Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


The Curious Case of the Incurious Economists

I just found out that I have been published over at The American Thinker. I'm very excited, as they have very intelligent readers over there.  Here is the beginning of the article.
Normally, economists and libertarians take pride in tracking the changes in incentives as far through society as possible. Yet on the subject of same-sex marriage, these economists seemed uncharacteristically incurious. They seem to think same sex-marriage will affect only the handful of people who 1) currently identify themselves as gay or lesbian, 2) are partnered, and 3) want to get married. My economist friends do not seem to see that redefining marriage will create changes in the social incentive structure for everyone. If I'm right, the behavior of many millions of people could be in play. Permitting people to form same-sex unions will not be the last change to the legal landscape. The entire culture, including the coercive apparatus of the state, will be pressed into service to promote same-sex relationships as wholly unexceptional.
Read the whole thing here.

Speaking of Maggie Gallagher

Her column today is really good. Do we Care about Boys? she wonders.
every sign that boys or men are hurting gets determinedly turned around into a happy news story of female success. The disconnect between the happy headlines and the reality underneath will only be solved by women. The irony of men is that they cannot defend themselves or organize around their own systemic, gendered problems. Putting their own gender in the position of "the weaker sex" unmans them -- and also makes them deeply unattractive to women. It's not going to happen. the only way we are going to identify the new problem that has no name, own it, and do something about it, is if women with power make it a cause of our own. We have sons as well as daughters, nephews as well as nieces. We want husbands and fathers for ourselves or for our children who are confident, successful males and good family men willing and able to work hard to support those families. The problem is not that women are doing well, it's that boys are doing badly. The two genders cannot be pitted against one another without all of us losing.... women are not necessarily happy about male failure. Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers' 2007 study, "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," notes that "By many objective measures the lives of women in the United States have improved over the past 35 years, yet we show that measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men."When men fail, fewer women get married. Since 1970, the proportion of 30- to 44-year-olds who are married dropped from 84 percent to 60 percent. What's next? Ask black women. In 1970, black wives were already more educated than their husbands, and just 62 percent of black people aged 30 to 44 then were married. By 2007 that figure had plunged to 33 percent. Fewer than one out of three black Americans in prime marrying/childbearing years is now married. This is one core reason why out-of-wedlock birthrates are so high.
Cooperation, not competition, between men and women. Respect for men and their contributions. Understanding and correcting the root causes of out-of-wedlock childbearing. These are the issues that got Maggie and I both into the marriage movement in the first place.  And these are among the core values of the Ruth Institute. Read her whole article here.  And read about the Ruth Institute here.

The Great Debate Goes to Colorado

My friend and colleague Maggie Gallagher will be debating same sex marriage at the University of Colorado. She will be debating Jonathan Rauch. The debate will take place on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Cristol Chemistry building on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, hosted by the Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Colorado. I did an event a couple of years ago at this very same center, and I had a blast. They are really outstanding people at the Thomas Aquinas Center, including Father Kevin:
Fr. Kevin Augustyn, the director of campus ministry at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center, explained the motives for organizing the debate. He said the Catholic Church has a “long history” of public debate on important ideas and issues. “Given the growing national interest in the same-sex marriage debate, the Catholic Center has decided to provide a forum to openly discuss the merits of both sides of this issue, on the campus of Colorado’s flagship university,” he continued. “In the tradition of the Catholic Center’s patron saint, St. Thomas Aquinas, who intelligently and fervently engaged the ideas and controversies of his day and age with grace, we hope to provide a stimulating intellectual discussion on the same-sex marriage debate,” Fr. Augustyn said.
I hope all my friends in Colorado will take advantage of this great opportunity to hear a well-reasoned and civil debate on this important topic.

If sexual orientation is the same as race...

If sexual orientation is the same as race, why don't we ever hear about African Americans renouncing blackness and embracing whiteness? Or some other race?  (see previous post.) Just wondering.

The Miller Jenkins case

The judge in the Miller Jenkins custody case has given Lisa Miller 30 days to appear in court.
A judge gave a Virginia woman at the center of a long-running lesbian custody dispute 30 days to appear in court with her 7-year-old daughter or face possible arrest. Judge William Cohen of Vermont Family Court made the ruling in response to a request by Janet Jenkins to hold her former partner, Lisa Miller, in contempt after Ms. Miller failed to turn over the child, Isabella, to Ms. Jenkins on Jan. 1. The couple broke up in 2003, and Ms. Miller, the girl’s biological mother, moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian. Her lawyer said she did not know her client’s whereabouts.

children raised by same sex couples

Judith Stacy and Timothy Biblarz have a publication coming out in February, claiming that children raised by same sex couples do as well as those raised by opposite sex couples. No, I have not seen the study yet. I'll let you know what I think, once the study has been published and I've had a chance to look at it.

West Coast Walk for Life!

Note the "Berekeley Students for Life" sign!
 We are very excited about participating in the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco on Saturday.  I will be driving up from San Diego with a vanload of college students from Southern California. I hope the weather cooperates for our long drive tomorrow!
This photo came from the National Catholic Register. It is from last year's West Coast Walk for Life. The guy in the collar in the center of the photo is San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer. He is right where he belongs: leading his flock in a public demonstration of support for the great moral issue of our time, the right to life from conception until natural death.
BTW, please note the sign in the background: Berkeley Students for Life.  My daughter, a fresh-person at Cal, is VP of BSL this year!

Whatever Happened to Gay Pride?

From accounts on both sides, I conclude: the Prop 8 trial has been a seven day orgy of self-pity.  An odd strategy....

A San Diego Citizen speaks out about Mayor Jerry Sanders

Yesterday's Prop 8 trial testimony was dominated by the emotional San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, The anti-Prop 8 attorneys showed a video of the Mayor's news conference from September 2007, when he broke down in tears as he gushed to the world that he now supported same sex marriage.  Learning that his own daughter was a lesbian was the event that precipitated his change of heart. Today's courtroom opponents of Prop 8 want to depict Mayor Sanders as a compassionate soul who came to his senses and supported same sex marriage at the 11th hour, back in 2007. I remember the events of September 2007 very well.  I remember what led up to that day when Jerry Sanders cried for the cameras. Oddly enough, no one asked me about my feelings, then or now.   At that time, the same sex marriage case, (called In re: Marriage Cases) was working its way through the courts of California.  The City of San Diego was debating whether to file an amicus brief in support of same sex marriage in that case. (Quite a few CA cities had already filed these briefs.)  An amicus brief doesn't have any real legal impact. The City of San Diego didn't need to take any position at all on the matter. The great public discussion about filing an amicus brief was about political posturing and preening, pure and simple. Pose for the camera. Get your pro-gay ticket punched so you can get invited to the right parties, be seen with the right people, and get the financial support of the gay community. So one fine day in September 2007, the San Diego City Council held public hearings on the question of whether the City of San Diego should file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the marriage cases. There were about 200 people there. The City Council scrupulously heard equal amounts of testimony from both sides, all afternoon. The Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, Salvatore Cordileone, sent a message, begging the City Council not to divide the city by passing a legally meaningless and completely unnecessary resolution.  I spoke. So did many others from both sides. It all looked so fair, so democratic, so positively New-England-town-meeting-ish. And then, at the end of an afternoon of passionate speeches on both sides, City Council members pulled out already prepared speeches, endorsing same sex marriage. The entire proceedings had been a cynical public relations ploy. They were not listening to their constituents. They never had any intention of listening. Their minds had been made up, well in advance of hearing the very first speech. (I should say that the vote was not unanimous.) I remember that many of us had hoped Mayor Sanders would do as he promised when was elected, and keep the City of San Diego neutral on the same sex marriage issue. Sanders had campaigned on a pledge to support natural marriage. He wasn't elected to promote his personal views, or to indulge in his emotions in public. I had some feelings that day. I felt betrayed that he went along with the posing for the cameras, adding a touch of drama of his own with his tears. Lots of other people were offended too. No one has asked us about our feelings.  We were angry. We felt invisible, as if we didn't matter. We did what Americans do when they are angry with their government. We didn't sue anyone. We didn't hold a news conference and cry in front of the cameras. Nor did we do a combination of those two, as the opponents of Prop 8 are currently doing. We refrained from suing somebody and getting the cameras to watch us cry in the courtroom.  We looked for a way to act within the law to express our views, and to persuade our fellow citizens to join us. Some far-sighted San Diego citizens decided in the aftermath of that City Council meeting, to do something. They came up with a plan to put a marriage amendment on the ballot for the 2008 election. These citizens reasoned that there would never be another opportunity.  They saw that the Supreme Court of CA would redefine marriage and impose same sex marriage on the state. They reasoned that if a marriage amendment weren't passed in the election of 2008, same sex marriage would be so entrenched that we could never dislodge it. It was now or never. Thus was born the campaign for the measure that became known as Proposition 8. Full disclosure, or I should say: full confession. I was against putting the marriage amendment on the ballot. I didn't think it could be done. I thought it would be worse to put it on the ballot and lose, than to let it go. I held back at first. But, fortunately, they didn't listened to me. They forged ahead. So, I will tell you something you probably didn't know: the initial push for Prop 8 came from San Diego. The money to get it on the ballot came from San Diego. Once it was on the ballot, people from all over the state jumped on the bandwagon to help. All because of that meeting back in September 2007, when the City Council members showed their utter contempt for their constituents. The gay rights machine had been moving along smoothly. The gay lobby won that court case, In re: Marriage Cases,  in May of 2008, as everyone had predicted. The LGBT Caucus had already won SB 777, mandating gay friendly curriculum in the schools, including elementary schools. Ordinary people weren't paying attention. The CA gay political machine could have kept right on going, putting their policies in place, and no one would have noticed until it was too late.   But now, after Prop 8, everyone in CA is paying attention. Parents are no longer asleep at the switch. They are going to their local school board meetings and keeping track of changes to the school curriculum. They pushed back against the Alameda County school district in 2009. Jerry Sanders, that's the result of Prop 8. That's the result of gratuitously insulting your constituents, San Diego City Council and Jerry Sanders. You awoke a sleeping giant.

An unusual custody case?

That is what the AP calls it. But actually this dispute between two women will become more and more common, unfortunately.
A Santa Cruz court is slated to hear a custody dispute between former lesbian partners in which the biological mother has become romantically involved with the sperm donor father of her 10-month-old twins. Ah yes, the father: the forgotten figure in the demands that Presumption of Paternity be replaced by Presumption of Parenthood. Kim T. Smith of Santa Cruz has sued for joint custody of the twins, saying she and former partner Maggie Quale agreed to raise the boys together. Agreed? How? Can she prove that? What would count as proof? Qaule and the boy's biological father, 28-year-old Shawn Wallace, now live together and argue they should be able to fully parent the children. The nerve of them. Quale and Smith never registered as domestic partners with the state. But the two women are listed as the boys' parents on their birth certificates, and the twins carry the hyphenated last name Quale-Smith. So Ms. Smith is not related to the children by biology, or adoption, usual routes for establishing parenthood. Nor were they domestic partners.  Let us call her a "non-parent." Smith's attorney said she had never heard of a case in which a biological mother has tried to "sub in" the biological father following the break-up of a lesbian relationship. Actually, there was a case in Washington state in 2005 called In re Parentage of LB, in which the mother married the father. "If they won, we would consider it a very dangerous precedent for lesbian couples having children with the assistance of known sperm donors," said Deborah Wald, a family law attorney who is representing smith along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. A moment of clarity: the National Center for Lesbian Rights is trying to assign parental rights to non-parents. And suing perfectly fit parents to surrender their parenting rights which surely include the right to decide whom their children will spend time with.
You can find more commentary from the (roughly) right here and from the (roughly) left here. I say "roughly" in both cases, because the comments are split. I think this is a good thing. People are not just jerking their knees, but actually having to think about this case.

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