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Adults as selfish and problem-plagued: The Maine thing is to debunk this noise

by Jeremy Hooper

As we look to Maine's current debate about marriage, relationships, and the acceptability thereof, we thought it might be interesting to look back at the recent past. The following advice column comes from the Kennebec Journal from April 13, 1973, a time when the well-worn "protect children" argument that is currently being used against same-sex couples was being used to question other kinds of personal relationships, and when naysayers were citing the supposed difficulties associated with those same relationships while completely overlooking the obvious cure -- acceptance. Have a look:

Kennebec Journal-- 4/13/73

Now, we don't want to draw an identical parallel between marriage equality as it applies to same-sex couples and that which involves people of different races. And we don't want to suggest that this columnist was a bigot. But what we do want to show is how, when it comes to fear of social chance, naysayers so routinely jump to a fear of children's future and to vague references to social problems in order to deny whatever principled progress is in the pipe. Despite being baseless, unfair, and fear-mongery, this sort of opposition mindset is a civil rights constant. And it's one that we will surely face in the coming months of the Pine Tree State fight.

Just this week we saw Portland Press Herald columnist M.D. Harmon say the following about the high price that current children might "pay for their parents' love":

Children need both fathers and mothers, and the fact that some couples are either intentionally or unintentionally childless means precisely nothing for the vast majority of couples that include offspring.

The opposite holds for same-sex couples; some have children, but they are the exception, not the rule. Thus, the arguments for same-sex marriage primarily focus on the present: It will make us happy, it will fulfill our aspirations, it will legitimize our relationship.

But a marriage between a man and a woman is a family-building voyage into the future, launching generations to come.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: 'Yes' vote will correct lawmakers' mistake [PPH]

We can't help but wonder if in another thirty six years, a president who is the product of a lesbian couple might belie Mr. Harmon's claim in the same way that Prez 44 is debunking Jean Adams' past usage of fear.

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Your thoughts

So Harmon's logic is that since same-sex couples have fewer children that opposite-sex couples, they don't deserve legal protection?

What if we did a study and determined what race/religion/ethnic group had more children in relation to their number in a society? Should that group be entitled to more or fewer rights depending on the outcome?

I don't care if only one same-sex couple has a child. That child is entitled to the same rights as the children living in an opposite sex or one parent household. Did Harmon ever think that maybe same-sex couples have fewer kids because they are afraid their children won't be protected under the law?

A few years ago, Oklahoma passed a law stating it would not recognize adoptions of same-sex couples performed in other states, which essentially meant that if a same-sex couple was traveling through Oklahoma with their adopted children and something happened that required medical attention for one or more of the children or parents, one parent would have been considered a stranger. Imagine if the something happened to a biological parent. The state would have had the right to take the children away from the adopted parent until a "real" family member showed up.

Luckily, an Oklahoma state judge tossed out the law, saying it went against the Federal Constitution. Naturally, the FRC was up in arms over this "judicial activist."

Posted by: stojef | Aug 20, 2009 11:32:42 AM

It's why I cannot understand the obsinacy when it comes to marriage equality here in RI. We've had protections for GLBTQ people since 1996, the transgender part added in 2001.

But yet we get idiots like Rep. Jon Brien, or Sen. Leo Blais who keep submitting bills to create a DOMA in RI.

All misogynistic assholes. Why misgoyny? The hatred of gays comes from the fact that one of the men has to act as woman. They feel it debases the man. Hence the misogyny.

Posted by: Tony P | Aug 20, 2009 1:05:07 PM

"Oklahoma passed a law stating it would not recognize adoptions of same-sex couples performed in other states..."

Well, of COURSE they were "thinking" of the children.

Posted by: Dale | Aug 20, 2009 1:38:24 PM

Everyone: Please keep in mind that NOM wants to do this across the country. They are already crowing that they have done this in 30 states and have opened up a national office in Washington, DC with 6 million $ already in the kitty to fight our repeal of DOMA. We need to shut these people down by insisting on their publicizing their donors names and amount donated. They have already gotten away with not doing this and the word is out that most of that money is from the Mormons.

Posted by: Michael | Aug 20, 2009 3:38:44 PM

I turned 31 the year this article appeared. I know the situation and would not fault Jean Adams for pointing out the realities that a mixed couple and their children would face.

As a therapist it is not my option to make decisions for clients. They must make their own decisions so they bear the responsibility for the choices they make. It's part of being able to function independently on their own.

However, it is my responsibility to discuss the pros and cons of the various options, perhaps mentioning options they hadn't thought of, so that they can make an informed choice.

So I'd have to say that Jean Adams advice was spot on based on the social realities of the time. She wasn't being a "bigot", she was just being realistic.

Posted by: Bill Ware | Aug 20, 2009 3:46:09 PM

Bill: Which is exactly why I said that I "don't want to suggest that this columnist was a bigot."

Posted by: G-A-Y | Aug 20, 2009 4:09:53 PM

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