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.


Bench Memos on National Review Online

Ed Whelan is sounding the alarm against the outrageous plan of Judge Vaughn Walker to televise the Prop 8 case.  Bench Memos on National Review Online.

More on Polyamory: The kids will be fine, thanks.

This puff piece promoting a non-judgemental approach to polyamory finally mentions children in the last 3 paragraphs.  Ah, yes, the kids will be fine. Except they'll be upset when their parents' partners leave.  They look just like mundane blended families, (who have lots of problems we aren't going to mention in our puff piece.)  Excuse me while I barf.
Poly Boston members Alan and Michelle Wexelblat of Burlington take turns attending the cafe gatherings. As the parents of two boys, 6 and 9, the poly couple find that the get-togethers -- though child-friendly -- conflict with homework and dinnertime. “There’s nothing that having kids didn’t affect in our lives, including how we date,” says Alan. That would be dating each other as well as other people outside of their stable 10-year marriage. Both Alan and Michelle identified as non-monogamous when they met and hit it off 15 years ago at a science-fiction convention in Philadelphia. ... Then there are the kids, who in this case, according to Alan, understand as much about their parents’ lifestyle as they want to. The two boys have attended several Boston Pride Parades, and they know and interact with their parents’ partners as they would with any other close adult friends. But the Wexelblats have not yet explained the specifics of their lifestyle to their sons. “Kids deal well with things they think are normal,” says Alan. “To the degree that we can help them be comfortable with this, then they will treat it as normal. That’s the theory, anyway.” That theory is starting to get support from research. In 2006, Elisabeth Sheff, an assistant professor of sociology at Georgia State University who had been collecting data on poly families since 1996, launched the first long-term study of children raised in such families. While her findings are not yet conclusive, Sheff says her initial generalization is that kids raised in poly families have access to many resources, such as help with homework, rides when needed, and the additional emotional support and attention that comes from having other, nonparental adults in their lives. Sheff adds, however, that “kids in poly families also sometimes feel extremely upset when their parents’ partners leave, if it means the end of the relationship between the kid and the ex-partner.” She says that poly families often pass as mundane, blended families from divorce and remarriage and therefore easily fly below the radar.

The new frontier: Polyamory

Here is a puff piece in the Boston Globe on the next phase of the Sexual Revolution: Polyamory, meaning "many loves."  Just another day in the deconstruction of marriage and family. Marriage is whatever we say it is.  Kids will be fine, as long as we are all grown up mature people and don't get all excited or jealous or anything.
responsible non-monogamy or polyamory, and the nontraditional practice is creeping out of the closet, making gay marriage feel somewhat last decade here in Massachusetts. What literally translates to “loving many,” polyamory (or poly, for short), a term coined around 1990, refers to consensual, romantic love with more than one person. Framing it in broad terms, Sekora, one of the three founders and acting administrator of the 500-person-strong group Poly Boston, says: “There’s monogamy where two people are exclusive. There’s cheating in which people are lying about being exclusive. And poly is everything else.”... A divorced woman who for several of those years was in an open relationship with a male partner, Parham feared both the professional consequences and the possibility that she could lose custody of her two children, who are now in their 20s. Since leaving conventional medicine to work as a health educator, Parham says she is now beyond those consequences and wants to show people that her lifestyle is not threatening in any way. “Boston, in my experience, has a uniquely cerebral approach to life and is somewhat disconnected from the body. Therefore, issues of sexuality can be a little more volatile and open to misinterpretation,” says Parham, who moved to Greenfield in 2003. “My agenda is a society where people can choose how they relate with other humans sexually without legal penalties, professional penalties, and the emotional penalty of shame and blame,” says Parham....
Ah, yes, Boston is so cerebral and too disconnected from the body to realize the intrinsic good sense of having multiple partners.  No mention of the body's desire to connect with a sex partner, and the body's sometimes extreme allergic reaction to infidelity, known as sexual jealousy. Evidently, those with a "polyamorous sexual orientation" don't experience any of those feelings.

Libertarians and baby selling

I got involved in a discussion over at the Econ Lib blog on the question of baby-selling. The question arose when Bryan Caplan opined that it would be best for all concerned if women considering placing their children for adoption could recieve explicit payments for their babies, not just compensation for their hospital expenses and the like. As part of his argument, he claimed:
In a free market, most of the baby suppliers would be poor families in the Third World, and most of the baby demanders would be much richer families in the First World.  The exchanges would drastically raise babies' well-being and chances of survival.
Here is the gist of my response (made after I teased people a little, and drew some of them out a bit.)
1. Some posters seem to think that allowing explicit payment for an adoption would leave the adoption institution intact. But this is not appropriate to assume that "adoption" would continue to be the same kind of institution. Currently, and for a long time in the Christian West, adoption has been considered a child-centered institution. It is a solution to the problem of a child without suitable biological parents or other relatives. Any benefits to the adoptive parents are strictly incidental. This is what makes it different from market transactions, where the focus is on a calculation of costs and benefits from both parties, who are assumed to be able to fend for themselves. Allowing explicit payment does more than change existing incentives, i.e. something that used to cost $5 now costs $6. Allowing explicit payment for infants changes the very structure of incentives: transactions that are now literally unthinkable will become subject to cost benefit calculation. This fact will change the structure of a whole variety of incentives. Many of the people who are objecting to paying for infants are making this point in one way or another. 2. Some of the comments in some form or fashion, echo Bryan's original observation that people who adopt babies almost always love them. Implicit too, is the idea that mothers almost always love their babies too much to sell them into terrible circumstances without good reason. You are in effect counting on an unnamed, undefined and unanalyzed factor, namely, the maternal instinct, to prevent the worst abuses from occuring. I find it mildly amusing that you tough-guy economists are relying on mothers to keep you out of trouble. BTW, do fathers have any rights at all in these transactions? I realize that is slightly off this thread, but that is revealing in and of itself. The baby-making process has become an individual activity, rather than what it is in fact: the ultimate in team production. 3. I also find it mildly amusing that a point of view that starts out with a presumption of liberty can't come up with a principled reason for prohibiting the buying and selling of the weakest and most vulnerable of human beings.

Rosie O'Donnell is dating...

She broke up with her 12 year lover/"wife" in October. She had 4 children with Kelli. Now she is dating her new love interest, named Tracy, who has six children.  How nice. Rosie O'Donnell made herself a poster child for same sex marriage and parenting. Now, she's a poster child for what, exactly? And don't lay the guilt trip on me, "heterosexuals do this all the time," nonsense. I've been on a campaign against divorce for a long time. The fact is that data as we have it right now strongly suggests that same sex unions are less stable than opposite sex unions, with most data pointing toward two women being the least stable combination.  Does anybody care about the impact on these 10 kids, who are getting passed around?

Staging a Show Trial on Prop 8

Ed Whelan is all over the Federal Court case against Prop 8 and the legal shennanigans to televise the trial. This case is fast turning into a the worst sort of Soviet-style show trial, designed more to make an example out of dissenters from the regime, than to administer justice.
Any intelligent and fair-minded judge would recognize that the obvious candidates for a pilot program would be low-profile cases that present no apparent risk of intimidation or abuse of trial participants and in which all parties consent to televised coverage. Only an idiot or a hardened ideological advocate for same-sex marriage — and (presiding Judge) Walker is no idiot — would imagine that the Proposition 8 case is a good candidate for the program. A coalition of major media companies has asked Walker to have the Proposition 8 trial televised because “televising this modern-day Scopes trial would present viewers with a national civics lesson on a hotly contested issue that crosses social, political, educational, and religious boundaries.” But the role of the courts is not to “present viewers with a national civics lesson.” It’s to decide cases fairly. In some cases, that goal might not be jeopardized by televising the proceedings. But in other cases it will be. The very fact that these media companies are intent on portraying the Proposition 8 case as a “modern-day Scopes trial” reinforces the ample evidence that this trial should not be televised. If Judge Walker persists in failing to recognize that elementary fact, the national civics lesson that he will be providing is yet another reminder that too many of our federal judges willfully abuse their authority in order to advance their own political agendas.
Read all of Ed Whelan's article here.

Cool Catholic Quote of the Day:Catholicism is not for wimps

from the National Catholic Register's story on military chaplains during the Christmas season in Afganistan and Iraq:
Father Michael Duesterhaus has been deployed to combat areas three times, including Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. The Navy chaplain said “close teamwork, mission focus and personal deprivations [can] deepen one’s faith” and recounted how “one Marine, who I baptized, confirmed, and gave first holy Communion to in the Al Anbar Province told me one night, ‘Catholicism is a tough religion. ... Have to believe that the Eucharist is truly Jesus and not a symbol. And confession — whoa, there’s a challenge. Yeah, it’s tough. But I’m a Marine. Who wants a wimpy faith?’”

Marriage Law Digest for December 2009

is now available from iMAPP.   The Digest is a summary of significant legal developments concerning marriage during the month of December. Edited by Mr. William Duncan, who is also a member of the Ruth Institute's Academic Advisory Board, this month's edition includes cases from around the English-speaking world. This is a valuable resource for anyone who wants links to the important cases. The cases this month include: CONTENTS1) MCFARLANE V. RELATE, Appeal No. UKEAT/0106/09/DA, Employment Appeal Tribunal, November 30, 2009 (religious discrimination claim for employee fired for refusing to affirm same-sex couple counseling).9) Recent Legislation (topics: same-sex marriage). 2) BOISSION V. LUND, 2009 ABQB 592, Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, December 3, 2009 (hate speech prosecution for letter to newspaper on homosexuality). 3) J.MCD. V. P.L. & B.M., Record No. 186/2008, Ireland Supreme Court, December 10, 2009 (dispute between sperm donor and same-sex couple raising child). 4) LADELE V. LONDON BOROUGH OF ISLINGTON, [2009] EWCA Civ 1357, England and Wales Court of Appeal, December 15, 2009 (religious accommodation for marriage registrar’s objections to same-sex civil partnerships). 5) ELANE PHOTOGRAPHY   V. WILLCOCK, CV-2008-06632, New Mexico Second Judicial District Court, December 11, 2009 (wedding photographer’s religious objection to same-sex ceremony). 6 ) PERRY V. SCHWARZENEGGER, No. 09-17241, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, December 11, 2009 (compelled disclosure of Proposition 8  campaign information). 7) Recent Law Review Articles (topics: racial  analogy to gay rights, religious liberty and samesex marriage, interstate recognition, feminism and marriage, divorce jurisdiction,  impotence trials). 8) News Stories (topics: education on homosexuality, religious liberty and antidiscrimination laws).

Mother must transfer daughter to former lesbian partner

The latest on the disputed custody of Isabella. Miller has apparently disappeared with her child, rather than comply with the court order to surrender her daughter to a woman she used to have sex with.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Miller through artificial insemination in 2002. The couple broke up in 2003, and Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian.

(Judge) Cohen awarded custody of the girl to Jenkins on Nov. 20 after finding Miller in contempt of court for denying Jenkins access to the girl. 

The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody. He also said the benefits to the child of having access to both parents would be worth the difficulties of the change.

This is the most recent press release from Lisa Miller's attorney at Liberty Counsel.
The Vermont trial court recently ordered that Lisa must give up custody of her daughter and place custody with Janet, despite the fact that the same court has repeatedly found Lisa to be a fit parent of Isabella. The Vermont court has ordered the transference of custody to take place by January 1, 2010. Unrefuted testimony has shown that for the last five years, Janet has neither attempted to phone nor write Isabella. She has never sent Isabella a card of any kind for any occasion. Janet has refused to attend Isabella’s Christmas plays, because she does not want to be around a Christian environment. She has also said that it is not in Isabella’s best interest to be raised in a Christian home.
The court is ordering a perfectly fit parent to surrender custody of her child to a person who is not related to the child, either by blood or adoption. Why? Because she used to have sex with this person, and this person is claiming parental rights. Contrary to what the court claims, I don't think this is at all like a heterosexual custody dispute. This is more like a custody dispute between a parent and a stepparent, who claims parental rights to a child that he/she never adopted. For the court to assign itself the power to say, this person has "enough" of a relationship to count as a parent, is way too much power.

Fathers, Sons and Hunting

I just found this lovely article by a young Catholic priest, about his father, his deceased brother, and hunting. (No, the brother didn't die hunting.)  It is about the ways in which Father Figures help the development of young men through their time together in the wild. wordlessly. Fr. Patrick tells this story about himself as an eight-year-old.
At the end of deer season, I was confused as to why Dad only saw or harvested bucks when I accidentally slept in, yet when we hunted together, the most we would see were rabbits, birds, and does. He never told me, but now I know. It was those crackly plastic bags of Dorito chips I insisted on taking into the deer blinds! I was a bag crackler and chair squeaker! The worst kind of greenhorn! How could he have been so patient without ever saying a word of frustration or disappointment to me? How could he have sacrificed those many hours of “no luck” just so that I could sit with him over the hunting spot, him knowing ahead of time that my presence would guarantee a zero in the way of buck activity? If hunting were simply about killing animals, then yes, they would have been pure wastes of time. Harvesting the animal is only part of hunting though. When thinking of the many deer hunts Dad and I shared, I think on God the Father’s Providence in each of our lives. Sitting next to Dad last deer season, I was first in spotting all the animals. I pondered how my five senses used for hunting were worthless twenty eight years ago, and how my Dad’s were superhuman.
He asks rhetorically:
During this time of crisis in Fatherhood and manhood in America, when more children are growing up without father figures than at any other time in American history, could one solution be the rediscovery of the outdoors, hunting, and fishing? Do we not need fathers and father figures willing to spend time with boys, doing the things which men did as a matter of course for centuries before these last fifty or so years?
Obviously, yes. I can't teach my son to be a man, the way another man can. Read it all here.

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