From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
Since the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage to include same-sex marriage, some people want to “take the government out of marriage.” However, this would harm marriage and family even more. Even with the recent legal redefinition of marriage, it is important for society that civil marriage and religious marriage remain intertwined in America, because they strengthen and support each other.
As Robin Wilson, a law professor from the University of Illinois College of Law, explains, “we want religious marriage to have civil effects.” In the event of death or divorce, we don’t want to leave children or women unprotected by the law. Professor Wilson also notes that it is beneficial for civil marriage to be influenced and shaped by religious norms and expectations such as fidelity and faithfulness.
Another reason to not unravel civil and religious marriage is that there are some who want to abolish marriage completely, and “abolishing marriage licenses is a step towards abolishing marriage.”
We invite you to read today’s compelling alert by Dawn Frandsen, discussing why the legal structure of marriage still matters so much to children and to all of us.
United Families International President
Is A Married Mother and Father The New Silver Spoon?
By Dawn Frandsen
For hundreds of years and across many nations, being born into inherited wealth and a privileged family environment has been referred to as being born with a “silver spoon.”
Having such a designation is synonymous with a fortunate and privileged status that goes so far as to imply that such a person may not even be aware of how the rest of the world actually lives. Because they dwell in the “lap of luxury” on “easy street,” these people have advantages that most other people just don’t have access to. Therein lay the analogous realities—children who have a married mother and father are better off across the board than children who do not, because they will have advantages that children in alternative domestic structures will not have.
The legal recognition of same-sex marriage, in addition to codifying the outrageous claim that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, hurts children by clearly stating in the law, that marriage and childbearing have no connection to one another. But the biggest hit to children may be yet to come — losing marriage altogether.
We have been on this path of marriage and family destruction for years. Same-sex marriage is just the latest in a decades long string of socially acceptable decisions made in the name of adult rights, that have robbed children of the chance of obtaining life changing advantages of a silver spoon birthright. Here are a few:
Exhibit A: No-Fault Divorce
Once upon a time, there were three A’s that warranted the necessity of dissolving a marriage—abuse, adultery, or abandonment—all justifiable because there was an egregious fault from at least one person in the marriage. Now we live in a no-fault divorce world, where neither party need be responsible or accountable for the failure of the marriage.
No-fault divorce has an interesting history. When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, almost exactly 100 years ago, one of their first jurisdictive objectives was to abolish marriage. The new code “swept away centuries of patriarchal and ecclesiastical power and established a new vision of marriage based on individual rights and gender equality. It was predated by two brief decrees enacted in December 1917 that substituted civil for religious marriage and established divorce at the request of either spouse.” The prevailing thought was that “marriage, the family, would soon ‘wither away’” and be replaced by the guardianship of the state.
Within less than a decade, staggering economic and social results of the new progressive marriage policy were well documented. This archived 1926 article from The Atlantic, describes the astonishing story of the new government’s attempt to eliminate the distinctions between registered and unregistered marriages and the resulting compromise of no-fault divorce. Opponents of the proposed code prophetically testified “(1) that it would abolish marriage; (2) that it would destroy the family; (3) that it would legalize polygamy and polyandry; (4) that it would ruin the peasants.”
The United States took a bit longer to instigate the no-fault model. The first state (California) passed legislation in 1970 and New York was the last just a few years ago in 2010. Even though it took nearly half a century to instigate, this national apathy toward marriage was part and parcel to the successful establishment of same-sex marriage.
In the Tenth Circuit’s Kitchen v. Herbert decision that made same-sex marriages legal in the state of Utah, the court noted the inconsistency between state policy that allowed no-fault divorce and its purported goal of promoting stable marriages and families. “It is difficult to imagine how the State’s refusal to recognize same- sex marriage undercuts in any meaningful way a state message of support for marital constancy given its adoption of a divorce policy that conveys a message of indifference to marital longevity.” The Kitchen decision was referred to several times in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S., continuing the ripple effect.
Exhibit B: Fatherless Children
Remember Patrick Moynihan’s report given to President Johnson as an analysis of the “Negro people” with recommendations for Johnson’s War on Poverty? The report and its author were dubbed extreme racists because it pointed out problems of Black Americans in inner cities. But in reality Moynihan’s point was that the “Negro family” was unsustainable because, “The harsh fact is that as a group, at the present time, in terms of ability to win out in the competitions of American life, they are not equal to most of those groups with which they will be competing … The fundamental problem… is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling.” The report data showed the prevalence of single mothers and non-existent fathers.
These are just two examples of what society has deemed acceptable in the name of justifying and exonerating adult’s sexual rights at the cost of children’s well being. But there may be even more on the horizon.
Exhibit C: States Should “Get Out Of The Marriage Business”
It is astonishing that many who adamantly oppose same-sex marriage think the solution is to entirely abolish any state recognition or regulation of marriage.
This knee jerk reaction is coming mainly from libertarian camps, but it spans across all political ideologies. If allowed, it will be more adult-centric and child-negligent in its results than any marriage adjustment society has embraced thus far. The legal structure of marriage is fundamental to children’s existence. Even when a marriage falls apart or never existed in the first place, the legal scaffolding allows children created by the union some semblance of safety and recourse. Without that legal safety net they have nothing.
A century ago in Russia, the public prosecutor’s argument went like this: “Why should the State know who marries whom? Of course, if living together and not [sic] registration is taken as the test of a married state, polygamy and polyandry may exist; but the State can’t put up any barriers against this. Free love is the ultimate aim of a socialist State; in that State marriage will be free from any kind of obligation, including economic, and will turn into an absolutely free union of two beings.“
And therein lies the attitudinal problem we are staring down the barrel of today: “an absolute free union of two beings”—two ADULT beings. Adult actions will always have an effect, for good or ill, on children. When those actions lead to disastrous results, we cannot continue to blame them on racism and poverty, label it “no-fault” or assert that #lovewins. Such adult arrogance has and will continue to have epically catastrophic repercussions on children.
Chief Justice Roberts was correct in his recent dissent when he stated:
“The human race must procreate to survive. Procreation occurs through sexual relations between a man and a woman. When sexual relations result in the conception of a child, that child’s prospects are generally better if the mother and father stay together rather than going their separate ways. Therefore, for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond. Society has recognized that bond as marriage. And by bestowing a respected status and material benefits on married couples, society encourages men and women to conduct sexual relations within marriage rather that without.”
“Marriage” cannot be placed in an adults-only silo separate from family and children. Such a divide will create an unstable society with enormous structural deficits that will echo through generations.
We have no choice; the legal structure of marriage must remain at all costs and we must never, never, tire of repeating the mantra that every child deserves a mother and a father—because being born with that silver spoon makes all the difference.