Thursday, January 30, 2014

Objective truths about HJR3 the Indiana Marriage Amendment: Breaking down proponent's scare tactics

30 January 2014

I hold no position on whether marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. It is already in the Indiana Code so for me it is not a germane issue. But as it has been a hotly contested matter that is diverting attention away from legitimate child well-being issues I would like to see it disposed. As I engage in vigorous conversation with and attend informational events held by both proponents and opponents I am struck by the misconceptions, misstatements and blatant lies about HJR3 which come from both sides but moreso from what I see distributed by proponents. Particularly disturbing is the general characterizations that are being flipped on their heads with this issue.

I am not going to cite to authorities is this article. I have numerous years of experience in the field of child custody, marriage – or rather divorce – and advising state policy makers on matters pertaining to these.

The hallmark of conservatism is the protection of liberty. So I found it stunning when I received an email yesterday from a proponent of HJR3 attacking Indiana House members who voted to strip HJR3 of it's broad restrictive language. It was not the misunderstanding about conservatism that bothered me but, rather, it was the blatant lies.

American Family Association of Indiana

To me truth matters. I hold truth in such high regard that it is equaled by few other people. When my son was age 2 I told him that the Santa Claus stories perpetuated by our society are lies. I explained truth to him and the importance of being truthful. He understood. There is no one that I have a more trusting relationship than with my son. As someone who goes into courts across this state and provides expert opinion and testimony of observations the veracity of my statements is critical to the best interest of children. So when I hear these blatant lies it raises my ire. Especially when it is directed in a way to cause harm to children. This is why I am compelled to respond to the email from Micah Clark of the American Family Association. This is disturbing to me because I honestly believe that the AFA has made positive contributions towards childhood well-being following divorce.

The AFA states in regards to the House members who voted to amend HJR3, “Some even think that they are 'conservative,' but they are not.” I will address that opinion later after confronting the lies.

52 members voted for same-sex marriage and for keeping the government involved in this issue
NOWHERE in HJR3 as amended and passed is there any repeal of Ind. Code § 31-11-1-1 which prohibits same-sex marriage. The great contradiction here is that while opponents of HJR3 are trying to keep government out of the marriage business and let people decide the extent of their personal relationships not the government.

Every one [of the 52 House members] has tried to take away your right to vote on this issue and now has left the future of marriage in the hands of politicians and homosexual activists.
This is an absurd misstatement of the Indiana Constitution that goes against the basic tenants of our constitutional republic. There is no right of the people to vote on this issue or any other. Our law making process is constructed under a representative form that provides for voters to select other citizens to represent them as a law making body. In Indiana we have two house; a House of Representatives comprised of 100 members, and a Senate comprised of 50 members. These are the people who have a “right” to decide this issue as particularly described in Article 16 of the Indiana Constitution. Now I will move onto more about rights and the people deciding.

52 members of the Indiana House of Representatives ignored the will of 80% of Hoosiers who want to vote on the future of marriage.
I am thankful that we have legislators who are willing to ignore the will of 80% of Hoosiers. Ignore 100% or whatever it takes. Legislators took an oath to obey the Constitution and if upholding those principles conflicts with the will of the people then those representatives have done their job admirably.

Indiana was the first jurisdiction in the world to impose, by law, forced sterilization on citizens deemed to be unfit to procreate. This law formed the basis of the genocide legislation imposed onto certain Germans during the Third Reich. That legislation was supported by the majority.

That illustrates the tyranny of the majority. A simple analogy used by those of us who cherish liberty is that democracy is three wolves and one lamb voting on what to eat for dinner. Apparently the AFA wants the wolves to make the laws in Indiana. That is the immorality of pure democracy. It does not respect the rights of the individual.

[A] conservative respects the moral order of society.
What is moral does no harm. HJR3 as introduced would have led to harm. I have written about how it would invalidate Domestic Violence penalties and prevent victims from receiving services. It would also allow for a parent to terminate a child's relationship with the other parent by nullifying laws that would protect the child's right to that relationship.

[G]iving the people of Indiana the freedom to decide the matter once and for all.
This is the statement that shows the true desire of HJR3 proponents and how their claim over voter rights is fallacious. Another way to frame this sentence and give the same effect is to say, “Keep future voters and legislators from being able to have the ability to adapt statutes to the changing dynamics of society.” HJR3 is all about preventing people in the future from having a direct input into the government regulation of their lives. Imagine if one hundred years ago we had a constitutional amendment to define “biological parent” as “those parents who conceived their child through sexual intercourse.” Other parents would be adoptive parents. But then IVF came along and children were born to biological parents, as we know the term, who did not have intercourse.

What You Need to Know about Marriage

I received a pamphlet produced by Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, National Organization for Marriage, and The Heritage Foundation.

Let me begin by saying from a public policy standpoint [a position taken that is based upon statistical generalities] that a marriage between a man and a woman is best for raising children. I strongly advocate for presumptions that children are most well-adjusted when they have a meaningful and regular relationship with their mothers and fathers. This is acknowledged in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and numerous published opinions of the Indiana Court of Appeals and decisions of the Indiana Supreme Court.

This pamphlet correctly acknowledges that “children need a mother and a father.” In advocating their public policy position on marriage these organization make what I believe to be some spurious claims. These include that marriage “brings together sexually complimentary spouses, in a monogamous relationship,” that “marriage is about the needs of children,” and that “Marriage ensures the well-being of children.” These statements on their face seem plausible from the standpoint of a policy advisor who works in the child custody arena I take issue with each.

Empirical data and my observations or interviews reveal that a substantial percentage of marriages are not monogamous. Further, that a high percentage of same-sex marriages are monogamous and are co-habitating unmarried parents.

While much of the claims of proponents rest on the presumptions about the historical perspectives a traditional marriage their current claim do not bear such congruence. “Marriage is about the needs of children” is a new concept. Marriage has long been a method of securing relationships between families for political or business purposes. Marriages were often arranged by parents. Black's Law Dictionary defines marriage to include “A contract, according to the form prescribed by law, by which a man and woman capable of entering into such contract, mutually engage with each other to live their whole lives (or until divorced) together in a state of union which ought to exist between a husband and wife.” That sounds vaguely like a civil union. Likewise to the business or political contractual application, marriages often served as a means of support for a woman and subsequently upon the bearing of children as a means of securing labour for the agrarian man. It was not until post-industrial revolution that a marked shift began to occur in which marriage became more focused on children's needs including the adoption of laws to protect children from being indentured into labour by their parents. To this day, in Indiana, there still exist a statute requiring adult children to financially support their parents. Thus, marriage or rather child rearing in general, is not entirely about providing for the needs of children but is a financial security blanket for parents under threat of imprisonment.

Then there is the well-being of children claim. If marriage does ensure the “well-being of children” then why are children in married households being abused and neglected? Why I am always involved in at least one court case involving allegations of domestic abuse between married parents?

Much of the information cited for opposing gay marriage or civil unions is that married mothers and fathers produce the best outcomes for children. Again, I emphatically say this is true. However, these authors juxtapose this data to same-gender civil unions. This is misplaced as the researchers generally are comparing married parents to unwed parents or single parents where one parent has abandoned the child. After traditionally married parents a civil union among monogamous same-sex “parents” is best.

One interesting claim I found was that “no one has the right to redefine marriage for all of us.” I almost find this bizarre. Allow same-sex civil unions would do nothing to restrict marriages as they currently exist between mixed gender adults. However, HJR3 would bar the government from recognizing same-gender relationships similar to marriage including allowing grant money to be used to supply Domestic Violence service to victims of same-sex abuse.

I will close on this statement. Marriage is “a permanent and exclusive union of a man and woman for childbearing and rearing.” Based upon that limitation then sterile persons should be barred from marriage. This also ignores the numerous cases I have seen where same-gender “parents” solidified their relationship through a ceremony for the purpose of being parents to the child or anticipated child of one of the partners.

Regardless of the position one holds on this issue the debate should not be tainted by misinformation, omissions, or lies.

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