Jesurgislac’s Journal

December 11, 2009

This is what Republicans think of families

A lot of Republican politicians trade heavily on being “family values” politicians. By which they mean, they support a ban on same-sex couples marrying and a ban on the children of same-sex couples having two legal parents.

What they don’t mean by “family values” is any support for actual families, living together and supporting each other, caring for their children.

If you’ve ever talked to an anti-marriage activist, you generally find that while they’re willing to admit that same-sex couples exist, they are utterly unwilling to acknowledge that they have children: they are too busy carrying a big sign that says in large friendly lying letters that they want to PROTECT children, to think for a moment about the children their bans on marriage and adoption and their promotion of homophobia in schools are attacking. For them, those children are invisible, inaudible, unwanted problems who should never have been born. (About six months ago I had a depressing series of discussions with Renaissance Guy, one of the breed of right-wing “Christians” who hold it to be an essential tenet of their faith to promote legal discrimination against same-sex couples and their children: RG is far from the only such religionist to believe that homophobia is more central to Christianity than caring for children, he just runs a more open blog than most of his co-religionists.)

I’ve been convinced for years that homophobic, racist, and misogynistic bigotry are all growths from the same root, but I’ve been becoming more and more convinced recently that class discrimination is tied in with this too: see the post I wrote a year ago about the attitude that only wealthy families can have fine children (Persephone embraces Hades).

In the Seattle Times this week (Via, via) there’s a fresh example of children officially determined not to exist because of Republican policies.

On the face of it, a “family values” politician ought to have thought well of a woman like Rachel Porcaro: a single mom, granted, no husband around to help support her two kids, which must be one strike against her, but: She’d moved to live with her parents: she was working and taking care of her kids. A family: grandparents, mom, and kids.

But: Rachel Porcaro earned only $18,992 a year. In Seattle, that put her and her two sons below the poverty line. And, she got the “earned income tax credit” which is tax relief for the working poor. Republicans – those “family values” politicians – call that “welfare by the back door”. When the Republicans were in control of Congress, a head-of-family in receipt of earned income tax credit was more than twice as likely to get audited than the rest of the 140 million American taxpayers. Apparently the Republicans would prefer it if a woman like Rachel Porcaro was on welfare, rather than being a working single mom earning barely enough to get by on: tax audits are bitterly discouraging. Granted poor people may commit tax fraud as well as wealthy people, but auditing poor people more than wealthy people is a thoroughly backwards way of going about it – unless you care more for protecting the wealthy and penalizing the poor than you do about actually recovering money from tax cheats.

Not the end of the story, though. Rachel Porcaro’s children were declared non-children by the IRS. She was earning so little they decided she couldn’t claim them as tax dependents: and they disallowed any other claim because there weren’t enough receipts to prove she – or their grandparents – were keeping them in food and clothing.

Republicans claim they’re pro-family. Rightwing Christians claim they’ll vote Republican because they believe in protecting families and children. But these imaginary ideals somehow evaporate into poison gas when they’re faced with the real families, the actual children, directly and visibly harmed by right-wing policies and Republican politicians.

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12 Comments »

  1. First, I thank you for the slight compliment you paid me. Another person quit my blog because of you, and urged me to ban you. One other person apparently stays away often because of you, too. I believe in freedom of expression, and I do not believe that contrary views will harm me in any way. I might even learn something from them.

    The question of whether same-sex couples have children is a tough one. Yes, many of them have children in their possession, but they cannot both be the biological parents, unless they adopted the child. If two people legally adopt a child, then they are that child’s parents. I’m talking about all the ways that people create children that are contrary to the usual, natural process–sperm donation, IV fertilization, surrogate motherhood. (I oppose those methods for anyone, including opposite-sex couples and single people.) These procedures create all kinds of confusion and potential legal problems. I would prefer that people adopt a needy child than to use a third party to create one. Having a child should be about wanting to provide the very best for the child and not about fulfilling some need in the adult.

    When I talk about protecting children, I do not mean only the children in alternate-lifestyle families. I mean children in general. I want children to grow up in a society where marriage between a husband and a wife is the foundation of society. I want all chidlren to have a mother and a father who love them and provide for them and live with them in the same house. When that is not possible, I want next-best solutions. I want children to have legal recourse if one or more of their parents dies or skips town. I want the parents to be held responsible for the children, and that means that parenthood has to be legally established. I want children to be able to inherit from their parents, and that also means that parenthood must be legally established. A lot of this has just as much to do with heterosexual relationships as homosexual ones.

    If two men or two women want to adopt a needy child, I am not categorically opposed to it. I think that children generally are better off with opposite-sex parents, since opposite-sex paretns are able to provide the perspective of both sides to a devloping child. However, I also realize that children are better off with any parents than with none. And I realize that there is nothing about homosexual people that would prevent them from being adequate, or even good, parents, as far as it goes.

    Okay, enough theory. I do not know what to do about chidlren with two mommies or two daddies. I do not want to see them hurt in any way. I do not want them ridiculed or made to feel inferior. I would never do so to one of those children myself, unless I did so inadvertently. If there is something wrong with what their “parents” are doig, and I say IF on purpose, then it is not the fault of the children.

    I have only known one set of such children. A male person in my family had a live-in relationship with a man who had children from his marriage to a woman. For awhile, he and my family member called themselves the children’s fathers, although the mother was still active in their lives. They expressed disgust at the hetero-normative teacher who told the kids that they actually had a mother and a father rather than two fathers (which was simply a biological and legal fact). Those kids were pretty messed-up, but I will be honest and say that they were much more messed-up from the divorce and the antagonistic attitude of their parents than they were from living with two male caregivers.

    I relate that tale to say that I have had almost no experience with such children. Articles by the PC crowd indicate that living with same-sex parents causes no psychological or social harm to children whatsoever. Perhaps. I have read adult testimonies from adults who were raised in that kind of environment, some positive and some negative. It strikes me that that is normal compared to kids who grew up in a traditional family. (Even kids in the same family give their parents mixed reviews.)

    I am a traditionalist and a moralist. That’s more than just what I think, it is really who I am. Even beyond the religious reasons for my views, I have an instinctive longing for a society in which girls and boys grow up, get married, have children, raise those children to adulthood in a loving home, and then the cycle continues. Having lived through the divorce of my own parents, I think it makes me more susceptible for wanting to preserve that ideal.

    Now about the IRS. . .

    Comment by renaissanceguy — December 12, 2009 @ 12:01 am | Reply

    • I have an instinctive longing for a society in which girls and boys grow up, get married, have children, raise those children to adulthood in a loving home, and then the cycle continues.

      But you don’t feel that all children should be raised to adulthood in a loving home by married parents – since you consistently and persistently argue that some children’s parents shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and that some children shouldn’t exist…

      The question of whether same-sex couples have children is a tough one.

      No, it’s not. Same-sex couples do have children – much the same way mixed-sex couples do. You may think it’s a “tough question”, but that’s because you’re that kind of monster.

      Having a child should be about wanting to provide the very best for the child and not about fulfilling some need in the adult.

      How sad for your children. I mean that sincerely. I feel no sympathy for you, but it’s truly awful that your children have at least one parent (I hope not two) who doesn’t want or take joy in his children, but sees them only as a duty to be provided for.

      When I talk about protecting children, I do not mean only the children in alternate-lifestyle families. I mean children in general. I want children to grow up in a society where marriage between a husband and a wife is the foundation of society. I want all chidlren to have a mother and a father who love them and provide for them and live with them in the same house.

      I find it ironic that you claim you want this for all children, when you yourself have made clear you have no idea of parents loving children. However.

      Let me explain to you what you apparently have never comprehended: some parents really do want their children. They love them so much it looks like need to an outsider. To you, with your chilly detachment, your perception of parenthood as nothing but providing for a child’s needs, this may sound strange, but it’s true.

      People who have that need – let’s use your word, since you can’t understand “love” – to be a parent will want to have a child.

      You can prevent this – supposing you were able to pass legislation enforcing your concept of the “family” – by a number of methods.

      1. You could require that all boys and girls, before they got to an age when they could conceive, were fitted with mandatory (and reversible) contraception, which could be legally removed only on marriage to a person of the opposite sex, and would have to be fitted again after divorce – or, if you made divorce illegal, after separation. In this way you could ensure that only mixed-sex married couples could conceive children. You would have to consider what legal penalties you would use to enforce this law regulating fertility: if a woman managed to conceive outside marriage, would you require that she abort, or just have the baby removed from her at birth and put up for adoption – you would likely have to set up orphanages to cater for this scenario.

      2. You could legally mandate that any child who was found not to be living with a mixed-sex married couple, and the biological child of them both, should be forcibly removed from them and … hm, well, if you don’t approve of adoption, and you want all children to be living with their mixed-sex married biological parents, I guess those children who don’t fit your picture will have to be killed. Painlessly, I hope.

      3. If you’re willing to tolerate adoption, providing you allow this to a mixed-sex married couple only, there are still going to be a lot of children living in orphanages because there won’t be enough couples of the kind you approve who want to adopt. Orphanages is a bit of a misnomer, since most of the children would have parents living who would want to care of them if your government would allow.

      4. You could ban all the “artificial” means of having children, “sperm donation, IV fertilization, surrogate motherhood”: but while IV fertilisation could be prevented, since it requires technological intervention, the only way to ban sperm donation would be the method described in (1) – you can’t actually stop a man who wants to provide fresh sperm for a woman who wants to conceive, though I suppose if you ruled the world and could impose mandatory contraception on everyone you could try. Nor can you prevent surrogate motherhood if voluntarily chosen – it’s possible to prevent the kind of poverty-constrained surrogate motherhood that pro-lifers advocate for women, but not a woman voluntarily choosing to give the baby she gave birth to, to a couple who want a baby and can’t have one, except by the kind of draconian legislation described in (2) and (3).

      Or you could just accept that in a free country where people are allowed to decide whom they live with, and when and with whom they have children, as a practical matter of fact, there are going to be same-sex couples who have children, and it’s only a question of how you are going to advocate treating those same-sex couples and their children.

      They expressed disgust at the hetero-normative teacher who told the kids that they actually had a mother and a father rather than two fathers (which was simply a biological and legal fact).

      And you didn’t? This teacher ridiculed and humiliated the children, by insisting that they weren’t allowed to say they had two fathers. You claim hypocritically that you “do not want them ridiculed or made to feel inferior. I would never do so to one of those children myself, unless I did so inadvertently” – but you express no anger at a teacher ridiculing and humiliating these children you actually knew? Indeed, you appear to defend the teacher doing so, because the teacher was ridiculing and humiliating these children in terms of “biological and legal fact”. You really are an ugly, hypocritical, inhuman monster – neither able to love your own children, nor able to understand why two fathers would want to defend their own children from ridicule and humiliation by a teacher.

      I am a traditionalist and a moralist. That’s more than just what I think, it is really who I am.

      There is no morality in trying to defend humiliating children because it’s a “biological and legal fact”. There’s plenty of tradition on your side, of course – but not tradition I support.

      Comment by jesurgislac — December 12, 2009 @ 1:34 am | Reply

      • I never said anything about preventing anybody besides married couples from having children. I only said what I wished people would do. I wish my parents had not divorced, but I would not make divorce illegal. I wish that the family member that I mentioned had not become “father” to those two children and then left them a year later.

        Wanting what is best for childen is the same as LOVING children in my mind. I love my children, and the reason that I know that I love them is that I want what is best for them. And to me (and my wife) that means providing a loving home with a father and a mother who take good care of them, etc. Having children to make oneself feel better is not LOVING them–whether its a father wanting to raise the football player that he never was or a mother wanting a little princess to dress up and enter in pageants or a same-sex couple wanting to pretend that they are the same as an opposite-sex couple. (I’m not saying that all same-sex couples do that, by the way.)

        And no, same-sex couples absolutely cannot have chidlren the same way that opposite-sex couples have. That is absolutely one of the dumbest thing that anyone could say, since the person saying knows better but says it anyway.

        No child has ever been created without the uniting of an ovum from a woman and a sperm cell from a man. Two women need a sperm donor to make a baby, and that sperm donor is the child’s father and only one of the women, at the most, can be the mother. Two men need a woman’s womb to carry a baby. That woman is the mother, and only one of the men, at the most, can be the father.

        Yes, I realize that opposite-sex couples also do those things sometimes, but I do not think that they should. (Which is why this issue, at least, does not make me homophobic. It actually makes me weird-science-phobic!) These artificial methods induce ocnfusion and legal complexities. For example, who really is the mother–the woman who gave birth or the infertile woman who says she is the mother? Who really is the father–the man who donated the sperm or the infertile man sho says that he is the father? What if the biological parent claims his or her parental rights long after the child is born? What if the child is creeped out by the strange way in which he or she was produced, or what if he wants to know and have a realtionship with the biological parent? And what happens if the child wants to know the biological parent, but that man or woman rejects the child? Worse yet, what if the biological parent’s identity is unknown, but the child desperately wants to know it?

        Those are just a few of the potential problems that I can think of with producing a child in any way other than the normal biological process.

        Comment by renaissanceguy — December 12, 2009 @ 10:36 am

  2. I still wanted to comment on the IRS and the Earned Income Credit.

    It might surprise you to learn that I qualify for the EIC. I have three children, and my salary is low enough that I qualify. The first two years I did not claim it. I do not want other people’s money. We make do, although the government apprently thinks that we are destitute. Wouldn’t you know it–the IRS amended our return for us and sent the EIC to us anyway. Since then I have claimed it on our return, but we always give it away to charity. I did not earn the money, and I am not keeping it. I am very sorry that others were forced to pay it by the government.

    Since I already hate the entire tax system and the IRS, my only comment to you is that the whole thing should be scrapped and a fair tax instituted, so that women like Porcaro (assuming that the story is true) could not be mistreated in that way.

    Comment by renaissanceguy — December 12, 2009 @ 10:46 am | Reply

    • Since I already hate the entire tax system and the IRS, my only comment to you is that the whole thing should be scrapped and a fair tax instituted, so that women like Porcaro (assuming that the story is true) could not be mistreated in that way.

      Figures: Like the IRS, you’re happier declaring them “non-persons”.

      Comment by jesurgislac — December 12, 2009 @ 8:08 pm | Reply

    • I qualify for the EIC. I have three children, and my salary is low enough that I qualify. The first two years I did not claim it. I do not want other people’s money

      I guess someone who doesn’t love his children and hates the idea of a nation where people help each other out on the basis of need, would be quite happy giving away the money his children need that other people want to give.

      But it says something about you that, poor as you are, you have no charity or sympathy or empathy for anyone poorer than yourself.

      Comment by jesurgislac — January 10, 2010 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  3. Oh, and about the kids who temporarily had two fathers (for all I know they do again), I think the teacher was wrong for taking it upon herself to comment on their unusual lifestyle. It wasn’t the kids’ choice, after all. However, it was true that the children did have a mother who also had joint custody of the children. And it wsa obviously true that they had a mother somewhere (or perhaps dead), since the children existed. It is also true that my family member was not their father. At best he was their father’s live-in boyfriend. That relationship lasted about seven months.

    Again I’ll say that it was not the teacher’s business and was hurtful to the children, but she was telling the truth.

    Comment by renaissanceguy — December 12, 2009 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

    • I had lunch today with a close friend who told me about a friend of hers whose daughter (age 6: a very bright kid!) had just figured out there is no Santa Claus. Said friend told her husband, when he came home from his company Christmas party, and he was so offended he woke his daughter up to tell her that if she knew there was no Santa Claus it was time for her to know there was no God. The girl, who is still a devout believer in God, was very upset and spent an hour crying because her daddy was going to hell.

      I think the girl’s dad was a piece of stupid crap for a bunch of reasons: for getting mad because his daughter had figured out there is no Santa Claus: for trying to have a religious argument with a six-year-old: for waking his daughter up after her bedtime to tell her anything less than “the house is on fire”: for thinking his views on God mattered in the slightest to his daughter – if she wanted to know what he believes, she’d ask him. My friend concurred: we expressed mutual disgust at a guy who doesn’t deserve a daughter as smart and caring as the one he has.

      Of course there is no God: the girl’s dad spoke nothing but the truth there. Of course there is no Santa Claus, and a kid smart enough to work that out will doubtless be smart enough to work out that there is no God, eventually. But what does that have to do with whether he treated his daughter properly the night she figured out there was no Santa Claus? Nothing. Your belief that this somehow provides some kind of shade of an excuse for how he behaved to her just proves you unfit to judge what’s “best” for a child.

      And since who a child’s parents are, to a child, depends not on the law and not on genetic relationships, but who the child identifies as their parents, the teacher telling the children that they didn’t have two fathers wasn’t even speaking the truth.

      That relationship lasted about seven months.

      If I had children and they would have to associate with a poisonous atmosphere of hate such as you generate, I would have removed them from it as fast as possible, too.

      Comment by jesurgislac — December 12, 2009 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  4. “but they cannot both be the biological parents, unless they adopted the child.”

    Uh, RGuy, not to be a technical twit here, but adoption doesn’t change them being biological. LOL

    Comment by Mike Lovell — December 12, 2009 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

  5. I do not care what anyone out there has to say about marriages. I believe that you are a family only if you are a man and a woman and the children you have are you own. Any other kind of relationships are wrong. Read you Bible!

    Comment by Jill — December 12, 2009 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

    • To find out about all the “wrong” relationships in the Bible? Already did.

      Comment by jesurgislac — December 12, 2009 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  6. RG: I never said anything about preventing anybody besides married couples from having children.

    Which leaves you squarely in the position of wanting to legally discriminate against, harass, and humiliate, children who are not the offspring of mixed-sex married couples. As I point out, and you concede, you can’t prevent those children from existing: your choice is only how you behave towards those children and their parents.

    Wanting what is best for childen is the same as LOVING children in my mind.

    So when you want what is NOT best for the children of same-sex couples – for them to be denied married parents, denied two legal parents, for them to be harassed and bullied and told their families are inferior by people like you – you’re doing so because you HATE those children? Because you think they should never have been born? Sweet guy you are.

    And no, same-sex couples absolutely cannot have chidlren the same way that opposite-sex couples have.

    That’s not absolutely the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen you say, since I’ve seen you say so many flagrantly dumb things, but it is pretty dumb. Mixed-sex couples can have children by AID, by IV with donated egg, by adoption, by fostering, and as stepchildren from a previous marriage. So can same-sex couples. None of those children are, as Mike notes, “non-biological”. They exist: they’re real children, even if your reaction to them is that they should never have been born and it doesn’t matter how they’re treated.

    Having children creates legal complexities, regardless of how they were conceived.

    For example, who really is the mother–the woman who gave birth or the infertile woman who says she is the mother? Who really is the father–the man who donated the sperm or the infertile man sho says that he is the father? What if the biological parent claims his or her parental rights long after the child is born?

    What if, what if, what if? Legislation dealing with these complexities can be written – has been written – and courts deal with this and other complex family issues all the time. Your “solution” – to close your eyes and declare these children non-persons because it’s too complicated to treat them and their parents, both genetically related and related by love and caring, justly and fairly under the law, is grossly unfair to the children and to their parents. Which may not concern you, but does concern anyone who regards all children as entitled to the same fair treatment and the same protection for their families.

    What if the child is creeped out by the strange way in which he or she was produced

    Unlikely to happen, unless adults like you manage to make the child feel that she or he was produced in a “strange way”. You could probably manage to creep out a child or children by telling them the kind of crap you come out with here, and other adults just like you do their best to make children feel uncomfortable about how they were “produced”. All children believe that their families and their parents are normal – until/unless they encounter bigots who think otherwise and who have power over their children.

    or what if he wants to know and have a realtionship with the biological parent? And what happens if the child wants to know the biological parent, but that man or woman rejects the child?

    Happens. Even with married parents genetically related, it can happen that a genetic parent rejects their own child. (For example, it tends to happen quite a lot in your kind of family – the right-wing “Christian” sort – that a lesbian or gay or trans child will find themselves rejected by their genetic parents.) Refusing to have children in case the children get hurt by their own parents is laudable if the parent knows for a fact they’d be unable to love their own child unconditionally – for example, be unable to love and support a child for being lesbian, gay – or transgendered – but most right-wing Christian parents wouldn’t dream of not having children just because the kid might grow up into someone they reject. Would you be able to offer unconditional love, support, approval, and joy to your child if she got married to another woman, if she came to you and said “I know you thought I was your son but I’m trans, I’m actually your daughter”, if he came to you and said “You’re going to have a grandchild, me and my husband and adopting”? Or would you reject your child then and there, in your grudging unloving “I can’t stop you but I know this is wrong” kind of way? The latter seems more likely. Should you have refrained from having children in case one of them turns out to be someone you reject?

    Comment by jesurgislac — December 12, 2009 @ 7:46 pm | Reply


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