Family group, and what do you think would happen?

      Such a test would have the exact same data collection practices and the exact same organizational language for the groups. The results would indicate that compared to various other household situations, including those in which a parent’s name begins with a vowel, intact biological families are the best environment for children. Is there any chance that anyone would write articles that praise the merits of the study that concludes there’s a correlation between vowel names and negative long-term impact on children?

      I know this is a little extreme, but what if Regnerus had used the exact same methodology, but included a question about religion for one of the groups? Or a skin color? Can you imagine any circumstance at all in which data collected from two-parent households would not show better outcomes compared to groups consisting of data collected from a mixture of one and two parent households?

      Now, I don’t blame you for citing the study. I’m sorry I was so snappy towards you for not reading it thoroughly. You should have been able to trust the articles describing it. Now, I know that the authors of the articles were not trying to be deceptive. I sincerely hope that Professor Regnerus wasn’t thinking clearly when he designed this study, rather than intentionally structuring it this way.

      You have very well thought out points, JAB. You have loving intentions with those arguments. You deserve better studies. The NSFF should have done better. At least the data collection was solid.

  • Clara

    There is a lot to take into account here; arguments on both sides, studies cited, etc. But to me, SCOP’s argument seems very petty. There are numerous situations where the interest of children are not put first in “traditional” heterosexual marriages… alcoholism, abuse, neglect, etc. Furthermore, there are people who have been raised by a single parent and turned out as healthy, kind, happy, contributing members of society. Or children raised by a grandparent, etc. There are so many situations where children are not raised by a mother and father and are given loving childhoods. Why target homosexual couples? One of SCOP’s arguments (though I haven’t read many of their materials…) may be that children of homosexual couples are ostracized by their peers or made fun of or grow up with a “flawed” understanding of human sexuality. But again, there are many other situations where types of parents may contribute to this, not because their parents happen to be gay. Basically, and this isn’t a “rational” or “logical” argument, but what a waste of time on behalf of SCOP. There are so many other causes to get behind if you care about children, on all different levels: teaching, poverty alleviation, mentoring, or even working against human trafficking, of which many victims are children. But preventing the thousands of children in orphanages, group homes, etc. who would be taken in by a couple in love and able to support them is just pointless. Where’s the love, y’all?