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.


Speaking of Hate Crimes...

I wonder how many of the anti-Prop 8 acts of intimidation and vandalism were reported as hate crimes?  Tom Messner, of the Heritage Foundation, details some of the specific acts that were reported during the fall of 2008 in California.  The FBI reports for the city of San Jose, for instance, that there were 19 racially motivated hate crime incidents, 7 motivated by religion, and 15 motivated by sexual orientation. So, were the Prop 8 supporters who had their cars keyed and their houses egged counted in any of these categories? Politically-motivated intimidation is just as destructive to the body politic, arguably even more so, than intimidation based on the listed categories. After all, our ability to hold elections or have civil political discourse is threatened by politically motivated crimes.

Dr J's Daily Dose of Debunking

Yesterday's headline from AP: "More anti-gay, religious-motivated crimes reported."  However, when you go to the FBI website, practically the first thing out of their mouths is this disclaimer:
Overall, the 2008 numbers are up slightly—7,783 incidents and 9,691 victims (including individuals, businesses, and institutions) were reported to us by our law enforcement partners across the country. But a note here: our Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program doesn’t report trends in hate crime stats—yearly increases or decreases often occur because the number of agencies who report to us varies from year to year.
That doesn't stop the AP from going on about increases in hate crimes of various categories. 
These same figures show a nearly 11 percent increase in hate crime offenses based on sexual orientation, and a nearly 9 percent increase in hate crime offenses based on religion. The largest category, racially motivated hate crimes, fell less than 1 percent.
Naturally, the story line here is the need for the new hate crimes legislation for sexual orientation. The only advocacy group quoted was the Human Rights Campaign. No one from any of the traditional civil rights groups. Although they mention that racially motivated hate crimes were the largest category, they fail to mention that these crimes account for over half of all incidents, while crimes motivated by sexual orientation account for only 17%.

Divorce, Canadian Style

This new report on divorce in Canada has many sensible points.  For instance: Contrary to the "half of all marriages end in divorce" mantra, 67% of first marriages in Canada last 30 years. In the U.S., 15% of  all children will see their custodial parent divorce more than once before age 18; and nearly 50% of children in divorced families see their parent divorce again. I will be talking about this report on my weekly radio show, Issues Etc, a Lutheran Public Radio show.

The Spin Cycle

My article debunking the Times (London) is up on Mercator Net.

UC Students Protest Tuition Hikes: Why not....?

protest excessive spending? UC Students are protesting tuition hikes.   The University could hold the line on tuition, if they would just lower expenses.  Why don't the students remind them of the connection between expenditures and tuition? Now would be a good time to cut out all the Grievance Departments, that were established to appease various left-wing academic and politcal constituencies. We could get rid of Gender and Women's Studies, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies, and all the different Ethnic Studies.  Maybe the Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion could find something else to do.  UC Berkeley has a Gender Equity Resource Center: I wonder how much the taxpayers are paying for today's Transgender Day of Remembrance? Of course, if cutting the Grievance Groups is too radical, maybe the UC system could ask the tenured professors to each teach one more course per year. Just a thought...

Lamest Headline Ever!

Lesbians parents better at raising children - Times Online. This headline is lame because it suggests that there is some startling new research showing "lesbian parents better."  (Bottom line of this post: yet another reason the public holds the Main Stream Media in contempt.) However, when you actually read the story, you don't get any evidence:
Speaking at the launch at the think tank Demos of a report on the influence of character on life, Scott said: “Lesbians make better parents than a man and a woman.” His arguments are supported by experts who have found, over years of research, that children brought up by female couples are more aspirational and more confident in championing social justice. They show no more tendencies towards homosexuality than the offspring of heterosexual parents.
No new research. And since when is being "aspirational" and "confident in championing social justice" the high-water mark of good parenting?  But I digress. So, I looked to see if the "experts" are named, or any of the "years of research" are actually mentioned. No. Nothing specific. Nothing newsworthy. So, who is "Scott," the guy being quoted? He is Stephen Scott, director of research at the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners.  Who the heck are they? What is a Parenting Practioner? And why do they need a National Academy? Well, the were established by an agency of the British government:
The National Academy for Parenting Practitioners was set up in 2007 by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to provide the parenting workforce with objective evidence based support in order to improve the services offered to parents in England.
And they have a vision:
Our vision is that all parents who need it should be able to access quality support from trained practitioners capable of helping them to raise their children to be happy, healthy, safe, ready to learn and to make a positive contribution and achieve economic wellbeing.
Sounds more like a corporation designed to professionalize child care, rather than a charity designed to help flesh and blood families and real people.  Children need "trained practioners?"  I was thinking they need their moms and dads who love them. Silly me. And what was the occasion for his outburst of enthusiasm for father-absent households?  As near as I can tell, it was a meeting of group called Demos, which was highlighting its new publication called Building Character.  The point of this publication was to analyze the impact of different parenting styles on the children's character development. Evidently, the report concluded that the children of single parent households don't do as well. According to the Independent:
In a blow to the huge numbers of parents who are divorced or remarried, the study also found that children with married parents were twice as likely to develop good skills as those living with stepfamilies or single parents.
Could this have been the stimulus for an pro-non-traditional-family exclamation? Could be. Can't tell from the news reports. No new data on lesbian parenting. New data further demonstrating the superiority of married parents. One guy goes off at a technocratic gab-fest about lesbian parents.  And the headline reading "Lesbian Parents Better at Raising Children" goes all around the world. And the Main Stream Media wonders why the public holds them in contempt. Perhaps one of my readers can suggest a more colorful adjective than "Lamest"  for my headline.

Cohabitation is a Sin Against Social Justice

That's the title my editors over at the National Catholic Register gave my latest article.
 social science can now show that the “alternatives to marriage” don’t work. A recent news story brought this home in a particularly vivid fashion for that most fashionable of alternatives to marriage: cohabitation. In Dallas, a mother and her boyfriend were arrested after three of her children were found in a hotel room, starved and abused. The facts of the case fit in with the general pattern of knowledge about the hazards of cohabitation. This story puts a human face on the statistics.
First, we know that a cohabiting boyfriend is the person most likely to abuse a child. From British child-abuse registries, we learn that a child living with his or her mother and a live-in boyfriend is 33 times more likely to be abused than a child living with his or her biological married parents. From a study of inflicted injury deaths in Missouri, we learn that children living in households with unrelated adults were 50 times more likely to die of inflicted injuries than households with both biological parents present. In 82% of the cases, the “unrelated adult” was the mother’s cohabiting boyfriend. So I present this challenge to my young friends on campus: “You might get away with participating in social practices that become much more destructive as they trickle down into the lower classes. It is not social justice to claim for yourself the rights to behaviors that you can manage but are a disaster for the less fortunate. Do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem?” So it was in this case. The boyfriend was the perpetrator. While the mother was out working, he sexually abused her daughter. And although the mother was certainly complicit in locking the kids in the bathroom, the boyfriend was the one beating them. Speaking of her working, this boyfriend stayed “home” in the hotel room, while the woman went out to work each day. This, too, fits the statistical pattern. Cohabiting men have half the income of married men and work fewer hours. Each one of the four children had different fathers. The boyfriend’s child, needless to say, was not locked in the bathroom with the other kids. This case illustrates the new phenomenon that demographers have identified. They call it “multiple-partner fertility.” One of the problems associated with multiple-partner fertility is the relationship of each new boyfriend to the children of the previous boyfriends. To not put too fine a point on it: He is interested in the woman, not in her children from past relationships. The children are leftovers from a previous relationship. You may object that some of these problems are associated with poverty. And that is partly true. But the deeper truth is that channeling sexual behavior and childbearing into marriage creates wealth rather than dissipates it. Men behave differently when they marry, especially when they become married fathers. When I give campus talks on the risks of cohabitation, I can always count on some smarty to challenge me saying that the risks are not really so great to people like himself. What he usually means (and it is almost always a “he”) is that the statistics are skewed by a large number of poor, uneducated cohabiting couples who are at higher risk for all sorts of problems anyway. Unspoken, but implied, is that he is cohabiting himself and plans not to change based on anything I say. So, he might argue, this particular boyfriend was just a loser, while the cohabiting men of his own social circle are not. Women of higher income and education will not face such serious problems as this woman living in a hotel room with a creep. But studies that control for education and income still find that cohabitation is risky. We have created a culture that says sex, marriage and childbearing have no necessary relationship to each other. This culture, like any culture, is made up of the decisions of all of us: the things we choose to do and not do, the justifications we offer for our actions, the things we celebrate and the things we condemn. We have an indirect impact on the culture and therefore on the people around us. Every problem of the poor is exacerbated by the failure of marriage. The “alternatives to marriage” are destroying the culture of the poor. So I present this challenge to my young friends on campus: “You might get away with participating in social practices that become much more destructive as they trickle down into the lower classes. It is not social justice to claim for yourself the rights to behaviors that you can manage but are a disaster for the less fortunate. Do you want to be part of the solution or part of the problem?”
This article appearred in the National Catholic Register, on November 15, 2009 issue.

DC City Council vs Catholic Church

The DC City Council is about to pass a gay rights bill that will force the Archdiocese of Washington out of the social services business. According to the Washington Post,

 The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care....  council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as "somewhat childish." Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city's relationship with the church than give in to its demands.  "They don't represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure," said Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee.
No one is indispensible. However, Catholic Charities serves 68,000 people in the city each year. The city’s 40 Catholic parishes operate another 93 social service programs to provide crucial services. The Catholic Church may not be indispensible, but it is probably the largest single non-government organization providing social services within the District. But, the sex radicals on the city council don't care about that. They evidently have so many sources of money, and so many alternative private sector partners, and so few needy people in the District, that they can safely ignore the Catholic Church. The statements by sex radicals on the city council are  disgracefully misleading. The truth is that the city council and all its coercive machinery are the ones threatening people.  Comply with every aspect of our social engineering agenda, or be driven out of doing business with the city.  An e-mail from the Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington stated:
Catholic Charities is not threatening to end its services if a same sex marriage bill passes.  Catholic Charities is vowing to continue its services even if a same sex marriage bill passes. However, the bill, as it now reads, will diminish the resources we have to do so.  Why is that so?  Because without a meaningful religious exemption in the bill, Catholic Charities and other similar religious providers will become ineligible for contracts, grants and licenses to continue those services. What we have said to the Council is this: While we are opposed to redefining marriage in the District of Columbia, if the Council moves forward to do so, we respectfully request that religious individuals and organizations be afforded protection from restrictions on their deeply held religious beliefs and that the Council preserve the ability of Catholic Charities and other providers to continue to serve the growing and unmet needs of the poor and most vulnerable residents of the District of Columbia.      
Of course, gay rights advocates will not have any of this. All or nothing. "Peter Rosenstein of the Campaign for All D.C. Families accused the church of trying to "blackmail the city.""  City council member "David Catania said, Catholic Charities received about $8.2 million in city contracts, as well as several hundred thousand dollars' worth this year through his committee." And council member Mary Cheh, asked rhetorically, "Are they really going to harm people because they have a philosophical disagreement with us on one issue? I hope, in the silver light of day, when this passes, because it will pass, they will not really act on this threat." In fact, the Catholic Church is not making any money from its contracts with the city. All that money gets pumped into programs to serve the needy and vulnerable of the District.  The Church contributes $10 million annually in donations and thousands of volunteer hours to its charitable work, over and above the money it gets from the city for social service contracts. (How many volunteer hours can the city council persuade individuals to contribute?  How many volunteer hours has the gay community contributed?) Those are the resources that the Church will continue to contribute, no matter what the council does or doesn't do. So let's get this in perspective: The DC city council is threatening to dislodge its largest single private social service provider, in order to placate its gay constituents. The council is planning to throw the poor and minorities of the city under the bus to accomodate its gay residents, who are politically powerful and for the most part, not poor. And this, during a period of economic hardship and fiscal stress. Who is being childish and petulant here?

I'm quoted

in this article in the Washington Examiner. The issue is why the Catholic Church is standing up for marriage in the District of Columbia:
Another factor in the church's heightened political engagement, in the view of Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, the education branch of the National Organization for Marriage, is a new generation of more orthodox and more spirited Catholic priests -- "a crop of John Paul II clergy," as Morse calls them, referring to the pope who inspired the young priests and ordained the current bishops.

In the dictionary, under "Question-begging,"...

you could find this statement by a Judge in Montana:  “Lesbians and gay Montanans must not be forced to fight to marry, to raise their children, and to live with the same dignity that is accorded heterosexuals." It is begging the question for the judge to say, "to raise their children," because the question before the court was precisely, "Is this person the child's mother? Is this child "hers" in any meaningful sense?"  This same judge goes on to lecture the entire state of Montana:
 

"That lesbian and gay people still must fight for their fundamental rights is antithetical to the core values of Article II and speaks, in unfortunate clarity, of a prevalent societal cancer grounded in bigotry and hate.”  Again, question-begging: the question is precisely whether a person unrelated to a child by either biology or adoption has any "fundamental right" to visitation, custody or other parental rights. 

 
I don't know whether this judge is wrong as a matter of law. But it is certain that the judge is wrong as a matter of logic, not to mention common decency. You can read about this case in the Marriage Law Digest, published by iMAPP (look for the link on the right-hand sidebar) and written by the Ruth Institute's own Bill Duncan. This service of iMAPP is worth subscribing to, if you want the latest in marriage law developments.

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