Tag Archives: The State

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

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!

The conflict between the state and the family

A book review by Raymond J. Keating. I just ordered the book.


Sympathy and compassion help make humans caring, moral beings. Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, understood that, as illustrated by his emphasis on sympathy in The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Often, however, sympathy and compassion are transformed from tools of moral judgment and action into weapons of blind ideology, irrational emotionalism, and cynical politics. They particularly serve as the bat with which opponents of the welfare state get pummeled. After all, the argument goes, if you oppose an extensive network of government income, housing, healthcare, employment, and child-care assistance programs, you must be severely lacking in sympathy and compassion. To truly care, you must support big government.

That assumption, unfortunately, has long clouded the debate over welfare policies, especially when it comes to government programs affecting family life. The big-government crowd has pushed blindly for government to play an ever-larger role as financial provider for households, thereby contributing critically to the undermining of traditional families. Meanwhile, it should be noted that some who argue against such programs have tried to make their case without fully acknowledging the important economic and societal roles played by the family.

[…]Part of the problem is the failure to apply economic analysis to the family’s role in the economy and to the impact of government policies on the family. That has been remedied to a degree in The War Between the State and the Family: How Government Divides and Impoverishes by Patricia Morgan. Published initially by the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, it mainly deals with the programs and realities of Great Britain, but the discussion and analysis obviously apply elsewhere, including the United States.

Morgan pulls together overwhelming evidence and data showing the benefits to adults, children, and society in general of marriage and intact families, and the problems of non-marriage, single parenthood, and divorce. And she illustrates how the welfare state subsidizes and encourages family breakdown.

For example, Morgan shows that marriage boosts personal responsibility and employment among males, while single males are far more likely to be jobless and receiving government assistance. She also makes clear that government benefits have a strong impact on marriage and childbearing decisions and responsibilities among both men and women.

She notes the varying ways in which government policies affect such critical decisions: “By rewarding some behaviours and penalising others, tax and welfare systems affect the preference and behaviour of individuals not just through hard cash calculations but by (unavoidably) embodying and promoting certain values and assumptions. . . . The generous subsidisation of the lone-parent household cannot but reinforce the belief that it is quite acceptable for men to expect the state to provide for their offspring.”

Morgan sums up the implications of all this on the size and intrusiveness of government: “Growing family and household fragmentation” drives government spending and taxes ever higher; increases the “number of clients of the state”; “displaces existing institutional and private arrangements”; places the government in the role of parent and provider to children; allows for increased government intrusions into family life; and generates “an increasing mass of legislation and regulation of provisions for custody, access and financial support.” For good measure, child development is inevitably hampered due to the loss of “private investment in children,” which can never be matched in substance or quality by government programs.

She’s like a British Jennifer Roback Morse, and I mean to read her book.

What I find puzzling is that I keep running into young people who aspire to be married and to have children, but who are going about their plan in ways that seem to be counterproductive – at least to me. I see a lot of young people voting Democrat, for example. I find this confusing, because voting Democrat means that there will be fewer jobs, higher taxes, more debt and more crime. That’s just a start. So why are people voting for Democrats when Democrat policies undermine the feasibility of marriage? Probably because they saw Republicans being mocked on Comedy Central and cannot tell the difference between comedy and news.

MUST-READ: How the feminist welfare state causes generations of fatherlessness

Minette Marrin

Story by Minette Marrin here from the UK Times.


In a study presented to the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), the sociologist Geoff Dench argues from the evidence of British Social Attitudes surveys since 1983 that there is a growing number of such extended man-free families: “Three-generation lone-mother families — extended families without men — are developing a new family subculture which involves little paid work.”

The culture is passed on, as you might expect. Lone grannies are significantly more likely to have lone and workless daughters than grannies with husbands or employment, and the same is true of their daughters’ daughters. Baby daughters (and baby sons, too) are imbibing with their mother’s milk the idea that men, like jobs, are largely unnecessary in any serious sense.

The problem with this new type of extended family, Dench says, is that it is not self-sustaining but tends to be parasitic on conventional families in the rest of society. In fact, it appears to lead inexorably to the nightmare of an unproductive dependent underclass.

Clearly one of the worst problems with such a subculture is that although it’s not self-sustaining it has a powerful tendency to replicate itself. A boy in such an environment who grows up without a father figure is much less likely — for many well documented reasons — to turn into the sort of young man a girl could see as a desirable husband. A girl who grows up without a father never learns how important a man could be in her own child’s life. She will not see her mother negotiating an adult relationship with a male companion, so she won’t know how to do it herself or imagine what she is missing.

Before anyone starts to point the finger of blame at such girls, it’s worth remembering that many of them are simply making a rational choice. Badly educated at a rough sink school, facing a dead-end, low-paid job that won’t even cover the cost of childcare, such a girl will naturally decide to do what she wants to do anyway and have a baby to love. She knows she will be better off having welfare babies than stacking shelves and better off, too, if she avoids having a man living with her, even supposing she could find one from among the antisocial, lone-parented youths on her estate. That is because the state subsidises this rational choice, disastrous though it has proved, and has done so for decades.

Women quite understandably now talk of such lifestyle choices as their right. They’ve been encouraged to. And the state has actually made poor men redundant.

Please read the whole thing, this may be the most important thing I have ever posted on this blog.

I want to suggest that it is women’s embrace of radical feminism that has caused the shortage of men. The “compassion” (just give bad people your money!),  and moral relativism (don’t judge me!), etc. that young, unmarried women seem to like so much these days are in direct opposition to marriage, family and parenting. It undermines the reasons why men marry in the first place. And I’ll explain why.

First, moral relativism. Women today seem to have lost the ability to filter out men based on whether they can commit and fill the role of father and husband. They prefer to “have sex like a man” and to not judge anyone. But the reason why they refuse to make moral judgments is because they don’t want to be judged themselves. Instead of learning how to be a wife and mother, women have embraced partying and hooking up. But hooking up (and friends with benefits, and cohabitation) DO NOT result in a man committing to a woman as a husband and father for life.

Second, big government. The solution that women embrace because of their fear of abandonment by men is to lobby for more and more government programs to give them security no matter how they choose. They don’t want to restrain themselves in order to avoid causing expensive social damage, e.g. – STDs, abortion, divorce, etc. They just want to do have fun and then have someone else pay the costs. But if working men have money taxed away to pay for things like abortions and welfare, then they cannot afford to form families on their own – especially if they want to raise Christian children outside the day care/public school system that they are paying for but won’t use.

Could it be that the reason that men are no longer suitable for marriage is because the incentives they had to marry (regular sex, the respect of filling the role of protector and provider, being able to lead the family spiritually in the home, and having well-behaved hand-raised children) have been taken away by moral relativism and big government? Could it be that the man shortage is caused by women who CHOOSE to be irresponsible about who they have sex with, and who CHOOSE to rely on bigger government as a fallback for their poor decision-making?

You all know that I want to fall in love and get married. This is probably the number one thing stopping me from doing that. The feminist idea that men are evil and can be replaced with government programs is now dominant in the West. This basically means that my children will be less prosperous, less free and less secure than I am. I do not want my children to have the poor character that results from being dependent on a secular left government for their livelihood. And I am also concerned about the kind of world the children will live in as the traditional family, which is a bulwark against state power, declines in influence.

I wish women started to think about how marriage and parenting really work. Instead of thinking about recycling and vegetarianism, women should be thinking about forming their own character for the role of wife and mother. They should be thinking about how to strengthen men’s roles instead of weakening them through premarital sex and big government. They should have the attitude of wanting to learn about obstacles that will prevent a good marriage – and not just ideas but threats to the finances and liberty of the family. They should not believe that “everything will work out as long as we love each other”. Love takes preparation and work.

By the way, this article from the libertarian Cato Institute explains more about how the government creates financial incentives for people to break up families and harm children.

Related posts

Oklahoma considers legislation to reduce divorce rate

She makes marriage sensible
She makes marriage sensible

A podcast with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.

The MP3 file is here.


  • do governments have an interest in preserving marriage? Why?
  • when a divorce occurs, what does the government decide for you?
  • why preserving marriage helps to preserve your liberty
  • how every child has an interest in the stability of their parents’ union
  • how every child has a right to care from each biological parent
  • how justice requires us to care about the needs of vulnerable children
  • the government should legislate to protect the rights of children
  • how much does a divorce cost the couple?
  • how much does a divorce cost taxpayers (i.e. – government services)
  • how can government protect marriages
  • is mandatory counseling before a divorce a good idea?
  • is a mandatory waiting period before a divorce a good idea?
  • how can changes to custody rules discourage divorce?
  • is fault-based divorce a good idea?
  • should fault be considered when splitting up property after a divorce?

For such a short podcast, this really rocks. Every sentence is brilliant.

I have tons of ideas of how the government could prevent divorce and encourage marriage. I would cut off all subsidies for failure, and replace them with vouchers for counseling, tax credits for getting married, and tax credits for staying married. I also like covenant marriages. I think I would be way more likely to marry if I could get a covenant marriage. It’s a really fun thing to think about, because you want to preserve liberty while still encouraging people to be careful who they marry and how they related to their children. What’s your idea to preserve marriage?