Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The decay of marriage

Kay Hymowitz, a marriage and family scholar at the Manhattan Institute, argues in today's National Review Online that gay marriage is not necessarily contributing to the weakening of marriage. Instead, she suggests that marriage is still valued, but the concept of marriage as a safe haven for raising children has been removed from the equation; the focus has been whittled down to an adult relationship, so any adult relationship is fine.

In the Q&A, NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez asks, "To what degree is same-sex marriage contributing to a weakening of marriage? Is it more a symptom of an institution already decaying?"

And Hymowitz responds (emphasis mine):
I think it’s the latter. The unmarriage revolution[*] of the last 40 years had to occur before gay marriage became a logical possibility, because it was only when marriage had nothing or little to do with children that it made any sense. Pro-gay-marriage conservatives know this. Jonathan Rauch has written in response to the sort of argument I make that “the debate is over about detaching marriage from parenthood — indeed was over years ago;” Andrew Sullivan has said much the same thing. Well, there you have it. Marriage-and-children? That’s so yesterday.

Despite this, Rauch has argued that gay marriage will increase the institution’s standing in American society. But as I’ve already pointed out, the problem is not that Americans don’t value marriage. It’s that they view it as an adult love relationship having little to do with children. That’s precisely the underlying premise for gay marriage.
I hadn't thought about the idea that marriage has become "an adult love relationship having little to do with children," but the idea resonates (and Hymowitz backs it up with data showing how badly the destruction of marriage is hurting our children). That's why same-sex marriage advocates can make their argument with such conviction -- because they know that their social predecessors in the feminist movement have made their jobs easier by excluding children from the marriage debate.

* When she refers to the "unmarriage revolution," she's speaking of "the radical decoupling of marriage and children that began in the late 1960’s and became entrenched during the 70’s," and which was led by the feminists movement. The researchers defending the unmarriage revolution argued that kids are tough and can handle anything as long as mom is happy, but "at least that much has changed," Hymowitz said. "As James Q. Wilson has joked, by now the evidence is now so powerful, even sociologists admit that children growing up with single mothers are at greater risk of just about every problem you can think of — poverty, depression, school failure, delinquency, early pregnancy, and so on."

(Hymowitz has a new book called Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age; the book is a compilation of essays she has written on the state of marriage.)

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  • At 1/23/2007 6:35 PM, Blogger coachsappho said…

    Kay, Kay, Kay...

    I don't know if I agree that it took the decaying of marriage as an institution AND the decoupling of children from marriage that has made gay marriage a possibility.

    From my perspective, I think that gay marriage is now becoming a reality because the world is becoming MORE, not less just and human. Individual human rights have become more understood, including their connection to the larger public good.

    Many gay couples I know (especially those younger adult ones), are becoming adults in our society without the stigma my generation (who grew up in the 60's-80's) experienced - many of today's young gays desire to be just like everyone else - get married and have kids. I would have probably had children had I grown up in a more supportive culture (and family).

    Just because straight folk now have the OPTION whether or not to have kids in marriage, that has little to do with gay folk's wants and needs.

    If you'd like to discuss further, I'm always available to talk!

    Barb Elgin, MSW, LCSW-C

  • At 1/26/2007 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is a really great point Ken. The idea of "family" has been amputed from the concept of marraige in favor of a hollywood-style fantasy based on high school emotions. The concept of generations, legacy and the duties and responsibilities of marriage leading to parenthood have been relegated to a dusty bin of the old fashioned and backwards. If the reason for marriage is simply the high of emotional self fullfillment, why shouldn't we marry the same sex, or children and animals for that matter? What ever floats your boat...

  • At 1/31/2007 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    SB 500 - Prohibits discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation. Defines “sexual orientation as “ an individuals actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individuals sex at birth. Sponsored by Sen. Rick Metsger and Sen. Ginny Burdick
    Already with Measure 37 Land use Laws have had two lawsuites on them
    Marriage needs to be between one man and one woman no on civil unions and no on domestic partnership first of all with lawsuites on Measure 37 land use laws all same sex really want to do is Lawsuit the courts.they went through lawsuiting the courts to have same sex marriage in the first place and did not go through the will of the voters which is basically called Judicial tyraanny
    Assaulting the foundation of morality and the family
    Judicial Tyranny
    Get the cd.
    at www.family.org

  • At 1/31/2007 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Marriage needs to be one man and one woman and no on civil unions,but also no on domestic partnership
    with all the Lawsuites going on so far we have had two in oregon on Measure 37 do you really want more lawsuites for the state do you think people have rights to meet in the courts or the back rooms of city hall to change the constitution with out you knowing about it or your vote on it
    rotecting Marriage From Judicial Tyranny by Ron Paul
    Protecting Marriage From Judicial Tyranny. by Rep. Ron Paul, MD by Rep. Ron Paul, MD. Before the House of Representatives, July 22, 2004. ...
    www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul197.html -------------------------------
    check out and get this CD
    on Judicial Tyranny and learn more
    I mean to unslurp the will of the voters is wrong,
    but Marriage is also about the protecting of kids and the family shouldnt kids have the right to have a father and a mother if same sex are willing to unslurp the will of the voters how will it effect the health care system.we have a culture of death going on in society today
    peter Grasso Jr book
    in God we betrayed and learn more
    about the culture of death.Just go ot google to find it.


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