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The Forum > Article Comments > Conservative definitions of family are social engineering > Comments

Conservative definitions of family are social engineering : Comments

By Brian Greig, published 20/12/2004

Brian Greig argues that conservative definitions of "family" are a form of social engineering.

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Lots of debate on these articles about the what constitues a 'family'. Take for example's defintion;

'A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children'.
'Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place'.

So no mention of sex there. I have two real problems with 'traditional' views of families;

1. As a man in a heterosexual marriage, with no children, am I not in a family? Do I have to have a child to assume that responsibility?

2. Why do people feel so threatend by gay marriage? I do not feel the 'insitution' of marriage to be under threat in any way. Surely the concept of marriage would be strengthend if people could marry however the want, regardless of sexuality.

Just my opinion.
Posted by gw, Monday, 20 December 2004 1:31:31 PM
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"Gay people are not good enough to be part of a family. People with HIV/AIDS do not have the right to take part in society. Ive learnt this from Jesus. He stood-up for the oppressed, which I choose to interpret as telling people who to love and why. I believe I am a direct conduit for the word of god, the doctor tells me this is schizophrenia - I call it intuitive bible study.

Besides which I have always felt guilty for my own homosexual impulses I had in the 1950s as a teenager and as a result I have dedicated my life to making gay people second class citizens. If I can't be gay, they can't be gay either.

Families are infalible safe-houses to social ills and even-though I am a Christian I will go on about how they ensure the survival of the species as if I have enough rational brain-cells to support scientific darwinism.

I refuse to change my attitudes to gay people, because frankly I can't be bothered and I am tested by change at the best of times. Also, by attacking gay people it makes me feel like I am automatically morally and culturally superior to a minority in society - without even trying. By the way I can find quotes in the bible to back-up what I am saying. I think page 50 says 'I am God and I don't like gay people and I am not politically correct and I am mighty and homosexuality is the biggest issue confronting the world today - don't talk to me about terrorism, poverty, the middle east and unhappiness until we have thrashed it out over homosexuality'.

Now would probably not be the best time to mention I have an anxiety about sex in general and think the modern world is responsible for all my personal inadequacies. But all the problems in the world are created by men having sex with other men and women who think they have the right to work.

I have to go now, I think that is God calling"
Posted by Ofhust, Tuesday, 21 December 2004 4:35:23 PM
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The family is the building block of society and as such should be allowed to develop, change, evolve and adapt, as it has done for time immemorial without a need for the government to define what a family is. The only reason conservatives and religious groups want a definition of family is to stop gay & lesbian couples, and any other minority who wants to call themselves a family getting any access to public money, and the left only want a definition so they can get access to public money.

From the view of a free society, if any group of people identify themselves as a family then that's great. It's no one else's business. But a political view, by nature, must be more practical. The most important reason for the existence of family is the raising of children. Children are the future of the world and whether raising them is done by married or unmarried mum & dad, single parents, blended families, same sex couples or whatever is immaterial (insofar as these families are raising children, whether anyone else likes it or not). Any government money should only go to help families with children, and the rest can go whistle dixie.
Posted by bozzie, Tuesday, 21 December 2004 6:40:53 PM
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Ofhust. Isn't it good that we live in a society where we have the luxury of discussing topics such as the ones that surface on this forum.

If we woke up every morning wondering where our next meal was coming from, or if we were going to be blown up on our way to work, or fearing that the government was going to drag us out of our beds and put a bullet in our heads, then it would be pretty stupid to be worried about the rights of gays & lesbians, Chrissie lights etc.

I really don't understand the point of your post but by the feel of it you don't have much time or respect for people who believe in or worship God. That's the majority of people on Earth and their views are just as valid as yours, whatever yours may be.
Posted by Cranky, Wednesday, 22 December 2004 9:15:44 AM
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Any attempt at all to define a "family" is an attempt at social engineering; it is just that the neo conservatives and others of that ilk are better at it than most.

The concept of a family resides in the spirit of the members who choose to idnetify themselves with whatever group they chjoose how ever it is developed. The laws and society will catch up with that notion eventually.

Posted by inkeemagee, Wednesday, 22 December 2004 5:35:17 PM
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I think very few serious activists would question the heartache many gays and lesbians experience in trying to come to grips with both their status in society and recent debates about same-sex parenting/marriage.

Attempting to ease that pain, however, by endorsing some thoughtless social experiment where two men or two women try to play mum and dad is overkill.

Brian Greig asserts: “It’s not gender or sexuality that defines a family”. But in an ostensibly progressive society, I think it would be far more helpful to ask: “What is the best environment for raising children?”

Based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the answer is clear. Children generally do best with both mum and dad in a relationship cemented by marriage. Surely then, marriage between a man and a woman should be accorded favoured cultural and social status.

To give legal recognition to same-sex marriage would constitute a public, official endorsement of the following extraordinary claims: that marriage is mainly an arrangement for the benefit of adults; that children do not need both a mother and a father; and that alternative family forms are just as good as a husband and wife raising kids together.

In this context Brian Greig’s references to “the Religious Right” and “Catholic Bishops” are mere distractions. It’s the replicated scientific studies – not some mystical leap of faith – which tell us that children do best in a household where mum and dad are married.

Take a look from a slightly different angle. The assertion that all family types are equal implies one of two astounding assumptions. Either there are not two different ways of being human – we are essentially, if not superficially, androgynous; or, if humans are truly either male or female in nature, the combination of both male and female characteristics is irrelevant to the upbringing of children.

Honestly, would all gays and lesbians accept those assumptions? We all know heterosexuals are divided on the issue of same-sex marriage; I’d be surprised if there wasn’t diverse opinion within gay and lesbian ranks as well.

In the final paragraph of his article Brian Greig says “It’s not the gay community or single mums who are engaging in ‘social engineering’”. Grouping gays and single mums together appeals to our sense of fair play and empathy for the underdog, but single motherhood and gay marriage are two very different things. For example, prior to relatively recent calls for gay marriage, few people would have seriously suggested governments should deliberately legislate to encourage fatherless families. Yet that is precisely what is suggested with gay marriage. Second, I think the vast majority of people have empathy for families where heterosexual parents have separated or where one parent has died, but such situations are generally regarded as a tragedy for children. Same-sex marriage, on the other hand, implies no sense of tragedy or short-changing of children – fatherless or motherless families are seen as an ideal.

One may well empathise with the painful position in which many homosexuals and lesbians find themselves, especially when it comes to the subject of marriage. But there’s more at stake than the narrow interests of radical elements within the gay rights movement.

As I have written elsewhere, “if people want to redefine marriage is it unreasonable that, out of an abundance of caution, they should first present replicated studies showing that same-sex parenting doesn’t disadvantage children? Shouldn’t the onus be on proponents of radical social change to base their proposals on sound science?

The fact that supporters of same-sex marriage have not produced such evidence leaves open the disturbing possibility that, for some so-called ‘progressives’, the interests of children are secondary.”
Posted by Duffmeister, Thursday, 23 December 2004 9:50:03 PM
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