What does the California Supreme Court decision on same-sex “marriage” have to do with the seizure of over 400 children by social workers from a polygamist cult in Texas? Plenty, and it is much more than same-sex marriage opening the way to polygamy, real as that is. Together, these two news items illustrate how advanced and ubiquitous is the government’s assault on the family. The fact that such matters now pervade our news should alarm and mobilize every American to understand and resist massive government machinery that threatens both marriage and parenthood.
First, same-sex “marriage” is a symptom, not a cause, of government’s larger effort to redefine the family. Almost 40 years ago, with no public debate or consultation, government not only redefined but effectively abolished marriage as a legal contract through “no-fault” divorce.
Same-sex marriage advocates are correct when they point out that heterosexuals, not homosexuals, first weakened marriage.
“The weakening of marriage has been heterosexuals’ doing, not gays’, for it is their infidelity, divorce rates and single-parent families that have wrought social damage,” observes the Economist. This argument is somewhat disingenuous, since the divorce revolution was itself driven by the same sexual radicalism that now pushes same-sex marriage. Still, the truth itself is undeniable.
“The problem today is not gay couples wanting to get married,” claims Jonathan Rauch. “The threat to marriage is straight couples not wanting to get married or straight couples not staying married.” Traditionalists’ efforts to take the moral high ground have been seriously undermined by their inability to answer this point.
“People who won’t censure divorce carry no special weight as defenders of marriage,” writes columnist Froma Harrop. “Moral authority doesn’t come cheap.” Forthright marriage advocates, like Michael McManus of Marriage Savers, themselves point out that “divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today’s challenge by gays.”
Yet, the implications cut both ways. For the corollary is that same-sex marriage is a symptom of the debasement of marriage, and gays want only debased marriage.
“Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage,” writes family scholar Bryce Christensen. “It is only because traditional understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that homosexuals are now laying claim to it.”
Though gay activists cite their very desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is not inherently promiscuous, they also acknowledge that that desire arises only by the promiscuity permitted in modern marriage. “The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50 percent divorce rates preceded gay marriage,” Andrew Sullivan points out. “All homosexuals are saying … is that, under the current definition, there’s no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is simply an anomaly – and a denial of basic civil equality” (emphasis added).
Homosexual parenting is also rooted in the divorce revolution. Here is where the child abuse industry comes in, demonstrating how one threat to the family creates another. Just as divorce led to same-sex marriage, so it also created demands for parenting by same-sex couples.
Debates about gay parenting have centered on questions of children’s welfare versus homosexual rights. Few have examined the politics whereby prospective gay parents obtain children. Granting gay couples the right to raise children by definition means giving at least one of the partners the right to raise someone else’s children, and the question arises whether the original parent or parents ever agreed to part with them or did something to warrant losing them.
Not necessarily. The vast majority of children of gay “parents” are created not by sperm donors or surrogate mothers but by divorce. Under “no-fault” laws, they can be removed from one of their natural parents through literally “no fault” of that parent. The child with “two mommies” probably had his father forced out of the family by divorce.
Likewise, the explosion of foster care and the assumed but unexamined need to find permanent homes for allegedly abused children has provided perhaps the strongest argument in favor of gay adoption. Yet, this assumption is far from valid.
Child abuse overwhelmingly occurs in single-mother homes – homes of divorce or unwed childbearing. Yet we do not find child welfare officials encouraging intact families or the involvement of fathers. On the contrary, a profession dominated by feminists, child welfare is characterized by a huge anti-father bias, to the point where spurious child abuse accusations are routinely used to remove fathers during divorce proceedings. Children are then confiscated from single mothers on similar accusations, valid or exaggerated, and fed into the foster care system. The mass child confiscations in Texas are just one more manifestation of what happens when we empower armies of officials with a bureaucratic mission to seize other people’s children.
This government-generated child abuse epidemic, and the mushrooming foster care business it feeds, have allowed government agencies to operate what amounts to a traffic in children. A San Diego Grand Jury reports that “the Department [of Social Services] is in the ‘baby brokering’ business.” Introducing same-sex marriage and adoption into this political dynamic could dramatically increase the demand for children to adopt, thus intensifying pressure on social service agencies and biological parents to supply such children. Massachusetts Sen. Therese Murray, claiming that 40 percent of adoptions have gone to gay and lesbian couples, rationalizes the practice by invoking “children who have been neglected, abandoned, abused by their own families.” But it is far from self-evident that these children are in fact victims of their own parents. What seems inescapable is that the very issue of gay parenting has arisen as the direct and perhaps inevitable consequence once government officials got into the business – which began largely with divorce – of distributing other people’s children.
These items are only the beginning. California court decisions criminalizing homeschoolers and excluding parents from their children’s public school education are further examples of state officials assuming family functions and replacing parents.
We need a much broader coalition of families prepared to resist the bureaucratic state’s appropriation of marriage and children on all fronts. Otherwise, this dual trend will worsen: Marriage will continue to deteriorate, and parents will continue to lose their children.
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Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of “Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family” (Cumberland House, 2007).