Wednesday, April 24, 2013


This will be my last post on same-sex marriage and same-sex parenthood for a while. It will be harder to assert that this is not my number one issue if I keep writing about it, but I thought double-dipping posts by sharing papers I had to write for class fit right into my busy schedule!

Here was my most recent assignment description:

You will be given a button that says “Support Gay Rights.” You decide whether you will wear the button or not, it is up to you. Regardless, you will write a one page paper describing your decision of whether or not to wear the button and how that affected you. How did people react to the button? Were there some times that you felt more comfortable wearing the button? What does this say about how gay people may feel? Reflect on what the button means to you. If you do not know what “Gay Rights” are, how can you find out?

Notice how they pointed out that "gay rights," as they have defined it, are factual, definable rights that I could go look up somewhere rather than showing openness for discussion.

And my reflection:

The button, minus the
"Support Gay Rights" caption
I chose not to wear the button. To prevent myself from forgetting to return the button, I never actually took one to begin with.

This issue is divisive on a number of levels, as our conversations and the film we watched have shown. The film focused on the idea that those who oppose changing the definition of marriage to include same sex marriage get their arguments from the Bible.

I’m here to object to that stereotype, as I have reasons beyond the ones proposed in the film that oppose gay marriage and the adoption of children that often follows. As someone who will be married in about a month, I will point out that I don’t consider marriage a “right” or something that I’m entitled to just because I’m in love with someone of the opposite sex.

Marriage is a foundational building block of our society, as well as virtually every society (non-Judeo-Christian and Judeo-Christian, alike) that has formed in our world. Men and women exist on this Earth as counterpart human beings, not just because of their sexual organs and typical attraction to each other, but because of their biological attributes that complement each other. True, one reason that marriage exists and that the government recognizes it with so many tax and other benefits, is because most marriage unions result in bringing children into the world and into our society.

“Homosexual relationships do nothing to serve the state interest of propagating society, so there is no reason to grant them the costly benefits of marriage,” wrote atheist Adam Kolasinksi. My fellow students may argue that lesbian unions can result in children through artificial insemination. Not only do I believe that removes the beauty of what sex was intended to be from the act of creating a child, but the argument fails to address the fact that we have seen ample evidence to support the need for both a male and female parental unit (anecdotally, David Popenoe's Life Without Father presents a clear message on this topic).

I wish someone would answer the question why free birth control and increased access to abortion are so often supported with the argument that they aim to prevent the increase in single parent homes. There is so much research to support the benefit of a two-parent, dual gender role home in the context of the alternative of a single parent home, but the same doesn’t apply when the topic of same sex marriage and same sex adoption arises.

This is the most comprehensive study to date on the subject of same sex parenthood. It clearly shows that adults 18-39 who grew up in same-sex parent homes have an increased likelihood of smoking, getting arrested, pleading guilty, being on public assistance, being unemployed, to have recently thought about suicide (and many other things), and are less likely to have perceived themselves safe or secure as a child than those who were raised in an "intact" traditional mother-father parent family. 

From the above-linked study
There is probably a greater percentage of people who support same-sex marriage separately from same-sex parenthood and who may even oppose same-sex parenthood for the aforementioned reasons. However, I would pose the question about why that is. Why oppose same-sex parenthood for one reason, but support the institution of marriage to extend to include the very relationship you condone as less than healthy for children?

It’s a rich issue that is open to a lot of discussion, albeit unfortunately divisive discussion. The only “reaction” I can report is that which I faced when I shared with my shoulder partners in class about why I would not wear the pin.

I understand that this is the currently popular position and that my fellow classmates hear the word “rights” and throw their hands up in salute so as not to stand in someone else’s way of social justice. However, I argue that the “right” to marry not only does not extend to same sex couples, but also to three people who want to get married to each other.


Julie Baldwin said...

Thank you for this!

Catholic Cookie Jar said...

Thank you for sharing this, Elizabeth! This is really, really well-written, and I am bookmarking it for future reference!

Elizabeth @ The Spark and the Flame said...

Good reflection! and good for you for sharing this in class!

It is true that many people simply think they must agree with something that is phrased in terms of "rights." I think this is the reason why the gay agenda uses this phrasing. Most do not realize this premise is a "red herring." That is a logical fallacy.

The issue here is not who has the "right" to marry. Everyone is able marry. The real issue at stake here is the definition of what marriage itself is, and the ramifications that redefining it would cause for society at large.

Adri said...

"Why oppose same-sex parenthood for one reason, but support the institution of marriage to extend to include the very relationship you condone as less than healthy for children?"

I think we should all be connecting the dots and drawing out conclusions like this. Standing up for traditional marriage is so rational. But many people don't ask the questions that result from their position of supporting gay marriage, drawing out the logical conclusions, like that of plural marriage also being ok.

"Do you know if you think A, you are also saying B?" Those kinds of discussions open people's eyes.

Great post!

kas606 said...

Elizabeth, I am saddened to read that you have not opened yourself up to learn from your classmates and consider perspectives which challenge your world view during Multicultural Education. The goal of the class is to encourage open dialogue which will stimulate you to consider new positions. From your button paper I can see that you have a very rigid stance on heterosexism. I ask you - how many gay, trans, or bi individuals have you taken the time to converse with and get to know beyond the label which you clearly apply based on their orientation? Your conclusion that gay rights is a "popular position" demeans other civil rights movements such as the work of MLK and leaders in the women's rights movement. Without the courage of those individuals we would still have segregated schools and you would not have the option to attend an institution such as UVa.

Regardless of sexual orientation we are all human and thus deserve to be treated equally. Founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which once excluded women, immigrants, and non-whites are now more inclusive. There is a historic trend to expanding the protection of rights to include more individuals. As marriage licenses are granted by the government and not the Catholic Church the exclusion of gay individuals from the right to marry is a clear violation of church and state. Whether you agree or disagree with the definition of marriage the imposition of Catholic tradition on a government act violates the clear goal of our Republic of separating religion from natural rights.

kas606 said...

As a future teacher I hope you learn to not merely tolerate but respect students who are different from you. If you chose to remain wedded to this narrow perspective you will eventually violate the core truth to teaching (which you proclaim in your profile): "learning as you go". I hope you will read my button paper and consider this issue from a personal level rather than hiding behind cloistered view of the Catholic Church.

I chose to wear the “Support Gay Rights” pin on my swim bag because I use it everyday, sometimes twice a day. The bag itself means a lot to me and is a representation of the sport which I care about so it was fitting to use it to display a cause which I hold deeply. I am a strong supporter of gay rights because I have former teammates and a close friend who is gay. Wearing the button is symbolic of my respect and admiration for those individuals. Both my high school and college teams had individuals who came out as gay or transgender. Wearing the button made me think back on their heroic decision to finally reveal their true identities to the team. In both situations the team was very supportive. I think that collectively we were proud of their decision to be honest with us and also honored the trust they demonstrated. Sharing personal details is difficult even with individuals with whom you are very close so I cannot imagine the stress they felt while thinking through their decision. Due the intimate nature of the sport of swimming homophobia is fairly common. But, in the case of both teams, from my perspective, we created an open environment that demonstrated equal respect for our gay teammates. During my first job after college I became close friends with two of my co-workers. We frequently went out for dinner or drinks after work to de-stress and bond. After six months of working together one of the two women came out to us as gay. Sharing vulnerable details is a hallmark of true friendship, I was honored that she felt comfortable unmasking. That will always be one of the most important, guiding memories of my life.
In the past I have worn buttons or stickers to support President Barack Obama, but depending on the situation I would remove them because of the heated nature of politics. If I felt I was going into a situation which would have a lot of Republicans or people who may not support Obama I would remove the button. I felt pressure to hide my political ideology because I didn’t want to be viewed as a “liberal” or to offend someone. But, in the case of my “Support Gay Rights” button, I will not compromise my support. For me the campaign for full equalization of gay rights is too important to hide based on the situation. I see the situation through the lives of my teammates and friends. The cause means too much vary my support based on time/situation. Since receiving the button two weeks ago I have not had anyone mention it to me. If someone did comment I would probably share the story of my teammates as a way of demonstrating my connection and relaying the importance of the message.
I truly believe that support for this cause comes through individual connection to a gay individual. It is hard to accept that importance of the cause without a personal connection. Because the topic is such a contentious issue and can provoke intense emotions it is easier to avoid it altogether. But, in my view hiding from the topic further alienates and marginalizes our gay brothers and sisters. We are all human, we all have the same needs, we all share this same space on earth thus we should all share the same rights in society. In my role as coach and teacher I hope to guide my students towards respect and acceptance of all individuals. The courage of my gay teammates and friends serve as a guide for my careers in mentoring and in my own personal relationships. I hope to model the empathy and courage they demonstrate on a daily basis.

Kate Stephensen said...
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Kate Stephensen said...
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Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

Thanks, Kate! I was hoping someone who disagreed might chime in. What kind of discussion would it be with only one voice?

As soon as my exams are over, I will be very happy to respond, point for point. I do want to begin by suggesting that, from the context of the words you used in these comments, I'm not so sure you gave my words much consideration. I am not every other person with whom you have spoken on this issue. I took my fellow classmates' perspectives into account and determined that they did not have answers for the questions I posed.

Congratulations on the end of another semester!

Kate Stephensen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

Kate, I'm not sure we can have a discussion where both people keep making so many assumptions about the other. Having an open mind means you listen and consider, not that you agree.

Consider reading this guy, instead of this game we're playing here. He has a much more interesting perspective that we can both appreciate.

In every word of this post, I made a conscious effort to show compassion and respect for those with a desire that I know many people face. If that didn't come across, for one reason or another, I can only hope I will do better to show more compassion in the future.

Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

Additionally, I would hate for you to walk away believing that I'm going to do anything less than love, respect, care for, and support all of my students. But I can't do anything about what you think of me.

Christine said...

kas606, did you read her post? Elizabeth's post discusses the philosophical implications of this debate. What a vital thing! How valuable for you as someone who clearly believes that gay marriage should be a law that is approved and passed. Now you can have a discussion, but instead, you seem to have chosen to reprimand. What a shame because your intelligence is evident in your post. She clearly stated at the beginning of her post that this was her Reflection Paper, ie different from other blog posts which are typically filled with thought provoking questions to spark discussion. This post had many questions, but was based in her experience and her beliefs. It was laced with love, which far exceeds tolerance. Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Elizabeth chose to use love to show her desire for change. In reading your posts, I see fear and close-mindedness. Isn't that ironic? That is the same thing you are accusing her of being. She did not disrespect anyone with the belief of supporting gay marriage, she changed the conversation to be about what marriage is and why is it so important. Your digs on the Catholic Church are offensive, incorrect, and ignorant. I wish only that we could gather in a truly communicative dialog about this instead of prattling. That is what I believe Elizabeth bravely opened the door to do, create a dialog. As a future teacher, won't you join in a true dialog?

Molly said...

Kate - even though I might politely disagree with the conclusions Elizabeth draws (even as a fellow Catholic) I find that I disagree with you most of all. Not with your conclusions, but with your attitude.

You chide Elizabeth for not being "open minded" in a "Multicultural Education" class, and insist that she must come around to your side of things. As someone who has also taken a "Multicultural Education" class I can say with absolutely certainty that that the point of the class is not meant to bring around your fellow classmates or future students to your way of thinking - whether it is liberal, conservative or even moderate. The purpose of the class is to give you tools and resources that will shape your ability to engage in a positive discourse with your peers and students when they present any opposing view point.

If you have not learned how to clearly and succinctly state your opinions in a neutral and accepting manner than perhaps you have not truly grasped the materials taught to you.

Making these type of broad assuming statements such as you have left in these comments in the classroom or Teacher's Lounge is a quick way to get yourself on the track to disciplinary action in most, if not all, school districts.

p.s. A Google search for your full name will now include this blog post and your comments, as well as providing a direct link to your personal blog that you chose to reveal. A future employer might one day put your name into Google and come across this - do you feel that your comments here truly shed the best light on your merits as future educator? Perhaps it may be best to stick to your pen name.

kas606 said...

Elizabeth, I truly believe that you will be a compassionate and devoted teacher. Perhaps what I should have said is that in my experience as a teacher, coach, and friend of gay individuals (including loving parents who have raised wonderful children) I have seen the hurtful impact of Mark Regnerus’ conclusions. The assertion that families led by gay parents steer children to delinquency, suffering or addiction undermines the love, compassion, and support of those families. I shared counterarguments to his research as a way to support my own experiences.
As for my position on the Catholic Church I disagree with the exclusion of gay individuals from the right to marry and serve within the clergy. I value the compassion, service, and good done by members of the Church. I simply hope that one day the Vatican will fully accept gay Catholics into the institution of marriage. Thank you for sharing Steve’s blog. His reflections demonstrate a concern for his place in and impact on the world. It is my dream that, as he reflected on March 21st, if he chooses to marry a man or join the cloth the Church he loves will openly accept him.
Out of respect for those who took offense I removed those posts which seemed to cause the most harm. I apologize if my reflections on human rights caused anyone pain. I simply speak from my life experiences and core belief that everyone in society should be granted the same rights and privileges. My emotional tone reflects the pain and alienation I see as a result of these debates.

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