Friday, March 24, 2017

The Bishops Have Authored a Marriage Discrimination "Study Guide"

Apparently the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has concluded its “Made for the Common Good” series. Their denouement is a 28 page Study Guide replete with sufficient footnotes to make the incurious set accept this as something that is authoritative. It is not authoritative unless you are inclined to believe that contributors like Robert Oscar Lopez and Katy Faust are somehow intellectually relevant (or even sane).

Before I get into this, what is the point? They have seemingly devoted resources to put out this tedious mediocrity which reads like one of Robert George's amicus briefs in Obergefell v. Hodges or United States v. Windsor. These were the losing arguments in both of those cases and most people agree that marriage is a legally settled issue. Do the bishops honestly believe that they are going to convince gay people who would otherwise marry not to do so? The downside is the further alienation of people with gay relatives. Maybe they just have too much time on their hands. These ambitious prelates seem to be extraordinarily disconnected from reality.

As presented I disagree with their conclusions but might have little quarrel with this whole thing as a religious point of view. The problem, however, is that the highly influential Church has invested considerable sums to impose it's teachings on everyone as public policy. It is logical to infer that their religious point of view may very well comprise a legislative agenda. These bishops are part of possibly the wealthiest and most powerful organization in the world. It is incumbent upon us to take them seriously

Some selected passages:
As Pope Francis has said, “We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.” Justice is giving a person what they are rightly due. When we say that someone has a right, we are recognizing that someone deserves something. Under- standing a child’s rights, then, comes from understanding who a child is and what he or she deserves.
What he is saying is that we do an injustice to children if they are raised by a gay couple. His predecessor insisted that we do violence to children if they are raised by a gay couple. The tone has improved but the message is still the same. They are focusing on children as a conduit to opposing same-sex marriage.
When a child does not have a connection to where he or she came from, he or she may experience a deprivation. Something the child needs, and thus has a right to, is missing. That “something” is rather a “someone”—a mother or a father. This is an injustice when it is done on purpose, and being fatherless or motherless can be described as a great poverty. …
There is no footnote nor a cite to any research. The message is repeated. Same-sex couples who adopt children are doing them an injustice. Countless studies demonstrate just the opposite. While they go on to acknowledge that there are circumstances such as death or divorce they don't seem to take them very seriously. To justify the bigotry they make a distinction that these things are by circumstance whereas placing a child with a gay couple is intentionally depriving the child of something.

The biggest problem with this argument is that it fails to consider so many more important factors than the sex of a child's parents. Barrack Obama was raised by a single mother. Donald Trump was raised by (at least on the surface) the ideal Christian mom and dad and he had a full time homemaker mother. Even for a politician, Obama is profoundly normal. Trump, on the other hand, is an erratic narcissist with an enormous, yet astonishingly fragile, ego. The point is that parenting skills are more important than who is doing the parenting.
Marriage is not often understood as a matter of social justice. But as a public institution that seeks not only to ensure the best possible environment for children but also to respect the basic rights of children, it is a social justice issue. That is, it is an issue that affects everyone in society and concerns the basic rights of the most vulnerable among us.
I wish that they would worry about terribly vulnerable trans kids to this degree but that is a different discussion. They are redefining marriage solely as a child-rearing unit. They fail (quite miserably) to consider the plight of children being raised by gay parents if their parents were unable to marry.

After explaining (or failing to explain) why it is so important to have a mom and dad rather than two moms or two dads:
What if this positive experience of sexual difference is missing for the child? While it may be tempting to say that any two-person household will do, a number of adults who were raised in households with two adults of the same sex have come forward to speak of their experience of loss. Below is the testimony of one of them:
While I did love my mother’s partner and friends, I would have traded every one of them to have my mom and my dad loving me under the same roof. This should come as no surprise to anyone who is willing to remove the politically correct lens that we all seem to have over our eyes.
That quote goes on, and on, and on, ad nauseum. It is from Katy Faust of Ask the Bigot fame. Suffice it to say that Faust's problem is that she is the child of divorce so even if her mother remarried to a man she would be in the same predicament. Ultimately, this has nothing to do with same-sex marriage and Faust lacks the introspection to gain awareness. Faust recently traveled to Taiwan in an unsuccessful attempt to thwart marriage equality. She wants to blame all of her problems on same-sex marriage. Here is the complete footnote:
Katy Faust, “Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent,” Public Discourse (February 2, 2015). See also Heather Barwick, “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting,” The Federalist (March 17, 2015) and Brandi Walton, “The Kids Are Not Alright: A Lesbian’s Daughter Speaks Out,” The Federalist (April 21, 2015).
Other footnotes in this section include:
See, for example, D. Paul Sullins, “Invisible Victims: Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents”
Sullins, a priest at Catholic U. had to go to the English version of a Hindi journal to get that outrageous, offensive and nonsensical drivel published. If you read through the methodology it is abundantly clear that he created a sample to achieve a predetermined outcome and even that does not really exist.

One more footnote, for context:
These stories have tended to be ignored, dismissed, or even silenced by those who have an interest in ensuring that nothing negative is said about same-sex sexual relationships. For example, see Robert Oscar Lopez, “Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children’s View,” Public Discourse [Witherspoon Institute's blog] (August 6, 2012).
Careful lest you step in the batshit. We have here a victimized child who has become a victimized Christian adult. Robert Oscar Lopez is a professional victim of himself.

One of this chapter's “study questions” that thoroughly begs the question:
How does the stable, lifelong relationship of their parents benefit children? What is your reaction to hearing about the experience of those who were raised by two persons of the same sex?
These guys know that they have an incurious constituency. That allows them to get away with the intellectual dishonesty found in those questions.

Then, after expounding on all of the wonders of marriage, they come up with this:
Studies also continue to show numerous positive outcomes for children of healthy, intact marriages. A married mom and dad still offer “the best context for child well-being and development.” For example, children’s physical and emotional health consistently fares better in intact married families. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse is much lower for children being raised by their own married parents, and children generally experience less behavioral and emotional difficulties when raised by their own married parents.

All of this has ramifications for society at large. …
The footnotes point to the usual suspects; Brad Wilcox, Mark Regenerus and Father D. Paul Sullins at Catholic U. Then they go off on a very offensive rant trying to suggest that same-sex marriage harms society (again these were all losing arguments).
All of this has ramifications for society at large. For example, research confirms time and time again that a healthy marriage culture is one of the best anti-poverty measures in existence. …

Marriage also combats violence in the community. Violent crime decreases in areas with a high percentage of married households, even when social scientists control for other socio-demographic factors. And even in areas where violence is more common, children in married households with a mother and a father are less likely to be victims …

Healthy marriages model so many virtues and good habits that are vital for social life. In other words, the joyful and sacrificial love between a man and a woman in marriage serves as an example to their children of what it means to love other people in general. Marriage advances a “genuine human ecology,” …
None of that has the slightest connection whatsoever to same-sex marriage. It is a dishonest attempt, however, to create an inference to the contrary. Whatever benefits accrue to society through marriage are the same regardless of the sexes of the participants to marriage.

In an attempt to distance single parents from same-sex parents, they ask this rhetorical question:
Can you explain how a child who is in a single-parent household may still benefit from intact marriages in his or her community?
As if to prove my point about the bishops' legislative and lobbying agenda:
Public authority does not exist except to accomplish the good of all, and the good of all cannot be effectively accomplished without the aid of public authority. It is a reciprocal relationship. In the United States, we entrust the common good into the hands of our elected officials.
Well boys, marriage is now out of the hands of elected officials. Gay couples have a constitutional right to marry so unless you have two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress and 38 states to ratify a constitutional amendment you are shit out of luck. Even a potential justice like Gorsuch agrees that precedent is important and that marriage is a settled issue. These guys should find something more beneficial to do with their seemingly abundant time.

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