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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.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 07, 2019
The Ruth Institute’s first annual Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution (April 26-27, in Lake Charles, Louisiana) was highly praised by participants. All agreed that the caliber of speakers and content (which covered Survivors of Divorce and Survivors of the LGBT subculture) were exceptional.
Here are a few of the comments from speakers and participants:
“The Summit revealed to me many different survival stories which involved deep pain. However, their stories all ended in hope because they turned to God. It also gives me hope to see everyone that attended was united to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Al Chlupacek -- Chemical Engineer, Indianapolis
“Thank you all. It was incredible, and a real shot in the arm. Now we all have work to do. But I feel like at least we know our fellow soldiers in this battle! It’s a rough world out there, and sadly, many of our ‘enemies’ are fellow Christians… It’s a battle from within and without. But I’m so pleased at the depth of intelligence and holiness on display this weekend! God bless you all! And thank you, Dr. Morse! You are a true solider for Christ!” Leila Miller – Catholic author, Phoenix
“This was a very meaningful conference. I enjoyed the scholarship, the personal testimonies, and all the informal conversations and relationship-building in between. I look forward to ongoing conversations with many of the wonderful people I met this weekend. The experience was powerful and inspiring.” Matt F. Johnson – humanitarian and disaster relief, Washington, D.C.
“Thank you Mr. And Dr. Morse plus your team for putting together such a conference. I learned a lot. Thanks also to you all that took time to do papers and share with us your stories. It gives me hope as an African to see the good side of America. You people are amazing. Hopefully we do this in Africa, too? God bless you all.” Ann Kioko, CitizenGO Campaigns Manager for Africa, Nairobi
“I just want to tell you all how very honored I am to have had the pleasure to work with all of you this weekend in this critical endeavor! Mr. & Dr. Morse, you are both tireless in your efforts and I have great respect for you both. Thank you - and the Ruth Institute's extremely capable staff and volunteers -- for showing us all such genuine kindness and hospitality. This weekend will go down in my memory as one of great blessings and fellowship. To be gathered with so many others who recognize the beauty, goodness and critical importance of marriage and the traditional family was a such a true honor and pleasure.” Christy Fitzgerald – Registered Nurse, Case Manager, Hickory, N.C.
“This Summit was a bright moment for recovering from a toxic family culture and beginning to build something better. I want to add my thanks to everyone as well, for sharing your stories and journeys and scholarship and standing for marriage, life and children. Patti and I were both deeply touched by the accounts of struggle and overcoming and finding new life and sanctity in the pain of marriage and parental loss. For me, one of the most fruitful times was also breakfast at the hotel, when I was blessed to, and saw others too, encourage one another and build friendships and mutual support and plot ministry strategies in a fellowship free-for-all. There are not many other places something like that could happen.” Fr. D Paul Sullins, Senior Research Associate of the Ruth Institute
“I hope everyone realizes just how innovative this was. For all the many ‘pro-family’ groups out there, almost none of them seriously confronts the divorce system, connected issues, and the government machinery behind it. I also noticed other ways in which the various speakers were ‘pushing the envelope,’ and I for one think that we have nothing to lose, and much to gain, from continuing and even increasing the push.” Stephen K. Baskerville, Purcellville, Virginia
“To get the inside scoop on the extraordinary Survivors Summit, be sure to check out the various presentations at the Ruth Institute’s website, and on its Facebook page. Be forewarned that the truth about these problems is not easy to handle. However, the truth shall set you free.” C. Preston Noell, American Society for Tradition, Family and Property, Washington, D.C.
“Don’t sit on the sidelines. Now that you understand the devastation caused by the Sexual Revolution, help us to fight for the family and cultural sanity.” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute
Posted on: Tuesday, April 30, 2019
The Ruth Institute’s Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution (April 27) was a success by any measure. The Summit, which took place in Lake Charles, Louisiana, included Survivors of Divorce and Survivors of the LGBT Culture.
The Summit was preceded by an Awards Banquet the evening of April 26. Those honored were Dr. Robert Gagnon, recipient of the Scholarship Award, and Jeff Morgan, who received the Activism Award. Both spoke the next day.
Moira Greyland Peat, who received the Public Witness Award, was the banquet’s keynote speaker. Author of The Dark Side of Avalon, Moira survived years of sexual abuse by her mother, famed science fiction writer Marion Zimmer Bradley. Many commented that while her testimony was emotionally exhausting, it also provided a necessary antidote to the cliched version of the gay lifestyle pushed by the media.
The Saturday Summit included keynote addresses by Dr. Stephen Baskerville (Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College on How No-Fault Divorce Empowers the State), Mrs. Leila Miller (author and Catholic blogger on The Lifelong Impact of Divorce On Children),
Dr. Robert Gagnon (Professor of New Testament at Houston Baptist University, on What the Church really teaches about homosexual activity)
and Fr. Paul Sullins (Ruth Institute Senior Research Associate, on The Impact of Same-Sex Parenting on children and the impact of the homosexual subculture on clergy s*x abuse).
There were also testimony panels on Abandoned Spouses and Adult Children ofDivorce – and Adult Children and Spouses of gays, lesbians and transgenders, and refugees from the gay lifestyle).
A participant remarked: “These are tragedies the mainstream media, the divorce industry, and the gay-friendly culture do their best to ignore.” Another added: “I’ve been reading about the abandonment, betrayal and trauma of divorce for years. But hearing these speakers made the devastation real in ways that news stories and academic reports can’t.”
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ruth Institute Founder and President, challenged participants to use the knowledge they acquired to help shape the debate over the Sexual Revolution.
“Don’t sit on the sidelines. Now that you understand the devastation caused by the Sexual Revolution, help us to fight for the family and cultural sanity,” Morse declared.
The entire Summit will be available on podcast and YouTube soon.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Morse, contact email@example.com
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family in the public arena and build a Civilization of Love. Click here for more Information on the Ruth Institute.
Posted on: Tuesday, March 12, 2019
The children of divorce, even as adults, have become accustomed to being silenced.
Recently, I noticed my friend Leila Miller repeating online that she does not insist that people remain living with an abusive spouse. My inclination was to say, “Stop! You don’t need to say it again!”
Around the same time, I noticed that I was about to repeat myself on a seemingly unrelated topic. I started thinking, “What exactly is going on here?” My answer: We are dealing with weaponized self-pity, not a good-faith question.
Miller is the author of Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. She gives voice to the adult children whose lives were disrupted by their parents’ divorces. This is the context in which people continually challenge her about abusive marriages. “Why,” Miller asks herself in frustration, “do I have to keep assuring people that no one is required to remain living in abusive situations?”
I’ve had this experience myself. Like Miller, I point out how difficult divorce can be for children. Our focus is on the children, their lifelong suffering and what we can do about it, as individuals and as a society.
The children of divorce, even as adults, have become accustomed to being silenced. As children, they were expected to go along with whatever the adults decided to do. Their parents’ love often seems uncertain and fragile. Challenging the parents’ interpretation of events risks that love.
Even as adults and even outside their families, children of divorce often hesitate to speak up. When they state that divorce was hard for them, people regularly shut them down. In fact, some children of divorce sardonically take bets among themselves in online discussions. “When we talk about how hard divorce was for us, how long will it be before someone says, ‘But what about abusive marriages?’ Counting down, 3-2-1 …”
Do you see that bringing up abusive marriages in this context is changing the subject? The subject is the child and the impact divorce had on him or her. Whether the marriage was abusive or the divorce was justified: These are subjects for another time.
The children of divorce deserve to have at least a few minutes where their experience is the primary subject. “What about abuse?” shuts down the child and his or her perspective.
It is true, however, that sometimes people bring up the question of abuse as a justification for divorce in good faith. Perhaps those asking the question want to know what public policy should be on the issue. Or maybe they want to know how to think about an abuse situation they’ve encountered in which divorce otherwise may not be an option.
I’ve noticed that the person asking a good-faith question is generally satisfied with a good-faith answer. “No, in a truly abusive situation, a woman may have a responsibility to herself and her children to create physical separation between herself and her husband. That may ultimately include civil divorce.”
But some people are not satisfied with such an answer — or with any answer, really. In such cases, the woman (and it is almost always a woman) will desperately recount the abuse. She will urgently tell me more than I wanted to know. She ratchets up her description of the horrors of her marriage, although it doesn’t usually come to physical danger. The final blow is: “You don’t understand! How dare you judge me?!”
I also have another sort of experience of women telling me about their abusive husbands: Often times the husband is a sex addict committing multiple infidelities, violent to the point of throwing furniture through walls, or the spouses’ daughters feel creeped out by their fathers’ pornography addictions. These women don’t need my assurance on the right or prudent thing to do, although I gladly give it.
These same women don’t flip out when I say, “Divorce is hard on children.” They already know that. That is why they worked so hard to preserve the marriage. But, given the circumstances, they are at peace with themselves and their decision.
What is the difference between these two types of responses — the one irrational and angry, the other calm and reflective?
My working assumption is that the first group has unfinished business with their divorce. Maybe they are not really sure it was abusive. Maybe they had a new boyfriend waiting in the wings, whose significance they diminish by shouting, “Abuse!”
Somehow, in some way, their conscience is bothering them. They don’t want to believe they inflicted unnecessary pain on their children. No matter how many times Leila Miller or I assure them that abused spouses can remove themselves, they can’t hear it.
Honestly, I don’t care how they treat me. I bet Miller doesn’t either. What bothers me is that these parents cannot hear what their children want to say to them, need to say to them and have every right to say to them.
These parents have grown deaf to their children by feeling sorry for themselves and by not thinking about the impact of their behavior on others — especially their children. They weaponize self-pity, using it as both a shield and a projectile. Argue with them and you will get blasted with the sad story of their lives.
Divorced parents, if your adult children are trying to talk to you about a long-ago divorce, I’m begging you: Set self-pity aside. Whatever problems you may have in your lives, self-pity will not help you solve them. You will be happier without it. And you will be more available to listen to your children, who may really need you.
The weaponizing of self-pity is on high display in another arena of recent public discourse when priests come out as “gay” and tell a sad story about life
“in the closet.” Part 2 will discuss that in greater detail.
Posted on: Wednesday, November 21, 2018
by Ruth Institute Circle of Experts Member, Bill Duncan
This article was first published Nov. 21, 2018, at News Max.
The U.S. Supreme Court does not often address divorce. In 1992, the Court specified that the federal courts do not have authority to rule on most divorce cases since the Court’s jurisdiction required a dispute between citizens of different states.
This is not say that the Court has never discussed it, though, because it has and those instances are very instructive.
In 1888, Justice Stephen J. Field (who had been appointed to the Court by Abraham Lincoln) wrote an opinion in a dispute over the ownership of a land grant in Oregon. Although not required to decide the case, Justice Field described the nature of marriage (and, by implication, the nature of divorce): “it is something more than a mere contract. The consent of the parties is of course essential to its existence, but when the contract to marry is executed by the marriage, a relation between the parties is created which they cannot change. Other contracts may be modified, restricted, or enlarged, or entirely released upon the consent of the parties. Not so with marriage. The relation once formed, the law steps in and holds the parties to various obligations and liabilities.”
In this case, the Court upheld the validity of the divorce in Oregon, holding that the legislature had the authority to grant divorces and, despite some misgivings about the behavior of the ex-husband in the case. This might seem curious to modern readers who are used to divorces in the court system, but this was not always the case.
The United States did not really inherit a practice for granting divorce from England where divorce was rare, granted by Parliament, and most would either have to be granted an annulment or a legal separation. Some of the states adopted the English approach, others allowed courts to grant divorces and others reserved grants of divorce to the legislature. By the end of the Nineteenth Century, legislative divorce had essentially disappeared, but the legislature provided clear standards for the courts considering a petition to divorce.
As a legal historian has noted, these statutes “were never simple, facilitative laws.” Rather, they specified that a spouse would have to demonstrate that there were serious grounds to justify a court in granting the divorce, such as adultery or abuse.
This is consistent with the rationale for legal divorce recognized in the earliest Supreme Court opinion to mention the topic.
In that 1819 case, Chief Justice John Marshall argued that legislative power to grant divorces only allowed an injured spouse to be leave the marriage because the marriage agreement “has been broken by the other.” Crucially, the opinion continues: “When any state legislature shall pass an act annulling all marriage contracts, or allowing either party to annul it, without the consent of the other, it will be time enough to inquire, whether such an act be constitutional.”
Eventually, though, states began to do just that, to allow one party to end the marriage without the consent of the other. This occurred through the no-fault divorce revolution. Now, if one of the spouses wants a divorce, that divorce will be granted even if the other objects and even if there is no serious fault alleged. It is not just that this kind of “no fault” divorce is allowed, it is the formal or de facto law of divorce in every state.
Now divorce is not a legislative or judicial proceeding as much as an administrative procedure, a mere clerical process where a court always says yes as long as someone asks and then the dispute shifts to splitting up property and child custody.
This is a drastic development given the multiple interests affected. Divorce implicates religious considerations for the parties, property rights, time with children, and on and on. A spouse may lose their opportunity to repair a relationship, may lose the ability to live with their children, may have to pay support to a former spouse when they did nothing to end the relationship, may have to sell their home, and much more, all without a finding that they did anything wrong.
This is a matter of simple justice and it corrodes the perception of fairness in our court system. The law must again recognize that marriage is “more than mere contract.” At the very least, a unilateral divorce should not be granted on no-fault grounds. The spouse who objects deserves a fair hearing. That is simple fairness.
Bill Duncan is director of the Center for Family and Society at Sutherland Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
Posted on: Tuesday, October 09, 2018
By Tyler O'Neil
This article was first published October 4, 2018, at PJMedia.com.
In 21st century America, sex is all around us: on television, in movies, in classrooms, in politics, and even in churches. Sex permeates our desires, our expectations for relationships, even our identity. The Sexual Revolution goes far beyond the LGBT movement, and it has fundamentally reshaped American society. But few Americans actually grasp exactly where this revolution came from. An explosive new book reveals that government and wealthy donors, rather than impersonal historical forces or newly liberated women, propelled the Sexual Revolution.
"The State bears the greatest responsibility for the toxic sexual culture in which we live," Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute (RI), writes in "The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologues Are Destroying Lives And Why the Church Was Right All Along." She presented five other explanations for the Sexual Revolution, and found each one wanting.
Many have suggested that the Sexual Revolution came about through the inevitable and impersonal "march of history." This view does not work "because it robs us and our forbears of human agency." Even the over-hyped birth control pill "is just an inert piece of technology" that people could decide to use or not use, or use in different ways.
Morse also rebuts the feminist narrative, which suggests that "these changes have been one long string of victories for the benefit and advancement of women." Ironically, the very success of women's liberation "undermines the claim that women have been completely powerless and dominated by the patriarchy throughout all of recorded history." Furthermore, the author argues that "the pro-life movement is dominated by women," suggesting that not all women want more of the Sexual Revolution.
Perhaps the most common explanation for the Sexual Revolution is the "liberationist narrative," which posits that everyone is more free thanks to new sexual norms. This view also cannot explain how age-old oppression was immediately dissolved in one generation, Morse argues.
Furthermore, many people "have become less free, in fact actually oppressed, by the very forces that are supposedly liberating us. The breaking of family bonds has increased the size and scope of the State, including the intrusion of the State into the everyday lives of ordinary people." She mentions college sex tribunals, family courts — which even rule on which schools and churches children can attend — and higher taxes to pay for social workers who manage tough divorces and family breakdown.
Morse also rejects the "over-population narrative," which suggests that "too many people create ecological disaster and economic backwardness," so the State needs to control population through birth control and abortion. Interestingly, advocates of this narrative "haven't been able to adapt the narrative to the changing circumstances of population decline, which the Over-Population Narrative itself helped bring about."
Finally, the author turns to a "steal capitalist narrative," explaining the Sexual Revolution by pointing to the many people who benefit financially from family breakdown. Abortionists, pharmaceutical companies, the fertility industry, pornographers, divorce professionals, family court judges and lawyers, medical professionals who specialize in sexually transmitted diseases, and social workers all perversely benefit from family breakdown, contraception, and abortion.
Even higher education and employers benefit from women choosing to get married later, to go to school and to work, rather than raising a family. Morse claims that employers benefit from easy divorce as well, as women are less able to rely on their husbands to financially support them. She suggests that these factors cement the Sexual Revolution, but they do not explain it.
The author boils the Sexual Revolution down to three basic "ideologies:" the Contraceptive Ideology separates sex from childbearing; the Divorce Ideology separates sex and childbearing from marriage; and the Gender Ideology eliminates the distinctions between men and women that individuals do not explicitly embrace.
"The Sexual Revolution needs the State for one major reason: the premises of the Sexual Revolution are false," Morse declares. "Sex does make babies. Children do need their parents, and therefore marriage is the proper and just context for both sex and childbearing. Men and women are different." The Sexual Revolution requires "reconstructing society" around a rejection of these basic truths, so it involves a great deal of propaganda.
"If you can make people believe Bruce Jenner, the 1976 male Olympic decathlon winner, is a woman, you can make them believe 2 + 2 = 5. If you can make people afraid to say, 'Bruce Jenner is a man,' you can make them afraid to say anything," Morse quips. "The Sexual Revolution is a totalitarian ideology with a blind commitment to the implementation of its tenets, regardless of the human costs."
The book begins with a list of victims of the Sexual Revolution, a topic for a future article. Those victims include children of divorce, spouses who did not want to get divorced, women who waited too long to have children, young women who wanted to abstain from sex, and more. Suffice it to say, the Sexual Revolution has harmed many people.
Morse narrates how the state unleashed the Sexual Revolution, beginning with the Supreme Court contraception case Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). The Contraceptive Ideology predated this decision and played a large role in pushing the Court to change the law on contraception.
The author cites liberal attorney Leo Pfeffer and conservative historian Allan Carlson, who agreed that governments will consider contraception necessary once they have established welfare states — in order to prevent the subsidized poor from having children. Tragically, the U.S. government pushed contraception before Griswold, pushing contraception in post-World War II Japan and other foreign countries considered to be U.S. interests.
In the 1960s and 1970s, USAID started pushing contraception and abortion, thinking these "family planning" efforts would help other countries defeat poverty. These policies were also wrapped up with the ugly eugenics movement in America.
In order to downplay the ugly history of eugenics, contraception activists turned to the work of Alfred Kinsey, an academic who claimed that "up to" 67 to 98 percent of American men ha had premarital sex and that 69 percent of American males had at least one experience with a prostitute. His claims were shot down by other researchers, who exposed his shoddy methods. But the Rockefeller Foundation funded his research and sent his crackpot theories mainstream.
Planned Parenthood and its allies enjoyed connections to elites, and helped push the Court in the direction of legalizing contraception for anyone across the country.
Similarly, elite institutions and big donors pushed no-fault divorce, Morse argues. After Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce law in 1968, the American Law Institute (ALI), founded with support from the Carnegie Foundation, crafted model legislation to insert the state in between husbands and wives — and favor the spouse who wanted a divorce.
The ALI pushed for decriminalizing private sexual acts between consenting adults, a key plank that struck down states' ability to regulate obscene materials and contraception.
By 1974, all but five states had adopted a form of no-fault divorce.
Morse argues that no-fault divorce positions the power of the state on the side of whichever spouse least wants the marriage to continue. This damages spouses who are committed to the marriage, but it also damages children who do not grow up with both of their parents. It also empowers the government, which now mediates between divorced mothers and fathers.
The author argues that the claim "the kids will be all right" is propaganda. She cites the work of Judith Wallerstein, who found that divorce has a long-term impact on children — damaging their prospects for romantic relationships in adulthood. Similarly, the worries about husbands abusing wives are overblown, as studies have shown that women and children are more likely to be abused in cohabiting relationships than in marriage.
Finally, Morse argues that the government and elites pushed the "Gender Ideology" — long before transgender identity went mainstream — in order to encourage women to be "ideal workers:" "a person who never takes time off, is never sick, whose mental and psychological focus is entirely on the job."
"We've built a society around the premise that our educated women must be permitted to time their 1.6 pregnancies right down to the minute when it's most convenient. But convenient for whom? All too often, it means the convenience of the employers, or the interests of the career path, or of those who hold the student debt which the young woman or young couple must pay down," Morse claims.
The author does not lament the fact that women have entered the "managerial class," highly paid professions which do not involve manual labor. She herself is a member of this class. Rather, she suggests that the pressures of work and the benefits of this class enable people to overlook the obvious differences between men and women.
"People who do manual labor aren't deluded for a moment that men and women are interchangeable," Morse quips. For this reason, men are vastly over-represented in the dangerous professions.
Women's involvement in the workforce need not be connected to the Sexual Revolution's Gender Ideology, the author argues. "I claim the right to participate in the labor market as women, not as men in skirts." She suggests that "educated women would be better off if they accepted that their fertility peaks during their twenties and planned their lives around this fact."
Morse lays out a basic life plan: Women should go to college for a liberal education, not a vocational one. They should et married and have kids early, using their higher educations to be involved in educating their kids. "Let your husbands support you. Trust them. Be grateful for them," and when the children are older, go back for an advanced degree and work.
Tragically, activists are pushing on all these issues and more. Morse discusses same-sex marriage in a chapter on the Gender Ideology. She recalls the battle over California's Proposition 8.
"The 'Yes on 8' campaign was arguably the largest grassroots campaign in history," she writes, noting that California's secretary of state website crashed because there were over 5,000 pages of contributors to the campaign. Yet modern "progressives" "took Proposition 8 to court on flimsy pretexts and rich people's money."
After Proposition 8 passed and the people had amended their constitution, California's attorney general refused to defend it. The people's will failed thanks to an effective pocket veto. in the case Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), the Supreme Court ruled that proponents of ballot initiatives like Proposition 8 could not defend such laws in court, enabling Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) to resume same-sex marriage in the state. Now-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) performed the first same-sex marriage after this ruling.
As with Proposition 8, wealthy liberals continue to push Sexual Revolution issues, particularly abortion and contraception. George Soros and Warren Buffett continue to fund abortion groups, and they use their money to "shape political institutions so they can use the government to recreate the world in their own image and likeness," Morse alleges.
Importantly, the book notes that contraception carries health risks for women, and some studies have shown that hormonal contraception is as likely to cause cancer as smoking. "Smoking has been all but banned, tobacco companies have been sued, and smokers have been socially shunned," Morse writes. "By contrast, the government actively promotes the use of hormonal contraception while the media plays down the risks."
Abortion, often considered an alternative should contraception fail, also carries tremendous health risks to the mother, which medical associations keep secret for political reasons, the author argues. She also notes that wealthy donors funded abortion activists who convinced the Supreme Court to strike down Texas regulations treating abortion clinics like any other medical facility.
"When the people of Texas, acting through their duly elected state legislators, enacted health and safety legislation for abortion clinics, the elites of society knocked it down," Morse declares.
"The Sexual State" makes a compelling case that state power and wealthy elites pushed the Sexual Revolution, and people should fight back. While Morse does address LGBT issues, her book mostly focuses on the negative impacts the Sexual Revolution has had on family life, harming faithful spouses, children of divorce, and many others.
Morse, a Roman Catholic, presents a very Catholic view of these issues and champions the Catholic Church's approach. Her book was ill-fated to release shortly after the sexual abuse scandal broke, but her points still stand.
The book may be too polemical, but it raises important questions about the hidden harms of the Sexual Revolution and who benefits from this humongous social change.
"The Sexual State" is an important book for libertarians to wrestle with, as it presents a compelling case that big government benefits from the Sexual Revolution, and that marriage and family would help weaken the power of the state.
Posted on: Monday, March 19, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published March 14, 2018, at Crisis Magazine.
Cardinal Cupich has been holding seminars on implementing Amoris Laetitia. These “New Momentum Conferences” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” I wonder whether these seminars will include anything for reluctantly divorced persons. No one else seems to be doing anything for abandoned spouses. Perhaps Cardinal Cupich and his friends will step up to the plate.
The public, including many Catholics, has the impression that no-fault divorce allows two sensible and mature adult people to agree to end their marriage. We imagine that the state must not interfere in this mutual decision. No one should cry over the spilt milk of a “dead marriage.” Many in the Church tacitly agree.
But setting theology aside, let’s challenge the basic premise of no-fault divorce. What if one person wants a divorce and the other wants to remain married? Dr. Stephen Baskerville, frequent contributor to these pages, made me aware of this possibility in his first book, Taken into Custody. If the spouses do not agree, justice requires adjudication by a neutral party. But on what basis would that neutral party decide which spouse to side with: the spouse who wants the divorce, or the spouse who wants the marriage?
The Grand Divorce Narrative offers no answer. The official ideology of no-fault does not acknowledge that such a case can even exist. And if we add the (highly dubious) claim that “kids are resilient,” then there is no reason for anyone to favor preserving a marriage, even one with children. As for adjudication between the spouse who wants the marriage and the one who wants divorce, forget it. No-fault divorce means the state always sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.
The Grand Divorce Narrative, subtly or not-so-subtly, suggests people who complain about divorce probably did something to bring it on themselves. They need to stop whining and get with the program.
I wish I could tell you whether the abandoned spouses are a misbehaving lot. I wish I could tell you anything systematic about the reluctantly divorced. Unfortunately, all I have is anecdotal information. The people who normally collect and analyze this kind of thing seem to be completely uninterested.
We don’t even know how many reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses there are.
Here is one snippet. I once bemoaned the fact that we have no data on the number of reluctantly divorced persons. My friend, University of Texas sociology professor, Mark Regnerus chimed in that he had some data on this question in his new book, Cheap Sex.
I checked it out. In Figure 5.2 on page 161, he asked this question of divorced spouses, “who wanted the marriage to end, you, your spouse, or both of you?” Only 24 percent of women and 27 percent of men said, “we both wanted it to end.” In other words, in his survey, over 70 percent of divorces have a reluctant partner.
The CDC reported over 800,000 divorces from 44 states and the District of Columbia in 2016. If 70 percent of those divorces had a reluctant partner, that is over a half million reluctantly divorced people, in a single year. Add that up, year after year for forty years. That is a lot of broken hearts and wounded souls, walking around, socially invisible, and isolated.
Please note: counting reluctantly divorced persons was not the focus of Dr. Regnerus’ study. God bless him, he stumbled across it while studying something else. I don’t know of any other large scale, representative study of this question. This lack of professional and scholarly interest testifies to the power of the Divorce Ideology.
We also know very little of the lived experiences of the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses. We do know that divorce doubles a man’s probability of suicide and has essentially no impact on the woman’s chance of suicide. But we don’t really know why. As to spiritual life, we know that children of divorce are less likely to practice any religion. But as far as I know, no one has ever asked how divorce affects the religious commitments of the adults, particularly, one who was divorced against their will. The category, “reluctantly divorced persons” does not even exist in the minds of the scholars who have the expertise to study this sort of thing. After over 40 years of no-fault divorce, I am appalled that we have so little information about the reluctantly divorced or abandoned spouses.
And I might add, I’m also appalled at the lack of pastoral concern for the reluctantly divorced, blameless, or abandoned spouses. In all the uproar over Amoris Laetitia, in all the endless yammering in favor of “accompaniment” and “discernment,” for the divorced and civilly remarried, one can find almost nothing about the spouse of the original union.
I know an abandoned spouse who changed parishes. She couldn’t bear to see her spouse receiving communion with his new cohabiting girlfriend. He evidently “discerned” that this was hunky-dory. The pastor wasn’t much help to my friend. He told her the “people fall out of love,” and that “everyone gets an annulment.” He assumed that my friend was also dating someone else, which she had no intention of doing.
What was this pastor thinking? Why didn’t anyone ensure she feels “fully integrated” into the life of the parish where she and her husband were married?” Will anyone “accompany” abandoned spouses like her? Why is the Church abandoning them to the brutal injustice of the divorce culture?
At least on paper, the Church still holds to the radical teaching of Jesus on the indissolubility of marriage. I hope Cardinal Cupich and his friends pay
attention to the reluctantly divorced, though I’m not holding my breath. Catholics, of all people, should be paying special attention to abandoned
spouses. Their pain proves that Jesus was right all along.
Posted on: Saturday, March 10, 2018
by Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published February 28, 2017 at Crisis Magazine.
I see where Cardinal Cupich is planning a series of seminars on Amoris Laetitia. According to a letter obtained by the Catholic News Agency, the “New Momentum Conferences on Amoris Laetitia,” will “provide formative pastoral programs.” As someone who has listened to many victims of the Sexual Revolution, I am eager to learn about the “pastoral practice” these seminars will promote. I wonder if they will feature adult children of divorce or unmarried parents among their presenters.
I can still recall the first time a young person came up to me in tears after one of my talks. “This is the first time I have ever heard an adult say that divorce is hard on children.” She went on to describe her father’s intention of entering yet another civil marriage, this time, to a woman in her twenties.
My young friend was twenty-one.
Since that incident, I have heard from many people of all ages, whose parents divorced and remarried. I can remember sitting down to a post-conference dinner with one of the other speakers and his wife. She confided in me that she had run out of the room in the middle of my talk. She couldn’t bear to hear my description of children’s hurt from divorce. My talk stirred up pain from her parents’ divorce.
She was in her sixties.
I don’t see any mention of Leila Miller or Jennifer Johnson among the proposed speakers on the traveling Amoris Laetitia Road Show. Both Mrs. Miller and Ms. Johnson have written poignant works on the experiences of children of divorce. You may imagine what the adult children of divorce have to say about second “marriages.”
Or perhaps you can’t. So, let me tell you: they feel their parents’ selfishness and excuse-making made their childhoods miserable, and continue to cause problems even in adulthood. One anonymous author titled her essay, “How my parents’ divorce ruined holidays and family life forever.”
Perhaps some of the presenters at the Amoris Laetitia gabfests will offer practical tips for what a child, of any age, ought to do when their parents decide they can’t stand each other anymore. Will Cardinal Cupich “accompany” the children of divorce when they see no photos of themselves with both parents, in either of their parents’ homes? Will any of the presenters help the children of divorce “discern” where to direct their anger when their stepfather brings home gifts for his children and his wife, but nothing for them?
I wonder if Cardinal Cupich and his friends will discuss the inequalities that divorce creates among children, and between children and adults. Jennifer Johnson argues passionately that natural marriage and only natural marriage, can create and preserve equality among children, while divorce creates deep and lasting inequalities. Here is just one example:
I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided holidays, and divided birthdays. I’ve seen this referred to as “two Christmases” or “two birthdays” in some divorce literature as a way to sugar-coat the vertical inequality. My dad wasn’t welcome on Christmas morning, and my mom wasn’t welcome on Christmas eve. I don’t think either of them would have come, had they been invited. They were too busy with their new families. When I got a little older and my parents lived further apart, I traveled alone during the holidays to see each of them. None of the adults in my life had to do any of those things. It was a requirement placed on me that made their lives easier.
No, I suppose they don’t have room for children of divorce and their lived experiences. After all, the seminars are already full of experts on women’s ordination, contraception, non-binary gender, and God knows what else.
Speaking of God: I have an idea that Jesus (remember him?) knows exactly what these children of divorce are going through. He told the apostles “in the beginning, it was not so,” when he instituted that whole one man, one woman, for life, thing. The apostles were freaked out. They thought it was too hard.
I bet Jesus saw the pain a little girl might feel when her mother asked her to be the flower girl in her second wedding. Even as a preschooler, she knew this ceremony meant that her parents would never get back together. She knew she was supposed to be happy for her mother on her special day. She faked it, but her heart was breaking.
Jesus foresaw every painful little incident, like this one:
When I was six or seven, I woke up from a bad dream in the middle of the night. I went looking for my mom but couldn’t find her. I wandered from room to room crying, disoriented and scared. But Mom wasn’t there because I was at Dad’s place, an apartment I went to once a month. My dad couldn’t understand why I wanted my mom so much. Nothing in the apartment was familiar, not even dad. He was hurt because of my longing for my mom, my house, and my own bed, so I did what a lot of children of divorce do: I bottled up my emotions to try to make one of my parents feel better.
Jesus saw how attempts at re-partnering would create a lifetime of difficulties:
At my biological grandma’s funeral, my siblings and I were left out of the family pictures. We watched our cousins treated differently just because their parents had remained married. We stopped getting invited to family reunions. Today I’m a stranger to most of my relatives on my dad’s side because growing up I saw him so little and them even less.
Maybe this sort of thing is why Jesus made such a stink about the indissolubility of marriage.
Perhaps some adult children of divorce will just show up at one of the meetings at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, or Santa Clara University. I wonder if anyone will let them have a turn at the microphone.
Maybe not. That might be just a little too much “accompanying” and “synodality,” even for Cardinal Cupich.
Posted on: Monday, January 08, 2018
Posted by Marc & Julie Anderson on in Archdiocese, Leaven News
What part will you play in the future of the family?
It is a question that is on the mind of more than a few Catholic leaders these days, as we see the primary institution of our society fracture under seemingly insurmountable stress.
But the Catholic Church is not the only institution unwilling to throw in the towel on the institution of the family.
The Ruth Institute, founded in 2008 by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, is a global nonprofit organization aimed at ending family breakdown by energizing survivors of the Sexual Revolution.
And it’s a movement that is coming to the archdiocese next month.
On Jan. 27, the archdiocesan office of marriage and family life will host the institute’s “Healing Family Breakdown” spiritual workshop at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.
The event is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic, and, according to Morse, is meant to accomplish three goals: (1) heal families; (2) help participants prevent family breakdown; and (3) help participants become agents of healing within society at large.
When families attend the workshop, Morse added, something important and life-changing happens to them.
“You realize you and your family are not the only ones,” she said. “For a lot of people, that is huge.”
That realization is an important first step in healing, she said, and is often made manifest to her in a tangible way in the seating arrangement of workshop participants.
“The Holy Spirit has a way of seating people at the table who belong together,” Morse said.
For example, at a past workshop, she witnessed a teenage girl’s perspective change as a result of a conversation she had with a man at her table.
The girl was the daughter of divorced parents. She blamed her father for the situation and did not want anything to do with him.
However, also seated at her table was a divorced man experiencing loneliness as his children would not talk to him. A conversation between the two, Morse said, led the young lady to consider the hurt and loneliness her father might be experiencing, a perspective the teenager had not considered previously.
And that’s just one type of healing and paradigm shift The Ruth Institute is trying to bring about in the world.
On the nonprofit’s website — www.ruthinstitute.org — Morse identifies a dozen different types of survivors of the Sexual Revolution, ranging from children of divorce and of unmarried parents, to a pornography addict or a post-abortive man or woman.
If you recognize yourself, a family member or a friend in one of the 12 survivor descriptions, Morse discourages you from trying to go it alone. Participate in the workshop and begin the healing process, instead.
“We need [survivors’] participation,” she said. “We need you to be witnesses to say the church was right all along [about its teachings on family and sexuality].”
Morse calls survivors “the secret weapon” to restoring the family to its greatness and its rightful place in society.
“All these wounded souls need to speak up,” she said.
“Many people leave the faith over sexual issues,” Morse explained. “I know. I stormed off in a huff.”
But just as people leave the faith over sexual issues, Morse said, countless people later realize the beauty of church teaching and return to the faith.
“I was completely wrong, of course,” she said of her departure from the faith.
Later, by studying the church’s teachings and by watching her adopted and biological children grow, Morse said she realized how much children need their father and mother as well as how much they want their parents.
“That’s how I got interested in the family and how the family fits into society,” said Morse.
As she has watched the family structure in modern society continue to deteriorate, however, Morse is not without hope.
“A lot of what society is trying to do is undoable,” she said. “We believe it is possible to make the family great again.”
Posted on: Monday, September 25, 2017
Interview with Brenda Baietto, Esq., (left) coauthor with Jennifer Johnson (right) on the American Bar Association Journal article advocating for Family Structure Equality
I was blessed with an opportunity to coauthor an important article for the American Bar Association Journal regarding the “family structure equality” argument I make in my book, Marriage and Equality.
Brenda Baietto, Esq., of Tampa Mediations, is the lawyer who spearheaded this opportunity. She reached out to me in May. We worked collaboratively to get the article published, and it was published in September. You can read the article here.
I want to introduce Brenda to our Ruth Institute audience. Here is an interview I conducted with her about the article.
Jennifer Johnson (JJ): Tell me about the opportunity you had to write for the ABA Journal. When and how did that opportunity arise?
Brenda Baietto (BB): This opportunity arose back in May of this year as a result of a very good friend of mine named Florence M. Johnson, Esq who I met in law school and have stayed friends with since.She is an accomplished litigation attorney in Memphis TN, active in her local and state Bars, the national American Bar Association (ABA) and, for the last year or so has headed the Practice Pointers section of the Minority Trial Law Section of Litigation for the ABA.She asked me to consider writing a practice pointer piece on mediation for the target audience of trial lawyers.She wanted to give me an opportunity because she is a generous person and trusted me that I would produce a solid piece.
JJ: Of all the interesting people and legal topics you could have chosen to write with and about, why did you pick me and the "family structure equality" (FSE) that I make in my book?
BB: I picked you and your argument to write about because after reading it I knew you had put to words concepts that had been ﬂoating around in my head for some time especially as these concepts relate to family law, speciﬁcally divorce.And you were so very authentic.Your personal story has big impact precisely because it is so real.It cuts to the heart.More to it, after the decision in Obergefell [Editor’s note: Obergefell was the Supreme Court decision in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States], it was becoming more and more common to hear (from potential clients, other attorneys and in continuing legal ed seminars) about the creation and dismantling of new and different family structures and that these new structures have legal protection, deserve legal protection - all this with no discussion about the children other than an underlying belief that when adults are happy so are kids.So the predominant theme I am seeing in my legal community and reading about nationally is to support these new structures strictly based on compassion/sentiment for adult choices.It was surprising to me.
Your topic touched on these issues and I knew I had something to add.It was just a matter of putting it together such that it could ﬁt into what Florence was asking of me.Since it was not going to ﬁt into a practice pointer context, we discussed making it a short article and submitting it for consideration.
JJ: Your insight was to apply the FSE argument to the "best interests of the child standard." Why is that standard a good area to apply the FSE argument?
BB: In the context of divorce law, the best interest of the child standard is something we family lawyers and judges really see as the cornerstone of child custody/timesharing decisions. Judges and lawyers take very seriously their respective roles in determining what exactly is in the best interest of a child and work with a generous spirit to do what they think is “best.”However, the best interest standard traditionally focuses on “factors” that spring from either a previously accepted or “legal” arrangement whether or not the arrangement is “good” in and of itself for the child or from a decision to divorce which is accepted without question.Never are these accepted arrangements or decisions analyzed from a best interest of the child standard and it seems only logical to do so.Jennifer’s article made that easy because it gracefully begs the issue of what is in the best interest of the child and highlights a glaring deﬁciency in limiting the best interest standard to a sort of “after the fact” analysis.
JJ: What do you foresee as a positive outcome that can happen in the life of a child if a judge relies on the FSE argument?
BB: It is my belief that with rampant no fault divorce as well as the emergence of more and more diverse “family systems,” as they are called, children are being valued more as a commodity and not as human persons with dignity.In surrogacy contract cases, for example, children are property and where a dispute over custody arises between the surrogate and the buyer, many state laws subject the child only to property laws based on the contract and refuse to even entertain a best interest analysis at all.This loss of dignity brings with it the loss of understanding of what is truly in their best interest as humans who are alive in society as children, teens and adults.How we see children’s best interest is part and parcel of how we see the best interest of the family in society.
If judges and lawyers begin relying on the FSE argument several positive outcomes will result:ﬁrst, society will have to face the very real issues children suffer as a result of no fault divorce and diverse family structures including the grief so many adult children have experienced due to structural inequality.This could very well lead to a renewed interest in natural marriage and a rethinking of the import of children in society; second, the “best interest” standard will broaden and deepen bringing meaningful protections to children who as of now are wholly subject to the whims and desires of adults; third, the legal system will no longer be a wedge between a child and his biological parents blocking a child’s most natural desire to know who he is and creating stressors in the child that he would never dream could happen, i.e. will I marry my sister without realizing it? ; and ﬁnally, and so important, children will regain their dignity as humans and not a “thing” that is more and more being viewed only as a byproduct of adult desires.
JJ: Why do you think the Minority Trial Lawyers picked up the article, and not some other group within the ABA Journal?
BB: Because, as I understand better now and did not realize before, my friend Florence is particularly involved with the Minority Trial Lawyer section and she submitted the article directly through that channel. I do think, however, it is a gift that the article is published in the Minority Trial Lawyer Section.The FSE argument is meaningful to minorities when it is part and parcel of an overall understanding of the disproportionate impact of the welfare state on black families followed by the legalization of abortion in 1973 which had and continues to have a devastating effect of the black family. Supporting policies that reverse these programs and encourages a return to the natural triad family will help strengthen inequalities felt by children in the black community and begin to create generations that are more stable.
“According to a recent PEW report, 48% of nonwhites want to get married but say ﬁnancial instability is the reason they do not.One factor, which must be taken into account, is the disproportionate impact of the welfare state following the civil rights movement. Major welfare programs established in the late 1960s, which required recipients to be unmarried to qualify, followed shortly thereafter by the legalization of abortion in 1973, had a devastating effect on the black family.Data we have today should provoke a sense of urgency to focus policy on reversing the damage done by years of programs that have hurt the very low-income communities they were supposed to help.” From: https://townhall.com/columnists/starparker/2017/09/20/marriage-collapse-white-andblack-n2383765
We need policies that protect life and encourage marriage, ownership and individual responsibility and that includes the FSE argument.
JJ: Is there anything else you want our audience to know about the article?
BB: I want the audience to know that the truths in this article must get out into the world and be discussed.This article is a ﬁrst step to beginning a dialogue that heretofore was just not done and can focus on real analysis and exchange about the welfare of the family and children. Even more than that, it is about each of us living the truth of the natural family and letting others know that you do so in a spirit of love and devotion to the Lord whose precepts we accept and live out loudly.
Posted on: Monday, September 25, 2017
by Jennifer Johnson (left) and Brenda A. Baietto, Esq.
This article was first published September 11, 2017, at Americanbar.org.
Due to no-fault divorce and "diverse family structures," children often experience a form of inequality that is largely ignored. With lawyers and judges focused on a liberty that is defined as adults' happiness with their family structure choices, there is little focus on the inequalities these choices create for children. The legal profession readily supports the thinking that a happy adult makes for a happy child, yet we disregard a century of jurisprudence linking the state's interest in natural marriage to children and their formation and the substantial body of literature linking children and communities flourishing with the stable presence within a family of married, biological parents. Nor does the "best interests of the child" standard address this form of structural inequality. Finally, it is only fair to consider the testimonies of the children affected, especially once they are old enough to separate appropriately from their parents, examine their childhoods in an objective manner, and then decide for themselves how fair and just it was.
Family Structure Equality for Children
There is a kind of equality for children that deserves attention. It is called "family structure equality." It is the idea that most children should have the same kind of family structure, one founded on the lifelong marriage of their own married mother and father, also known as natural marriage. This is humanity's anthropological truth, our foundation—preexisting the law of marriage. Diagrammatically, this is represented as an inverted triangle, with the couple's child or children at the third point. This triad, in line with overwhelming social science evidence (both past and present), is the family structure that best ensures equality for children—equality of love, belonging, and security. When the family breaks down or doesn't form according to the triad, the inequalities for children multiply. Here are three ways this happens.
1. Two half-time dads do not equal one full dad. When parents divorce, a child can spend his or her childhood going back and forth between "two homes." If both parents remarry, that child can conceivably have a male father figure in each home. So the child has two half-time dads: a dad and a step-dad. For that child, however, having two half-time dads does not equal having one full-time dad. To a casual observer, it might seem as though the child being with each of them half the time would be the same as having one whole dad. But for one of the authors of this article, Jennifer Johnson, who was raised by divorced parents, it was not:
I am not 100 percent sure how I came to this realization, but I do remember thinking it as I stood in the driveway one day when I was about 12 years old. I remember feeling terrible about the messed-up nature of my family, how alone I was in it, and how it was never going to change.
Perhaps I came to this realization because I was an eyewitness to what a full-time dad looked like. My step-dad was a full-time dad to my half-sister. She lived with both her married parents, my mom and my step-dad. I could see that what she had and what I had were two different things. In each home, I needed to pretend that my other parent (and that parent's family) did not exist, meaning they were not welcome. Family photos of other people's whole families were on the walls, but not of my whole family. Group family photos were taken and hung on the walls, but I wasn't in them. I was the only one who had divided Christmases, divided birthdays. While all this was going on for me, I am acknowledging everybody's mother and father and their whole families. But mine was not acknowledged. Thus, I had no real sense of family and home.
Jennifer Johnson, Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children (Ruth Institute 2017).
2. Non-triad arrangements. Other types of non-triad arrangements have inequalities as well. Children who are conceived from anonymous gametes must pretend that half of who they are does not exist.
If the parents were raised inside the intact triad, then there is an inequality between the parents and the children because there are two different standards being applied. The child must pretend that half of himself or herself does not exist, while the child's parents do not. A study was conducted in 2010 of young adults who had been conceived through sperm donation. Two-thirds of them agreed with this statement: "My sperm donor is half of who I am." Elizabeth Marquardt et al., My Daddy's Name Is Donor: A New Study of Young Adults Conceived Through Sperm Donation (Inst. for Am. Values 2010).
"It's going to be heartbreaking for him (Zachary) to grow up and realise he hasn't got a mummy." —Elton John (quoted in Sarah Nathan, "It Will Break My Son's Heart to Realise He Hasn't Got a Mother," Daily Mail, July 15, 2012).
The wedge between a child and the gamete donor represents the legal system. It permanently blocks children from knowing half of their family trees. In some cases, this includes falsifying the child's birth certificate with the social parent's name. Consider the additional stressors these kids endure:
Who is my donor?
Who are my half-siblings?
Will our paths cross?
Will I accidentally marry one of them?
This is an inequality in their family structure that neither their parents nor their peers share, with stressors that their parents and their peers can hardly even imagine.
3. Disenfranchised grief. If a child thinks or feels something about the inequality he or she experiences, the child's thoughts and feelings may not be welcome. To welcome those thoughts and feelings might cast doubt on the structure of the family and call into question the adults' freedom to make those choices. Thus, the child suffers a disenfranchised grief, one not accepted by the wider culture. Part of the healing process for these people is having the freedom to talk about the inequalities without being judged or pathologized. This is a kind of equality that is now denied in the popular culture.
Even if our society agreed with all of this, there would still be a small amount of structural inequality among children. Death, rape, ignorance, and human weakness mean that some family structure inequality will always exist. Adoption serves as a remedy for this kind of inequality because it provides parents to children who need them.
We must distinguish between adoption and other instances where children are not being raised with their own married parents. Anonymous gamete donation, for example, is not analogous to adoption. It is when adults want to become parents and use money and business contracts to create children. Consider the screening process. In adoption, adults are screened. Those who are deemed unfit to be parents are excluded, at least in principle. In anonymous gamete donation, the children are screened. Those deemed unfit to be children are aborted, thrown away as embryos, or permanently frozen. Adults with enough money can be parents using this technology, including those with criminal histories or personality disorders. People with criminal histories and personality disorders can become parents under natural marriage, but they must secure the cooperation of the child's other genetic parent, which mitigates the child's risks.
The Legal Community's Responsibility
The "best interests of the child" standard, which is used where there are custody and time-sharing disputes, focuses on individual "fitness" to parent or what parenting arrangement would benefit a child in the future (or both). It does not address the family structure itself. Nearly all states share a codified list of factors to determine the best interests of the child that serves to remind parents of their parental responsibility to the child—"while marriages and relationships may dissolve, parents are forever." Implicitly, the assumption is that children need "parents," but what that means is untethered from familial structural equality and tied more closely to the freedom of adults to make those choices, regardless of the social science.
St. Pope John Paul II has said that the future of the world passes through the family. If, in that future, our children grow up accustomed to inequality and injustice, what can they pass on to the next generation? Adult children of divorce and other non-triad arrangements are speaking out. It is incumbent on us to review that literature, whether it is the six adult children of gay parents who filed amicus briefs against gay marriage in the Obergefell case or the video by Zach Wahls advocating for his lesbian parents and separately pointing out the joy of having and knowing about a biological sister (a shared sperm donor) or author Jennifer Johnson's testimony about her negative experiences with no-fault divorce. See also Leila Miller's new book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak (LCB Publishing 2017).
The legal community is ethically bound to uphold truth and justice for all citizens—adults and children. We have accepted children's inequality as part of the landscape of contractual families that provide unbridled freedom to the adult. Should the legal community reevaluate when to apply the best interest standard? Should it be applied before an adult is given autonomy with a child's family structure? Can a guardian ad litem focus on these inequalities and be a source of education for parents? Are the child's true best interests being sacrificed at the time an alternative family is founded, where that child is without any legal protection? We in the legal community must reevaluate our duty to children when we are involved in the formation and dismantling of families.
Jennifer Johnson is the associate director for the Ruth Institute. She was raised by divorced parents and is the author of Marriage and Equality: How Natural Marriage Upholds the Ideal of Equality for Children. Brenda A. Baietto, Esq. is a family law attorney and mediator for Tampa Mediations, LLC, in Tampa, Florida.