Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's mail was truly interesting

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.


Rachel said...

Well done sir! Well done! A great read, I hope they actually sit down and think, and maybe consider their actions and judgments.

Craig Allen said...

Thanks, Rachel. If you feel so inclined please share this with your fiends.

ProtectMarriageOregon said...

Mr. Craig Allen,

Protect Marriage Oregon received your letter in response to our mail. We appreciate you taking the time to write to us. Here I shall attempt to address your concerns.

Throughout this response, to minimize confusion, when I use the word “marriage” I'll use it in its classic definition, “the union of one man and one woman…” unless otherwise noted.

First let me respond to your question of timing. Perhaps you are unaware that Basic Rights Oregon has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in air time and direct mail outside of a typical political season to spread their message on redefining marriage in Oregon. Recently they decided to postpone their efforts on a ballot measure until 2014, however they plan to continue their educational campaign. As you responded to our mail, so have we responded to their mass-media assertions about same sex marriage.


You expressed some concern over issues laid out in our brochure. I will take the time to address each.

1. “Children raised with their married mother and father do best…” A vast amount of scientific studies have shown that children raised in the married home of both their mother and father face significant benefits. A few sources cited on our website and more:
2. “…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.” Lifetime marriage does inherently unite a child with their mother and father. This is true only when the children are raised in a marriage where they are the product of that union. This is not the case in same sex, mixed, single parent, adopted, or other family arrangements. That is not to say that a child who is loved and cared for in a family outside of the marriage union of their biological parents might flourish, but rather that the ideal environment as identified by nature, science, and society is a married mother and father. A child raised in a same sex household, arguably even a married same sex household, most closely resembles that of a child raised in a divorced heterosexual household, a step-parent family, or other two parent family since a child in a same sex household is separated from at least one biological parent.
3. In your research you found that only 51% of adults 18 and over are married. We have also found that people are marrying at an older age. There are a lot of factors influencing the age at which people choose to marry. Furthermore, society has devalued marriage through several efforts including no fault divorce which further influences younger adults. ( However the assertion we made was that those raised in a lifelong marriage of their mother and father “are more likely to succeed in their own marriages as adults.” “Children of divorce are upwards of 40 percent more likely to divorce themselves. That numbers shoots up dramatically to 91 percent if your parents have subsequent marriages.” (Source: Nicholas Wolfinger, Understanding the Divorce Cycle, Cambridge University Press, 2005).

ProtectMarriageOregon said...

4. Specifically studies concerning same sex marriage are more rare or are as you say. In at least one study from Australia, reported in the journal Children Australia as “Children in three contexts: Family, education, and social development,” children of marriage heterosexual households, cohabitating households, and children of same sex couples found that the children of married couples did best and the children of homosexual couples did worst. This author was not anti-homosexual and still he concluded, “married couples seem to offer the best environment for a child’s social and educational development.” What the current research data clearly demonstrates is that children raised by their own married mother and father have far better outcomes than any other family arrangement.
5. I understand you could not find the sources of our real life examples of how the redefinition of marriage will adversely affect religious freedom. Here a few sources listed on our website,
c. And more…
6. There are far to numerous accounts like the Bed and Breakfast lawsuit to count, however here are a few sources for this particular case;
c. While there may be laws in place to guard against discrimination there also laws in place to allow a business to refuse service, while this walks a fine line the issue in part is this; should a person of faith be forced to do that which goes against their faith or face the closure of their business? For the cake maker threated with legal action,
7. You agreed that Massachusetts children will be taught that same sex marriage is the same as a marriage between a man and a woman. What is more, there is a concern over parents’ rights to educate their children. This includes when issues of same sex, same sex couples, and same sex marriage arises in our public education. We would prefer to protect parents’ rights to teach children on these sensitive subjects. However, in Massachusetts where same sex marriage is legal parents were denied that right. In one, a parent was arrested for insisting that he be notified.


1. We identified that it is because of the likelihood of producing a child that marriage is limited to one man and one woman.
a. Firstly, it is scientifically true that it takes one man and one woman to create a child. I can site sources if you require?
b. Historically, systematic study by anthropologists found (heterosexual) marriage in nearly every human society. As you mentioned it has not always been a church event, nor do we assert that it is; rather we affirm it is a human institution set up for the union of parents to their children (David Blakenhorn, The Future of Marriage, 91, 2007). For more check out the link below.
c. Marriage is also intended to unite parents with their children as a matter of public policy. Oregon constitutional policy on marriage is as follows, “It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.” Oregon Const., Art. XV, sec. 5a (2004). The people of Oregon elected the Oregon public policy for marriage. Oregon originally defined marriage through statute as between one man and one woman.

ProtectMarriageOregon said...

2. “Every person – male and female – is treated equally under the current marriage laws.” Although you wrote that you believe this to be not even remotely true, every male and female IS treated equally under Oregon's marriage policy. No man of any sexual preference or race may marry another man, a close relative, or a person under the age of 18 regardless of gender; they are all treated equally. Likewise no woman of any sexual preference or race may marry another woman, close relative, or a person under the age of 18 regardless of gender. We have domestic partnerships which offer marital benefits to both opposite sex and same sex couples who otherwise meet partnership requirements. We must also remember that equality is treating two things that are so similar exactly the same. Oregon does not treat cohabitating couples regardless of gender as the same as marriage, we do not treat same sex couples or other family arrangements as marriage when they do not fit into the definition and requirements. One of those clear requirements that apply to any man or any woman is that they can only marry a person of the opposite gender. The original and logical reason for this is because when a man and a woman unite sexually, it often results in a child. Marriage helps clearly define who will take responsibility for that child.
3. You disagreed with our assertion that redefining marriage would not enable same sex couples to receive meaningful benefits. While I am sorry you felt it was crafted in a way that was not true, the facts are as such. It is true that redefining Oregon’s marriage laws to include same sex couples would not allow them to receive the meaningful marital benefits you identified. If Oregon recognizes same sex marriage it will have no impact on federal benefits offered to married couples as federal law does not recognize same sex marriages. We did not forget to mention or ignore this. We clearly stated there would not be a change in benefits as compared to Oregon marriage for same sex couples or domestic partnerships. Federal laws cannot be changed by Oregon laws. Domestic partnerships were placed into Oregon law to offer equal benefits for those that apply.

I understand while you may not agree with us on this issue, I hope I have at least answered some of your questions and concerns. We both agree there is a vital importance for marriage to be a serious commitment. Protect Marriage Oregon recognizes that while divorce and other societal threats to the sanctity of marriage exist we believe in a return to the value of marriage. Redefining marriage to include same sex marriage is a great concern to the already threatened union. One of the largest threats to marriage was the introduction of no fault divorce. Evidence suggests that only about ¼ of all divorces are the result of high conflict or violence in the relationships. That means nearly ¾ of all divorces are in lower-conflict marriages that are going through rough patches. It is our desire that more families would seek help to make it through the difficult times. In fact our organization has been working on programs to strengthen marriage in society. Fortunately the tide is turning, we have seen a decline in divorce rates! Divorce is down to around 40% depending on the source, ( (Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces,” Journal of Economic Perspectives – Volume 21, Number 2 Spring 2007).

I thank you for taking the time to read my response. For more helpful information visit our website at or another

Craig Allen said...

In response to Protect Marriage Oregon...

In your first comment you observe that "the ideal environment as identified by nature, science, and society is a married mother and father." Let's look at those three elements.

Nature: Oddly, humans are the only species that care about same-sex relationships, even though they are common in many other species. There are even stories about "inter-species" relationships, such as one detailed very recently between a dog and an elephant. Of course, these relationships don't produce offspring, but there are similar stories, complete with documentation, that speak of species stepping up to "mother" the offspring of a different species. Frankly, "Nature" doesn't seem to care much...and life goes on. Some humans seem to care, but we'll get to that.

Science: The studies you have cited speak to many options, but, so far as I can find, none of them directly compare a loving, same-sex family against a "one man and one woman" marriage. It IS, however, interesting to note that those very same "one man and one woman" relationships seem to create the problems you describe, whether or not they began as "marriages." As I said originally, if the validity of marriage is threatened, it's by those "one man and one women" relationships, often involving a marriage, that don't seem to last.

Society: Now, here's where it really gets interesting. What "society" believes is constantly changing. Years ago the LGBT community was expected to stay in the closet. That probably made people more comfortable, because they could simply ignore the issue. Sadly, apparently that same attitude remains today...the reason we're having this discussion.

Like it or not, society is changing, and that's a good thing. Remember, we used to own slaves, and women weren't allowed to vote or own property. Do you really want to go back to those times, or would it simply allow you to ignore issues you have trouble with?

Craig Allen said...

In response to your second comment....

You cite a study in Australia and state "the children of married couples did best and the children of homosexual couples did worst."

For the sake of discussion, I'll assume that's accurate. It is, however, completely irrelevant to this conversation.

If said children do "worst" allowing their parents to be married can't possibly change that...except for the positive. Since your organization doesn't (I assume) want to prevent same-sex couples from having children, the question of "marriage" has no effect whatsoever.

The author, according to your quotation said "married couples seem to offer the best environment for a child’s social and educational development." If that is true, then allowing same-sex couples to marry would seem to improve the chances for their children...a definite plus. Once again, you are taking some information and presenting it in such a way as to suggest it says something it doesn't.

Since you have provided some background for the "legal issues" you raised in the brochure, I will have to examine those before commenting further.

As for the question of Massachusetts...

The idea that a classroom teacher will present Facts to the class doesn't bother me at all. It also does nothing to prevent a parent "teaching" their children whatever they wish. If they wish to perpetuate myths and biases, they are still free to do so. They can teach them about the "birds and the bees" in whatever fashion they wish..truthful or otherwise. The State has a responsibility to present factual information in the classroom, and to identify places where the "facts" might be debated. In a history class, it's fine to observe that different historians see the effects or causes of an event differently is not only appropriate, it's positive. To say that the State Law says one thing when, in fact, it says the exact opposite, is not.

Craig Allen said...

In your second response, you also state that "Oregon constitutional policy on marriage is as follows, “It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.”

While that's technically true, it has only been true since 2007. It's another one of those "society changes" things I mentioned earlier. Why is it there? Well, without resorting to a bunch of name calling, a group that feared the idea of same-sex marriage put it on the ballot and won.

Personally, I feel strongly that it's wrong, and were it changed it wouldn't be the first time a complete "about face" has been put in the Constitution of Oregon. You can find the amendment that declares prohibition...and the amendment that repealed it. Yup, times change, and people sometimes are slow to learn. Eventually they do tend to figure it out. Fortunately our system of laws and governance allows us to correct our mistakes.

Your parsing of words with regard to "equal rights" and "equality" with regard to Oregon law do not warrant response. It is enough to say that they are simply wrong, although the careful way you present them makes them appear correct. If Oregon were to allow same-sex marriage, those participating COULD claim a status of "married" on their Federal Tax Return, again, a Fact that you seem to simply ignore.

Lastly, there is one place I suspect we agree.

In my opinion, the best possible "home" in which to raise children is a place where both parents are present and create a loving environment, a place where children are taught the value of every individual does not depend upon some historical hatred or fear, and a place where nurturing the child, assuming there are children, is an important function. Our difference is that you refuse to believe that such a place can exist outside of your own narrow definition. I, on the other hand, believe that if two people love each other and truly wish to have a family I'll support them. They might be two men...two women..a man and a woman. They might be one Hispanic and one "white." They might be one Asian and one African American." They might be one person with a sever disability and another who is blind or deaf. In short, I don't believe there are any limits on love., and for that I am truly sorry.

In passing, I'll just observe one more inaccuracy I've noticed. In the first line you state "Protect Marriage Oregon received your letter...." Actually, you couldn't have done that...since I haven't even mailed it yet! Darn, another one of those Facts that just keep getting in the way.

bckylou3 said...

I am in awe of your ability to get your point across Mr. Allen. And also in awe of the completely circular logic and partial facts that they used to make their point.

Craig Allen said...

To Protect Marriage Oregon...

I had limited time tonight to examine the specific situations that you cited in your comment, but I did look into the first one...the question of whether or not a Bed & Breakfast had been sued.

In reading your comment and re-reading your brochure I found a couple of interesting phrases that seemed worth more investigation.

According to the report you cited in the link you provided...

The first thing is that, according to the link, there is no lawsuit that has been filed. In FACT, what it says is that complaints have been filed with the Illinois Attorney General and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. So... your original statement is Wrong, and not supported by your own sources. It's just one more...miss-statement!

The story goes on to state that "...neither owner rents his facility out for either homosexual or heterosexual civil union ceremonies.... Since there is no such thing as a civil union ceremony for a heterosexual couple, the statement, while probably true, is just more parsing of words.

Now, let's move on to the law that underlies the complaints. To quote from the story:

First, there's the issue of why homosexuality is included in anti-discrimination policies and laws in the first place.

This opens the door to make an easy conclusion. We are not dealing with religious harassment, we are dealing with a violation of the Law. We could discuss whether the law is a good law or a bad law. We could discuss the basis for our different beliefs. There is no point in discussing the Fact that the law reads as it does.

Tomorrow I'll try to examine the other issues and see what the Facts have to say.