Tag Archives: Courts

Jennifer Roback Morse debates on marriage at Columbia University

Cloning her would solve the marriage problem
Dr. J makes marriage interesting and fun

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse defends marriage at Columbia University in this short hour-long exchange. This is your chance to hear how anti-child advocates of same-sex marriage really are. And Dr. J links SSM to unilateral divorce at the end of the Q&A, too. Awesome! This debate really needed to go for twice the time, and I look forward to hearing MORE debates from Dr. J.


Columbia University’s Federalist Society hosts a debate between Dr J and Professor Katherine Franke based on the question “Is Marriage Equality Possible?”  About an hour of audio includes opening position (Dr J), arguments (Prof. Franke), and rebuttal (Dr J), as well as a brief question-and-answer period.

The MP3 file is here.

Dr. J’s opening speech (15 min.)

Two basic contentions:

  • 1) same-sex marriage is not the equivalent of traditional marriage
  • 2) if we legislate that they are equal, then we are really redefining marriage by changing the essential purpose of marriage

A case study from Ireland:

  • a known sperm donor for a lesbian couple was excluded from having a relationship with the child he conceived
  • after the child was born, the sperm donor wanted regular contact with the child, but the women opposed giving him access
  • same-sex marriage requires that courts are able to assign parental rights instead of having rights assigned biologically, as with traditional marriage
  • That is why SSM is different from TM

What is the purpose of marriage?

  • Marriage is about attaching mothers and fathers to children, and mothers and fathers to one another
  • Children are born helpless from two opposite-sex parents and they need parental guidance and care during development
  • In TM, there is no third party needed in order to have a child
  • In TM, the biological parents have rights and responsibilities for the child
  • TM is about providing the child with justice
  • Every child is entitled a relationship to both biological parents, and is entitled to care, protection and nourishment from both parents, and every child is entitled to a stable family environment
  • the problem is that children don’t have standing to sue for these rights in court
  • so the purpose of marriage is that we have a social construct to provide these rights to children naturally, without the state having to intervene

The purpose of marriage according to SSM?

  • In SSM, the essential child-centered  purpose marriage is replaced with new purposes like pooling resources and having same-sex couples recognized by society

SSM redefines marriage in four ways:

  • it diminishes the entitlement of children to a relationship with both biological parents
  • it diminishes the identification of parental roles with biology
  • it requires the state to determine parental relationships, instead of recognizing biological parents
  • it enshrines the idea that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, that children don’t really need mothers AND fathers

Dr. Franke’s opening speech (20 min.)

Hard cases make bad law 1: the presumption of paternity

  • consider the case where a mother is married and has an affair resulting in a child
  • the Supreme Court has ruled that the father of the child has no right of contact
  • this is a case where marriage gets in the way of biological parents having a relationship with the child
  • so it can be the case where marriage is in conflict with the relationships to biological parents

Hard cases make bad law 2: the purpose of marriage can be changed

  • marriages was used to keep peace between families and communities
  • marriage used to be about trading and trafficking of women
  • so the concern for offspring was not always the greatest concern

TM and SSM are both equally able to create stability for children:

  • same-sex unions are just as stable for children as TM marriages

Same-sex unions do provide justice for the child:

  • giving the adults in same-sex couples the social recognition that opposite sex married couples have is good for children

Children can sue in court

  • children can use guardians to sue their parents in court to get their rights

Opposing SSM is racism

  • opposing same-sex marriage is equivalent to racism
  • we could abolish marriage completely and let individuals form private contracts, then the state would really be neutral on marriage

Dr. J’s rebuttal speech (5 min.)

The state cannot be neutral on marriage

  • what the deinstutionalization of marriage means is that the private contracts are made by adults and children will have no consideration in those contracts

Regarding the adultery case

  • the presumption of paternity is there to protect the marriage
  • such borderline cases almost never happen with TM, whereas in SSM these third party problems occur in 100% of the cases

Children are not happy being separated from their biological parents

  • adults do not have a right to exclude a child’s biological parents from having a relationship with them, and children are often not happy being excluded from their biological parents

Study shows that children of divorce twice as likely to have a stroke

Science Daily reports on a peer-reviewed Canadian study that links an increased risk of stroke to divorce.


“We were very surprised that the association between parental divorce and stroke remained so strong even after we had adjusted for smoking, obesity, exercise and alcohol consumption,” said [study leader Esme] Fuller-Thomson.

[…]Of the 13,134 total study respondents, 10.4 percent had experienced parental divorce during their childhood, and 1.9 percent reported that they had been diagnosed with a stroke at some point in their lives. When adjusting for age, race and gender, the odds of stroke were approximately 2.2 times higher for those who had experienced parental divorce.

When other risk factors — including socioeconomic status, health behaviors, mental health, and other adverse childhood experiences — were controlled in a logistic regression analysis, the odds ratio of stroke for those who had experienced parental divorce remained significantly elevated.

One of the reasons that we have so much divorce is because feminists and trial lawyers lobbied to relax divorce laws – this was the first redefinition of marriage. In this redefinition, we lost the stability and permanence of marriage. Now marriage just means a temporary relationship for people to have feelings of being “happy” and “in love”. It never used to mean that – it used to mean a promise to love another person regardless of how you felt.

Look at this article from Focus on the Family by Amy Tracy.

She writes:

God is very clear, however, that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He also says, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). According to the New Testament, there are two justifications for divorce: infidelity (Matthew 5:32) and desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15).

Now, I had always taken the rule of Dr. Laura for this. She says that you can get divorced for adultery and abandonment (as above), but she allows allows for physical abuse and drug addiction. But it looks like the Bible is more strict than Dr. Laura, even.

Look at these old-fashioned wedding vows – they reflected the view that marriage was permanent, and that it was meant to persist through hardships and trials:

______, I love you. I prayed that God would lead me to his choice. I praise Him that tonight His will is being fulfilled. Through the pressures of the present and uncertainties of the future I promise my faithfulness, to follow you through all of life’s experiences as you follow God, that together we may grow in the likeness of Christ and our home be a praise to Him.

______, I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy. I choose you to be my husband: to have and to hold, from this day forward. For better, for worse, for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; to have and to cherish, as long as we both shall live. And hereto, I pledge you my faithfulness to show to you the same kind of love as Christ showed the Church when He died for her, and to love you as a part of myself because in His sight we shall be one.

I love you, ______, and I thank the Lord for the love that has bound our hearts and lives together in spiritual fellowship of marriage. I will love, honor, cherish and obey you always. As we enter upon the privileges and joys of life’s most holy relationship and begin together the great adventure of building a Christian home, I will look to you as head of our home as I have looked to Christ as Head of the Church. I will love you in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in sorrow as in joy, and will be true to you by God’s grace, trusting in Him, so long as we both shall live.

The reason we cry when we read those vows (well, at least I do) is because we know that loving someone as an obligation is an enormous responsibility and sacrifice of our own selfish needs. That’s what marriage USED to mean, before no-fault divorce laws. But today people on the left and the right seem to be perfectly fine with them! Even many “Christians” seem to be fine with them.

I also noticed that Stephen Baskerville has an article on no-fault divorce up in the American Conservative. (Note: I do not endorse paleo-conservatism)


First: Marriage exists primarily to cement the father to the family. This fact is politically incorrect but undeniable. The breakdown of marriage produces widespread fatherlessness, not motherlessness. As Margaret Mead pointed out long ago—yes, leftist Margaret Mead was correct about this—motherhood is a biological certainty whereas fatherhood is socially constructed. The father is the weakest link in the family bond, and without the institution of marriage he is easily discarded.

[…]The notion that marriage exists for love or “to express and safeguard an emotional union of adults,” as one proponent puts it, is cant. Many loving and emotional human relationships do not involve marriage. Even the conservative argument that marriage exists to rear children is too imprecise: marriage creates fatherhood. No marriage, no fathers.

[…]Here is the second unpleasant truth: homosexuals did not destroy marriage, heterosexuals did. The demand for same-sex marriage is a symptom, not a cause, of the deterioration of marriage. By far the most direct threat to the family is heterosexual divorce. “Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage,” writes family scholar Bryce Christensen. “It is only because traditional understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that homosexuals are now laying claim to it.”

[..]Thus the third inconvenient fact: divorce is a political problem. It is not a private matter, and it does not come from impersonal forces of moral and cultural decay. It is driven by complex and lucrative government machinery operating in our names and funded by our taxes. It is imposed upon unwilling people, whose children, homes, and property may be confiscated. It generates the social ills that rationalize almost all domestic government spending. And it is promoted ideologically by the same sexual radicals who now champion same-sex marriage. Homosexuals may be correct that heterosexuals destroyed marriage, but the heterosexuals were their fellow sexual ideologues.

Conservatives have completely misunderstood the significance of the divorce revolution. While they lament mass divorce, they refuse to confront its politics. Maggie Gallagher attributes this silence to “political cowardice”: “Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk-free issue,” she wrote in 1996. “The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.”

No American politician of national stature has seriously challenged unilateral divorce. “Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” writes Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.”

If we social conservatives care about children, then we need to be opposed to no-fault divorce. We need to be more careful about who we choose to marry, and not choose mates because of “chemistry” or “hotness” or because our friends approve of them based on arbitrary cultural standards. There are defined roles for the participants to a marriage, and there is a design for marriage, and there are specific tasks that need to get done. Marriage is a job, and it requires skills to execute difficult tasks that are morally obligatory. It’s not about immature selfish adults pursuing happiness at the expense of their children. It’s not about feelings. It’s not about sentimentality. It’s not about fun.

Divorce causes damage to the health and well-being of children, resulting in behaviors that will give us less liberty (greater intervention of government) and higher taxes (for social welfare programs) later on. There are consequences to selfishness and irresponsibility in relationships. Other people do not exist to entertain you. Relationships are not a form of recreational activity. At least they should not be for Christians. For Christians, the goal of relationships is to get the other person to have a closer relationship with God and to be equipped to serve God better. If children are the result, then the same obligation applies to them. That is the purpose of relationships in Christianity.

What opposition to Christmas displays tells us about atheism

A post critical of litigious atheists, by Doug Giles.


The atheists I grew up with in Texas were a tad bit pluckier than today’s lardy hagfish atheists who file lawsuits every winter when they see a child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Yep, the anti-theists I used to hang out with in the Lone Star state were rugged individualists who were so busy milking this existence that they didn’t have time to bleat like a stuck sheep because a plastic baby Jesus statue endangered their delicate beliefs.

My other non-believing buddies who weren’t the robust Hemingway types were usually heady stoners who were into physics, Pink Floyd and Frisbee and were completely comfortable around people of faith versus today’s reflexively irate, touchy atheists who pop a blood vein in their forehead if they accidentally hear “Silent Night” playing at Macy’s.

For God’s sake atheists, übermensch up why don’t you?

Giles then goes on to explain one of the latest attempts by former-Pentecostal-hymn-singer Dan Barker to ban nativity scenes and other Christmas stuff from being displayed.

Then concludes:

Yep, according to the 21st century metrosexual atheist motif, anything that offends them should now be banned. That makes me scratch my head because I thought the atheists were the tough-minded ones who could stare death in the face and mock God and His dictates, but now a silicone statue of Yeshua in diapers puts them in a tailspin. Hello, sweetie.

He mentions Dan Barker in his article, so I think it’s worth linking to this post I wrote about how Dan Barker abandoned Christianity. To persist in the Christian life requires a certain amount of intelligence and wisdom. You have to be good at life. Dan couldn’t cut it.

Jennifer Roback Morse debates same-sex marriage at SMU


Southern Methodist University hosts a debate between Dr J (invited by the Federalist Society) and Dallas attorney (invited by OutLaw) on the legal definition of marriage.

The MP3 file is here.

Here is my snarky summary. Just bear in mind that Dr. J’s opponent is a lawyer, so I want to be clear that I am caricaturing and satirizing her speeches deliberately for humor, and these are not factual statements about what she said at all. So don’t sue me.

I do think you should listen to her actual words to see what factual arguments she makes, and whether her reasoning about what marriage is is compatible with polygamy, incestuous marriage, and anything else involving loving, committed consenting adults. And it you like this debate, you can find other debates on the Ruth Institute podcast. Jennifer Roback Morse is the William Lane Craig of the marriage issue.

Dr. Morse opening speech

No-Fault divorce as a case study:
– studies were produced to show that as long as divorced parents were happy, the divorced children would be fine
– but that research was wrong, children do suffer from divorce
– when you change the understanding of marriage, you change the way that generations relate
– you have to wait for one or more generations to see the effects of the change

The essential public purpose of marriage:
– to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another
– marriage exists in virtually every known society
– societies need marriage in order to allow children to develop over a period of time
– human babies have a long period of dependency, and we need parents to sick around for the duration
– there are many private reasons to get married, but we are insterested in the public purpose
– marriage identifies two people who made the child as having responsibility for the child

Marriage and the law
– currently there is the presumption of paternity – the woman’s husband is presumed to be the father
– the presumption of paternity is being changed to the presumption of the parent
– now, the other partner is presumed to be the other parent
– but if same-sex marriage were legal, the partner is never the child’s biological parent
– so, if you redefine marriage, then you are necessarily re-defining parenthood as well
– the children of same-sex unions are not being treated equally
– the children of same-sex unions are not going to have the same access to their biological parents

– children have a right to know who their mother and father are
– in general, children need a mother and father when they are growing up
– we have lots of data from single parents, divorced parents, divorced/remarried parents to show it

Biological parents and the state:
– in countries that redefine marriage, the state determines who the parents are
– the state creates criteria independent of biology to decide who parents are
– this is too much power for the state to have.

Opponent’s opening speech:

Marriage is about people having feelings of love, not the rights of children:
– marriage has no definition outside of what the state says it is
– there are lots of children being raised in same-sex households
– marriage is not necessarily about parenting, because old infertile people get married
– it doesn’t matter what children need or want, so long as adults feel happy
– lots of liberal organizations say that same-sex parents are BETTER than married bio-parents
– a family can be anything that we decide it is
– marriage has no basis biologically, marriage is assigned by the state with a civil license

– there are lots of rights and responsibilities that married couples have that same-sex couples don’t
– for example bereavement leave, property inheritance, visitation rights, joint tax returns, etc.

Same-sex marriage is the same as multi-racial marriage:
– men and women are indistinguishable and interchangeable

Keep your morality off my selfishness:
– it’s nobody else’s business if children don’t grow up with their mothers and fathers

Dr. Morse’s rebuttal:

– your statistics on the number of children in same-sex households are false: here are the actual numbers
– interracial marriage IS marriage: it produces children and requires parents be attached to those children
– a better solution to same-sex couples with children is adoption, not redefining marriage

Opponent’s rebuttal:

You’re a meany!
– if you don’t like same-sex marriage, then you opposed desegregation
– if you don’t like same-sex marriage, then you opposed women getting the right to vote
– I believe in justice, equality and civil rights, you don’t
– Yay social justice! I’m on the right side of history!

Why are Egyptians wealthier in America than they are in Egypt?

Walter Williams
Walter Williams

This is from Walter Williams, my second most favorite economist after Thomas Sowell.


Why is it that Egyptians do well in the U.S. but not Egypt? We could make that same observation and pose that same question about Nigerians, Cambodians, Jamaicans and others of the underdeveloped world who migrate to the U.S. Until recently, we could make the same observation about Indians in India, and the Chinese citizens of the People’s Republic of China, but not Chinese citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan.

[…]Much of Egypt’s economic problems are directly related to government interference and control that have resulted in weak institutions vital to prosperity. Hernando De Soto, president of Peru’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy (www.ild.org.pe), laid out much of Egypt’s problem in his Wall Street Journal article (Feb. 3, 2011), “Egypt’s Economic Apartheid.” More than 90 percent of Egyptians hold their property without legal title.

De Soto says, “Without clear legal title to their assets and real estate, in short, these entrepreneurs own what I have called ‘dead capital’ — property that cannot be leveraged as collateral for loans, to obtain investment capital, or as security for long-term contractual deals. And so the majority of these Egyptian enterprises remain small and relatively poor.”

Egypt’s legal private sector employs 6.8 million people and the public sector 5.9 million. More than 9 million people work in the extralegal sector, making Egypt’s underground economy the nation’s biggest employer.

Why are so many Egyptians in the underground economy? De Soto, who’s done extensive study of hampered entrepreneurship, gives a typical example: “To open a small bakery, our investigators found, would take more than 500 days. To get legal title to a vacant piece of land would take more than 10 years of dealing with red tape. To do business in Egypt, an aspiring poor entrepreneur would have to deal with 56 government agencies and repetitive government inspections.”

Poverty in Egypt, or anywhere else, is not very difficult to explain. There are three basic causes: People are poor because they cannot produce anything highly valued by others. They can produce things highly valued by others but are hampered or prevented from doing so. Or, they volunteer to be poor.

Some people use the excuse of colonialism to explain Third World poverty, but that’s nonsense. Some the world’s richest countries are former colonies: United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Some of the world’s poorest countries were never colonies, at least for not long, such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Tibet and Nepal. Pointing to the U.S., some say that it’s bountiful natural resources that explain wealth. Again nonsense. The two natural resources richest continents, Africa and South America, are home to the world’s most miserably poor. Hong Kong, Great Britain and Japan, poor in natural resources, are among the world’s richest nations.

What is necessary for wealth is a capitalist economy, that emphasizes the rule of law, private property, judicial restraint, limited government, etc. Egypt has none of those, and that’s why Egypt is poor. India and Chile used to be like Egypt, but then they revamped their societies to be more like America. Now India and Chile are more prosperous. Economics is not rocket science.

Capitalism creates wealth, and raises the standard of living of the poor and the wealthy. It doesn’t matter what rung of the social ladder someone is on – as long as they can keep what they earn, instead of having it redistributed by socialists, then they will work hard to create something of value to share with others. Poverty is caused by economic ignorance.

More Walter Williams stuff here, and more Thomas Sowell stuff here. These are the clearest-thinking economists operating today.