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.

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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.

Twitter: @natecarlisle

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015

By Dave Boyer and Cheryl Wetzstein - The Washington Times - Sunday, June 28, 2015

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right, the battleground is shifting to religious freedom and whether religious people and/or churches can be compelled to sanction behavior contrary to their religious beliefs.

The court’s 5-4 ruling on Friday directs states to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but doesn’t address the actions of churches or other private groups. Conservatives and religious leaders say the decision is certain to embolden liberal activists and accelerate legal clashes between supporters of gay marriage and religious groups who don’t accept same-sex marriage.

“We’re going to see pretty quickly what Pandora’s box is, because Christians are going to be told — are already being told — that they have no legal right to not participate,” said Gary Bauer, president of the nonprofit group American Values. “The early signs are not good.”

As a result of the ruling, some of the dissenting Supreme Court justices said they foresee new legal challenges related to religious liberty in three particular areas: the tax-exempt status of religious organizations, the unwillingness of some churches and individuals to perform same-sex marriages and gay adoption.

Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. said he’s concerned that the ruling “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote of the looming legal battles: “In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.”

Others predict legal challenges over issues such as whether a Christian university that provides housing for traditional married couples could be required to provide it for same-sex couples as well.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called the ruling a “tragic error” and vowed to continue preaching the church’s doctrine on marriage as the permanent union of a man and a woman to their parishes.

“Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman. As Catholic bishops, we follow our Lord and will continue to teach and to act according to this truth,” Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement.

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said the court has changed the legal definition of marriage, not the biblical truth about marriage.

“As we respect a legal ruling with which we do not agree, we ask others to respect our faith and practices even when they disagree with us,” he said.

Within hours of the court’s decision, some religious leaders were vowing they’ll never perform same-sex weddings.

“Those of us who believe that marriage was ordained by God and reserved for one man and one woman, will not abide by this ruling,” said Pastor Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America Action in Nacogdoches, Texas. “We will denounce this practice in our services, we will not teach it in our schools, we will refuse to officiate at this type of wedding, and we will not accept any encroachments on our First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage from its biblical origins is offensive to millions.”

Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, said the ruling “will lead to grave infringements of religious freedom across the United States.”

“Every American should be free to affirm the truth about marriage without being punished by the government,” Mr. Pitts said. “In the wake of this decision, we must ensure that no governmental entity is ever permitted to discriminate against Americans because they affirm the truth about marriage. No one should be forced to choose between their faith and their livelihood.”

Liberal Catholics praised the decision. Christopher J. Hale, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, called the ruling “a moment of great joy for many Catholics” and said the church should seek forgiveness for discriminating against gays.

Secularists agreed, calling the traditional religious definition of marriage irrelevant.

“Our country is finally moving beyond outdated, religious definitions of marriage,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “This is a victory for all LGBTQ Americans and allies who fought vigorously against discrimination.”

Such anti-religious sentiments worry David Lane of the American Renewal Project, who is training pastors nationwide in how to run for office. He predicted legal attacks on churches and other groups who oppose same-sex marriage.

“They are going to say to churches, ‘If you are going to have a tax-exempt status, you are going to perform homosexual marriage wedding[s], and if you don’t, we are going to remove your tax-deductible status,’” Mr. Lane said. “They are going to say to Christian radio, ‘Homosexual marriage is the law of the land determined by the Supreme Court. If you don’t agree with that, then you are going to lose your FCC licenses.’ This is where it is headed — easily it is. I am convinced of it.”

Members of Congress, led by Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, and Rep. Raul R. Labrador, Idaho Republican, have introduced a First Amendment Defense Act, which would prevent the federal government from discriminating against anyone who believes marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Congress and state governments should “move immediately” to enact First Amendment Defense Acts, said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, said states must also pass laws to require “the genetic parents” be named on “every birth certificate, for every child,” so vital information will not be hidden or falsified from any person.

The nation needs “the strongest possible religious freedom bills” and strong state-based family policy partners, said Tom Minnery, president of chief executive of

Churches should “adopt a clear statement of faith regarding human sexuality and marriage,” clarify that church weddings “are Christian worship services” and adopt a policy restricting use of ministry facilities to the ministry’s religious purposes, said Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association.

“Although the ongoing debate about marriage now enters a new phase, it is far from over,” said Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom.

Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, said although the court’s ruling doesn’t “implicate” churches directly, it “will lend support to efforts to sideline and marginalize traditional religious beliefs.”

One pastor, Steve Smothermon of Legacy Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, even said he’d rather go to jail than preside at a same-sex wedding.

“We want to help people, but we are not going to be forced by the government and society or the politically correct to say we are going to believe in it,” he told “If they said, ‘Listen, pastor, we are going to put you in jail if you don’t honor this,’ I am going to say, ‘Then put me in jail.’”

President Obama, who praised the ruling, said supporters of same-sex marriage should recognize that many others don’t accept it.

"I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue,” Mr. Obama said. “Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome [the ruling] should be mindful of that fact, recognize different viewpoints [and] revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.”

Mr. Bauer said the president’s words amounted to “a great laugh line.”

“His administration has aggressively attacked religious liberty,” Mr. Bauer said. “He’s playing rhetorical games again. There is nothing his administration has done that should give anybody any sense of ease by that statement.”

Some religious leaders took similar heart in Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s words that religious people “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”

But Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, said those words meant people can “advocate” for traditional marriage but “cannot operate according to those beliefs.” Instead, she said, First Amendment religious freedoms will surely be pitted against the ruling’s newly established “right to dignity.”

The high court’s opinion “gives lip service to the rights of people of faith,” said Maureen Ferguson of The Catholic Association. Already Catholic Charities agencies have been forced out of adoption, and Christians who are bakers, florists or fire chiefs have suffered “merely for respectful expression of their views,” she said.

• Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.