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Modern Family

News from the World of Progress: [1]

When Matthew Eledge and his husband, Elliot Dougherty, told Matthew’s mother, Cecile, that they were planning to start their family, Cecile thought fondly of her own parental journey. She’d loved being pregnant decades earlier with her three now-grown children.

“If you want me to be the gestational carrier,” she told Matthew, “I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

Matthew, 32, and Elliot, 29, appreciated the gesture, but, they thought, let’s be real — it’s not like that would ever happen. A postmenopausal 61-year-old couldn’t possibly be equipped to carry and give birth to a baby. Right?

Well, what do you think happened next? Right:

She got pregnant after her very first embryo transfer — using an egg donated by Elliot’s sister Lea Yribe, who was 25 at the time, and fertilized with Matthew’s sperm. And this past weekend, after more than two years of planning and preparation, at 6:06 a.m. on March 25, she gave birth (no C-section needed) to her first granddaughter, Uma Louise Dougherty-Eledge. Clocking in at 5 pounds, 13 ounces, Uma is a sweet and healthy baby girl.

Note well that this happened not in Manhattan or San Francisco, but in Omaha. The mother is the stay-at-home wife of a high school principal. Their child/grandchild was born into a world of bigotry, the cost of which hits the wallet hard:

For now, Nebraska remains a tough place for a queer family to find their footing. And in Nebraska, as it is elsewhere around the country, the various procedures involved in IVF are often only partly covered by insurance plans, if they’re covered at all. Matthew and Elliot weren’t covered, and they estimate they spent about $40,000 on IVF alone.

“And that’s literally the cheapest it could have been,” said Matthew. Each cycle of egg retrieval and transfer can cost about $12,000, which the family only had to pay once, since Cecile got pregnant on the first try. Plus, they didn’t have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for donated eggs, since Elliot’s sister, Lea, donated them for free. But in addition to the costs of IVF, they also had to cover all the expenses associated with Cecile carrying and birthing the baby; if she were giving birth to her own child, rather than her grandchild, insurance would have kicked in for some of those expenses. But as a surrogate, the family’s insurance wouldn’t cover any pregnancy-related fees. For a teacher and a hairdresser like Matthew and Elliot, these costs were exorbitant.

This detail is jaw-dropping:

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Matthew said. “My mom and I are legally Uma’s parents. Nebraska requires the sperm donor to be the father and the person who delivers the baby to be the ‘mother,’ even if she’s not biologically related to the child. This looks really creepy for us. Let’s just say we will NOT be framing and hanging up Uma’s birth certificate. I thought Elliot could at least put his name on the birth certificate, at least symbolically, but they didn’t even offer that. He now needs to go through an adoption process to get any legal rights. We plan on doing that, but let’s pretend in the meantime, since this can be a tedious process, god forbid, I were to die: Elliot would have absolutely no legal custody for our daughter.”

“We have gay marriage, but we have an entire structure that hasn’t caught up,” he added.

Read the whole story. [1]It’s really important, and I’ll tell you why.

A woman gave birth to her son’s child so he and his male spouse could be parents. This is a story about modernity and the future. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are instinctively horrified by this, and those who think it is a glorious thing what money, technology and a willingness to break taboos can bring about.

One key detail about the story is how much technology — expensive technology — was required to bring about this result. Another key detail: the natural limits and taboos that had to be denied for this to happen.

Before the 21st century, there was no such things as married gay couples (in 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize it). Marriage emerged as a way to create a safe structure for the nurturing of children emerging from sexual union. But our civilization has come to believe that marriage no long has any intrinsic link to childbearing. If you had asked people around, say, 1960, what they thought about gay marriage, it would not have made sense to most people. That taboo was ground to dust a generation ago. I mention it here simply as a marker in how far the cultural revolution overturning fundamental customs, norms, and limits, in favor of the sovereignty of the Self, has come in such a short time.

The taboo against incest is ancient, and nearly universal. These people violated it multiple times, using technology — and no sex was involved. They mixed the egg of Dougherty’s sister with his husband’s sperm. In custom — “custom,” ha ha! — Dougherty’s sister is also considered to be the sister of his spouse, Eledge. Plus, the egg fertilized by Eledge and his sister-in-law was implanted into his mother, so that Eledge’s mother could bear his child.

Now this has happened, and the response of the world — our world — is to celebrate it as a triumph of love.

The ancient Greeks knew what hubris like this would call down. You don’t have to be a religious believer, or superstitious, to recognize that what has happened here is catastrophic. It’s catastrophic in a particularly modern way.

As the contemporary historian Yuval Noah Hariri says, modernity can be reduced to a simple transaction: we exchange meaning for power. That is, in order to gain greater power over the natural world, we trade away belief that meaning inheres in the natural order, and that there are limits beyond which we cannot transgress. This transaction took place centuries ago, with Bacon and Hobbes, and the early moderns. What has happened in Omaha is only the most recent working-out of the principle.

In order to assert their power to gestate the child they wanted, the people involved in this affair — the gay couple, the egg donor sister, the surrogate grandmother — rendered so many fundamental concepts intrinsically meaningless. They would say that they’ve simply changed the meaning of “family,” “mother,” and suchlike, in the same way that same-sex marriage changes the meaning of the word “husband” and “wife.” Well, yes, but it goes much deeper than that. What they’ve done is to deny that there is any meaning in these concepts beyond that which we choose to give them. This is nominalism.

If you’re a good modern, you don’t see the problem with any of this. I get that. The heart wants what it wants. If we have the money and the technology to make things we desire happen, why shouldn’t we do it? Cut the breasts off of healthy teenage girls, chemically castrate healthy boys, impregnate an old woman with an embryo created by her son’s sperm, and change the moral order to affirm the goodness of these acts — yes sir, this must be paradise.

Where do we draw the lines, then — and on what basis? We have created a world in which the Self can have just about anything it wants, as long as it has the money to afford the technology to make it happen. We have created a world in which people don’t understand saying no to any of this as anything but an arbitrary imposition of power.

In ancient Greek tragedy, hubris calls down nemesis. Here’s the nemesis I expect all this to bring down on us: mass forgetting. We will forget, collectively, elemental truths that make natural life possible. We have forgotten, we are forgetting, and our forgetting will be complete in another generation or two. We are creating chaos, and calling it civilization.  When the money runs out, or the technology fails, we will live with the consequences of our hubris.

A few years ago, in conversation with some professors at a conservative Christian college, one of them told me that he didn’t expect that most of his students would ever be able to form stable families. This shocked me. It genuinely did. I wouldn’t have expected to hear that from a professor at a secular school, much less at a conservative Christian one. But he said it, and there were nods all around the room. I asked him why not? Why wouldn’t these students be able to form stable families?

“Because most of them have never seen one,” he said.

Kids today are raised in a world in which words like “family,” “mother,” “father,” “wife,” and “husband” — words that have had a fixed (but not rigid!) meaning for time immemorial — no longer signify anything permanent, and are no guideposts to help one get through life. The so-called conservative party has done little or nothing to conserve collective wisdom about the natural family (“However you define family, that’s what we mean by family values” — Barbara Bush, 1992 GOP Convention). The collapse is just going to have to play itself out. It has too much momentum to stop now.

If you land at the airport in Venice, and take a water taxi into the city, you observe that what looks like open waters is actually marked in such a way as to allow the captains to navigate safely across the shallow lagoon, without crashing into each other. Our species has put down these guideposts for itself based on long experience — and we, in our ignorance, arrogance, and, yes, hubris, cast them all off as nothing but hindrances to the will. This will end in shipwreck.

People think that The Benedict Option [2] is a reactionary political project, and they’re not exactly wrong, but they’re missing the main point. At its deepest level, it is about preserving collective memory of what the Christian faith is, what families are, and so forth, through a dark age of forced forgetting. Make no mistake, modern culture will do its best to make sure that nobody remembers what mothers and fathers and families were prior to Year Zero. That is how the revolution is becoming institutionalized.

The permanent things, T.S. Eliot’s term for those enduring aspects of human nature and order, exist whether or not we can see them (which is why they are permanent). The forces dismantling our ability to perceive the permanent things are stronger than the ability of our institutions, which do not even recognize the threat, to withstand. As Eliot once wrote about political dissolution:

As political philosophy derives its sanction from ethics, and ethics from the truth of religion, it is only by returning to the eternal source of truth that we can hope for any social organization which will not, to its ultimate destruction, ignore some essential aspect of reality. The term “democracy,” as I have said again and again, does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislikeit can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.

The same principle is at work today. The forces of disintegration do not outright deny the meaning of “father,” “mother,” and “family,” but rather transform them so completely into a counterfeit version [3] that they might as well have done.

You will find very few churches meeting these transformative forces with any kind of meaningful counterforce in defense of the permanent things. They are either rushing to embrace the spirit of the age, or are living in feeble denial of the immensity of the cultural revolution. It’s too frightening to them. And the next thing you know, the stay-at-home mom of the Midwestern town’s high school principal is pregnant with her gay son’s baby. Now what do you do?

This is a dark age, and it’s going to be with us for a very long time. Eliot once wrote:

I do not believe that the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian Faith. And I am convinced of that, not merely because I am a Christian myself, but as a student of social biology. If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism.

As will we. Build the 21st century monasteries. Build them now. Preserve the memories and practices that will be the seeds of renewal.

 

 

 

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247 Comments To "Modern Family"

#1 Comment By Ms On April 1, 2019 @ 6:16 am

It’s entirely possible that there are people who have grown out of chaotic family situations into functioning adults, as In Joan’s example – but they are few compared to the broken many who did not flourish. it is well established, for instance, that non related adults in a home are associated w abuse of a child. The Omaha situation is odd but an outlier for now. My friends who teach in public schools in low income areas tell me tragic stories of the situations the kids live in, situations so fluid they can’t really be called families, but that is all the kids know. We will reap the whirlwind.

#2 Comment By Rob G On April 1, 2019 @ 6:57 am

“I mean, really, you think getting married is about sexual liberation? It’s about giving up sexual liberation.”

When marriage is viewed as a consumerist contract that one can get out of basically at the drop of a hat, like returning an unwanted item to the store? When “open marriage” is put forward as a viable option? When “till death do us part” has any number of qualifications added to it?

Please. Homosexuals and other sexual liberationists weren’t interested in marriage until it became the piss-poor shell of its former self that it is now. After all, “It’s just a piece of paper!” took a while to filter its way down to the masses.

#3 Comment By Ted On April 1, 2019 @ 8:36 am

Joan from Michigan: “I remember in the 1980s, when large numbers of mothers of preschoolers started moving into the workforce and therefore using daycare, a prediction that, in a decade or three, daycare would be required for all preschoolers.”

I’m sorry, you’re not getting it or being willfully obtuse. I don’t remember anybody predicting in the ’80s that daycare would become mandatory, but there’s no telling what people will say so let’s stipulate it. Whoever said it wasn’t doing his side any good because the whole point is that nothing is “required”. Corporate America and the federal government have made it difficult to say the least to support a family on one paycheck. (If there’s a sadder sight than a peeling pastel-painted “L’il Sprouts” or whatever daycare center lost in the middle of an industrial or corporate park, I don’t want to see it today, thank you very much.

And there was soft coercion as well, that women who raised their own children were very much not from the drop drawer. But the sharp end of the stick was the dollars (and the conviction that more stuff meant more happiness, let’s admit).

Until the ’80s it was perfectly possible (indeed, much of the economy was organized to allow) for a man on a salesman’s salary to live a perfectly decent, indeed comfortable life and for his wife to raise their children. And if he worked really hard, put his kids through college (my father did). It’s just not on today. See Rod’s post on the Nazis above. Nobody has to “require” anything. You just have to jump on the train with the cool kids, and the last stop is not very pleasant.

#4 Comment By JonF On April 1, 2019 @ 9:25 am

Erin, I have trouble getting too excited about any of this. The overwhelming majority of children are still conceived and born the old fashioned way. As such women have not been “erased”. And even the old fashioned way of preganancy involves some health risk for the women.

#5 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 1, 2019 @ 11:10 am

Please. Homosexuals and other sexual liberationists weren’t interested in marriage until it became the piss-poor shell of its former self that it is now.

Rob G, I’ve known a few people in gay marriages — granted, not at lot, because they’re still a small percentage of all marriages — and I’ve seen no evidence that they’re sexual libertines, that they’re interested in “open marriages,” that their lives and relationships are any less routine and boringly bourgeois than most straight couples’. This is the problem with your style of homophobia: It runs up against the lived experience and first-hand observations of too many of your fellow citizens at this point. So it’s not credible. Even if there are cases where it might apply (as there are among straights), you come across as just smearing and insulting a lot of other innocent people for no reason. Those folks are other people’s friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers, so not only are you failing to persuade, you’re offending people who obviously aren’t going to appreciate hostility toward those they like and admire.

In short, it’s a cockeyed strategy that has been backfiring for years. So, by all means, please proceed, Governor.

#6 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On April 1, 2019 @ 11:46 am

You don’t seem to understand the depth of disagreement with same-sex so-called marriage, or maybe you aren’t taking into account the fact that truth is truth regardless of the lies we humans sometimes tell each other.

Like most people with strong moral convictions about something, I think Helena overestimates the number of people who really have deep-seated objections to same-sex marriage. Sure, a lot of people will make idle derogatory remarks from their front porch on a lazy summer day, but it doesn’t inspire much political activism.

On the other hand, I do know enough people and churches, up close, who have very firm convictions of what a marriage IS, that its not going to simply dissolve from the landscape as the more idealistic LGBTQWERTY advocated blithely presume.

Sooner or later, we have to get used to the fact that this is a battle about what people do or don’t take on faith, its beyond the capacity of government to effectively set a common standard, and as to what the Truth is, we’ll all find out when we get to the other side.

#7 Comment By wmwa On April 1, 2019 @ 12:35 pm

Why on Earth did this couple not just adopt a child who needed a family? It doesn’t sound like they even considered it. That would have been perfectly “natural,” seeing as zero technology would’ve been involved. And to be crass about it: This child they’re now raising has lost out on $40K worth of resources.

#8 Comment By MD On April 1, 2019 @ 12:52 pm

Rod, one question for you. If Eliot in this case was a cisgender female who was unable to have children and all the other facts were the same, would you feel any differently about it or the same?

[NFR: Of course! — RD]

#9 Comment By Alice On April 1, 2019 @ 2:03 pm

MikeCA says: “This baby was obviously wanted and will be loved by her family which is far more than can be said about all the poor kids who were conceived the old fashioned (or natural, if you prefer) way, only to be poorly brought up or given up to social services. I wish this couple had adopted a foster child but as Matt in VA noted many couples wish to have a biological link to their child.”

And what of a child’s wish to have a biological link to his/her parents? In their quest for a biological link to this baby, they are willfully and unnecessarily frustrating her link to her biological mother. For their own interests. Why, so often, does it seem that only the parents’ desires for a biological link are considered in these scenarios?

#10 Comment By JonF On April 1, 2019 @ 2:08 pm

Helena. Putting up with things and people you dislike is not a “Great injustice”. Most of us learn that lesson before we’re old enough to drive. As I said elsewhere this insistence on having everything one’s one way is pure snowflakery, of the same we tee-hee here about when delicate college students discover the world is not their safe place. If I had a dime for every time I had to grit my teeth over the stupidity of the human race I could retire! But I don’t own the world, and I certainly don’t rule it. Neither do you. That’s not an injustice. Ut’s just life. Deal with it as an adult.

#11 Comment By Erin Manning On April 1, 2019 @ 2:24 pm

JonF, excuse me, but your male privilege is showing. You don’t have to “get excited” about this, because none of it affects you.

You don’t have to worry about the ripple effect of what happens when “breeding” is something that rich people pay poor women to do. You don’t have to worry about subtle social pressures being put on people like you to rent out their wombs or sell their eggs. You don’t have to wonder about a society in which a mother is seen as an unnecessary lifestyle accessory instead of something to which a child is entitled by right. You don’t have to worry about the subtle and not-so-subtle devaluing of women who center our lives around our children instead of farming them out for others to raise.

No, don’t bother getting excited about any of this. Men never have to, anyway.

#12 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 1, 2019 @ 3:39 pm

Rob G says:

When marriage is viewed as a consumerist contract that one can get out of basically at the drop of a hat, like returning an unwanted item to the store? When “open marriage” is put forward as a viable option? When “till death do us part” has any number of qualifications added to it?

Please. Homosexuals and other sexual liberationists weren’t interested in marriage until it became the piss-poor shell of its former self that it is now. After all, “It’s just a piece of paper!” took a while to filter its way down to the masses.

Do you seriously believe this, or is it just rhetorical bludgeon to you? This is just like so many of the elite liberals I know (N.B. all with traditional families of their own) who talk about how ALL social conservatives are like Kim Davis – completely lacking any respect for marriage and traditional family in their own life but want to keep gays from marrying just because they hate them for the ick factor. Many truly believe that conservatives are totally fine with infidelity, divorce, illegitimate children, and abortion for themselves and they have lots of statistics to back it up. Are there conservative Christians that keep a mistress or two and pay for their abortions? Yes, of course they exist. Does that mean no conservatives are sincere about marriage or respect for life? Of course not. Are there liberals that think open marriage sounds great, kids are accessories, and divorce is something you should be able to get at a drive through? I imagine there must be. Does that mean arguments that people should be able to leave an abusive marriage or that gay people should be able to commit themselves to a life together in marriage are a trojan horse to make orgies popular again? Of course not.

#13 Comment By Helena On April 1, 2019 @ 5:21 pm

Jefferson Smith says:
. . . I’ve known a few people in gay marriages . . . and I’ve seen no evidence that they’re sexual libertines, that they’re interested in “open marriages,” that their lives and relationships are any less routine and boringly bourgeois than most straight couples’. This is the problem with your style of homophobia: It runs up against the lived experience and first-hand observations of too many of your fellow citizens at this point. . . .

In short, it’s a cockeyed strategy that has been backfiring for years. So, by all means, please proceed, Governor.

May I proceed? I offer these “lived experience and first-hand observations” (along with statistics) from a homosexual guy writing for the Daily Beast:

“Over the past decade and a half, studies from San Francisco State University and Alliant International University have found that around half of gay relationships are open. This rate is considerably higher than for heterosexual and lesbian couples, but it’s difficult to say by how much exactly . . . .

“Writer and sex columnist Dan Savage famously described these arrangements as ‘monogamish’—’mostly monogamous, not swingers, not actively looking.’ And even more couples are in them than you think. I’d say that the Alliant and SFU figures are a tad low, at least for gays. I can’t speak for lesbian couples, but few queer men I know—including myself—are in relationships that are exclusively, 100-percent monogamous. . . .

“In a 2013 column for Slate, Hanna Rosin called non-monogamy the gay community’s ‘dirty little secret,’ citing a study from the ’80s, which showed that up to 82 percent of gay couples had sex with other people. That number sounds about right to me, but here’s the thing: It’s not dirty and it’s hardly a secret, at least if you know where to look. . . .

Eric, 34, and Martin, 33, walked down the aisle last October after dating for five years. Like many gay couples, they were initially monogamous, although with ‘infrequent and informal’ exceptions. ‘Think post-bar bathhouse outings,’ Eric explained. But after creating a profile together on Scruff a few years ago, the couple agreed on a set of boundaries. ‘We only sleep with people together, we have to both communicate with the person to some extent before we meet up, and the guy has to very clearly be attracted to both of us,’ Eric said.

“Like nearly everyone I spoke to, the pair had few gay friends that were in monogamous relationships, and Martin believes it’s because there are fewer rules and expectations around gay relationships. ‘I think we don’t have heteronormative templates that we have to subscribe to,’ Martin said. ‘There’s just not that same kind of pressure to be monogamous when you’re gay.” . . .

“In a 2013 piece for Gawker, Steven Thrasher wrote, ‘Gay-rights groups are often nervous about sociologists or reporters looking too closely at what really happens in the bedrooms of gay relationships, out of fear that anti-gay activists will bludgeon them with a charge of sexual promiscuity, as a reason to deny them equal rights.’ . . .

“‘[G]ays have little to fear about the state of their marriage rights today: Love won. . . . But that victory won’t feel complete until we learn to be open about the very relationships we fought so hard for.”

ttps://www.thedailybeast.com/gay-open-marriages-need-to-come-out-of-the-closet

Of course, Andrew Sullivan said pretty much the same thing, arguing that after legalization of same-sex marriage, heterosexuals would have to develop a greater “understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman. . . . . [T]o flatten [the] varied and complicated lives [of homosexuals] into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness.” (Sullivan, Virtually Normal, at pages 202-203.)

(He later found it meet and right to backtrack, but I don’t believe him.)

(By the way, can I just agree here that the lives of homosexuals are as boring as anyone else’s despite the promiscuity? I love the “boring” claim, as if most of us imagine homosexuals to be mesmerizing until they assure us they are really boring after all. It’s closely related to the “to know them is to love them” claim, as if we’ve never known homosexuals personally but when we do the scales will fall from our eyes. )

#14 Comment By Helena On April 1, 2019 @ 7:40 pm

JonF says:
Helena. Putting up with things and people you dislike is not a “Great injustice”. Most of us learn that lesson before we’re old enough to drive.. . . Deal with it as an adult.

Replying to a serious comment with “deal with it as an adult” is itself rather puerile. In fact, Obergefell was indisputably a great injustice. Even fans of SSM recognize that it was a poor thing, a pile of sugary hokum, nothing to do with the Constitution. Our franchise was stolen: a great injustice.

#15 Comment By the other sara On April 1, 2019 @ 10:44 pm

Whoa, I just came to. That tag line just knocked me out. I guess that makes me a member of the first group of people – the ones who are “instinctively horrified.” I can’t even…. sigh….

#16 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 1, 2019 @ 11:22 pm

@Helena:

That’s some artful editing there. Thanks for the link, though, so I can restore this part of what you’ve cut:

This rate is considerably higher than for heterosexual and lesbian couples, but it’s difficult to say by how much exactly, due to the widespread lack of substantive research on the subject. (After all, SFSU’s Gay Couples Study was back in 2010.)

Conservative estimates suggest that less than 1 percent of all married couples are in an open relationship, but other approximations are much higher. Back in 1983, the authors of American Couples, Phillip Blumstein and Pepper Schwartz, found that around 15 percent of committed partners—whether homo or heterosexual—had agreements that allowed for some degree of flexibility.

So: a “widespread lack of substantive research,” which nonetheless also suggests that more straight couples than previously thought are kinda “open” about these things too. OK.

Even assuming all the numbers are right, I’m struggling to see how this changes the debate. If non-monogamous marriages are a problem that the rest of need to somehow address, it would need to be dealt with in the case of straight marriages too — and the solution obviously isn’t going to be abolishing marriage, which would be going in the wrong direction entirely. Hence there’s no logical conclusion from these facts that would lead to abolishing gay marriage either.

Also, I would suggest that the boringness factor, which tends to encourage monogamy if only by default, almost certainly increases with age. Notice that the swingin’ fellas mentioned in the story are in their 20s and early 30s. Well, check out what’s up with gay couples in their 40s and above. The solution to this, if it needs one, may simply be to let the marriages continue, on whatever terms work for their participants, until time takes its predictable toll.

#17 Comment By Rob G On April 2, 2019 @ 6:43 am

“Does that mean arguments that people should be able to leave an abusive marriage or that gay people should be able to commit themselves to a life together in marriage are a trojan horse to make orgies popular again? Of course not.”

Not the point. As I said above I’m talking about the internal logic of the Sexual Revolution, not about a “conspiracy.” Most liberals seem to want to glorify all the goodies that liberalism provides without having to deal with its negative externalities.

#18 Comment By JonF On April 2, 2019 @ 8:45 am

Helena, you are claiming something is an injustice because it is not the way you want it to be. By that standard Donald Trump’s presidency is a great injustice to me.
I stand by what I wrote: you have every right to try to change things you dislike, but to cry that you have been injured because the world disagrees with you is snowflakery par excellence.

#19 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 2, 2019 @ 2:45 pm

Helena, you are claiming something is an injustice because it is not the way you want it to be. By that standard Donald Trump’s presidency is a great injustice to me.

Right, and if I may pile on: Helena, you said, “Our franchise was stolen: a great injustice.” No it wasn’t. There are groups in America whose franchise was indeed stolen, for a long time, but I’m betting that you’ve been eligible and free to vote in all the elections since you came of voting age. Federal judges are chosen by presidents and Senates that we elect; that’s how our franchise bears on Supreme Court decisions. What you’re complaining about, as JonF says, is an experience we all have: we’ve all been on the losing side of enough elections that we don’t get our way on a bunch of things. The solution to that is to redouble your efforts and try to win next time, not to whine about something being “stolen.”

#20 Comment By Helena On April 2, 2019 @ 2:51 pm

Jefferson Smith says:
April 1, 2019 at 11:22 pm
@Helena:

That’s some artful editing there.>/i>

Really? I don’t see it. I didn’t intend to leave anything important out, and I don’t think I did, but anyone can go to the article and see for himself. I did regret leaving out the title and subhead, which make clear that we are discussing “married” couples, not just any couples: “Gay Open Marriages Need to Come Out of the Closet “; “2015 was the year of marriage equality—and now it’s time to celebrate the openness at the heart of many same-sex partnerships.”

I can’t see how any reader could come away from the article — written by a homosexual who himself both promotes and insists on the prevalence of “married” homosexual promiscuity — under the impression that the information contained therein could be summed up as “more straight couples than previously thought are kinda ‘open’ about these things too.” The article is proudly about what the author perceives as the near universality of open promiscuity among “married” homosexual men. And yes, the author also mentions estimates of “less than 1%” to 15% of all couples, whether homosexual or heterosexual, with agreements allowing for “some degree of flexibility.” That’s fine; we can all factor those lines from the article into our analysis. Done.

Remember your comment, to which I was replying: Jefferson Smith says:
I’ve seen no evidence that they’re sexual libertines, that they’re interested in “open marriages,” . . . . This is the problem with your style of homophobia: It runs up against the lived experience and first-hand observations of too many of your fellow citizens at this point. . . .
(emphasis supplied)

Yeah, not quite.

Here, again, is the “lived experience and first-hand observations” of the author: “few queer men I know—including myself—are in relationships that are exclusively, 100-percent monogamous. Some couples occasionally invite a third into the bedroom for a night of play, while others independently arrange their own casual hookups. Some men might even have long-term partners outside their primary relationship.” (emphasis supplied)

“Like nearly everyone I spoke to, the [pair he highlights] had few gay friends that were in monogamous relationships.”

So make what you will of it, but now you have some evidence, after all, “that they’re sexual libertines, that they’re interested in ‘open marriages.'”

#21 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On April 2, 2019 @ 2:54 pm

@JonF,

Helena is basically arguing that because people disagree about same-sex marriage, judges should not get to decide the issue, much less to do so in the name of the fundamental positive law. (The Constitution, you may have noticed, says nothing about revising fundamental social institutions.)

Helena is right. She would be wrong only if she hoped SCOTUS would not only strike down Obergefell but also hold that same-sex marriage is no more allowable than polygamy, citing the venerable precedent in Reynolds v. United States. But Helena almost certainly doesn’t want that. What *any* pluralism-acknowledging person wants is for politically accountable actors to decide the issue of same-sex marriage–not judges.

It’s ridiculous to call someone a snowflake, much less a snowflake par excellence, when they’re concerned about judicial tyranny. It’s like calling FDR a precious snowflake for saying “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” on the grounds that only “snowflakes” talk about the dangers that beset us when there is always the alternative of building your own man-cave, away from all troubles.

#22 Comment By Helena On April 2, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

Stand by it all you like, JonF, by all means. To do that, though, you have to ignore my arguments and just call names. And then to tell yourself that JonF is “the world”!

#23 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 2, 2019 @ 3:14 pm

Rob G says:

Not the point. As I said above I’m talking about the internal logic of the Sexual Revolution, not about a “conspiracy.” Most liberals seem to want to glorify all the goodies that liberalism provides without having to deal with its negative externalities.

Ha! The Sexual Revolution has no internal logic, it’s just a bunch of stuff that sounds good to a subset of people, some of which is in direct opposition to other aspects. Did you mean to say IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES or something similar? Most conservatives seem to want to glorify all the goodies of tradition without having to deal with its negative externalities too. It certainly sounded like you were arguing that liberals secretly desired the negative consequences of the Sexual Revolution.

Most liberals are completely unaware of any negative externalities to the Sexual Revolution and you will have to explain it to them in very simple liberal terms to get them to understand that there are any. Otherwise it will just sound to them like “my marriage is ruined because a gay couple in another state got married” or “letting women work will mean I don’t have absolute control of them anymore.”

#24 Comment By Michael On April 2, 2019 @ 4:03 pm

What I’m hearing from this, and I agree with it, is that as Christians we have no mission to convert a society which has finally decided that it wants to go to hell. In such a condition, perhaps Pope Francis has a point in his predilection for Muslim immigration. What used to be Western civilization is no more. It isn’t coming back. What remains has lost all right to exist. It ought to be destroyed.

#25 Comment By Helena On April 2, 2019 @ 6:29 pm

Dang, I messed up the italics. Only these parts are Jefferson Smith:

Jefferson Smith says:
April 1, 2019 at 11:22 pm
@Helena:

That’s some artful editing there.

Jefferson Smith says:
I’ve seen no evidence that they’re sexual libertines, that they’re interested in “open marriages,” . . . . This is the problem with your style of homophobia: It runs up against the lived experience and first-hand observations of too many of your fellow citizens at this point. . . .
(emphasis supplied)

Gosh, I hope that works.

And Ken Zaretzke: Yep. Thanks.

#26 Comment By Rob G On April 2, 2019 @ 6:47 pm

“The Sexual Revolution has no internal logic, it’s just a bunch of stuff that sounds good to a subset of people, some of which is in direct opposition to other aspects.”

Ah, so THAT’S how it’s managed to steamroll thousands of years of traditional morality in a few short decades! By being “just a bunch of stuff that sounds good to a subset of people”!

“Most conservatives seem to want to glorify all the goodies of tradition without having to deal with its negative externalities too.”

Most of today’s so-called conservatives, being right-liberals, couldn’t care less about tradition. The small remainder that do are mostly quite aware of the fact that certain things aren’t good simply because they’re old.

“It certainly sounded like you were arguing that liberals secretly desired the negative consequences of the Sexual Revolution.”

Some undoubtedly do; otherwise the revolution would have stalled.

“Most liberals are completely unaware of any negative externalities to the Sexual Revolution…”

Your honor, the prosecution rests.

“you will have to explain it to them in very simple liberal terms to get them to understand that there are any. Otherwise it will just sound to them like ‘my marriage is ruined because a gay couple in another state got married’ or ‘letting women work will mean I don’t have absolute control of them anymore’.”

If they’re that dense, there’s not much help for them. You can’t put this stuff into Sesame Street language. And even if you could, I see very little evidence that they have any inclination to listen.

#27 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 2, 2019 @ 7:55 pm

Helena: As I said, I have not seen evidence of open marriages or sexual libertinism among married gay couples I have known. I believe I am not alone in this. That’s what I meant by “lived experience.” It’s not to deny that there are such things, and that other people may move in circles where they’re more common. As the article you’re relying on (heavily) says, there haven’t been a lot of reliable studies, so we’re mostly thrown back on what we’ve personally seen.

At any rate, none of that answers my point: So what? Some gay married people are still promiscuous. Some aren’t. Some straight married people are still promiscuous. Some aren’t. How does that affect the rest of us, or lead to any particular policy conclusion that we should be trying to get legislatures and courts to implement?

#28 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 3, 2019 @ 2:09 am

Rob G says:

Ah, so THAT’S how it’s managed to steamroll thousands of years of traditional morality in a few short decades! By being “just a bunch of stuff that sounds good to a subset of people”!

Actually, yeah. That plus the glorification of consumerism (thanks for that) and rapid technology advancement.

Most of today’s so-called conservatives, being right-liberals, couldn’t care less about tradition. The small remainder that do are mostly quite aware of the fact that certain things aren’t good simply because they’re old.

I was referring to social conservatives and the fact that there were always definite groups that were big losers under most of their beloved traditional paradigms and SoCons will always just gloss over them.

If they’re that dense, there’s not much help for them. You can’t put this stuff into Sesame Street language. And even if you could, I see very little evidence that they have any inclination to listen.

Actually, I can put nearly every SoCon complaint about modernity into liberalese pretty easily. It mostly just requires removing any appeals to disgust and replacing them with attempts to reduce suffering. That is usually enough to make them recognize negative externalities of liberalism and start thinking about ways to minimize them if nothing else. Of course I doubt this would work if I bore the cultural trappings of the red tribe.

Why would they listen to you? Somewhere on the other side of the internet the liberal version of Rod Dreher is posting every example ze finds in backwaters of the internet of SoCons saying things like wanting to commit your life to another person of the same sex is just like bestiality, that women shouldn’t be allowed to do “men’s work” (or vote), whatever it is that Richard Spencer says, adding Trump quotes, something from a rural school board member, and saying “see! they’re coming for your children!”

#29 Comment By JonF On April 3, 2019 @ 11:12 am

Ken Zaretzke and Helena,
There are plenty of SCOTUS decisions I find abominable, notably Citizens United. But I don’t take them personally, just as I don’t regard colossal blunders by the White House (e.g., the Iraq War) as some manner of denial of my rights. Siarlys here has written a critique of Oberfell which I do find mostly persuasive and which I have not disputed except a little at the margins. His view is based on impersonal reason and law, not on some histrionic claim of being wronged because SCOTUS went off the rails. In an ideal world SSM, like abortion, should be decided by popular vote, or vote of the legislature, but of course we don’t inhabit that ideal world and one of the realities of adulthood is coming to terms with that fact. I do wonder what your reactions to SSM would be if you lived here in Maryland where the issue was decided by public referendum. Would you accept that as legit (the process not the result) or would you be whining that the voters have wronged you by disageeing with you?

#30 Comment By Rob G On April 3, 2019 @ 11:42 am

“That plus the glorification of consumerism”

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. It does not strike you that the logic of the SexRev and consumerist logic are very similar?

“It mostly just requires removing any appeals to disgust and replacing them with attempts to reduce suffering.”

In my experience disagreements regarding the harm principle tend to short-circuit this approach.

“Somewhere on the other side of the internet the liberal version of Rod Dreher…”

If Rod’s such an extremist why do you show up here then? Wouldn’t you be better served at a more “balanced” conservative site?

#31 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 3, 2019 @ 2:09 pm

Rob G says:

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. It does not strike you that the logic of the SexRev and consumerist logic are very similar?

Another appeal to the “logic” of the sexual revolution. One can justify the sexual revolution in purely consumerist terms sure, but that is not how it was sold to people, and that is not why it won. Having a culture pervaded by consumerism and consumerist propaganda magnifies all the negative effects the sexual revolution of course.

In my experience disagreements regarding the harm principle tend to short-circuit this approach.

I find this with libertarians (who must have ideas presented in a completely different way), but not typical liberals.

If Rod’s such an extremist why do you show up here then? Wouldn’t you be better served at a more “balanced” conservative site?

Rod is not an extremist and neither is my hypothetical liberal blogger. They are both just pointing out true things that “the other side” is saying or doing and bringing it to the attention of their side to help motivate counteraction. The problem is that people who build their entire view of the other side from sources like Rod or my hypothetical blogger will think the other side is monstrous. I know lots of people like this on both sides of the aisle.

#32 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On April 3, 2019 @ 4:30 pm

“I do wonder what your reactions to SSM would be if you lived here in Maryland where the issue was decided by public referendum. Would you accept that as legit (the process not the result) or would you be whining that the voters have wronged you by disageeing with you?”

We had a referendum here in Washington state. It didn’t go my way but I was never heard to complain about it.

I *have* complained about the propaganda used to get there. See this link for my account of how the Seattle Times lied, deceived, and cheated nine months before the election was held, when I dared to write an anti-SSM letter-to-the-editor to them. (There’s a paywall.)

[4]

The only whiners are liberals who are no longer able to enact their policies through the courts when new judicial appointments make courts more conservative. What a farce.

#33 Comment By Cornelius von Ebsdorf On April 3, 2019 @ 5:40 pm

The modern West is in the process of making the words “family”, “marriage”, “mother”, “father”, etc, the very words and concepts themselves, utterly meaningless on a societal level. If Western culture now believes these precious building blocks of society to be inherently meaningless, what future can there be?

#34 Comment By Rob G On April 4, 2019 @ 8:32 am

“Another appeal to the ‘logic’ of the sexual revolution. One can justify the sexual revolution in purely consumerist terms sure, but that is not how it was sold to people, and that is not why it won.”

As I’ve said before, it took corporate America all of three seconds to latch on to the SexRev and co-opt it to its own ends. There is a massive level of resonance between the two in regards to the idolization of choice, and Madison Ave. almost immediately picked up on this.

“Having a culture pervaded by consumerism and consumerist propaganda magnifies all the negative effects the sexual revolution of course.”

This is true, but it fails to take into consideration the fact that corporate America began consumerizing the SexRev almost immediately, and the two have never been separated since. For all intents and purposes they are conjoined twins.

#35 Comment By Helena On April 4, 2019 @ 1:41 pm

JonF:

1. You don’t present yourself to advantage by continuing to pretend that you are an adult and I am not or that my posts have to do with whining. Why do you do that?

2. If you believed that Citizens United is a great injustice, I wouldn’t consider your view to be childish at all, whether or not I agreed.

3. I happen to live in a state with a legislature that almost never shares my views. I wish it were otherwise, but I don’t feel wronged.

4. I wonder why you feel the need to make your posts so personal while avoiding analysis of the issues we’re discussing.

#36 Comment By Helena On April 4, 2019 @ 1:50 pm

Jefferson Smith says:
Right, and if I may pile on . . . .

I don’t regard your comment as “piling on” at all, given that there’s nothing on which to pile; JonF doesn’t seem to want to engage beyond name-calling.

By your lights, apparently, there can’t be a Court decision that robs people of the franchise, given that we elect the presidents who appoint the Justices. Does that include the Dred Scott decision, for example, in your view? Did the Dred Scott decision respect the democratic process underlying the Missouri Compromise? Duly elected presidents appointed the Justices in the majority, after all. No, in fact, while Dred Scott himself was disenfranchised in multiple ways, we are all robbed of the franchise whenever the Court overturns legislation with no constitutional basis for doing so, deciding questions that the people are entitled to resolve through the usual democratic processes.
So, in fact, the losing side in Obergefell was actually not on the losing side of an election; it was on the winning side. Elected officials were acting constitutionally when they established Ohio’s marriage laws. Five Supreme Court Justices were not acting constitutionally when they overturned those laws in Obergefell, and the decision therefore lacks democratic legitimacy. Kennedy made up the ruling out of thin air, and even liberals who support the result recognize that his opinion was a poor thing, his reasoning murky and unmoored. As Roberts said in his dissent, the Constitution had nothing to do with the majority’s decision; as Scalia said in his, the decision threatens American democracy. I understand that you disagree (although I’m not sensing any legal analysis leading to your disagreement). But those are the reasons I regard the decision as an injustice.

#37 Comment By Helena On April 4, 2019 @ 2:09 pm

Jefferson Smith says

I have not seen evidence of open marriages or sexual libertinism among married gay couples I have known. I believe I am not alone in this.. . . At any rate, none of that answers my point: So what?

Really, your point was “so what” if married gay couples are promiscuous? I took your point to be that there is “no evidence” that they are promiscuous or interested in “open marriages” and that it is “not credible,” but rather a conclusion based on “homophobia,” to suppose that they are. Indeed, the “hostile” commenter to whom you were addressing your post was guilty of smearing, insulting, and offending by stating just what Andrew Sullivan and others have proudly proclaimed, except that when the commenter says it it’s a “cock-eyed strategy” that is “not credible.” If none of that was your principal point, it’s the point I was answering. If now you want to shift to “so what if married gays are promiscuous?” I’m happy to do that — it’s a worthy subject — but I suggest we do it when the topic next arises and the site is easier to navigate. This thread is pretty old.

#38 Comment By Thomas Hobbes On April 4, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

Rob G says:

As I’ve said before, it took corporate America all of three seconds to latch on to the SexRev and co-opt it to its own ends.

I’ll have to take your word for it, I was born a lot more than three seconds after the Sexual Revolution, but that is what capitalism does to everything.

Here is a webcomic that acts as though this is new: [5]

My main issue with many SoCons and even many orthodox Catholics is that they think the consumerization of family is separate from the consumerization of everything else and that they can embrace one and reject the other. This is a major issue with lefties too but in reverse.

#39 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 6, 2019 @ 10:16 am

Helena, Dred Scott lacked democratic legitimacy because most Americans at that time couldn’t vote. That was three major expansions of the franchise ago.

The smears and insults I was referring to were characterizations directed against gay married people as a group, including those I’ve personally known who don’t deserve them and don’t fit those characterizations. You seem to have trouble understanding the distinction between saying something is true (or not) of some subset of a given group that one knows about from personal experience, and making declarations that apply to the group as a whole and every instance therein. I was doing the first of those two things.

#40 Comment By nuthinmuffin On April 6, 2019 @ 8:08 pm

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”

#41 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On April 7, 2019 @ 6:47 pm

“Helena, Dred Scott lacked democratic legitimacy because most Americans at that time couldn’t vote.”

Are you willing to bite the bullet? By your reasoning, the Constitution itself at that time lacked democratic legitimacy (the clause making blacks 3/5 persons). And if you *are* willing to follow your own logic, then what makes the fundamental positive law more relevant after the 14th Amendment than it was prior to the 14th Amendment?

I would urge anyone who naively thinks the answer to that question is “justice” to read two books by Jeremy Waldron: “God, Locke, and Equality” and “Law and Disagreement.”

#42 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 8, 2019 @ 5:21 am

Ken Zaretzke, I don’t see democratic legitimacy as a binary thing. It can be present or absent to varying degrees, and it’s important but not the only political value by which governing arrangements can be measured. It was almost wholly absent in most governing regimes for most of history, but has gradually been developing, spreading and gaining a higher priority in the scheme of things. The American government as originally constituted had marginally more democratic legitimacy than some other alternatives of the time — it had written rules available to the public, there was vigorous discussion about it in the press, it was settled on in conventions where debates were held and votes were taken, and it included systems for further debates and elections thereafter — but still not nearly enough, which is why there have been continual movements to keep expanding it ever since. I think that’s good.

Also, one little correction: The 3/5ths clause had to do with enumerating the population for purposes of apportioning representation in Congress. It counted slaves (not “blacks”) as 3/5ths “persons” for that narrow purpose. That’s not what denied them enfranchisement; the real problem was that they were slaves and had no political rights. The slaveholders wanted to count them as full persons, 5/5ths, because that would increase the representation (hence power) of the slave states, while the opponents of slavery wanted them counted as 0/5ths as long as they were denied the rights of citizenship. But yeah, slavery was a giant gaping hole in the democratic legitimacy of the Constitution of 1787, as was frequently pointed out in the years following.

#43 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On April 8, 2019 @ 7:17 pm

@Jefferson Smith,

Fair enough. But if we’re talking about the legitimacy of a democratic republic, we’re going to have to worry about the original sin against republicanism–not slavery, that was the original sin against democracy. Namely, the Lincolnian overthrow of the confederated system, in which states were politically prior to the federal system that we have had ever since the Civil War. (Most of the founders assumed the states could secede unilaterally.) Do the victors in war get to decide what counts as politically legitimate? That’s what they got to do in our country.

In a different way, disagreement about justice casts doubt on the legitimacy of judges exercising the power of judicial review. That’s the most concrete problem of legitimacy today.

#44 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 9, 2019 @ 12:04 am

Ken, the system isn’t constituted just in its founding moments (or re-founding, in the case of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment, etc.). Its legitimacy is in part established over time, as the citizens conduct themselves one way rather than another. Do they acquiesce to the governing arrangements? Do they follow the laws and court rulings? Do they pay taxes, with no more than the usual predictable grumbling about this? Does all this happen without intensive coercive efforts, like the informers, secret police, show trials, gulags and occasional rolling tanks of the old Soviet system? If so, it suggests that the system is widely perceived to be legitimate, whatever controversies it originally emerged from.

I say “widely” perceived, because the acquiescence will never be universal — there will always be some diehards like Helena, who carry on about having franchises stolen and so forth. Further out than that, there will be the occasional (hopefully very rare) Timothy McVeigh. But if these remain a ragged and unorganized minority, then they’re part of democracy’s background noise, not proof that the system is illegitimate.

By these tests, the US system, including federal supremacy, seems broadly legitimate, even if I would agree that it has some serious flaws and still needs further reform. (To me, a key knock against its legitimacy is the plutocratic role of money in politics.) This all came up because Helena was complaining about Obergefell, which may well have been poorly reasoned — I don’t know, I haven’t studied that question. I’m not sure Brown vs. Board of Education was a shining model of pure logic either, and it was certainly sharply contested at first, with schoolhouse-door protests in the South, the “Impeach Earl Warren” movement, etc. But, over time, I think it’s come to be broadly understood that discrimination of the kind that Brown struck down is wrong and, in fact, illegitimate. I think gay marriage is rapidly heading the same way: over the next generation it will come to be an arrangement that people accept to the point of basically taking it for granted — having to learn from history books, perhaps to their surprise, that this wasn’t always so, the way they learn about Jim Crow laws today. This, along with and supplementing the Supreme Court’s authority, is what gives the legitimacy to a decision like Obergefell (and, of course, denied it to Dred Scott). So the question is still unfolding, but that’s how I think it will go.

#45 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 9, 2019 @ 5:36 am

Further to what I was just saying:

Do the victors in war get to decide what counts as politically legitimate? That’s what they got to do in our country.

My answer to this would be, no, but they do set initial terms, which then shake out one or another over the next decades or generations as people either reconcile themselves to the new order and perhaps come to find it congenial, or continue to resist to the point that it proves not to be stable (as I was talking about in my last comment).

So: the victors in World War I imposed a settlement that rather rapidly proved to be very unstable. That’s the classic case of initial terms that didn’t work. The Civil War settlement was less unstable than that, but was still widely resisted for a long time. It was only a century later, following the Civil Right Movement and the “Second Reconstruction,” that most of the issues left from the war were really settled.

In my view, the part of the terms ending the Civil War that got incorporated in the 13th-15th Amendments were extremely legitimate — in fact, it was their denial in the decades before that was the destabilizing illegitimacy. Any part of the United States simply could not be allowed to hold people in servitude or deny full citizenship rights based on race; it was grossly immoral as well as undemocratic. The other major term — that states can’t secede — is harder to justify as a pure matter of moral theory, but it’s basically good practice and has not been seriously challenged since; there’s grumping about possible secession here and there from time to time, but no state has had a serious, organized effort to bring it about. Which suggests that the public by and large has come to agree that union on terms of federal supremacy is legitimate.

#46 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On April 9, 2019 @ 8:21 pm

@Jefferson Smith,

I agree that broad social acceptance is a good indicator of legitimacy. I don’t agree that SSM is destined to be like civil rights for blacks. Two problems with that. One is the implications of SSM. An interesting book edited by Elizabeth Brake shows how radical SSM is bound to be, and I’m quite sure society will not soon, if ever, come to accept the radical ideas about marriage that follow more or less inevitably from the logic of SSM, as laid out very well and rigorously in that collection of essays. (The contributors are all pro-SSM philosophers and scholars.)

The other problem is that philosophical arguments against SSM not dependent on Catholic sexual morality may be forthcoming. Who knows? We haven’t seen any so far. I don’t mean social science arguments to the effect that a mom and a dad are what’s good for children. That kind of thing tends to be persuasive only if, like me, you already believe it.

#47 Comment By Jefferson Smith On April 9, 2019 @ 10:49 pm

OK, Ken Zaretzke, that’s interesting information, so we’ll see how it goes. FWIW, I also agree that a (non-abusive) mom and a dad are what’s good for children, as they were for me personally. I’m guessing that if SSM were all that stood in the way of providing this for every child, it would have had a much harder time being accepted, but of course the problems of family formation and stability are longstanding and difficult to blame on gay people.