Trditional Marriage News

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It's been a good month for champions of the traditional family, but don't expect the family wars to be ending any time soon.

In recent weeks, a barrage of new evidence has come to light demonstrating what was once common sense. "Family structure matters" (in the words of my American Enterprise Institute colleague Brad Wilcox, who is also the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia).

And Princeton University and the left-of-center Brookings Institution released a study that reported "most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide range of outcomes." Why this is so is still hotly contested.


Another study, coauthored by Wilcox, found that states with more married parents do better on a broad range of economic indicators, including upward mobility for poor children and lower rates of child poverty. On most economic indicators, the Washington Post summarized, "the share of parents who are married in a state is a better predictor of that state's economic health than the racial composition and educational attainment of the state's residents."


Boys in particular do much better when raised in a more traditional family environment, according to a new report from MIT. This is further corroboration of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's famous 1965 warning: "From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history; a community that allows a large number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos."

Perhaps most intriguing — and dismaying — a new study by Nicholas Zill of the Institute of Family Studies found that adopted children have a harder time at school than kids raised by their biological parents. What makes this so dismaying is that adoptive parents tend to be better off financially and are just as willing as traditional parents, if not more so, to put in the time and effort of raising kids.

Zill's finding highlights the problem with traditional family triumphalism. Adoption is a wonderful thing, and just because there are challenges that come with adoption, no one would ever argue that the problems adopted kids face make the alternatives to adoption better. Kids left in orphanages or trapped in abusive homes do even worse.

In other words, every sweeping statement that the traditional family is best must come with a slew of caveats, chief among them: "Compared to what?" A little girl in a Chinese or Russian orphanage is undoubtedly better off with two loving gay or lesbian parents in America. A kid raised by two biological parents who are in a nasty and loveless marriage will likely benefit from her parents getting divorced.

"In general," writes St. Lawrence University professor Steven Horwitz, "comparisons of different types of family structures must avoid the 'Nirvana Fallacy' by not comparing an idealized vision of married parenthood with a more realistic perspective on single parenthood. The choices facing couples in the real world are always about comparing imperfect alternatives."


Of course, that point can be made about almost every human endeavor, because we live in a flawed world. And just because we don't — and can't — live in perfect consistency with our ideals, that is not an argument against the ideals themselves.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that family structure is so controversial. The family, far more than government or schools, is the institution we draw the most meaning from. From the day we are born, it gives us our identity, our language and our expectations about how the world should work. Before we become individuals or citizens or voters, we are first and foremost part of a family. That is why social engineers throughout the ages see it as a competitor to, or problem for, the state.

And the family wars will never end, because family matters — a lot.

jgoldberg@latimescolumnists.com

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

 

 

 

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-1027-goldberg-family-structur...

Date:
Friday, August 28, 2015

The family of Kody Brown on Wednesday answered Utah’s appeal to reinstate a ban on polygamy, and the family’s brief is notable for what’s there now that wasn’t before.

The Browns’ attorney Jonathan Turley wages many of the same arguments that were successful in the lower court. But now Turley also cites recent rulings affirming same-sex marriage.

That includes the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the court upheld the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry, and Kitchen v. Herbert, the case that brought same-sex marriage to Utah. Turley also cites a Supreme Court case that decriminalized all gay sex as sodomy, Lawrence V. Texas.

“From the rejection of morality legislation in Lawrence to the expansion of the protections of liberty interests in Obergefell, it is clear that states can no longer use criminal codes to coerce or punish those who choose to live in consensual but unpopular unions,” Turley wrote in his answer to Utah’s appeal.

When U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups overturned Utah’s ban on polygamy in December 2013, same-sex marriage wasn’t mentioned in the ruling.

The Browns, known for the television show “Sister Wives,” want the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Waddoups’ ruling. Utah appealed to have it overturned. The state has argued that polygamy is inherently harmful to women and children and that the Browns have not suffered from the law, because they haven’t been prosecuted.

The Browns lived in Lehi during the first season of their show then moved to Las Vegas after the Utah County attorney began a criminal investigation.

For those of you using a desktop browser, the ruling is embedded on the left. Or you can click here.

The 10th Circuit has not scheduled oral arguments for the case.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle


 

http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/pages/printfriendly.csp?id=2880612

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