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08/14/2012

NOM's Ruth Institute: Marriage equality supporters 'oppose your right as a biological parent'

by Jeremy Hooper

The National Organization For Marriage's Ruth Institute (a project of NOM's 501c3 Education Fund) kind of ebbs and flows in terms of vehemence. There have been times when Jennifer Roback Morse's baby has been a much more pragmatic offshoot, focusing on economic and libertarian arguments concerning marriage. There have been other times when certain Ruth bloggers (like the since-ousted Ari, for instance) and Roback Morse herself go into full-on attack mode, taking the agenda off of just marriage policy and putting it squarely into the realm of personal hostility (or "ex-gay"–dom).

Screen Shot 2012-08-14 At 8.22.43 AmThe most prolific Ruth blogger these days is Jennifer Thieme (pic.), who is also listed as Ruth's Finance Director. So what is Ms. Thieme's major focus in her role as Ruth voice? Well, lately it's been making supporters of marriage equality for same-sex couples sound like heat-seeking missiles hellbent on destroying different-gender marriages and families, natch. Take a look at her latest:

REI is the latest corporation to take a stand against biological parenthood by supporting redefining marriage. Any company and any individual who supports redefining marriage is opposing your right as a biological parent. REI Endorses Same Sex Marriage.

SSM requires “legal parenthood” and biological parenthood must and WILL be done away with as it is accepted into law. Does your right as a biological parent come to you from God, by virtue of the child coming from your body? Or was it granted to you by the state? ”Legal parenthood” says that your rights as a parent are granted by the state. Biological parenthood says your rights come from God. REI, Starbucks, Best Buy, Nike, Microsoft, Google, Proctor & Gamble… the list is quite extensive and they are all in opposition to the biological status of parents. They may or may not know this. But that is the what will happen if marriage is redefined. And they will be responsible for the resulting harms.
KEEP READING:REI Latest Company to Take a Stand Against Biological Parenthood [Ruth]

Okay, first off—are we really reducing this conversation to one where God is the only arbiter of custodial law? Because if Ruth Institute (which is to say, NOM) wants to play that card, this organization is going to be opening up a whole can of concerns that goes well beyond same-sex marriage and its legality, with the eyebrow-raising parties far exceeding just marriage equality supporters. Not to mention, for those of us in the marriage equality movement who are keeping our focus where it should be in this debate (i.e. on civil law), these faith non-negotiables are only going to help us clobber the other side's arguments in a court of law. So yeah, good luck with all this talk of God as judge and jury.

But as for the nut of Thieme's argument—I know it's easy to use scary gays and their oh-so-terrifying unions as a fear card to agitate the social conservatives, but ease does not equal merit. There is not one reason why equal rights for same-sex couples could, would, or should alter the live of any gender-different couple or their children. Thieme claims biological parenthood will be done away with? Why? By what token? At whose doing? Yes, family structures are more complex than the conserva-fantasy where all parents are heterosexual, married once, eager and able to reproduce, and choose to raise the biological children that they jointly created—but this is the case right now. Already. With or without equal marriage rights. One would think that adoptive (and twice married) parent Jennifer Roback Morse would understand this and impart the same understanding onto her colleagues. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Even if Ms. Thieme insists on making this marriage conversation all about the non-required element of reproduction (which is itself a ridiculous argument), in what world is the complexity of family hinging on civil marriage rights? Answer: It doesn't. And I would argue that by (over)playing these hands, the Ruth Institute is showing the world that stopping same-sex marriage in the states and federally is not really the goal here. No, no—the goal is overlording over *EVERY* kind of family form to ensure that it fits into this organization's extremely limited purview. Gays are merely the scapegoat because, well—we're pretty much always the scapegoat. But the moral dictating doesn't end at us. At least there's no logical reason to assume that it will.

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