Tag archives: Family

The Fourth Circuit Gets It Fundamentally Wrong on Marriage

by Chris Gacek

August 1, 2014

On Monday a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond upheld a federal district court’s decision from February 2014 declaring Virginia’s male-female marriage definition to be unconstitutional. In Bostic v. Schaeffer, the Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia’s “Marriage Laws,” including its electorally-enacted constitutional provision defining marriage, “warrant strict scrutiny due to their infringement of the fundamental right to marry.” Upon further analysis the court’s majority opinion, written by Judge Henry Floyd and joined by Judge Roger Gregory, concluded that these marital provisions were not supported by a sufficiently strong rationale to withstand heightened constitutional scrutiny.

The key fighting ground between the court’s majority and the dissenter, Judge Paul Niemeyer, lay in how to analyze the question of whether Virginia’s Marriage Laws infringed on a fundamental constitutional right held by same-sex couples. This is not a new type of question for federal courts to consider. When assessing whether a claimed right is fundamental under the Due Process Clause, the Supreme Court looks to a two-part test promulgated in its landmark 1997 ruling, Washington v. Glucksberg.

First, the court should asses a “careful description of the asserted fundamental liberty interest.” The claimed right must be described precisely. Second, such rights must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” Furthermore, the right must be “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.” It is at this point that the majority made a disastrous error.

The critical step lies in how one defines the right, and the majority defined it incorrectly. The majority did “not dispute” that “states have refused to permit same-sex marriages for most of our country’s history.” Yet, this fact was deemed “irrelevant” here “because Glucksberg’s analysis applies only when courts consider whether to recognize new fundamental rights.” The Bostic court somewhat dishonestly side-stepped the strictures of Glucksberg by concluding that “the fundamental right to marry encompasses the right to same-sex marriage.” (p.41) The right to marry is well recognized as a fundamental right, but the majority interpreted the Supreme Court’s precedents in this area to “speak of a broad right to marry that is not circumscribed based on the characteristics of the individuals seeking to exercise the right.”

As the dissenting judge, Paul Niemeyer, pointed out, this must be false:

At bottom, in holding that same-sex marriage is encompassed by the traditional right to marry, the majority avoids the necessary constitutional analysis, concluding simply and broadly that the fundamental “right to marry”—by everyone and to anyone—may not be infringed. And it does not anticipate or address the problems that this approach causes, failing to explain, for example, why this broad right to marry, as the majority defines it, does not also encompass the “right” of a father to marry his daughter or the “right” of any person to marry multiple partners. (pp. 67-8)

Analyzed properly, the claimed right is not the right to marry with marriage defined all-inclusively, but rather, the right to marry a person of the same-sex. Of course, as the court conceded (above), states had not begun to recognize same-sex marriages until recent times. In actuality, such marriages have been allowed only since 2004 in a nation dating back to 1789. Same-sex marriage, as an institution recognized anywhere in the United States, is younger than Google and Facebook.

Enough said. Applying Glucksberg, there is clearly no fundamental constitutional right to enter into a same-sex marriage.

In closing, one offensive aspect of the majority opinion needs to be commented upon: its last sentence. In concluding its opinion, the court observed, “Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.” (p. 63) Using “segregation” here advances the calumny that opposition to same-sex marriage is akin to supporting racial segregation. That slur doesn’t even make sense.

The opposite sex composition of the marital relationship is the essential feature of what “marriage” is because true marriage allows for the union of one male human being and one female human being in a complementary sexual relationship that has the potential to produce children. It is the joining of embodied maleness and femaleness in a relationship that can sustain the nurture of children should they be produced.

No same-sex relationship has either capacity. Defining marriage as reality reveals allows for liberation to enter a great design. Segregation it is not.

Vincente Del Bosque, Spain’s Greatest “Football” Coach, and Pure Love

by Chris Gacek

June 17, 2014

The quadrennial playing of the World Cup soccer (“football”) tournament began last weekend and will last several more. As the tournament approached, many, many articles, especially in European papers, have focused on this worldwide competition. The Financial Times (FT), for example, published a small section with several lengthy feature articles about the World Cup in its June 7/8 weekend edition.  The weekend FT is a wonderful amalgamation of articles on a wide variety of international topics including the arts, sports, travel, real estate, books, gardening, and hard news.

This World Cup section contained a brilliant article by Jimmy Burns on Vincente Del Bosque, perhaps the greatest soccer coach in Spain’s history. Presently Del Bosque is the coach of the Spanish national team that received a drubbing at the hands of the Netherlands last week.  That said, Spain’s only World Cup tournament victory came in 2010 under Del Bosque’s leadership. There have been many other victories and honors in his career, and Burns provides a masterful overview of the coach’s professional achievements.

That said, it was another aspect of the story and Del Bosque’s life that gave the article a transcendent quality.  At the beginning of the piece, Burns informs us that Del Bosque, 63, has three children including Alvaro, age 24, who has Down’s syndrome. It is here that Burns describes a touching dimension of Spain’s 2010 World Cup campaign:

While Del Bosque’s Spain was winning the country’s first ever world cup in 2010, Alvaro became an unofficial member of the squad. Afterwards Del Bosque wrote him a letter, now reproduced with his permission in a new Spanish biography. “It wasn’t Iniesta’s goal, or Iker Casillas kissing Sara, his journalist girlfriend while being interviewed by her on TV which moved me to tears. It was seeing you on TV, saying that you felt proud of your Dad, that you always wanted to help, that your heart was with him.”

How beautiful. The article then proceeds at length to discuss Del Bosque’s career and the current state of Spain’s 2014 World Cup efforts.

As Del Bosque and Burns take leave of each other, Burns returns to Del Bosque’s family and Alvaro:

Our meeting ends as it began, with family. Del Bosque’s daughter, Gema, 21, picks him up in the family car. “Can I give you a lift anywhere?” Del Bosque asks me. Before we say goodbye, I ask about his son Alvaro. A big smile comes over his face as he shows me a photograph of Alvaro in a suit working behind a desk. “We’ve achieved what we set out to achieve, which is to find him work.” Alvaro, he says, has come to mean more to him than anything else. “I’m not very expressive of my feelings. I am not a great one for words. I am not very lyrical. I am quite a practical person. But when I think of pure love, it is what I feel for Alvaro.”

Isn’t it fascinating that so many parents of Down’s children say similar things about the exquisite nature of these innocent souls? Del Bosque is known for being a “big-hearted” decent man: “Spain’s Man of Honor,” as the article’s title informs us. Is it unreasonable to suppose that Alvaro is responsible for many of those qualities? I don’t think so.

Which Community?”

by Julia Kiewit

April 11, 2013

A fundamental clash of worldviews lies behind Ms. Harris-Perry’s controversial statement that children are the responsibility of the whole community. Conor Friedersdorf’s article in The Atlantic does an excellent job highlighting the impracticability of her proposal because

[…] children are raised by individuals, not diffuse collectives. Mother and father are in fact responsible for getting baby her shots, strapping her into the car seat, childproofing the house, noticing her allergic reaction to peanuts, and enrolling her in primary school. If they fail to do these things, or to find someone who’ll do them on their behalf, baby suffers … The fact that most parents feel this responsibility deep within them is literally indispensable to our civilization. Kids whose parents don’t feel or ignore it are often seriously disadvantaged (emphasis added).

But aside from the practical aspect of child-responsibility lies the fundamental question of society’s order: who, or what, is responsible for the individual and the family? Does individual liberty and a moral conscience make adults responsible for their choices and parents responsible for their children? Or is the government the organizing principle of society, taking the place of choice, and mom and dad?

While I am not assuming that Ms. Harris-Perry desires to promote anything other than the best interests of children by her statement, the worldview behind what she said is destructive to marriages, families, and thus the very children she wants helped. In “The Activists Game Plan against Religion Life and the Family: The UN, the Courts, and Transnationalist Ideology,” Pat Fagan and Bill Saunders compare the views of cultural Marxists with those of traditional society and observe:

Influential intellectual roots of anti-family and anti-religious efforts can be found in the writings of Karl Marx’s collaborator, the German philosopher Friedrich Engels. Engels, in his vision of state ownership as the means of production and the ultimate triumph of the proletariat, was keenly aware that two institutions would stand in the way of his communist vision: the family and organized religion. He understood that in order for the international communist vision to come to fruition, the natural primacy of family and religion in society must be undermined (emphasis added).

One thing that Marx and Engels understood was that in a society of personal responsibility and strong families, communism would not be able to flourish. To advance their ideology, family and religion must be undermined. Any idea that transfers responsibility from parents and gives it to the “community”—not the community as embodied by one’s church, school, and neighbors, but the “community” as enforced by national regulation and sustained by government services—does just that. Fagan and Saunders continue that “Cultural Marxists”

[…] try to undermine the family and religion through more subtle means than Lenin used. This is accomplished in an interrelated process: simultaneously, the power of the state is increased while that of the individual and his community is decreased, and laws pertaining to family and religion are undermined. Thus the traditional supports of society-family and religion-are crowded out by government.

When parents’ responsibility is diminished, whether through tragic neglect or government interference (see Mr. Friedersdorf’s article and a family’s encounter with child protective services), something will fill that void. Legitimate inability on the part of parents may be a time when suggest a family needs help. But the idea that, by default, children belong to the community is another insidious way of stating that there is no such thing as personal, and thus familial, responsibility. This subverts the God-ordained family and the very foundation of republican government.

World Family Map maps the world of the family

by Julia Kiewit

February 28, 2013

While there are many societal differences between the U.S. and Canada, the need for strong families to maintain society is one area in which researchers in the two countries can agree. The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada this year has launched a new annual study of family well-being around the world. The World Family Map 2013 looks at the family as the core institution of society and examines four indicators of family well-being: family structure, family socioeconomics, family process, and family culture, as well as how family structures relate to children’s educational attainments. The report includes data on these categories in different countries representing all regions of the globe.

Much of the data revealed in this report supports the research published by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute. For example, data published by MARRI highlights the association between living in an intact, married family and higher GPAs in school.

And this same sort of data is found in the “World Family Map.” An article by the Toronto Sun reports that

A new, international report makes the claim that Canadian children score higher on literacy tests and are less likely to repeat a grade if — wait for it — raised by two parents.

According to the World Family Map Project, released last week, “children living with two parents had higher reading literacy scores and were less likely to repeat a grade compared to those living with either one parent or neither parent in all three North American countries included in the report.”

The researchers go on: “This pattern is found even after accounting for the higher levels of poverty and lower levels of parental education among single-parent families.”

The author of the article goes one step further to point out that government would do well to pay attention to this research:

Now this is awkward. Governments can pour money into education, but if children are not coming from stable homes, it’s like throwing money into the cold, Canadian wind. There is no quick government fix for family breakdown. But neither should politicians go to great lengths to avoid this research.”

Here at MARRI and the Family Research Council, we couldn’t agree more.

FRC in the News: February 6, 2013

by Nicole Hudgens

February 6, 2013

Hot Off the Press: Tony Perkins on CNN News

FRC’s President Tony Perkins, was on CNN this morning discussing the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) vote that would allow open homosexuals to become members and leaders. Perkins points out that the BSA has stood for moral principles for decades and that the boys should not have to worry about being with men or boys who are attracted to them. The BSA is designed to help raise boys into manhood. The Associated Press and the Washington Post has just reported that the BSA will not vote on the decision until May. Please be in prayer for the BSA that they would stand firm in their timeless values. You can share the ad from FRC via email, Facebook, Twitter and any other favorite media sites!

When it Comes to Religious Rights, “Accounting Gimmicks” Won’t do!

After the outcry of “foul play” from religious organizations, the Obama administration is offering a proposal which will allow faith-based organizations to be exempt from paying for contraceptives. Churches and synagogues can choose not to provide contraceptives. However, “non-profits with religious affiliations” are not exempt. Anna Higgins, FRC’s Director for the Center of Human Dignity, was quoted in a recent CBS News article and stated that:

“The accounting gimmicks HHS is now proposing under the latest regulation fail to satisfy the religious freedom protections that exist in other current laws and in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution”

How to Really Help the Economy: Save the Family

Dr. Patrick Fagan, Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at FRC, wrote an insightful article in The Public Discourse. Fagan’s research shows that even if the best of conservative economic plans were put into action, it still would not be enough to fix the economy. We must promote solid marriage, which produces solid children and productivity. As Fagan states:

“The intact married family with children is the household that generates the productive work, income, and savings that purchase houses, food, cars, and clothing, use energy, send children to school, and save for college and weddings.”

Adoption: Welcome to the Family

by Sharon Barrett

October 24, 2012

What if all children could have the chance to grow up in a loving, intact home? What if those who are bereft of father and mother through disease, poverty, famine, or war could be assured of a bed at night, a place at the table, and warm arms to hold them? What if even a small number of the worlds 153 million orphans could be welcomed into someones family?

These are questions posed by MARRI intern Lindsay Smith as she explores Adoption: What If. For many orphans (children who have lost their father, their mother, or both parents) around the world, the loss of their family signals an end to any kind of stable existence. In Russia, for instance, orphans living in state-run institutions are booted out once they reach age sixteen. These teenagers estimated to number around 10,000 must fend for themselves on the streets, often turning to crime or prostitution, and sometimes to suicide.

Closer to home, the picture is shockingly similar. According to an article from Relevant Magazine,

As of late 2010, more than 408,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system. Of those children, 107,011 were considered adoptablemeaning, their parents rights have been terminated or relinquished.

Every year, 20,000 to 30,000 kids age out of the foster care system. Of those, 50 percent will have dropped out of high school (compared with 8 to 9 percent of the general population). Sixty-two percent will be unemployed within 12 to 18 months. Half will be unemployed at 21 years of age. A quarter of them will be homeless within two years. Nearly 50 percent of females will have a child within 12 to 18 months. And 30 percent will be arrested between the ages of 18 and 21.

When compared to these tragic statistics, the evidence that Adoption Works Well should sound a clarion call to every family that is in a position to consider adoption. Adopted children experience positive outcomes in academics, health, relationships, and parent-child communication in some cases even better than children raised by their biological parents.

When we consider the nature of adoption, this should come as little surprise. Adoption is, in the purest sense, a divine act. Lindsay Smith explains,

Adoption in its truest form is a response to the love and gospel of Jesus Christ. We were adopted into His kingdom, so we in turn adopt children into our homes. Not just so they will have an earthly room, bed or siblings, but so they may have a chance to know about a Heavenly Father who is recklessly and passionately pursuing their adoption to Himself.

On Sunday, November 4th, churches all over the United States and the world will be celebrating Orphan Sunday. Started by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, this Sunday raises awareness for the plight of the orphan through local church services.

Whether or not you and your family are able to adopt a child (either domestically or internationally), consider other ways to support families who adopt and the agencies that walk them through the process. The Christian Alliance for Orphans offers numerous links for this purpose. Remember: what if even one more orphan could be welcomed into someones family?

Setting the Solitary in Families

by Sharon Barrett

September 26, 2012

In her post May I have this [politically-correct, gender-ambiguous, tolerance-driven] dance?, MARRI blogger Lindsay Smith points out the problem with the recent ban on father-daughter dances and mother-son baseball games in Rhode Islands Cranston school district. Banning events that encourage parent participation undermines childrens academic well-being, because parental involvement is related to a childs academic success. Lindsay summarizes the research (further data is available from MARRIs Mapping America surveys):

On average, children from intact married families earn higher test scores, have higher high-school GPAs, are less likely to drop out of school, and have better behavior than their peers. In addition, adolescent children of single-parent families or stepfamilies reported that their parents had lower educational expectations for them, were less likely to monitor schoolwork, and supervised social activities less than the parents of children in intact biological families. Based on these findings, one can see parental involvement directly correlates with academic success.

Lindsay suggests an alternative solution to the Cranston school districts problem: instead of banning parent-child events, encourage community members to reach out to children in non-intact families, just as an elderly neighbor did for her when it came time for Grandparents Lunch Day at her school.

I propose a better solution is not to eliminate the event, but rather to embrace the child. Allow traditional families to show what love and support look like and invite a child whose mom or dad cant attend, whatever the reason.

Lindsays suggestion should sound familiar to readers who have also read the Bible. Scripture throbs with Gods concern for the widow, the divorced parent, the fatherless child, and everyone who is affected by the breakup of a family. Psalm 68:5-6 says this:

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains.

Gods people ought to take the lead in reaching out and offering a family to the solitary, whether that be a teen mother, a divorced father, a youth who has trouble fitting in at school, or simply a young girl whose grandmother cant make the 10-hour drive for Grandparents Lunch Day. Research suggests this will have a far greater impact than raising academic success levels; for instance, by sharing the love and security found in an intact family environment, it can bring out those who are bound with chains of addiction or imprisonment by reducing rates of drug abuse, youth behavior problems, and violent delinquency. Intact families strengthen society. As Lindsay Smith says, Thats something that should make us all get up and dance.

The Consequences of Instability: Children and Same-Sex Divorce

by Sharon Barrett

September 24, 2012

In my previous post, I asked this question:

Cohabitation and divorce both have significant negative effects on child well-being. Since marital instability is a commonly reported cause of divorce, should we place even more children at risk by legally redefining marriage to include same-sex partnerships?

The bisexual element in most same-sex households compounds the natural mutability of many same-sex relationships. Such instability is a strong predictor of divorce. Additional unforeseen consequences, however, arise from the unique circumstances that surround the child in a same-sex household.

A child enters a same-sex household via adoption, artificial reproductive technology, or one partners previous heterosexual relationship. When the relationship breaks up, who has a claim to the child: biological parent, donor or surrogate, or adoptive same-sex partner? What about the same-sex partner who never adopted the child because the other biological parent would not release his or her rights or the partners new boyfriend or girlfriend, who is helping raise the child?

While these situations may sound exaggerated or hypothetical, they could become legal reality in Californiaunder the triple-parent bill SB 1476, currently awaiting the stroke of the governors pen. In her article, Why Californias Three-Parent Law Was Inevitable, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse documents the 2011 case that motivated state senator Mark Leno to propose the bill.

Melissa, the mother in In re M.C., was bisexual, like most of the same-sex parents surveyed in 2012s New Family Structures study: in 2008, after becoming pregnant by a man (Jose), she married a woman (Irene) and subsequently gave birth to a daughter (M.C.). When Melissa was sent to prison and Irene hospitalized, Jose requested custody.

Custody was denied, however, because under Californias Uniform Parentage Act the man to whom a mother is married when she gives birth is the childs presumed father. Irene, though not a man, was counted as M.C.s presumed mother despite the fact that she had lived with M.C.s mother for barely a month and had not adopted M.C. Rather than give the child to her father, the court placed M.C. in state custody so that she could be awarded to Irene at a later date.

Even without the problems of cohabitation and divorce, a child being raised by a same-sex couple inevitably has more than two parental entities involved in his or her life. Either they or the courts will determine how they may share access to that child. As Dr. Morse observes,

 

We cannot count on private agreements among the parties to solve all problems and manage all disputes. A subset of these cases is going to end up being settled by the family courts. Therefore, not only does same-sex parenting create an impetus to triple-parenting, it creates an impetus for state involvement in the ongoing management of these complex relationships.

The redefinition of marriage and the redefinition of parenthood that must accompany it creates a legal quagmire. As more disputes like In re M.C. enter the courts, more children are likely to be divorced from their parents and from the natural definition of family.

The Not-So-Great Society: Time for a New Solution

by Sharon Barrett

September 17, 2012

Single motherhood is hard on women. The Houston Chronicle reports that the number of single mothers who live in poverty is a staggering 41 percent, almost three times the national poverty rate. As MARRI intern Lindsay Smith commented in a recent post, the statistics clamor for action:

[Combined] with the fact that more than half of single mothers over age twenty rely on public assistance…these statistics dont softly whisper for concern. They deafeningly cry for action or should I say results.

Many people believe increased funding for public assistance programs will help lift single mothers out of poverty. The Chronicle article continues,

Low wages, limited public assistance and insufficient child care subsidies make it difficult for many single mothers to improve their lives. They are more likely than other poor people to face hardships such as food scarcity and eviction.

But why are single mothers more likely to suffer these hardships? Not because Uncle Sam isnt forthcoming with the welfare check. Lindsay Smith observes that the welfare state does no more than create a treadmill on which the hardworking single mother can never advance out of poverty. The Great Society has had four decades to prove itself, and it is time for a new solution.

What will lift women and their children out of poverty is not money, but marriage not the public dole, but private commitment. A married family has the highest income and is less likely to experience poverty; a married man is more likely to be employed. Women who grow up in an intact married family are far less likely to enter the cycle of poverty with a non-marital pregnancy.

The new solution has been with us all along. It is time to rebuild a culture of marriage that encourages fathers and mothers to raise their children, and their economic status, together.

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