John M. Smoot

Children need our marriage tradition

John M. Smoot
By John Smoot
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June 19, 2013 (thePublicDiscourse) - In the United States, we were fortunate to inherit a marriage tradition of monogamy with a strong stigma against divorce. Did it work for everyone? No. Did it work for our society as a whole? Yes. Was it beneficial for most children? Yes.

Then the sexual revolution happened. As Yale Professor George Chauncey writes in his article “Gay at Yale: How Things Changed”:

All around them, lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men saw their heterosexual friends decisively rejecting the moral codes of their parents’ generation, which had limited sex to marriage, and forging a new moral code that linked sex to love, pleasure, freedom, self-expression, and common consent. Heterosexuals, in other words, were becoming more like homosexuals, in ways that ultimately would make it harder for them to believe gay people were outsiders from a dangerous, immoral underworld. Moreover, the fact that so many young heterosexuals considered sexual freedom to be a vital marker of personal freedom made lesbians and gay men feel their quest for freedom was part of a larger movement. Ultimately, both gay people’s mass decision to come out and heterosexuals’ growing acceptance of them were encouraged by the sexual revolution and became two of its most enduring legacies. I think this did not represent the assimilation of gay life into the Normal so much as the transformation of the Normal itself.

Chauncey is right; we transformed the “Normal.” We created a “new Normal.” The mantra of the revolution, “If it feels good, do it,” ultimately weakened the institution of marriage with its inherent restraints and responsibilities, ballooned the divorce rate, and brought the number of out-of-wedlock births to 40 percent of all children born in America. All of which translates into poverty, crime, and suffering.

Over the course of twenty-one years as a judge in Boston, I granted thousands of divorces and heard thousands of cases involving children of unmarried parents. Yes, there were adults and children who benefited from divorce just as there were children of single parent families who did fine or excelled. Overall, however, the revolution that encouraged “pleasure, freedom, [and] self-expression” brought an immense amount of pain and misery. Was it bad for everyone? No. Was it bad for millions? Yes.

Social policy and cultural change have an impact on all of us. And clearly, the impact is not always for the good. Now, we are transforming marriage by eliminating its inherent gender distinctions.

Male and Female  

Marriage has been between males and females in virtually every society in the history of mankind, regardless of time, geography, race, tribe, social structure, religion, or absence of religion (e.g., in communist countries). Even in societies like ancient Greece that did not attach a stigma to homosexual behavior, people of the same sex never married. As for those times when homosexual activity was apparently widespread, those periods tell us that culture matters: It’s unlikely that more people were genetically same-sex attracted in ancient Greece than they are today (if genetics are at all responsible for same-sex attraction), but because the ancient Greeks understood that it would be impossible for any same-sex relationship to be a marriage, their acceptance of same-sex relationships never translated into changing a fundamental institution of their society.

The essence of marriage has always incorporated a gender difference—male and female—and the purpose has been to bring men and women together for life for children. All the arguments for a “new normal” take us away from gender distinctions or confuse gender with something else.

Laws prohibiting interracial marriage, for example, were horribly wrong because the racial makeup of a man and a woman intent on marriage is irrelevant, as there are no inherent differences among races. This injustice concerning miscegenation has no relevance to the same-sex marriage issue unless you also say that there are no inherent differences between a man and a woman. And further, that gender difference is not a biological reality but a social construct imposed by society.

What’s the Big Deal?

The harms that will follow approval of same-sex marriage have been spelled out clearly and concisely by others. See for example, Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George’s argument in What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

There are, however, two specific harms that I believe are often overlooked in most discussions of marriage, and they both involve gender.

Children

We need to be careful not to project our adult understandings onto children. They will develop identities based on the culture around them, not on the culture we grew up in. In the past, boys knew that if they married when they grew up, they would marry a woman; and girls knew that if they married when they grew up, they would marry a man. Children understood that marriage brought men and women together to form families because every aspect of our culture conveyed that message. There was nothing automatic about it. Change the culture, and you change the outcome.

What will our culture teach children now? How will parents answer children’s questions? If Billy says, “Do you think I might marry Timmy when I grow up?” what is the answer? “We’ll have to wait and see what your sexual orientation is and what Timmy’s sexual orientation is”? Or “If you get married, it will probably be to a girl”? Instead of a clear foundation for building their self-understanding, the children will receive nebulous answers.

The educational system will be an authoritative source of insecurity for children. Planned Parenthood, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Future of Sex Education (FoSE) are powerful national organizations bonded together to promote not just sex education but also “gender education” to our young. These groups have produced the National Sexuality Education Standards “to address the inconsistent implementation of sexuality education nationwide.”

Under these standards, children ages eight to ten will be taught to “define sexual orientation as romantic attraction to an individual of the same gender or of a different gender.”

Children ages ten to twelve will be taught, among other things, to

  1. Differentiate between gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  2. Analyze external influences that have an impact on one’s attitudes about gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
  3. Access accurate information about gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
  4. Communicate respectfully with and about people of all gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations.

Throughout these and other guidelines published by national sex and gender education groups, there is an emphasis on teaching young children three identities, underscoring a distinction between each person’s biological sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This “three identity” approach may help some students, but it will damage the vast majority of them.

In fact, the “three identities” approach will confuse us all. For example, Massachusetts has a new transgender directive about the use of bathrooms and locker rooms. Suppose someone has a male body, a female gender, and a lesbian sexual orientation. Does that person use the girl’s locker room or the boy’s? This is not said in jest or with a trace of sarcasm. The issues are too important and the people involved are too important. Helping children who have gender questions navigate the world is laudable, but we need to do it in a way that demonstrates a caring and a love for all of the children.

These gender standards or a version thereof are coming to a community near you. The goal of the “gender education” groups is to wrest control of education from local communities and parents and move the curriculum to a more centralized authority.

Last month, a bill was filed in Congress (H.R. 1652) entitled the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). It has the backing of the American Association of University Women; the American Federation of Teachers; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; the NAACP; the National Association of School Psychologists; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the National Council of La Raza; the National Education Association; and the National Women’s Law Center.

SNDA would bring the Massachusetts gender model to all public schools across the country, prohibiting discrimination against any student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill authorizes lawsuits and permits federal authorities to intercede if necessary.

The same effort is underway in many states that still allow local communities and parents a voice in sex and gender education. Even Massachusetts allows for a certain amount of local control but a bill is pending to eliminate local community influence and impose statewide standards.

If local control cannot be taken by legislation or administrative directives, litigation will be employed. For example, the ACLU recently sued an elementary school in Utah because it removed a book about a lesbian couple from the school’s library shelves and made the book available by request only. The school settled the lawsuit and put the book back on display.

The drive to control sex and gender education in local school systems is and will continue to be relentless. The forces behind this movement are smart, powerful, and well-funded, often with millions of taxpayer dollars.

Marriage Matters

Now that television shows, movies, books, songs, the educational system, and most of our other cultural influences are promoting gay life, marriage is the last institution in which gender matters. Marriage, although damaged by the sexual revolution, still carries residual power to bring men and women together and bind them to their children. Eliminating gender removes a key ingredient in helping children recognize this.

A society that puts children first does not teach young girls that they might grow up to marry a woman and young boys that they might grow up to marry a man, because sexual orientations are far more fragile than people think and, for many, not nearly as immutable as some have claimed.

It is and has been critical to the LGBT movement to hammer home the message that sexual orientation is genetically based and immutable. However, University of California psychologist, Gregory Herek, who is himself gay and who has testified before Congress on issues concerning sexual prejudice, has stated that

The nature vs. nurture debate really is passé. The debate is not really an either/or debate in the vast majority of cases, but how much of each. We don't know how big a role biology plays and how big a role culture plays. A possibility not often discussed is it’s not the same for everybody.

In other words, culture influences the formation of sexual orientation. For some, the influence may be close to insignificant, and for others, it may be highly significant.

When “gender education” and graphic descriptions of all forms of heterosexual and homosexual sexual activity are combined with classroom books in which a Prince marries a Prince and cultural influences such as Katy Perry’s hit song “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It,” then yes, numerous children will be mixed up about and preoccupied with their gender and sexual orientation. Studies have already shown a substantial increase in girls identifying as bisexual or lesbian. Conjugal marriage is the last defense against total gender confusion.

Commodity Futures

The second harm that is often overlooked, as Alana Newman has addressed here on Public Discourse, is that same-sex marriage will enshrine in our culture the ongoing industrialization of collecting and distributing sperm and eggs. This would include perpetuating the callous practice of anonymous gamete sales. Unlike adoption, whereby a child already born is placed in a home, the sperm- or egg-purchase method deliberately creates a child but separates him or her from one half of “who he or she is,” as numerous donor-conceived children describe their experience.

Same-sex couples need a third person, often a fourth in the case of men, to bring a child into the world. Sanctioning same-sex marriage will result in the state mandating equal treatment for and acceptance of same-sex procreation methods. The refrain “marriage equality” is already followed by a demand for “reproductive equality.”

In response to the emotional pain and frustration experienced by infertile heterosexual couples, several states have required health insurance providers to cover infertility treatments. Now “infertility,” once considered a medical problem, must, like marriage, be redefined (or renamed) to encompass gay couples. For example, the California State Assembly recently approved a bill requiring that insurance coverage for the treatment of infertility must also be extended to gay couples.

In a recent article, “It Is Time for the U.S. to Cover IVF (for Gays and Lesbians Too),” Dov Fox, an academic fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, and I. Glenn Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Law School, deploy a new term, “dysfertilty,” to emphasize a “social” rather than a “biological” obstacle to reproduction. They acknowledge that “dysfertility fits less comfortably within the medical model.” But they ask “why should that alone make less worthy the desires of gays and lesbians to have a genetic child?”

Under this theory all gays, or at least married gays, are deemed to be “infertile,” and “reproductive inequalities” need to be addressed through subsidized infertility treatment which means more sperm and egg sales. The sperm and egg industry is already a potent and unregulated billion-dollar business. Supported by powerful gay activist groups, the industry will grow and prosper with a state seal of approval through mandates and subsidies.

Furthermore, the sperm and egg business will have to be cast in a positive light to young people in sex education classes. What was once deeply personal territory must be explained because of biological reality. Children will want to know how it is that many same-sex couples have children. The answers will have to be judgment-free and children will buy into a fiction that nice men and women “donate” sperm and eggs for altruistic reasons and everyone lives happily ever after, when, in fact, the reality is far more complicated. The message conveyed, perhaps subtle and unintended, will be that these generous gamete “donors” are to be emulated.

Conclusion

Contrary to prevailing “groupthink” messaging, you can love and respect your gay friends, relatives, and neighbors and strongly oppose redefining marriage. Moreover, you can marvel at the beauty of all children no matter how conceived and still be strongly opposed to any cultural change that will bolster an industry that treats human beings as commodities to be bought and sold.

Click "like" if you support TRADITIONAL marriage.

John M. Smoot served as a trial court judge of Boston’s Probate and Family Court from 1990 to 2012. He currently serves as a mediator at Boston Area Mediation and blogs at Peter’s Bench. This article reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse

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Dr. Miriam Grossman speaks to large audience in Mississauga, Ontario Steve Jalsevac/LifeSite
Lianne Laurence

VIDEO: How DO you to talk to kids about sex? US sex-ed critic gives practical tips

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

MISSISSAUGA, ON, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Talking to their children about sex is “anxiety provoking to say the least,” for parents, says American sex-ed expert, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

“Some people just can’t even do it, and that’s okay,” the New York-based psychiatrist told the crowd of 1,000 who packed a Mississauga conference hall August 18 to hear her critique of the Ontario Liberal government’s controversial sex-ed curriculum.

After Grossman explained how the Liberal sex-ed curriculum is dangerously flawed and ideologically driven, she used the question-and-answer session to give parents much appreciated and sometimes humorous practical advice on how to teach their children about “the birds and the bees.”

“If you feel you can’t do it, maybe there’s someone else in the family or in the constellation of people that you know you can trust that could do it,” said Grossman, author of “You’re teaching my child WHAT?” and an internationally sought-after speaker on sex education.

A child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist with 12 years’ clinical experience treating students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) clinic, Grossman said explaining sexuality and procreation to children is “a process,” that “shouldn’t ideally happen all at once. A child is not a miniature adult, and absorbs…new information differently than adults do.”

And parents need to be sure just what their child wants to know.

To illustrate this, Grossman referred to her earlier story about a father who gave his son every detail on human procreation after the boy asked him, “Dad, where do I come from?”

After the father finished, his son replied, “Well, that’s funny, because Johnny told me that he came from Montreal.”

“Try to find out what your child is really getting at, and, don’t give it all at once,” Grossman said. “You start with a little bit at a time…and you know, there’s so many variables here, and people have their own traditions and their own ways of explaining things, and something that might be right for my family might not be right for your family.”

She also advised that, when confronted with a four, five, six or seven-year-old asking about a pregnant woman, or where babies come, a parent can ask, “What a good question that is. What do you think?”

And parents can also legitimately put off the discussion when appropriate, telling the child, “That’s really not something you need to know about right now.”

“Wow, what a novel idea: Telling a child that they could wait until they’re older to discuss that subject,” Grossman said, adding that parents wouldn’t brook a six- or even fifteen-year-old child asking how much money they made or had in the bank. “Excuse me? Not every subject has to be an open book.”

However, the time will come when a child needs to know “about how her body’s going to change, about reproduction, about how a new life is created.”

That time, Grossman advised, is puberty, or “as puberty is beginning,” and this is especially so for girls, who, if unprepared for the surprise onset of menstruation “might think [they’re] dying.”

“The actual nitty-gritty about the birds and the bees and intercourse” can “be told in bits and pieces, or it can be told all at once, if you feel it’s necessary,” she said, adding that it’s beneficial if the parent acknowledges his or her awkwardness, because the child will think: “This must be such an important subject that my mother or my father is sitting there squirming, but he’s doing it anyway. I’m really loved.”

“And the children need to understand that as you grow up, you change a lot, not only physically but emotionally,” Grossman said, “and what may seem odd or disgusting when you’re ten years old, or whatever age, it becomes something very special and beautiful when you’re older and you’ll understand it later. You don’t have to understand it now.”


Know your child and guard your home

But as an essential foundation for this discussion, parents must both know their children and guard their home from the encroachments of a culture that Grossman described as “very, very sexualized” and “really horrible.”

“Children need parents who are loving but are also firm and authoritative,” she asserted.  “They don’t need best friends. They need us to guide them, to know what they’re doing, to be on top of what they’re doing.

So parents need to be aware of whom their child is “hanging around with, and what kind of movies are they watching…what’s going on with your child.”

“You need to know that anyway, even if it’s not about sex education,” she pointed out. “Try and know your child. Every child is different.”

And Grossman emphasized that it is “extremely important to be careful about what your child is exposed to in the home, in terms of television and Internet, obviously.”

Children need to understand that “just like you have garbage you take out of the house, you put it in the garbage bin, it’s dirty, it smells…there are other things that also don’t belong in the house.”

And children learn quickly what is, and is not, permissible inside the home, Grossman said. “Me, I keep kosher…If I go into a store, my kids know from a very young age, we don’t eat that.”

So they are used to the idea of “the world outside and the inside world, of inside your home, and inside your heart as well.”

Parents can also convey this by telling their children that “the world is an upside-down place, and sometimes the most special, holy subjects are…just thrown in the gutter. And that’s a bad thing. In our family, in our tradition, we don’t do that.”

“Sexuality is one of the subjects that in this upside-down world, it is sometimes just in the gutter,” she said. “And so I want you to tell your child to come to me when you have questions, I will give you the straight story about it.”

Grossman herself is “not even sure,” as she stated in her seminar, that sex education should be in the schools: “I believe sex education should be at home for those parents that want to do it.”

She also noted that parents “can make mistakes. We all make lots of mistakes but it’s okay, you can always come back and do it differently,” adding that this is “another wonderful message for your child. You know what, it’s okay to make mistakes, you can always go back and try and fix it.”

Grossman urged parents to visit her Facebook page, website and blog. “I have so much information you can get there that you’ll find useful,” and added that she will be publishing books for children, and has posted her critique of New York City’s sex-ed curriculum, which is similar to Ontario’s.

The parental backlash to that sex-ed curriculum, set to roll out in the province’s publicly funded schools this September, has been “amazing” Grossman noted.

Grossman’s seminar was sponsored by Mississauga-based HOWA Voice of Change along with the Canadian Families Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than 25 associations and 200,000 Ontarians opposed to the curriculum. The report on her devastating critique of the sex-ed curriculum can be found here, and the video here.

Ontario readers may find information and sign up for a September 2 province-wide protests at MPPs offices here. So far, there are protests planned for 92 of Ontario’s 107 constituencies. The parents’ movement seeking removal of the curriculum is urging all concerned citizens to join this special effort to influence individual Ontario legislators.

See related reports:

Ontario’s dangerous sex-ed is indoctrination not science says U.S. psychiatrist to large audience

Videos: US psychiatrist tells parents “stand firm” against dangerous sex-ed

See the LifeSiteNews feature page on the Ontario sex-ed curriculum containing nearly 100 LifeSite articles related to the issue

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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Did the pope just endorse a gay children’s book? Of course not, says Vatican

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

ROME, August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- While mainstream media is gushing with news today that Pope Francis allegedly praised a children’s book that promotes gender theory, the Vatican is decrying what they called the "manipulation" of a cordial letter from an official in the Secretariat of State to suggest that the Vatican is promoting teachings contrary to the Gospel.

Italian children’s author Francesca Pardi was reported by The Guardian to have submitted a parcel of children’s books promoting the acceptance of homosexuality and gender theory to Pope Francis in June after Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro publicly banned the author’s newest book, Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg), from children’s schools. The book was criticized by pro-family leaders for promoting non-natural family structures of two men and two women.

In a letter accompanying the books, Pardi wrote: “Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us. We have respect for Catholics. ... A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”

The Guardian is reporting that Pardi has now “found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis,” who through his staff has responded to the author and is presented as “praising her work.” It quotes the following from a July 9 letter to Pardi from the Vatican.

“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B. Wells, a senior official at the Vatican Secretariat of State, in a the letter The Guardian is reporting it has seen.  

While the letter gently calls the author to use her talents to spread “genuine human and Christian values,” The Guardian takes it as the pope’s endorsement of gender theory.

“Pope Francis sends letter praising gay children's book,” the paper’s headline states. “Italian book that explores different family types including same sex was banned by mayor of Venice, but pontiff becomes unlikely supporter,” reads the subtitle.

In a press release that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi sent to LifeSiteNews on Friday, the vice speaker of the Vatican, Ciro Benedettini, made clear that the friendly reply letter to the author in no way approves of attitudes or positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching and the Gospels.

The Vatican's statement also says that in the original letter from the secretariat of state Wells merely "acknowledged receipt" of the materials sent by Pardi, and also made clear that the letter was private and not meant for publication. 

"In no way does a letter from the Secretary of State intend to endorse behaviors and teachings not in keeping with the Gospel," says the statement, decrying the "manipulation" of the letter.

Benedettini said the blessing of the pope at the end of the letter was meant to be for the author herself, and not to affirm positions concerning gender theory that are contrary to the Church's teaching. Using the letter to this end is erroneous, he said.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned the notion of “gender theory” on numerous occasions, saying that it is an “error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

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Poll suggests most US Catholics wrongly believe Pope Francis backs gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

August 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A considerable majority of U.S. Catholics are in conflict with Church teaching on abortion and marriage, a new study says, and a startling number of those also believe Pope Francis backs homosexual “marriage.”

Despite Church teachings, Catholics in America also closely parallel the general populace in their support for abortion and homosexual “marriage,” falling short in the Biblical call to be “in the world but not of the world.”

The findings suggest what many Catholics have said is a climate of confusion in the midst of the Francis pontificate. Concerns over that confusion prompted a coalition of pro-family groups to respond with an international petition effort asking the pope to reaffirm Church teaching, drawing more than a half-million signatures.

The survey, conducted by Public Religions Research Institute, found that 60 percent of all U.S. Catholics favor legalized homosexual “marriage,” compared to 55 percent of all Americans. Likewise, 51 percent of Catholics think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 53 percent of the general population holding this view.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacramental union between one man and one woman, mirroring Christ and the Church respectively as bridegroom and bride.

The Church also teaches that life begins at conception, that each human life possesses dignity as a child of God and is to be afforded protection, making abortion an intrinsic evil.

Catholics, accounting for 22 percent of adults in the U.S. population, have a favorable view of Pope Francis, the study said, but they are very confused about his take on homosexual “marriage.”

Of the Catholics who back homosexual “marriage,” 49-percent also think the leader of the Catholic Church backs it along with them. Fifteen percent of those Catholics who oppose homosexual “marriage” also mistakenly believe Pope Francis supports it.

Pope Francis has made numerous statements in support of life, marriage and family, but the confusion remains.

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"After Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court both approved same-sex 'marriage,' a strong reaffirmation of Church teaching could save the sacred institution of marriage, strengthen the family and dispel the lies of the homosexual revolution," TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie stated.  "Young Catholics -- even non-Catholics -- look to the Church as a beacon of morality and stability in our Godless culture, but some of our shepherds have issued confusing statements."

TFP Student Action is a part of the lay Catholic organization American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and is part of the alliance behind the Filial Appeal, the petition asking the Holy Father to reinforce Catholic teaching at the Vatican’s upcoming Synod on the Family in October.

Ritchie explained how the confusion was aiding the Church’s enemies, and warned of the potential consequences.

"This prayerful petition asks Pope Francis to clear up the moral confusion that's been spreading against Natural and Divine Law," he said. "If the enemies of the family continue to chip away at holy matrimony, the future of the family and civilization itself will be in even more serious peril."

At press time more than 500,000 signature had been gathered for the appeal, including five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of well-known civic leaders.

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