It’s not the political season in Oregon. There is a special election in one Congressional District, to replace a man who resigned, but otherwise not much is happening locally. However, for reasons I do not really know I received a mailing from Protect Marriage Oregon today. It is, needless to say, a group that is dedicated to stopping any movement towards same-sex marriage.
From the looks of the envelope I think it was most likely a mass mailing to registered voters, so perhaps it was sent without any screening for likely supporters or whatever. In any case, since they included a postage-paid return envelope (presumably for my donation to the cause) I thought I would respond. Here’s what I sent them.
To Protect Marriage Oregon
I recently received your solicitation for support, asking for a contribution to your cause. Although I am generally familiar with the issue, I carefully read your brochure, and then did some additional research, to ensure that I had a good grasp of the issues before making up my mind. After completing that work, I decided that you deserved to know the reasoning behind my decision…so that you might address the concerns that I have.
I found a number of statements in the brochure that concerned me. For example, on the opening panel, you state “Children raised with their married mother and father do best in every measurable dimension including academic achievement, economic stability, physical and mental well-being and far fewer incidents of criminal behavior. They are also more likely to succeed in their own marriages as adults.”
However, you cite no supporting facts or information for any of these assertions, a theme that is repeated throughout the brochure.
You go on to say “That’s why marriage between a man and a woman is so crucial. It’s the only arrangement with the potential to permanently unite a child with their mother and father.” While that statement seems realistic on its face, when examined more closely it isn’t quite accurate.
According to a study released by the Pew Research Center*, in 1960 72% of all adults 18 and over were married. Today that number is just 51%. Clearly having married parents doesn’t automatically equate to marrying yourself.
Your assert that children with a mother and father who are married “do better” in a number of categories. That may or may not be accurate…again you provide no basis for that statement, but that has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, unless that was included the original measure.
Children from divorced parents, from parents that were never married, and from all other family situations are lumped into the “others” so it’s impossible to make accurate conclusions from the limited data you’ve provide.
Next, I looked on your own web site, to see if I could find anything futher. Through links you provide, I discovered these statements, in a study done by The Heritage Foundation:
Adolescents in intact families, as a group, are the least likely to feel depressed compared to those with divorced, step-, cohabiting, or single parents; (National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health)
The national average grade-point scores of children in intact families is 2.98, compared to 2.79 for children of cohabiting parents and 2.71 for children living in stepfamilies; (National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health)
The rate of youth incarceration is significantly greater for children raised in single-mother and stepfamily homes than for those raised in intact families, even after controlling for parental income and education; (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth)
Children in non-intact families are three times as likely to have children outside of marriage; (National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.) and
Rates of engaging in problem behaviors such as lying, stealing, drunkenness, and violence are sharply higher for children of divorce compared to children in intact families. (National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health)
So, while your generalizations might be somewhat accurate, the basis you cite for your statements specifically do NOT mention same-sex parents as a problem, nor even part of the problem. In Fact, the studies you vaguely cited specifically speak to failures within the “one man and one woman” marriages you insist are vital.
Obviously there is a serious disconnect here…between your assertions and the underlying information. The only other possible explanation is that you are cherry-picking information that APPEARS to support your point of view.
You next state “Myth: that gender doesn’t matter in parenting.”
Your explanation of the “myth” claims that “The science is irrefutable…” but provide no scientific information whatsoever. I’m a big believer in science, but I’m sure you understand that the “scientific method” requires data analysis that can be replicated by independent study before it is accepted as accurate. Even on your web site I couldn't locate any date to support this claim. In this case, since you provide no data nor any link to finding any data, I can only assume the veracity of the statement is very suspect.
You state “Myth: Redefining marriage won’t affect freedom of religion.”
After some general comments, you list some “real life examples.” However, once again, you provide no source for these examples so it is impossible to determine if they are accurate or even true. The same claims appear on your web site, again without links to any supporting information. However, let’s look at what you have provided.
You claim a “Bed & Breakfast owner was sued for declining to book a same-sex ceremony.”
If we assume this actually is true, the law that they potentially violated had nothing to do with religion, but rather with a statute regarding equal opportunity with regard to housing and public accommodation. Those laws, and they exist at both the Federal and State levels, provide that anyone providing public accommodation (usually a hotel, motel, or even restaurant) cannot discriminate against individuals.
The laws generally came about during the 1960's civil rights era protests. In short, if you chose to operate a public facility, you don’t get to choose who you serve. It would be no different it you denied service to African-Americans, Hispanics, or even German-Americans. While the owner’s personal thoughts about religion might be the basis for making the decision, it wasn’t the reason the suit was filed. And, I note in passing, that if the suit actually was filed, you omitted any mention of the outcome. Why not?
You claim a “private cake maker was threatened with legal action for turning down a same-sex cake order.”
Again, without a shred of support that this event actually took place, I can only observe that you state “was threatened.” Irate customers threaten merchants continually when disputes over merchandise and transactions occur. The mere fact…assuming it is a fact…that someone made the threat means nothing, and you provide no information as to why the supposed threat was made. Perhaps it had nothing to do with the same-sex nature of the order. We’ll never know.
Now, let’s move on to the section labeled Common Questions and Answers about Same-sex Marriage.
Q: Why do laws limit marriage to one man and one woman.
A: One of the vital purposes for marriage laws is to help establish a lifelong bond between parents and their children. It’s because of the likelihood of producing children that marriage is limited to one man and one woman.
Actually, this statement has no basis whatsoever in law. If you go back and study history you’ll find that marriage wasn’t even a church event as late at the 1600’s. Somewhere around the time of the 30 Years War, the church began to get involved, but only slightly. The ceremony consisted of a man taking a woman’s right hand in his right hand and declaring they were married. The church MIGHT have a priest observe the “ceremony” and the priest MIGHT wrap his stole around their hands and proclaim they were married in the sight of God. That’s about it.
Even today, in many countries, a “real marriage” is carried out by a civil official. A church ceremony is completely optional. For example, in Germany a church wedding has no legal standing whatsoever. Couples are married first at City Hall, and that’s the ceremony that counts. The civil ceremony has nothing to do with whether or not children or desired or produced.
At this point I might again reference that Pew Research Study that details the rise of options.
Other adult living arrangements—including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood—have all grown more prevalent in recent decades.
Clearly if you’re worried about marriage for the sake of children, same-sex couples aren’t the problem.
Q:Isn’t it discrimination to deny marriage to gays and lesbians?
A: No. Every person – male and female- is treated equally under current marriage laws.
Sorry, but not remotely true. A same-sex couple cannot grant power for medical decisions to their partner. A non-married male/female couple can. In fact, same-sex partners can be (and are) excluded from “family visiting period” for critically ill patients. But…let’s look further.
Q: Would gay and lesbian couples receive meaningful benefits by redefining marriage?
A: Not in Oregon. In 2007 our state Legistlature passed domestic partnership laws which grant same-sex couples the same state benefits afford to married couples.
Not only is this wrong, but it’s very carefully worded to appear true. The fact is that same-sex couples in Oregon do not have equal benefits, because domestic partnership is not the same as marriage when it comes to Federal income taxes. Whoops! I guess you just forgot that one…or…intentionally ignored it because it didn’t quite fit with your pre-concieved responses.
We all know that the Federal Tax Code has a significant break for married couples. The exact impact varies with income and deductions, but nevertheless it remains. In 2001 Congress attempted eliminate the so-called Marriage Penalty. In doing so, they actually reversed the situation, and now it’s more advantageous for most people to be married.
However, I will note again that you make no mention of that, limited your statement to “Oregon benefits.” If you’re going to present information, at least make an effort to present all the Facts.
Lastly, you present “Myth: Gender doesn’t matter in education.”
In this paragraph you state that “Massachusetts children are instructed that a marriage of two men or a marriage of two women is just the same as a marriage of a man and a woman."
You are correct. It is also valid to point out that the information being presented is factually accurate and based upon Massachusetts law. Would you really prefer that school teachers lie? Hopefully our educational system is teaching the truth all the time, not just what some people find politically acceptable based upon…whatever.
In summary, I found your brochure inaccurate, intentionally misleading, filled with assertions backed by nothing. You web site includes information that directly contradicts your position.
If I were to worry about marriage as an institution, or try to identify the threats to marriage, I wouldn’t start with same-sex couples who wish to express their love for each other in a meaningful way. I wouldn’t start with people willing to seriously commit themselves to each other, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or gender.
No, if I were going to worry about threats to marriage, I’d start with some other folks. I’d start with “Leaders” like Newt Gringrich, who admits he cheated on his first wife (with his soon-to-be second wife), divorced her to marry his second wife, then cheated on her with his (soon-to-be third wife), divorced her and then married his third wife. I notice he recently signed a Marriage Vow provided by The Family Leader, a conservative group in Iowa. Counting his three marriage vows, that’s the fourth time he’s vowed to remain faithful to his (current) wife. I’d worry about him.
I’d worry about another “role model” that society worships: Brittany Spears, who might have set a record, with a "marriage between one man and one woman" that lasted just 55 hours. This happened while she was at the height of her popularity. I’d worry about the kids who saw that. Even Kim Kardasian didn't come close to that record.
I’d worry about Larry King, who has been married 8 times, to 7 different women, or Liz Taylor, who was married 8 times, and twice divorced the same man.
In short, assuming you’re worried about the state of marriage, I wouldn’t begin with same-sex couples, I’d begin with the real problems.
And…just as an aside, those “one man and one woman” marriages you seek to defend? Well, I think I’d worry about the fact that nearly 50% of those marriages end in divorce, so they don’t supply that “…arrangement with the potential to permanently unite a child with their mother and father” you claim to support.
One last thing: As I wandered around your web site, looking for data that might support your brochure, I found a study entitled Why Marriage Matters. It makes for some very interesting reading, but I found the summary on page 9, entitled Fundemental Conclusions, to be most informative. The authors of the study listed three things.
In their words…
1. Marriage is an important social good
2. Marriage is an important public good
3. The benefits of marriage extend to poor and minority communities
As I read those, I noticed two important things. First, at no point did they say words like “marriage between one man and one woman” or “marriages except those between same-sex couples.” They just talk about “marriage.” The second, is that their third conclusion specifically includes the words “…minority communities.” If ever there has been a minority community in our nation, it is the LGBTQ community!
Now, lest you think I’m wrong, here are the sources for the FACTS that I have cited.
The actually resources your own web cite details.