Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Focus’ Glenn T. Stanton Speaks For Anthropologists

BoxTurtleBulletin Contacts Actual Anthropologists Who Surprisingly Are Able To Speak For Themselves

Daniel Gonzales

March 5th, 2008

From Focus’ Citizenlink publication:

Glenn Stanton, director of global family formation studies at Focus on the Family, said there’s a clear consensus among anthropologists.

“A family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female,” he said. “Those two parts of humanity join together, create new life and they both cooperate in the legitimization of the child, if you will, and the development of the child.”

Stanton doesn’t give a source for claiming this consensus nor is Stanton an anthropologist himself. Stanton’s bio on Focus’ website only lists a master’s degree in interdisciplinary humanities with an emphasis in philosophy, history and religion from the University of West Florida.

I thought I’d see what an actual anthropologist had to say about the matter. To be specific, Bill Maurer, the anthropology department chair at the University of California, Irvine. I sent Focus’ article to Maurer who penned this response (reprinted in full) with a fellow professor:

Since its beginnings as a scientific discipline in the 19th century, anthropology has documented the historical and cultural variability of marriage and family forms. From ghost marriages to “female husbands” to polyandry, polygamy and cousin marriage, the cultures of the world exhibit incredible diversity in how they manage the universal problems of cultural transmission and the reproduction and care of the next generation. Indeed, Lewis Henry Morgan, one of the field’s forefathers, documented hundreds of distinct kinship arrangements. For over a hundred years, anthropologists have continually surprised themselves and other Western observers with the diversity of family and marriage arrangements deemed sacred, valuable, and morally necessary for the reproduction of society. The American Anthropological Association, the oldest and largest professional organization for anthropologists, affirms this diversity and noted its support for gay marriage in 2004-05. In fact, the Association requires academic recruiters who advertise with its service to state whether they provide benefits to same-sex partners and whether they forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It does this because the scientific evidence is on its side: there is not now, and there never has been, one single definition of marriage. Marriage may be universal; but what counts as marriage is not. The current American political debate is thus quite parochial when seen from the point of view of 10,000 years of human history.

For more information: American Anthropological Association; on the gay marriage debate, see this link.

Bill Maurer
Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine
President, Association for Political and Legal Anthropology

Tom Boellstorff
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine
Editor-in-Chief, American Anthropologist, and
Former co-Chair, Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists

See also:
Now An Entire Association of Anthropologists Disagrees With Stanton
Another Real Anthropologist Speaks About Marriage
Focus’ Glenn T. Stanton Speaks For Anthropologists



Rainbow Scientist
March 5th, 2008 | LINK

Fan-frickin-tastic response from the anthropologist!

As a scientist myself I have never really understood the argument of heterosexual marriage having been the only kind in existence and the only way to raise offspring properly. Nowhere in nature can we say that there exists only one type of procreative bonding held universally within a species (sexually reproducing species that is). Some species favor lifelong companionship while others the norm is to copulate and then retreat to a particular same-sex cabal.

Even if we look at only humans, how many of our ancestral tribes (of every nationality) left the raising of young to half the tribe (usually women, but not always) while the other half (usually men, but not always) went about other business away from their children. The adage that “It takes a village to raise a child” is not just a quaint idea; once upon a time that is how it was done. Since we as a species are still here today I’d say that it worked pretty well while it lasted.

Why do some argue that more than one type of family is such a radical idea? Could we not, as self-aware animals, espouse the many forms of healthy companionship found readily in nature without tearing ourselves apart?

Jason D
March 5th, 2008 | LINK

Sigh, anthropologists have been politically compromised!!!

How dare people who’s job it is to observe and record human interaction, social, familial, and political trends — how dare they tell us that we aren’t cookie cutter shapes!

I’m sure if Glenn were pressed on this issue he’d first attack the American Anthropological Association, or stretch the definition of Anthropology to include people who aren’t actual anthropologists, redefine the words “consensus” and “anthropology”, and or demonize anthropology altogether.

TJ McFisty
March 5th, 2008 | LINK

Ugh ugh ugh…okay, having spent 7 years (3 years completely unnecessary) with a budding/studying cultural anthropologist with emphasis on Jesus study (blah blah blah)–even attempted a doctorate program here at American U. under Bill Leap, and as payback for all those years and time spent listening and attending all those damn symposiums, I’m temporarily taking the title of Authority On How Anthropologists Speak.

First dude: Obvious non-anthropologist twat. One itty bitty declarative statement that says how families work? Oh heavens no.

Second statement: Oh yes, absolutely credible. They got those key words like “variability” and “kinship” going on and while I’m a little surprised it’s only one paragraph, it’s lengthy and sounds like it could get boring. I’m already thinking about reading a book.

Anyway, on its face. First guy is easily discounted simply cuz he doesn’t talk enough or mention post-structuralism or any hip terminology.

The actual substance is crap, too, but his wrapper is easily punctured so there we are with that. Dude should be strung up.

a. mcewen
March 5th, 2008 | LINK

distorting scientific work is nothing new for stanton and company.

Now they will either ignore Mr. Maurer and Mr. Boellstorff’s words or accuse them of working for the “gay agenda.”

Peterson Toscano
March 5th, 2008 | LINK

Great work Daniel. This is awesome stuff!

March 9th, 2008 | LINK

Focus on the Family lie to advance their agenda? Say it isn’t so!

Very nice work getting opinions from real anthropologists.

December 30th, 2008 | LINK

Here is an article by an “actual” anthropologist regarding the credulity of the American Anthropological Associations statement regarding the impact of same sex marriages through the ages.

Lets be clear. There have been various forms of marriage throughout the ages, (I don’t believe anyone has ever disputed this), but except for very rare exceptions, all of the above mentioned types of marriage have involved marriages between man and woman, be they monogamous or polygamous. Even in predominantly matriarchal societies, where property and kinship ties are inherited through the woman’s line, marriages are still, (again with very rare exception) between men and women. To argue that because marriages have taken different forms throughout the ages, and then omitting the fact that practically all of these marriage arrangements involved men marrying women, is simply disingenuous, and not objective. Even “Ghost marriages” practiced among the Sudanese, entailed marriage kinship ties between men and woman! And female “husbands” which seem to have been a social arrangement, and not a sexually mitigated one. The preponderance of history demonstrates that Civilization as we have known it has depended until now on exclusive heterosexual marriage.

Jason D
December 30th, 2008 | LINK

“Civilization as we have known it has depended until now on exclusive heterosexual marriage.”

Hardly. Civilization is dependent upon “people”. The basic unit of society is a person.

Priya Lynn
December 30th, 2008 | LINK

Jose, even after gays achieve full marriage equality marriage will remain virtually exclusively heterosexual, so you have nothing to worry about.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.