The false marriage choice
June 16th, 2011
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.