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Category Archives: Ruth Institute

When It Comes to Parents, It Isn't "The More The Merrier"

Blogging for the Ruth Institute, Jennifer Johnson recounted her experience of growing up with five parents.  The piece responds to claims by Masha Gessen, a prominent LGBT activist who was recently honored by the state department, who has famously celebrated her own unorthodox family as the shape of things to come:

I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally… I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.

Johnson's mother and father divorced when she was about three.  Her mother remarried once and her dad remarried twice, so she has experienced what life is like with five parents--a mother, a father, two stepmothers and a step-father.  Johnson's experience shows that growing up in such a structure is not as rosy of a picture as LGBT activists paint or something to be approached casually:

Child Custody

In this day and age children can already have five parents. That’s how badly marriage has deteriorated already. The main difference between what Gessen advocates and my experience is that my step parents were not legal parents; she advocates for all of the adults in her situation to be legal parents.

Having more than two legal parents will be a nightmare for a child...adding additional legal parents will create more disruption for children’s daily lives, more chaos, more confusion, less unity. And why are we doing this? So that adults can have the sexual partners they want.

Masha Gessen had a mom and a dad, so it appears that she benefitted from the socially conservative family structure--it appears she was not raised under the family structure she advocates... Since I lived under the family structure they advocate, I will sometimes ask [activists]: would you trade childhoods with me? They either say no or they don’t reply.

If what I had is so great, then why don’t they want it as children? Here’s my conclusion: they want it as adults but not as children. They want the benefits of the socially conservative family structure when they are children. But as adults, they want sexual freedom, or at least they want to appear “open minded” and “tolerant” about others sexual choices, even at the expense of children, even though they themselves would never want to live under what they advocate. It’s a bizarre sort of a “win-win” for them, I guess.

It’s very painful for me to have conversations with these people. They don’t understand what they advocate, and they don’t seem to want to understand.

Johnson's experience shows such structures have a profoundly negative impact on children--putting the desires of adults over the needs of children does a giant disservice to the young, vulnerable children involved.

Advocates of redefining marriage can push junk science through the liberal media and claim that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, but when push comes to shove, science and common sense demonstrate otherwise.  Children like Johnson who were raised in unstable environments rarely wish the same on anyone else.

Is it just and fair for adults to put the well-being of children on the backburner so that adult desires can trump everything else?

Johnson also asked readers:

Imagine having each of your parents completely ignore the other half of you, the other half of your family, as if it did not even exist. Meanwhile, imagine each parent pouring their energy into their new families and creating a unified home for their new children. These experiences give you the definite impression of being something leftover, something not quite part of them.

Johnson's experiences say a lot about redefining marriage: it hurts children and even advocates of redefining marriage are glad that they benefitted from being raised by both a mother and a father.

Gessen has also advocated for the abolition of marriage altogether, saying:

...it is a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist... The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change, and again, I don’t think it should exist.

The Ruth Institute

The National Organization for Marriage Education Fund is happy to announce that the Ruth Institute will be running as an independent organization effective November 1, 2013. The Ruth Institute has operated as a project of NOM's Education Fund over the last three years. NOM is proud of the great work that the Ruth Institute is doing and is happy that its work has grown to the point where it will operate independently.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse on Why Being Pro-Marriage is Not Anti-Gay

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, President of the Ruth Institute, responds to the GLAAD's libel that to be pro-marriage makes one guilty of being anti-gay:

"Earlier this month the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) “Commentator Accountability Project” included me on their list of people who deserve special scrutiny before they can be engaged as commentators on the marriage debate. But it is organizations like GLAAD that need to be held accountable for the impact of their rhetoric on the public debate.

According to the GLAAD website, I have held myself out as someone who purports to be an “expert on the lives of LGBT people.” Evidently (and unbeknownst to me) I have devoted my career “making life more difficult for LGBT people.” Although these extreme statements have since been scrubbed from the site, the organization continues to claim that “Bias is Not Balance.” The undeniable implication is that my views are baseless. GLAAD’s systematic policy of slapping negative labels on their opponents without actually engaging them in debate reduces the quality of discourse in the public square.

Out of the hundreds of thousands of words I have spoken or written, GLAAD found a grand total of four quotes as evidence of my supposed “extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.” One of these is that I say redefining marriage will marginalize fathers from the family, because fathers will be considered inessential. GLAAD acts as if this were self-evident evidence of anti-gay bias. -- The Blaze

No Standing: What Marriage Radicals Really Think of “The People”

Bill Duncan's Speech at "It Takes a Family" '09

Click to watch Mr. Bill Duncan, Director of the Marriage Law Foundation, give his ground-breaking talk on marriage at the inaugural "It Takes a Family to Raise a Village" Conference in 2009.


by Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.
Ruth Institute Founder and President

Last week’s hearing in the California Supreme Court on whether the proponents of Prop 8 have standing to defend the measure in court seemed to go well for the defenders of natural marriage. But another issue lies beneath the surface of the court arguments. The issue is what kind of people are the marriage redefiners: Ted Olsen, Rob Reiner, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights?

Is their bid to deny Prop 8 proponents legal standing just the next step in the unfolding of the civil rights movement, as they seem to perceive themselves? I think the evidence from the courtroom shows beyond doubt that we are dealing with something else entirely. These people are bent on obtaining a particular outcome, no matter what the cost to the rest of the legal system. Advocates of minimum government, especially libertarians, should be more than wary about hanging around this type of person: they should avoid them absolutely, and call them out wherever possible.

Proposition 8 is the ballot initiative defining marriage as the union of one man and one women in the California Constitution. In 2008, California voters approved Prop 8, with 51 per cent of the vote, approximately the margin of victory that elected Obama. Since then, celebrity lawyers Ted Olsen and David Boies have brought a suit in the federal courts to argue that Proposition 8 violates the US Constitution.

Please note the high stakes here. If the courts decide that the US Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage that will be the end of the line for debate on the subject in the US. We will have genderless marriage throughout the US, overturning the constitutions of the majority of states.

So, the point at issue in last week’s hearing before the California Supreme Court was whether the proponents of Prop 8 (that is, the group of people who put Prop 8 on the ballot and who are legally responsible for it) have standing to defend the measure in court.

Before I went to San Francisco to cover the Prop 8 trial, I hoped that the marriage redefiners would try to distinguish their case. That is, would they try to come up with some argument that distinguishes the proponents of Prop 8 from proponents of other potential ballot initiatives? If they make no attempt to do that, we might conclude that they don’t care whether they destroy the initiative process. They just want what they want, and they don’t care about collateral damage.

I am sorry, but not surprised, to report that attorney Ted Olsen made no serious effort to create a legal argument that would apply to Prop 8 and not to other ballot measures. As I sat in the jam-packed courtroom, I sensed that the justices were appalled by his cavalier attitude toward the voters. One by one, the justices poked holes in Olsen’s theory.

Justice Carol Corrigan observed that Olsen’s theory would give the Attorney General the right to “pocket veto” any voter initiative. Justice Joyce Kennard noted that to agree with Olsen is to nullify the power of the people. Justice Kathryn Werdegar noted that “we” (meaning the Supreme Court of California) have always given ballot proponents standing in court.

In addition, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye noted that this case was the first case in history in which the proponents were the sole defenders of a measure. In past cases, the proponents have stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the Attorney General. She asked what would happen to the state’s interest in a law, if the Attorney General refused to defend it. “Does the state’s interest evaporate?”