Thursday, November 8, 2012

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month.

While there are a lot of kids out there who need good, stable, loving, nurturing, protective, providing 'forever families' (as they're called in the adoption world), there is a lot of legislation out there preventing children from finding such homes.

Which is why I'm relieved Obama is still President of the US.  He has publicly stated that families headed by gay couples are equal to any other family.  His administration does not defend DOMA.

This is a big deal.  Huge, especially considering that more and more states are opening their doors to full marriage equality.  The most significant byproduct of marriage equality is family equality.

Many people believe that a child deserves a mom and a dad.  I used to believe this until I asked myself: What is truly unique about a male-female parenting team?  Beyond anything external or socially driven... nothing.

And what is truly important, vital, and ideal for a child?  Parents who have done their research on parenting.  Parents who have an arsenal of skills such as redirection.  Parents who provide for their children unconditionally.

The most important provisions: love, encouragement, shelter, nutrition, clothing, education, and an example/guidance of what it means to be a good person in general.

That is the ideal parent.

Legislation supporting families headed by gay couples pushes away the arbitrary definition of ideal parents and toward where it should be.

Obama not defending DOMA plus more states incorporating family equality is a very promising formula for making more families available to adopt those kids waiting for their forever families.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marriage = Marriage (Part II: Lawful Marriage)

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) offers its hand at 'debunking' NOM's most recent video:

AFER's counter, however, falls short in a way which I feel many proponents of marriage equality fail: by ultimately arguing that "a person should be able to choose his/her spouse."

This argument does not counter NOM's main argument that the government has an interest in sanctioning only heterosexual relationships, that the law justly discriminates against homosexual marriages -- but they're not discriminating against the individual.

I can agree with the premise that marriage law does not primarily discriminate against the individual but the union.

However, is it truly just to sanction* heterosexual marriages but not homosexual marriages?

If a law is a just law and if all of the parameters for that law are met then the law will apply to the entity meeting the parameters regardless of anything else.  If a law is a just law and any of its parameters are found to be arbitrary then those parameter will be removed/amended.

For example, if I enter into a business partnership with someone, the laws regulating that partnership relate only to that union – anything outside of that union, in either of our lives, is not regulated or considered by those laws.

In order to define marriage legally, it's important to look at what marriage is, legally.  In relation to marriage equality, the question should be: Do marriage laws cover anything unique to heterosexual marriages?

NOM argues that it does, that marriage law protects and regulates the rights and responsibilities of biological parents.

However, marriage law doesn't touch the rights and responsibilities of biological parents.  A biological parent's rights are the same no matter his/her marital status.

As AFER stated, "Sex creates children." Marriage does not.  Contrary to NOM's argument, the government expects the biological parents to raise their children (or give up the responsibility to someone else) to become responsible citizens, regardless of the parents' relationship status with each other.

If the only difference between a heterosexual union and a homosexual union is the ability to produce biological children, and marriage laws do not regulate the rights and responsibilities of biological parents, then it is unjust for marriage laws to differentiate between heterosexual unions and homosexual unions.

So the counter argument should ultimately be: Homosexual relationships fulfill the legal parameters of marriage in every way; therefore, they should be equally sanctioned and regulated by the government.

*The government sanctions (i.e. supports) and regulates marriage; it does not "promote" marriage as claimed by NOM. Promotion implies proactive encouragement. To my knowledge there aren't any government initiatives to encourage people to get married. Any tax benefits are merely a result of regulating the legally shared assets/liabilities – which can also be a disadvantage (often called the ‘marriage penalty’).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Marriage = Marriage (Part I: Natural Marriage)

As you may already be aware, the National Organization of Marriage (NOM) recently published the following video:

Here NOM defines marriage's natural center as "bringing up the next generation [... creating and] raising children to become good citizens."

But is that really marriage's natural purpose?  

While people get married for many reasons, the most basic reason can be summed up with the most common wedding vows one may hear on tv: "to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

Having and raising children is often a function of marriage, yes.  However, if creating biological children were, according to NOM, "the rule"/center/core (the exception being not having children) then the essential promises binding marriage would reflect that rule.

Marriage, at its core, is the uniting of people for life – which is absolutely reflected in the essential marriage vows.

Natural Marriage, then, is the lifelong commitment of any couple – or even group of people.

NOM's overall argument actually address Lawful Marriage – which will addressed in Part II of this series.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

when brain and heart argue

You know those days where your brain is all, "Let's get to work!" but your heart is all, "But my passion is for poetry right now!" ?

And then your brain pulls that sucker punch of growed upness: "Don't forget next month you're paying both rent and a mortgage while your new house is being renovated. Poetry isn't going to pay the bills."

heart: "It could."

brain: "Not as well as software engineering."

heart: "Then let's work on our own programs!"

brain: "That would be great, but you ignored the most important issue: Bills. In the present tense."

heart: "Forget the bills! Let's run away to live in the forest and carve poetry on trees; eat wild berries and moon-bathe with deer!"

brain: "It's almost 10:30 PM, and we need to get that bug fixed."

heart: "In the forest we will embrace bugs!"

brain: "Seriously. If you want to move into our new house -- with all that land to garden and enjoy... and raise a family on -- we need to get to work."

heart: "I know. I know..."

... yeah, my innardialogue is a lot like Dharma & Greg.

Monday, October 15, 2012

an open letter to the lds church

first an intro:
While this blog will not be focused on my experience with the LDS Church, there are times where the LDS Church focuses on something vital to my life.  I will often address these issues as they arise, such as now.

now the letter:
Dear LDS Church:

I'm writing in the hopes that you might better understand why many of us think that the portion of Dallin H. Oaks's recent talk, "Protect the Children," addressing same sex parenting contradicts the overall message of his address to love and care for our most precious resources (referring specifically to Weston Clark's opinion posted on The Salt Lake Tribune's website).

Our biggest problem is not only his assumption but his specific call to assume (as evident in the word "should") that children of homosexual parents are victims.

I can understand why Oaks would jump from cohabitating heterosexual parents to homosexual parents. Where's the evidence of the latter's commitment to each other?

As Oaks explained (and as is documents by academic studies), a significant factor in a child's development is stability.

It is unfair, however, to equate cohabitating couples who chose not to commit to each other with homosexual couples who simply can't document their commitment legally.

It's a rather significant leap from one to the other.  The leap is especially detrimental since it specifically jumps over what studies have found to be a very positive factor in a child's development (again: stability).

A much more adequate assumption about gay parenting could be made by looking at adoption agencies. It's an adoption agency's duty to assess the home, parents, and children both before and after the adoption. These agencies may not be publishing academic articles, but their readiness to cater to gay couples seems like at least a solid foundation for an assumption that children raised by gay parents are hardly victimized or at a disadvantage.

Unfortunately, Oaks's words are antagonistic toward agencies and legislation which would provide legal stability (again, a positive factor in a child's development) to gay couples -- as well as legislation which would allow gay couples to adopt.

For example, my partner and I are looking into our options for adoption. Because of the hostile atmosphere (perpetuated by words such as Oaks) purporting our home as 'disadvantageous' merely because we are both male, we have to rule out certain states and countries. As we've been looking through photolistings, we've found that this excludes a significant portion of children who would benefit immensely from our skill sets -- many of them older kids who, because of their age, may never be adopted.

Such children waiting to be adopted are at a horrible disadvantage (talk about instability!), and children in these specific states and countries have fewer options for stability because of the unsubstantiated assumptions perpetuated by Oaks.

This is why many feel it's appropriate to claim that these assumptions (which aren't just his personal feelings but feelings that he preaches one "should" assume) are contrary to the overall message of his talk.  They can logically be shown (not merely 'assumed') to victimize children.

And because Oaks's assumptions are unsound* (whether knowingly or ignorantly) and a more logically sound assumption can be made concerning the stability and quality of homosexual parenting, we claim that his antagonistic behavior is... well... bullying, using his clout to push his unfounded assumptions on those who have promised to follow his counsel (i.e. his "shoulds" and "should nots") despite empirical evidences.

* technically speaking I can at least make a case for the 'false cause', 'slippery slop', 'burden of proof', 'begging the question', 'straw man', 'special pleading', and 'genetic' logical fallacies in his argument against same sex parenting.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

la vie growed up (cont'd)

I linked to my 'pupa' stage in my first post on this blog.  It chronicles, to a degree, my struggle with being a gay Mormon and my emergence into a life outside of Mormon doctrines.

My personal struggle is now over.  I have defined my internal self and values and have modeled my external life accordingly. And, accordingly, my life has never been as stable, productive, healthy, and happy as it is now with my partner of 2 years.

The struggle with some of my family, though, remains as they (not all)... I suppose 'grieve'  would be an appropriate word, believing that I have traded my eternal inheritance for temporal sustenance.

And, in a way, I did.  I no longer claim an inheritance through obedience to any religious rote.

I claim love and patience and deep, sincere understanding of an individual's circumstances and needs; proactively obeying and making sacrifices for these principles to bring true joy -- that feeling which permeates and edifies the whole, letting you know that life is good (and so are you) -- to the lives of those around me.

Unfortunately, I can see a lot of cognitive dissonance in the eyes of some of my family as I embrace and flourish within my new stage.

On one hand, they can see the good life that I'm living. On the other hand, according to their beliefs my life is insufficient to merit an exalted life with them.

On one hand, they would prefer I lived a life similar to Greg's. On the other hand, they can't deny the significantly beneficial impact my partner, Corey, has had on my life and well-being.

I wish I could do something to ease the discord.  Unfortunately it's their personal struggle with God.

All I can do is live a life where I show my love and patience and understanding while living my best life, making adjustments to my beliefs when any inspire actions which are empirically detrimental to my life or the lives of others -- and making reparations when I act outside of my values.

And that life, really, is what I call: la vie growed up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

la vie growed up

As I often do at the beginning of each new stage of my life, I've decided to refresh my blog now that I've a partner, a house, and a steady full-time job.

My previous blog (greenly chalked) is still online to document my 'pupa' stage.