Saturday, June 10, 2006

Three Cheers for SD Pastor

I was grumpy last night. I didn't get as much done yesterday as I would have liked, my summer class started today, we're out of Froz Fruit bars...yeah, I was grumpy.

But here's something that lifted my spirits - an affirmation of gay families by (gasp) a SD pastor. It's great to see people in this red state who "get it!"

Aberdeen American News, June 7, 2006

'Family' defined by people who form it
by Riedel, minister of United Church of Christ, Aberdeen

I've given a lot of thought to what my first column should be about. Surely I should tackle something soft and cuddly, something warm and fuzzy to endear the readers to me for ages to come. Surely I should, but those who know me best know that is never going to happen.

Please turn your attention to the political ad about every child having a mother and a father in the American News of May 31, page 6A. When turning to this page a couple of harsh assumptions jumped out from the ad: first that Sen. Tim Johnson doesn't care about children and second, that apparently if homosexuals are allowed to be married it will be the ruination of life as we know it.

The basis of the ad is fiction in regard to Johnson's personal beliefs, according to his staff. The ad, paid for by Focus on the Family and others, states that "a compassionate society would not deliberately deny a child a mother or a father." It goes on to assert that the only way to protect marriage, the only way to protect our children, is to discriminate against an entire group of people and ban gay marriages.

The obvious result of this ban would be what? Perhaps we can expect an instant decline in the divorce rate amongst heterosexual couples, which is currently nearing 50 percent. Surely once we amend our Constitution, once the politicians vote to ban gays from getting married, those percentages will drop.

Will we also be able to expect a drop in the rate of unmarried pregnancies?
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 32 percent of all births are currently to unmarried women. Are gays to blame for this? Will gays being allowed to marry affect these numbers at all?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are at least 11.9 million single parents in the United States. Twenty million kids under 18 live with only one parent. Of these children who are living with one parent, 35 percent are living with a parent who was never married and 38 percent are the product of a divorce between their heterosexual parents.

The crisis in American families isn't about or caused by gay and lesbian partners who want the same status as their heterosexual neighbors.

I think that the Marriage Protection Amendment isn't so much about protecting our children as it is about protecting the homophobic from facing the reality that gay and lesbian partners seeking equal rights are not nearly the monsters they want them to be.

Before anyone starts screaming about how homosexuals will start molesting children should they be allowed to marry and adopt, let me say that they are already allowed to adopt and doing quite well as parents. According to an article in Pediatrics magazine, in a study of 269 cases of child sex abuse, only two offenders where found to be gay or lesbian. More relevant was the finding that of the cases involving molestation of a boy by a man, 74 percent of the men were or had been in a heterosexual relationship with the boy's mother or another female relative. The conclusion was that "a child's risk of being molested by his or her relative's heterosexual partner is over 100 times greater than by someone who might be identifiable as being homosexual."

What this writer finds more alarming than all of the rhetoric about gays and lesbians, is what ads like this say about children who are products of homes that the American Family Association don't find normal. In their zeal to stamp out homosexuals they are labeling children from single-parent families or what might be termed "non-traditional" families as something less than desirable.

Folks need to be careful that in their effort to make gays and lesbians second-class citizens they don't push 20 million children down with them.

What defines a family will never fit nicely in the box that the American Family Association has built for it. It will never be solely defined as one man and one woman with 2.3 children of the same race and appropriate gender identity. Rather it will be defined by those who choose to be a family. Every child understands how important family is; don't try to tell them what theirs should look like.

Rick Riedel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The logical, indeed the inevitable next step for Focus On The Family will be to make divorce illegal and make even physical separation of husband and wife a crime. This guarantees that mom and dad stay with child, just as Dr. Dobson intended.