Ware Farms

Speaking truth to prejudice

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Who is Parent to this Child?

Family Scholars Blog looks at yet another non-traditional family and as usual finds much to criticize. I provided the following response:

Elizabeth Marquardt,

In response to your comment #11

I have a picture of my father standing on Waikiki beach dated December 7,1942. He served in the Navy in Hawaii during WWII. He left home a few months after I was born. When my father lost his job at the height of the depression in the 1930's and couldn't find another, he started a business of his own. With him away during the war my mother took over running the business.

Mom's parents retired and came to live with us well before I was born, which was typical before social security came into existence. With Pop away and Mom running the business, Grandma looked after me and my older brother each day.

In response to a question, Christ told the story of the Samaritan. He then asked the lawyer, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

So I ask you:

Who dabbed some formula on her wrist to make sure it was the right temperature before feeding me my bottle?

Who put some ointment on my bottom to ease the rash when she changed my cloth diaper?

Who softly sang:

The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes.
The little lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love thee lord Jesus look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

to lull me to sleep for my afternoon nap?

As I grew, who read me "The Pokey Little Puppy," "The Wizard of Oz." and on and on?

Who told me to be respectful of others, to not use the "n" word and to be polite, well before the term "PC" was invented?

Who taught me that God loves all His children without reservation, that we should treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves?

Being a parent takes many skills, lots of patience, willing hands, a hopeful spirit and much more. But most of all it takes a loving heart. There's nothing about biology that guarantees any of this.

In answering Christ's question, the lawyer had to admit that it was the Samaritan, a person who was otherwise despised by Jews in those times, who was the good neighbor to this man.

So in the present context I have to ask, "Who was parent to the child and looked after his needs?"

Do I love my Mom and Pop? Of course I do! Yet, like most children, I cherish even more the person who first raised me, my grandmother.

So when I read about this Russian grandmother, I celebrate the new life she holds in her hands. I feel the joy and love she has for this child and am confident she is more likely to succeed than many other parents I know.

Yet no matter how advantaged a child is in some, most or even all of the more important factors that lead to successful child rearing outcomes, if the family situation is non-traditional, a factor which ranks 8th or 9th in importance by any objective measure, you consider the child's situation to be tragic.

So I ask you, like the lawyer, to put your prejudices aside, and acknowledge that family composition is one of the least important factors in successfully raising children when compared to the many other factors which are far more important. Then, where these other factors are so positive, to rejoice that the child is being raised in these beneficial, though non-traditional circumstances.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Maryland Court Finds SSM Ban Unconstitutional

I see the Circuit Court for Baltimore City has declared the ban on same sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
After carefully considering Plaintiffs’ various arguments, this Court finds that Family Law §2-201 constitutes unjustified discrimination based on gender, in violation of Article 46 of Maryland’s Declaration of Rights.4 The mere creation of a sex-based classification triggers application of the Equal Rights Amendment, under which distinctions drawn based on sex are suspect and subject to strict scrutiny. Because this Court does not find that §2-201 is narrowly tailored to serve any compelling governmental interests, this Court must conclude that the statutory ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The ruling can be found here (pdf file 20pgs).

Section 2-201 is part of the Family Law which was amended in 1973 to include: “Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this State.” Plaintiffs agreed that the defendants (county clerks) were following the law when they refused these same sex couples marriage licenses, but they argued that the law itself was unconstitutional. It arbitrarily discriminated against persons who wanted to marry someone of the same gender.

Maryland passed an equal rights amendment to its constitution in 1972 prohibiting discrimination based on gender. It states, “equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied because of sex.” Defendants argued that this did not apply in this case since both men and women were equally allowed to marry as long as (of course) they married someone of the opposite sex. This is similar to the argument in Loving v Virginia in defense of the state anti-miscegenation statute, that both blacks and whites were free to marry, as long as they married someone of the same race.

The court found this argument unpersuasive. To simplify: If Jill, a female can marry Jack, a male, but John, a male, cannot marry Jack, then John is being discriminated against based on his gender. Gender is a protected class and discrimination based on gender is subject to strict scrutiny.There must be a compelling state interest that a law which discriminates based on gender must satisfy in order to stand up to constitutional muster.

Even laws that do not involve a protected class, are still required to have a rational basis. They cannot be arbitrary, they must serve some useful purpose.

The court found that the law banning gay marriage met neither the compelling state interest nor the rational basis criteria.

Defendants claimed that the ban was in support of the state's interest in the traditional family unit, a married mom and dad raising their biological children. Gay and lesbian couples, some with children, already exist. Any suggestion that allowing these couples to marry would have some specific negative effect on the behavior of their heterosexual neighbors exceeds "rational speculation."

The Court concludes that the prohibition of same-sex marriages is not rationally related to the state interest in the rearing of biological children by married, opposite-sex parents. Indeed, the prevention of same-sex marriages is wholly unconnected to promoting the rearing of children by married, opposite sex-parents. This Court, like others, can find no rational connection between the prevention of same-sex marriages and an increase or decrease in the number of heterosexual marriages or of children born to those unions.

I suggested instead that Gay Marriage Reinforces Straight Marriage.

Other defense arguments were similarly dismissed:

Defendants: Allowing SSM would make our laws different then most other states and the federal government. Court: So? Or responsibilities are to the citizens of Maryland.

Defendants: Other laws such as those permitting second parent adoption already protect the rights of gays and their children. Court: If these rights are indistinguishable from those of married couples, then why not simplify things and call it marriage? If not, then the plaintiff's complaint is justified.

Defendants: Promoting and preserving legislatively expressed societal values and the traditional institution of marriage are legitimate state interests. Court:

Although tradition and societal values are important, they cannot be given so much weight that they alone will justify a discriminatory statutory classification. When tradition is the guise under which prejudice or animosity hides, it is not a legitimate state interest.

All in all, a well thought out decision.