Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yes, And?

It is common for those who oppose same-sex marriage to ground their opposition in a purported belief that all children should be raised by a man and a woman. That is, they disapprove of unions that "intentionally deprive" children of the man-woman gender duo. The basis for this belief, often grounded in the mythical theory of "gender complementary," is that men and women are very different beings who each bring different parenting and spousal characteristics to a relationship and parenting unit.

When pressed for specifics, adherents of this theory are hard-pressed to provide concrete examples as to what, exactly, it is that a man, for instance, gives to his children that no woman could, and vice versa. Other than the circular "men bring their ability to model to boys how to be a man" argument, they usually just make general claims like, "Men tend to be strong, disciplinarian, and [insert other gender stereotype" and "Women tend to be compassionate, nurturing, and [insert other gender stereotype]." Unable to think beyond the gender binary, adherents of this theory often believe that men and women are opposites; their simple either/or thinking blinds them to the reality that incredible varation exists within gender and that what holds true for some women (or men) doesn't hold true for all.

In their Amicus Brief in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, anti-gay organizations Liberty Counsel, Campaign For Children and Families, and Jonah, Inc., this ideology is exemplified. In short, they claimed that "male gender identity and female gender identity are each uniquely important to a child's development." In order to ensure proper development, they concluded, each child needs a mother and a father, something same-sex unions do not provide.

From a legal standpoint, this argument is used to try to support the idea that same-sex marriage bans are not motivated by anti-gay animus, but rather, concern for the development of children. It does not matter to these folks that studies of children of same-sex parents consistently show that such kids do pretty well actually. What matters is strict adherence to that commensense self-evident truth that holds that men and women are very very different.

The brief begins:

"We live in a world demarcated by two genders. There is no third or intermediate category. Sex is binary. A healthy developing boy needs to affirm and embrace his maleness."

Despite the alleged existence of these two discrete genders/sexes, the bulk of this section of the brief is dedicated to boys and men. It's not until several pages in that we learn what the healthy developing girl needs; a typical subtext demontrating that one gender tends to be an afterthought in some circles.

Aside from the male-centrism, the other glaring errors in these few sentences are (a) the conflation of sex and gender and (b) the claim that no intermediate category of sex/gender exists. With respect to gender, by which I mean roles and characteristics of individuals, most humans fall into intermediate categories of what is considered "male" and "female" roles and behaviors. Is there a person among us who exists as a complete and total caricature of masculinity or femininity, however that happens to be defined in a particular society? With respect to sex, by which I mean biology and genetics, it is also a statement of fact that humans exist with chromosomes other than XX or XY and sex characteristics outside of the statistical norm of woman/vagina and man/penis.

Rather than acknowleding this reality, the brief cites as "proof" of its claims about sex and gender, not a scientific journal, but a Christian book about the dangers of the Homosexual Agenda that is authored by the founder of anti-gay group Liberty Counsel.

Nonetheless, sex is binary, the argument goes, therefore sexual expression and gender identity is binary. Gender identity is fixed as two very different and discrete categories: male and female. The brief continues, by undercutting its own argument:

"Without question, some boys have more difficulty embracing their maleness than girls do their femaleness, and this may explain, in part, why male homosexuals far outnumber female lesbians." [Emphasis added]

On this sentence alone, I could write pages. But don't worry, I'll spare you. First, note that qualifier. "Some." It greatly diminishes the claim being made. Indeed, who could argue that the "some" boys have more difficulty embracing the masculine role society has constructed for boys than girls have embracing the feminine role? Without question, indeed. And, playing that game, I would likewise argue that, without question "some" girls have more difficulty embracing the feminine role than boys do embracing the masculine role.

Or, say, without question some Christians really do just hate gay people and write idiotic Amicus briefs to uphold a gender binary that supports heterosexual male dominance.

What? I said "some" not all. Aren't qualifiers fun?

My point here is that this sort of wishy-washy weaselly-worded statement tells us nothing, actually, about the alleged greater preponderance of gay men than lesbians. And qualifiers aside, it was a statistic, mind you, that the authors didn't even feel compelled to share with the Court, instead citing as a reference reparative-therapy advocate Joseph Nicolosi's "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality."

So, right there we know where this brief is heading. Indeed, it continues:

"Homosexuality in boys often stems from gender nonconformity."

Does it "stem from" gender nonconformity, or does it co-exist with it? Unfortunately, this distinction flies over the heads of the brief's authors as they cite a 1981 study that found "'Childhood gender nonconformity turns out to be a very strong predictor of adult sexual preference among.... males.'" Okay, but a predictor is not necessarily a cause. Perhaps, say, gender nonconformity and homosexuality have the same cause?

The brief then spends several pages discussing how boys need to property identify with their fathers in order to not become gay. For instance, sociologist David Popenoe is cited:

"'[F]athers tend to stress competition, challenge, initiative, risk-taking and independence. Mothers in their care-taking roles, in contrast, stress emotional security and personal safety." [Emphasis added].

Notice how a trend (fathers "tend to") has become a fixed and opposing category of what all fathers are like and how that contrasts with what mothers are like- as though no father, ever in the history of ever has cared, or is capable of caring, about emotional security and personal safety and no mother ever in the whole entire world has fostered competition, challenge, initiative, risk-taking and independence.

The brief continues by noting that while improper father-son bonding and modeling doesn't necessarily "doom" a boy to homosexuality, it "may predispose the young boy to homosexuality considerations." And herein lies the real fear about what will happen to children of same-sex couples.

[Oh, afterthought time! Lesbianism. It's finally explained! As a feminist political choice (Hear that, ladeez?! Party in Fannie's Room like it's 1975!), as a result of male abuse, or as a result of being raised by an immature, aloof, or weak mother who taught her daughter that it's sucky to be a woman.]

Anyway, if we remember the original claim being made here, that each child "needs a mother and a father," we can see now that this brief has finally offered us concrete reason as to why. In short, "[s]ame-sex marriage guarantees that a child will be deprived of either the same or opposite [sic] sex parent. Such deprivation is inherently harmful to the child."

What is the resulting harm?

If children, especially boys, are not raised by a parent of each sex, they are likely to be "doomed" to becoming gay.

Remember when Judge Walker struck down Prop 8 because the evidenced demonstrated that it was enacted on the assumption that same-sex couples, and by extension LGB people, are inferior to heterosexual ones and how, responding to that, Chuck Cooper and the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage said that Judge Walker "defames" everyone, yes everyone, who believes in "traditional marriage"? Given the really big question Liberty Counsel's Amicus brief begs, it's interesting that Cooper and NOM didn't properly qualify that statement.

It's all good though. Creepy Cat In A Box judges all who judge others for being homo parents who rear homo and "gender nonconforming" kids:


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