Posts tagged with: same sex marriage

father knows bestNew York Times columnist and Acton University 2014 plenary speaker Ross Douthat is featured in an interview with the Institute for Family Studies. Douthat addresses issues surrounding marriage and family life, pop culture influences and the media.

Douthat says that he had thought that the idea of a mom and dad, living with their biological kids, was a “given” in our culture as the best model for a healthy society. Now, he says, our world has thrown a lot of variables into the mix. Particularly, backers of same-sex marriage (SSM) have successfully created a cultural model of “it doesn’t matter:”

A lot of supporters of SSM have become invested (for understandable reasons) in the idea that married same-sex parenting will produce the same outcomes as married biological parenting—or maybe better outcomes! If they’re right, then the “biological” part of the equation you describe no longer obtains, and the story cultural conservatives have been telling, which seemed close to becoming a consensus just a little while ago, will have to be revised. And if SSM supporters are wrong, and same-sex parenting is associated with somewhat worse outcomes for children—well, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of data to prove it, and there will be tremendous elite cultural resistance even then. So wherever the evidence ultimately takes us, same-sex marriage has probably made consensus on a familial ideal somewhat harder to achieve, and created ripple effects that will be spreading out for years.

(more…)

There’s a long-running debate among public policy commentators concerning the prudence of pursuing an all-or-nothing agenda or moving incrementally toward a particular goal.

How much accommodation is wise if that accommodation does make movement, however small, towards an ideal state of affairs, and yet also reinforces a system that is structurally opposed to the ultimate realization of that same ideal? When is it politically prudent to let the perfect potentially be the enemy of the good?

These questions in the context of all sorts of policy issues, but some examples include the libertarian concern to move toward a minimal or non-existent state, the pro-life concern to make abortion non-existent, and the gay “marriage” concern to legitimize and legalize same-sex partnerships.

The past week has seen a significant victory in this third arena in the state of California. When the state supreme court validated the practice of legal recognition of same-sex “marriage,” it cited the long history of the state government recognizing similar rights, privileges, and responsibilities for same-sex couples. That is, the incrementalist same-sex marriage approach, which sought sanction for same-sex adoption, same-sex partner health benefits, and so on, paved the way for the courts to recognize same-sex “marriage” as the last in a discernible line of logical public policy progression.

Citing a long list of moves by the state legislature to “equalize” treatment of same-sex couples (PDF of decision here, summary here), the majority concluded that “the current California statutory provisions generally afford same-sex couples the opportunity to enter into a domestic partnership and thereby obtain virtually all of the benefits and responsibilities afforded by California law to married opposite-sex couples.”

The perfectionist argument has been often based on a sort of Zeno’s paradox for public policy: accommodation or incrementalism may improve the state of affairs, but it likewise removes the possibility of achieving total victory. At least in the case of California and same-sex partnerships, that paradox seems to have been resolved in favor of the incrementalist approach.

Late evening, July 6.

My session finally took place today at about 4:15 pm. Cardinal Martino presented the Compendium of the Social Doctrine. He pointed out that the family was given pride of place in the document, listed before the economy or government or international relations or the environment. Most memorable statement: “The family is not a function of society or the state. State and society are functions of the family.”

Madame Boutin made her presentation. She is an accomplished public speaker. It is easy to see why she has been reelected for twenty years from her district near Versailles. She is one of the few pro-life members of the French Parliament. Most memorable statement: “The foundation of the family is sexual differentiation. Up until now, the culture has always confirmed nature. Now, the gay rights lobby is asking that the culture not be based on the natural differences between men and women. Even heterosexuals subconsciously seek to create distance between nature and the law.”

About my own presentation: I asked the question, why do the attacks on the family so often come from the Left? I offered the answer that the idea of equality is the problem. The fact that we are sexual creatures, male and female, affronts the radical egalitarian mind-set. The Church proposes an alternative to Socialism. Instead of creating equality, the Church insists that we defend the weak. And instead of trying to make men and women equal, the Church invites us to embrace our differences, and treat them as opportunities to support each other.

I can’t forebear saying that I had two occasions of noticeable reactions from the audience. At the beginning of my talk, I defined the family with these words:

“My definition of the family is the one grounded in the teaching of the Catholic Church and based on the clear instruction of our Founder, Jesus of Nazareth. I do not accept the various attempts by the United Nations and others to redefine the family into “families.” I simply mean one man, one woman, for life.”

The audience applauded these words.

I reported that the Spanish government, which has approved same sex marriage, no longer lists “Mother” and “Father” on the birth certificates. Instead, they list, “Progenitor A,” and “Progenitor B.” I then went on:

“I suppose that when Pope Benedict XVI arrives for these meetings, we shall not be allowed to call him our Holy Father. We shall have to call him our Spiritual Progenitor.”

I heard a tittering of laughter. About thirty seconds later, I heard a roar of laughter: the translators had finished, and the non-English speakers got the joke. It was good fun for me.

I plan to post the entire talk on my website.