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January 28, 2005

A Presumption of Bigotry

Mark Miller asks what my post regarding that Washington Post article about (in my words) "gay men paying for children to be created using their own sperm, donated/purchased eggs, and female fetus-carrying units (known colloquially as 'surrogate mothers')" has to do with same-sex marriage. It's a good question, inasmuch as the very lengthy comment-section discussion centered around that tangential issue, but that has more to do with the ongoing discussion among us all than my comments themselves. The sentence just after my summary of the WaPo article begins thus: "Put aside the gay aspect."

Mark instructs me that my question about the created children "needs to be evenly applied to both gay and straight persons," asking:

Would he write the same if the man in question were heterosexual? If it were a single woman?

Although I imagine the extreme circumstances requiring two hired women — one for eggs and one for womb — will be more common among homosexuals, rereading what I wrote, it seems to me that only an unfounded presumption of bigotry would lead Mark to ask such questions. In fact, I ended the post with a quotation from a single mother:

I started off as a single mother by choice, and I don't think my child suffered for it.... I'm a believer in nontraditional families. I think families come in all shapes and sizes.

To which my response was: "I, I, I, I."

Mark goes on to suggest that "the pursuit of a legal solution to [people having children for selfish reasons] is akin to putting a cap on income and savings because 'greed' is a bad thing" — a thinly veiled allusion to hypocrisy on my part, it would seem. The fact that I at no time suggested a legal solution points to a problem that those with traditional views often encounter: What we say sometimes seems less important than what we should say according to the box that our opponents put us in.

Posted by Justin Katz at January 28, 2005 11:04 PM
Marriage & Family
Comments

It is patently selfish and apallingly immoral to deliberately withhold -- forever -- either a mother or a father from the life of one's child. This is true whether you are a "believer in non-traditional families" and patronize sperm banks and surrogacy at starbucks, or if you actually murder your spouse.

But i guess when we started treating unwanted children like we treat the surplus puppies at the pound (quietly destroyed en mass), then all this is to be expected. Certainly if children are expendable, then parents are too...

Posted by: Marty at January 29, 2005 9:28 AM

First, my point was not an unfounded presumption of bigotry any more than your comments about my beliefs are presumptions of my lack of family values. The truth is that it is your view that a homosexual parent is inferior to a heterosexual parent. It is your view that normalizing homosexuality will result in societal harm. There are those that would characterize those views as ‘bigoted’ - but I have never been among them. The same could then be said of me since I feel monogamy is a better environment for raising families than polygamy. I guess that would be an unfounded presumption of bigotry against polygamists - or would that be a ‘founded presumption’ ?

I admit that I did not take into account the single mother quote at the end of your post - and I should have. It does mitigate my question.

Finally, no thinly veiled allusion intended, just an analogy meant to point out the hypocrisy. But to make it more apropos to your comment, I’ll change it to being akin to discouraging people from having more than $x in savings and income since greed is a bad thing.

It is true that “what we say sometimes seems less important than what we should say according to the box that our opponents put us in“. But that problem stems across all people, regardless of where they stand on the political line.

Posted by: Mark Miller at January 29, 2005 6:10 PM

Mark,

Honestly, I could be missing it, but I don't see where I made comments about your beliefs. The point is that I was making a general point (clearly, I thought) about such practices, and you assumed that I was targeting a specific group.

But to make it more apropos to your comment, I’ll change it to being akin to discouraging people from having more than $x in savings and income since greed is a bad thing.

Well, that doesn't quite do it, either. The greed angle is a tough analogy to make, but perhaps it would come closer to say: discouraging people from taking food baskets meant for the poor.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 30, 2005 1:37 AM

Justin,

Honestly, I never accused you of making specific comments about my 'family values'. Just as I never made a specific accusation towards you of bigotry.

"The point is that I was making a general point (clearly, I thought) about such practices, and you assumed that I was targeting a specific group."

Yes, I'll admit that I did assume that your comment was meant towards a 'specific' group. If you only meant it in the general sense, then I apologize for misinterpreting and over-reading into your post. That's what I get for not checking in more regaularly - reaction before reading in full.

I don't agree with your analogy but that's no surprise, is it.

Posted by: Mark Miller at January 30, 2005 5:17 PM

Apology accepted, Mark. (Although I continue to be amazed at the difficulty of communication between us.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 30, 2005 7:23 PM

Marty -
I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly, but your statement seems to indicate that my husband and I choosing to adopt our son - who would otherwise almost certainly have spent the next thirteen years in foster care - is an act of selfishness, because now he has two adoptive fathers instead of one foster mother.

If I have, in fact, misinterpreted your intent, would you do me the favor of explaining the difference?

Robert

Posted by: Robert at January 30, 2005 8:20 PM

Robert,

"It is patently selfish and apallingly immoral to deliberately withhold -- forever -- either a mother or a father from the life of one's child."

Obviously, the original selfish choices were made by your son's biological mother and/or father, not you. And your comparison indicates an equal trade, on Marty's terms: from a family with one mother and no father, to one with two fathers and no mother. In which case it's not clear that you are deliberately withholding a parent from your son's life.

In any case, your situation is quite different from the situation described in Justin's post, to which Marty was referring.

Posted by: Mike S. at January 31, 2005 3:53 PM

Mike S. is pretty close to my feeling Robert. The adoption of your son is apparently just one more in a long line of "lesser evils" in the boy's life. I applaud you for doing all you can, and honestly wish your family happiness and success. But the boy deserved better than he got from his original parents, and consequently he still deserves better that you and your same-sex partner will ever be able to provide.

Posted by: Marty at January 31, 2005 7:19 PM

To go back to my original comment on this thread, after a few days of pondering it:

It is patently selfish and apallingly immoral to deliberately withhold -- forever -- either a mother or a father from the life of one's child.

I can think of only a few situations where this is even possible:

1. When one parent removes the child from the life of the other. In certain circumstances this is considered kidnapping. In others, it is a custody ruling by a court. In some, it is both -- depending on which parent you are.

2. When one parent murders the other.

3. Suicide.

4. Artificial insemination or surrogate motherhood by a single person or same-sex couple.

I may have missed one or two, and am sure to be corrected. But since 1-3 are obviously tragic to the child, would #4 be any different?

Posted by: Marty at January 31, 2005 7:30 PM

What it all boils down to as far as I'm concerned is that within the construct of a two-parent family, there is at least a tacit understanding that having children is about raising a family. Within the construct of a one-parent family, when that one parent sets out to have children exclusive of having a partner, then it's harder to ascribe the motive of raising a family because it looks more like trophy children. This not to say that it doesn't happen with two-parent families, which is just as tragic in my book. It just tends to stand out as the prevalent trend in single-parent families. Hence my suggestion that they should buy pets instead.

Posted by: smmtheory at January 31, 2005 11:59 PM

SMM -
So you would prefer that single adults not
be allowed to adopt children?

Not being challenging (this time), just
genuinely curious.

Posted by: Robert at February 1, 2005 7:54 PM

Robert,
I'm not interested in preventing single adults from adopting. I think that would be counter-productive actually. In adoption though, the potential parent can be screened. There is no screening when a single parent decides to create a baby. While I think that a male-female married couple should have heirarchical preference when placing a child in a home, I can see a couple of instances when a single parent might be preferable. Those instances where the single parent might be preferable would be when the adoption candidate has blood relations with the single parent.

Posted by: smmtheory at February 1, 2005 11:28 PM