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

The false marriage choice

Timothy Kincaid

June 16th, 2011


“I need a new bike,” Joey told his father. “I’m getting to big for this one and sometimes my knees hit the handlebars.”

Oh,” his father replied, “instead of a new bike, how about a trip to Disneyland for vacation?”

Joey thought for a moment. A new bike would be something he could enjoy for a long time, but he’d been longing to go to the Magic Kingdom ever since his neighbor came back last year with tales of boat rides through pirate caves and whizzing through the Alps past yeti.

Finally, he said, “I can ride the bike I have now for a while longer. Let’s go to Disneyland!!”

That night Joey could hardly sleep. Vacation was only a few weeks away and visions of flying elephants, mansions full of ghosts, and a car just his size that he could drive filled his dreams and his imagination. The next day at school he bragged to his friends and basked in their envy. Joey promised to bring each of them back a souvenir from his trip.

But on the morning when Joey was all ready to pack for his trip, his father made an announcement.

“Change of plans,” said Joey’s dad, “We’re going to stay home for vacation. There’s a swingset in the park and you have your videogames. I’ve decided I need the money for new golf clubs.”

Everyone can agree that in this story the father is cruel and selfish. He offers a choice, but when one is selected it is snatched away and replaced with something far inferior. The Disneyland option wasn’t real, it was just a flash and promise offered to distract Joey from what he needed.

In this same way, anti-gay activists have gone about confusing and distracting voters.

No, you don’t want equality, they say. Instead why don’t you select “traditional marriage”, and “every child deserves a mom and a dad” and “the way its been for 5000 years”.

Buses roll by with pictures of two opposite-sex adults with a little boy and a girl. Ads run of happy families sharing a meal in a bright upper-middle-class kitchen nook.

All of this is possible, but only if you limit marriage to heterosexuals. And, they said, if instead you choose gay marriage then all of this goes away. Allowing gay folks to marry will destroy the very foundations of society.

That really isn’t that difficult of a decision. If the choice were truly between allowing a small percentage of people the right to be included in the institution of marriage and thereby destroying civilization or instead having a nation of people in a stable family structure, I would vote for stable families. And you would do the same.

And so American voters in 31 states looked at those two options and decided to delay the equality that they really need in exchange for a bright shiny Cinderella fairy tale.

But now that they’ve selected “every child needs a mom and a dad” and “marriage as its always been” and the nuclear family in the upper-middle-class kitchen nook, what have they received?

Well it’s certainly not the ideal television family structure they were promised. In fact, it looks a lot more like a swingset in the park than a glass slipper in a magical carriage. The Pew Research Center has released a new analysis that illustrates just how dishonest of a bait and switch game that the National Organization for Marriage and other anti-gays have played.

In 1960, only 11% of children in the U.S. lived apart from their fathers. By 2010, that share had risen to 27%. The share of minor children living apart from their mothers increased only modestly, from 4% in 1960 to 8% in 2010.

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), more than one-in-four fathers with children 18 or younger now live apart from their children—with 11% living apart from some of their children and 16% living apart from all of their children.

And on closer inspection, it looks like the swingset may be broken…

…nearly one-third of fathers who do not live with their children say they talk or exchange email with them less than once a month. Similarly, one-in-five absent fathers say they visit their children more than once a week, but an even greater share (27%) say they have not seen their children at all in the past year.

…and there may be cat poop in the sandbox.

According to the NSFG, nearly half of all fathers (46%) now report that at least one of their children was born out of wedlock, and 31% report that all of their children were born out of wedlock. In addition, some 17% of men with biological children have fathered those children with more than one woman.

This is not what NOM promised.

And to add insult to injury, evidence seems to suggest that those areas in which marriage equality has been established have an increased respect for the institution. And further, when gay people are allowed to establish socially recognized families, they are stepping in to repair some of the damage done in heterosexual families. (NYTimes)

… the percentage of same-sex parents with adopted children has risen sharply. About 19 percent of same-sex couples raising children reported having an adopted child in the house in 2009, up from just 8 percent in 2000, according to Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“The trend line is absolutely straight up,” said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a nonprofit organization working to change adoption policy and practice. “It’s now a reality on the ground.”

That reality has been shaped by what advocates for gay families say are two distinct trends: the need for homes for children currently waiting for adoption — now about 115,000 in the United States — and the increased acceptance of gays and lesbians in American society.

It’s almost as if Joey’s dad hid from him a promotion at the bike store: buy a new bike and get a free trip to Disneyland.

But there are a few bright points to give us hope.

The same analysis found that those fathers that are in the household are spending more time fathering. Joey’s dad may be on the golf course, but others are not.

In 1965, married fathers with children under age 18 living in their household spent an average of 2.6 hours per week caring for those children. Fathers’ time spent caring for their children rose gradually over the next two decades—to 2.7 hours per week in 1975 and 3 hours per week in 1985. From 1985 to 2000, the amount of time married fathers spent with their children more than doubled – to 6.5 hours in 2000.

So there is hope that while perhaps fewer heterosexuals appreciate the value of a stable two-parent family, those who do are taking it seriously.

And the second bright point is that people are coming to realize that they’ve been sold on a false dream. They look around and see that things have gotten worse instead of better for the “traditional family” since they voted to ban gay marriage. They are coming to realize that Brian and Maggie are horrible ‘parents’ who lied to them and distracted them with promises that they had no ability to keep.

It has been, I believe, a painful awakening for some. They will never again trust their parental figures in church and politics in the way that they had. There are some Joeys who have become sadly disillusioned.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

Ben In Oakland
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, this is one of the very best things you have ever written.

Yoiu should send it to the New york Post and put it up at HuffPost.

Tripple bravo.

Lucrece
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

I doubt heterosexuals pay attention to their failings when voting down marriage equality.

Newt Gingrich is a prime example of that.

Furthermore, they can continue to make the argument that gay marriage will ACCELERATE the decline that is already happening.

With that said, I find it appalling that fathers now spend less than an average of 1 hour per day caring for their child.

That’s downright negligence and I would expect any parent to at least be wanting to spend a good 2-3 hours at least with children.

No wonder children are growing so indifferent to their parents.

Ben In Oakland
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

but they would make that claim if hetero families were flourishing.

Greg Hacke
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

EMAIL THESE NY REPULICAN SENATORS:
hannon@senate.state.ny.us; fuschill@senate.state.ny.us; little@nysenate.gov; lanza@senate.state.ny.us; gball@nysenate.gov; mcdonald@senate.state.ny.us; saland@nysenate.gov; grisanti@nysenate.gov; flanagan@senate.state.ny.us; skelos@nysenate.gov

Don’t just read this, do something.
Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness . . . and then throw some gasoline on it.

Sam
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

This is an excellent article. Thank you for drawing attention to this fact.

Matt
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks for writing this. Very well done.

TampaZeke
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

Wow Timothy, way to take Father’s Day week to shit all over fathers to make a point. You’re making important points but it’s awfully insensitive to this week to make your “bad dad” analogy.

Throbert McGee
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

Égalité is a slogan based on envy. It signifies in the minds of those who chant it, “No one shall occupy a place higher than mine!”
–Alexis de Tocqueville

“No, you stupid Magic Fish,” shouted the peasant with annoyance. “I don’t want to wish for a second cow; I just wish that my neighbor’s cows would die!”
–old Russian joke and aphorism

When partisans for same-sex marriage resort to triumphant declarations of what a fraud and a failure heterosexual marriage is, they simply confirm the wisdom of the above quotations, IMHO.

Timothy Kincaid
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

How odd… no one here resorted to “triumphant declarations of what a fraud and a failure heterosexual marriage is.”

Wait, let me look again…

Nope, no one.

R
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

>Wow Timothy, way to take Father’s Day week to shit all over fathers to make a point.

He didn’t. He said that fathers who are in intact families are more involved with their children.

>You’re making important points but it’s awfully insensitive to this week to make your “bad dad” analogy.

I don’t know how you can get that. The father is a near universally recognized analogy for an authority figure. Mothers are expected to be nurturers, not as much all-powerful authority figures.

Why are you so sensitive about all references to fathers being completely respectful and singing of their praises?

Regan DuCasse
June 16th, 2011 | LINK

I did post on NOM’s blog and asked their supporters why BB and MG are taking their money, traveling all over the country, staying in hotels and getting themselves all over the media to pretty much advocate for laws that aren’t saving marriages, or families or children. The symbolism of one man and one woman, and their compatibility is belied by the history of women as property, their public subjugation outside of marriage and the high rates of child abandonment and divorce.
Saying it’s between one man and one woman, doesn’t make it true. So what are they paying BB and MG to DO?

Throbert McGee
June 17th, 2011 | LINK

How odd… no one here resorted to “triumphant declarations of what a fraud and a failure heterosexual marriage is.”

“The swing-set may be broken and there may be poop in the catbox” and “things have gotten worse for the traditional family” and “Brian and Maggie are horrible lying parents” all seem to me far more an expression of negative envy tainted with Schadenfreude than of positive envy that yearns for more happiness and prosperity for oneself.

In cultures that had the concept of the “Evil Eye”, this is precisely what the “Evil Eye” was: a positive “I wish I had two fat cows like my fortunate neighbor” type of envy that had rotted into a perversely negative “I wish my neighbor’s two fat cows would die” envy — and then taken on a magical and destructive life of its own.

Matt
June 17th, 2011 | LINK

Throbert, you’re misreading the post. There’s no evidence in it that Timothy Kincaid wishes ill for any families, straight or gay, and nothing remotely resembling a celebration at the misfortunes of others. Tocqueville quotes are nice, but they’re nicer in context, when they can be said to have some kind of relationship to the matter being discussed.

Allen
June 17th, 2011 | LINK

[P]eople are coming to realize that they’ve been sold on a false dream. They look around and see that things have gotten worse instead of better for the “traditional family” since they voted to ban gay marriage.

I wish I could believe it’s that simple. Yes, polls show increasing support for same-sex marriage, but that doesn’t mean that a majority of voters won’t, once they get in the voting booth, have doubts that make them vote “against” instead of “for”.

And most heterosexual voters won’t see the choice between allowing or denying same sex marriage as being analogous to the choice Joey’s dad offers. They don’t see the harm their opposition to same-sex marriage does because, I believe, most of them don’t really care enough about the issue to give it serious thought, so they’re easily swayed by the “we’ve always done it this way” argument.

Timothy Kincaid
June 17th, 2011 | LINK

Oh, Throbert, you silly boy, this essay isn’t about envy, good or bad. It’s about how Maggie and crew have presented a false choice.

Ya know, sometimes its better to respond to what is written rather than to what you imagine is there.

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)
(Required, never shared)

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