January 15, 2010
by Brian Leubitz
Rick has been pointing out what a farce the cross-examination of Plaintiff’s Expert Michael Lamb has become. I think we really get to the heart of the matter here:
Prop. 8: Many differences in our society between men and women. Men go to prison, alcoholics, violent. Women live longer than men. Death of parent traumatic event for child. Men and women get diseases at different rates. Intelligence of parents can have a psych effect on well being of children.
L: All above yes except last. Not sure that better educated people are always better parents. You could make the case that people who have extremely low levels of intelligence could affect well being of children.
Prop. 8 is trying to say that if you have single sex parents you will end up with a collection of seriously bad people as parents. More men are like Homer Simpson than not?
L: I cannot say that. Some worse.
Prop. 8: did not know any could be worse. Men can’t breast feed and breast feeding is important. Economics matter. Women earn less than men. Lesbians have higher or lower income level than hetero? There are differences between earning power of gay m en and lesbians?
Oh, all the crazy to unravel here. Rather than focusing on the legal vs. scientific aspects of this argument, which Paul has done so well, I wanted to look at where the logic of this argument takes us and what the potential policy impact would be.
I’ll just draw up some of the possible problems that the defense brings up with same sex parents:
- Income Differences: lesbians could have lower incomes as women generally earn less than men.
- Women live longer: children of gay men might lose their parents younger.
- Men go to prison at a higher rate: children of gay men would be statistically more likely to have both parents imprisoned.
- Men cannot breastfeed: children of gay men would be forced to use formula.
Now, of course all of these could apply to a straight couple and/or a single parent. First, let’s take the income disparity between an opposite sex marriage and a same sex marriage. Prop 8 doesn’t see fit to discriminate against poor parents. If the people behind prop 8 were truly concerned that children wouldn’t have enough resources, there are much more targeted ways to get at that. Perhaps increasing resources to the federal Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF) program would be a start, but I’ve not seen Maggie Gallagher or Andy Pugno lobbying for that recently.
To the second point, that women live longer. That is true, but entirely speculative for individual cases. And, unfortunately, death of loved ones is a part of every life. I must have missed the day that we made life expectancy a requirement for parenthood. On the prison time/alcoholism point, I would argue that because gay men must go through so much to adopt a child, they are far less likely to go to prison. They must go through adoption screenings and meet with social workers. That is not required of other parents. Finally, the Prop 8 campaign is absolutely correct that men cannot breastfeed, but that is also the case for many women. Yet for years, we have both allowed those women to have children and have yet to ban the sale of formula.
In general, what these questions were really going towards, where the logic takes you is a parenting test. Are you healthy? Are you wealthy? Are you intelligent? Have you ever been arrested? The test could be quite long if you really wanted to extend it out to all of the issues they accuse sex-sex parents of lacking. The idea of such a test is farcical on its face. It would never be allowed in America. Yet, we could all agree that such a test would be far more narrowly tailored to the goals that the Prop 8 campaign claims to be addressing than a marriage ban for same-sex couples.
The fact is that the Prop 8 campaign was never really about the parenting of children, after all that would have led them to an adoption ban. When you really parse the arguments from the Prop 8 campaign, you are left with a tattered shreds of crazy.