MadMen has made the moods and social mores of the 50’s and early 60s part of its story. It has received numerous awards and cirtical acclaim for its historical authenticity and visual style:
MadMen depicts parts of American society and culture of the 1960s, highlighting cigarette smoking, drinking, sexism, feminism, adultery, homophobia, and racism. There are hints of the future and the radical changes of the 1960s. Themes of alienation, social mobility and ruthlessness also underpin the tone of the show. MSNBC noted that the series “mostly remains disconnected from the outside world, so the politics and cultural trends of the time are illustrated through people and their lives, not broad, sweeping arguments.” Creator Matthew Weiner called the series science fiction in the past, reasoning that just as science fiction uses a future world to discuss issues that concern us today, Mad Men uses the past to discuss issues that concern us today that we don’t discuss openly.
Wikipedia.org, Mad Men
Of course these issues are dear to the hearts of the Hollywood liberal community so best of luck for seeing anything that reflects the state of marriage or the so-called 60s sexual revolution. We are all on the losing side of that piece of cultural history but it’s doubtful you will ever see it truthfully portrayed on TV or in the movies.
Let me give you a little 50’s report. Most of this comes from a talk by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, of the Ruth Institute, which I took notes on. Despite all the 50s sexism the oppression of women and confinement of men to dreary jobs (how much has that really changed?), mothers and fathers were there. Fathers went to work came home at night mostly sober. And they slept in same bed. Only one home – mom’s house was dad’s house. So there was no problem for kids to figure out how to behave with Dad’s girlfriends or mom’s new guy.
We played in safe neighborhoods. And we were allowed to roam about at our own will. If I played on a school team or in the PAL (Police Athletic League), I got there on my own, because it was right there at my neighborhood playground or the next neighborhood over.
It was unthinkable that parents would present us with new lovers with whom we would be forced to have a relationship. Mom and Dad argued but we never worried that those arguments would be the end of our lives together. We had brothers and sisters – real brothers and sisters not these hothouse varieties of half-brothers and half-sisters who might come and go out of our lives again.
New babies were never symbols of our parent’s new relationships, an unmistakable sign that our parents would never get back together again. Sure we were upset by the new baby taking time from us but we never dealt with the new baby as symbol who solidified the new relationship with us being relegated to being the remains of an unwanted past. We didn’t worry that new siblings would disappear if an adult relationship broke up. We grew up together with the same set of brothers and sisters who had the same parents. The kids I grew up with never had judges deciding where they would go to church or go to school. We spent Christmas and Thanksgiving with both parents, not to mention the rest of the time. None of this every-other-weekend with my Dad shit, pardon my French.
Which is not to say that childhood or adolescence was easy but compared to kids these days bearing their backpacks and shuttling between houses per court orders, I guess I’m forced to say it must have been a picnic. Part of the shift to no-fault divorce made marriage more of an adult centered institution. It used to be that marriage was for the children — that it was a gender-based institution ordered towards the procreation, rearing and protection of children. No longer.
The sociological reason for marriage is rather simple: to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. Why is that important? Because kids are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents. Imagine if we didn’t reproduce the way that we do? Say that like amoeba we sub-divided and gave birth that way. Or, say that like snakes we hatched as adults out of eggs. No reason for marriage then and it would be doubtful that anyone had ever thought of it. But we don’t give birth that way, so we attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another for the benefit of society because it is essential and it is fundamental to the kind of beings we are. We are mothers and fathers, parents, and we came up with, on a world-wide basis and across thousands of years, MARRIAGE. Marriage is who we are.
If you believe that kids are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents that means, ipso facto, you acknowledge that the child has an interest in the stability of their parent’s union. Because that union is essential to the child HAVING THAT RELATIONSHIP. That’s why you need something that will protect the child’s interest and that something, once again, is the institution of marriage. To protect the child’s interest as well as to protect both parents’ interests and their common interest in raising the child so that one parent doesn’t dash off with child and neglect the other party’s interest. This is why marriage exists as a universal human institution and this is why it is important that we start with an understanding of traditional marriage as JUSTICE FOR THE CHILD.
Same sex marriage undermines those fundamental principles that uphold the essential public purpose of marriage that I have stated above.
1. Children are ordinarily entitled to a relationship with their mothers and fathers.
Now we know this doesn’t always happen. There are reasons why the biological mothers and fathers cannot be with their children to make this happen but we have a special solution to that problem. It’s called adoption. This is a child centered institution. Or it used to be when adoption existed to give children the parents they need NOT to give adults the kids they want. The way we deal with adoptions does not undermine the basic principle that kids are still entitled to a relationship with their biological parents.
Same sex marriage claims that kids don’t need a mother and a father that they don’t need both parents. Two separate court cases now on record where judges have found for same sex marriage and have specifically said it’s a myth that children need a mother and a father. . .The supreme court of the state of Iowa specifically said that. It is what you have to say if you are to maintain that a same sex union is the equivalence of marriage between a man and a woman. Where same-sex adoption occurs is where this principle has now been recognized.
2. The next key principle of law and social practice and a consequence of number one is that is that mothers and fathers are not interchangeable, that they are not substitutes for each other. Same sex marriage advocates have to argue that a mom and a dad is the equivalent of two moms or two dads.
Dr. Jennifer Morse tells a joke about crashing the family car and she asks her audience when they called home asking if they cared if it was thier father on the line or their mother. Some audiences laugh in appreciation instantly getting the point of the father as an authority figure but back east at law schools there is no laughter because they don’ t get the point of a difference in gender. They can think of some family somewhere where that was not the case and hence invalidated the general principle for them.
If you don’t get the point of gender differences – and young people these days are trained to reject differences between men and women — they don’t see the differences between mother s and fathers. If you don’t get the point of gender in the first place you are not going to get the point of gendered marriage. This is part of the reason younger generation is being drawn to the idea that same sex marriage is an acceptable thing or even a good thing. There is a lot of sociological evidence out there that gender matters but same sex marriage proponents are undermining it.
For example there remains a lot of evidence about fatherlessness. Fatherlessness has a serious impact on the development of children and that it has a different impact on boys that it has on girls. When you look at childhood development boys and girls are always looked at differently because for every childhood milestone development boys and girls and different; boys and girls are different from the very beginning. With boys there is a heightened probability of a fatherless boy getting into trouble: juvenile delinquency , violence, gangs, getting incarcerated, going to jail –70% of guys in jail are fatherless. It’s a very serious risk factor for boys.
But this is something that same-sex marriage asks us to look past for to say that moms and dads are interchangeable hides that fact from us, renders it moot in a way. The Father’s authority is not something easily measured or calculated but for most it is a reality that can’t be ignored and in countless ways we can see it affirmed in the experiences of children who grew up with moms and dads.
The absence of fathers for girls is a totally different thing. For girls the risk is early sexualization. If you become sexually active at an earlier age there are a whole bunch of risks associated with that obviously: teen pregnancies, STDs etc. It turns out that getting your period earlier (earlier onset of menses) is often the consequence of a girl growing up fatherless. Having your biological father in the home delays the onset of menses. Having an unrelated male in the home has the opposite effect: girls get their periods earlier. Why is that? No one knows, but the facts are known. You can’t just say it is culturally determined and you can get rid of it with education or something. The very mystery of this shows that there are a lot of things going on with families that we simply don’t know about. It is mysterious and it should caution us not to go mucking about. Same-sex marriage undermines the basic social principle that mothers and fathers are not interchangeable.
3. Same sex marriage will undermine the biological principal that mothers are female and fathers are male.
The institution of marriage as currently understood contains a “presumption for paternity.” When a woman gives birth it is presumed that the man she is married to is the father. Establishing who the mother is not that complex, when a baby is born there is usually a mother around. The father is more of a problem. The institution of marriage is designed to attach the father to the baby. In 95% of the cases the man who is married to the woman is, in fact, the father of the child. Marriage is supposed to be a sexually exclusive relationship between a ma n and a woman — and if in fact it is, then the husband will be the father of all of the woman’s babies. You thereby attach the father to the child just as firmly as the mother. That is what marriage is supposed to do. It gives the same degree of permanence and security to your attachment with the father as you do with the mother.
The advocates of same sex marriage are trying to transform this presumption of paternity into a presumption of parentage. The presumption of parentage is that if I give birth to a child and I am in a same sex union then the other woman is presumed to be the other parent of that child. In a hundred percent of the cases this is of course NOT TRUE. To make this sleight of hand, the presumption of paternity becomes the presumption of parentage and it will all be the same, so it has to undermine the principle that biology is how we determine who is a mother and who is a father.
4. The fourth principle of law and social practice is that the law recognizes parenthood, but does not determine what it is.
The ordinary case is that if you give birth to a baby in a hospital, say, a little old lady comes around with a clipboard and you fill out a form and register the facts of who the mother and who the father is . You don’t ask the little old lady for permission to be the mother or father, you just ARE the mother and father. You tell the state, the state doesn’t come to you and say you count and you don’t – the state recognizes you as the mother and father.
Now the state is evolving on how to deal with a woman who has a same sex partner. There are more than a few cases where a woman has a lesbian lover and they break up. The former partner goes to court to maintain her relationship and have herself declared as a de facto parent of the child. Courts are now beginning to recognize that claim — particularly in the states who have some same-sex statute or one who has recognized these marriages. In these cases these states have begun to reinvent parenthood. So for example in the state of Washington the state came up with a four part test to determine parenthood (For example 1. Do you hold yourself out as the parent? 2. Do you contribute to the support of the child blah blah blah. )
Instead of a nice bright line on who is the parent or not we have the state getting involved trying to figure out whether some one has changed enough diapers or wiped enough noses to become a parent of a child. The whole gay legal establishment is working on establishing gay parenting rights. They go around the country looking for cases where the woman is not the adoptive mother nor the biological mother and LAMDA legal, a ga legal organization, is trying to get them parental rights – these people are NOT parents (they are not the adoptive nor the biological parent). This is not a wholesome development because if you think this is going to be confined to the 3% gay community it wouldn’t be so bad but there is no reason to believe that this will be confined to lesbian couples.
If you think we will have one set of rules for lesbian couples and another for traditional couples you will find that to be not a stable position. Dr. Jennifer Morse flat out predicts that this will start to bleed into other areas — the whole world of step-parenting, cohabitation parenting and all kinds of issues are now going to be up for grabs and the state will be deciding who counts as a parent rather than registering parents.
The last thing Dr. Morse covers is a peek into the future that attempts to reveal the problems that will be caused by undermining these 4 principles I’ve listed above. I can see same-sex marriage advocates going nutz here because there is no proof to any of this but a simple and powerful observation that says this is where we are now and it will probably get worse.
- Marriage will separate children from their parents. Rather than children having an entitlement for being in relationship with their parents. Marriage will become the vehicle for separating them from one of their parents.
How does a lesbian have a baby? Usually with an anonymous sperm donor. If the child’s other parent is a woman then that means the male sperm donor is being pushed out of the way. Marriage is the union that will be doing the separating. So instead of marriage attaching children to their parents, marriage will separate them from their parents. This is not a wholesome development.
2. If the law is going to be saying that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, it will probably not have the same impact on mothers as it it will on fathers. The impact will be to further marginalize fathers from the family. Same sex marriage will finally become the vehicle that pushes men out of the family for good. We have already said that the father’s attachment is the one that is more problematic and if they (mothers and fathers) are going to be equal it will be the father’s attachment, the weaker, that will be sacrificed.
I heartily concur with this. When people see two women raising a child the reaction more often than not is who needs a father. But when people see two men raising a child no one says who needs a mother.
The UK and Canada have same-sex marriage. In the UK when a woman came forth to be artificially inseminated there used to be (prior to same-sex marriage being recognized) a requirement/a rule that an affidavit be signed stating that the child’s need for a father figure would be satisfied. Wasn’t much of a requirement but it was a gesture towards fatherhood. When same-sex marriage was passed this requirement was abolished for fear that it was offensive to lesbian couples.
More ominously, when same-sex marriage was passed in Canada they also changed the birth certificate. Mother’s info on the top and on the bottom “Father Or Co-Parent’s Information.” Fatherhood was diminished to a check box.
3. One of the negative results of undoing biology,undermining the biological principal that mothers are female and fathers are male will be the rise of triple or multiple parenting. When you throw out the mom is female and dad is male understanding of marriage, the more natural grouping will become the two lesbian couples and the male sperm donor, whoever he may be. If the sperm donor is in fact a gay man with a partner you could wind up with four. There have been cases in PA and in Canada where three parents have been assigned by a court.
The same sex union cannot produce a child. It has to have a third party so the problem becomes what about that third party. If we throw them out completely then the child has no relationship with a father. And if we don’t throw them out completely, we have a much more complex configuration of parenthood and quite frankly we have no idea what we are walking into. There is no reason to assume that because the parents are happy that everything is going to be wonderful. Remember that was the thinking in no-fault divorce and look where that got us. Divorce was not harmful to children as long as the parents were happy – that’s what the studies said. Same studies exist today – very minimal evidence and HUGE conclusions on how great gay parents are.
4. The scope of the state’s power over society will be expanded greatly by the introduction of same sex marriage.
When the state takes it upon itself to decide who counts as a parent (principle four) the state is interfering with a natural order. There is a natural order to a mother and a father and the state is going to take over that little realm to itself, substituting a naturally existing thing something it has invented itself. Defacto parent is something no one has ever heard of (mommy and daddy are fine). So the state is solving a problem it itself has caused. Just as the state is intrusive now deciding where kids spend Thanksgiving and Christmas etc , how much money dad spends whether he is allowed to attend little league games – all because of the breakdown of traditional marriage from no-dault divorce.
Same sex marriage is fundamentally an artificial creation of the state. Natural marriage has a depth and integrity of its own. Natural marriage can sustain itself whereas same sex marriage is a creation of the state and has to be sustained by the state. The state has to come and intervene to make sure that you are teaching children that same sex couples are the same as opposite sex couples. The state gets involved in education, it gets involved n civil society. A wedding photographer in New Mexico where they don’t even have same sex marriage – a lesbian coupled comes in and says we would like you to take photos of our commitment ceremony and the photographer says I’d rather not do that. The lesbian couple hauls him up in front of a civil rights commission and he lost.
There are cases where the Knights of Columbus are asked to rent their hall for a wedding ceremony and they said no. They were fined by the provincial government of Canada.
The last example is a beauty. The Quebec Policy Against Homophobia states that the government of Quebec should wipe out all evidence of heteronormativity. When the government of Quebec gives itself a blank check to wipe out all evidence that heterosexuality is normal they have gotten a blank check to intervene in every aspect of human life. Their goal is to wipe out heteronormativity in the school, in the workplace, in the family and on the sporting field. Quite simply this is none of the government’s business to be dealing with what people are thinking on the sporting field. Peruse the government white paper in the link above if you don’t believe me.
I have two take-aways from Dr. Morse’s talk. One is that DOMAs (Defense of Marriage Acts) need to do much more than one-man-one-woman. We need to put something of the “for life” ending to that back in our understanding of marriage. We really need to send a signal to young people that their parents’ idea of marriage was not only crappy but wrong. We need to start rolling back no-fault divorce. And same-sex marriage opponents need to stop focusing on the suitability of gays for the marriage of institution. The issue is MARRIAGE and Dr. Morse needs to be quoted more often in any discussion of same-sex marriage and its effects on marriage. This is about kids and their rights to a stable relationship with their mothers and fathers.