Mind, Body, Soul.

01.31.2013, 11:56 AM

[Editor's note: Alana uses "3PR" here short for "third party reproduction," which refers to conceiving a child via sperm or egg donation or surrogacy]

Last night I went to a lecture by Robert P. George on What is Marriage?  and I wanted to share some of the thought nuggets I found helpful and pertinent. We often talk here about the culture wars going on in this country. We fight about gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, 3PR… I go to a luncheon and hear a woman speak of her and her lesbian partner and their deep, passionate desire to get married. In defending why they should have the right to do so they first and most forcefully reveal that they have a son they’re raising, born using one woman’s eggs, the other woman’s womb, and someone else’s sperm- a man that has been excluded and banished from the family. I notify her that I am against gay marriage and cite being donor-conceived as the essential experience that informs and shapes my opinion on this subject. She responds “but marriage and donor-conception have nothing to do with each other.” Even though she just propped up her son as the main reason why she and her partner should receive marriage privileges.

If I post something on facebook that has anything to do with marriage, abortion, euthanasia, 3pR, sex & gender relations… I know exactly which of my friends will respond and how. It’s always the same crowd, same fight. Their adherence to the “left” or “right” on one issue informs their likelihood of responding to the “left” or “right” on another Life or Dignity-related issue. Because there is an underlying philosophy that heads their thinking on all of them. Last night, Robby George explained that underlying philosophy to be:

The Dualism of the mind and body.

If “we”, our true selves, are our mind, and our body is just a vessel- then what harm are drugs, promiscuity, abortion, and 3PR? Gender will be just a social construction. Rape will be a physical crime with only temporary wounds. If my body is separate from “me” than it is totally ridiculous and pointless that I am spending so much time talking about and pining for my biological father. Everything Malcolm X said about the crime of separating blacks from family members and their ancestry as consequences of the slave trade should be considered intellectually void, invalid.

But the body is the person. I am a woman. I am an amalgam of my father and mother. And they are of their mother and father. Intending parents that choose to dismember the human body and separate parenting into services rendered- particularly through surrogacy and egg donation, are dehumanizing their child.

They. are. dehumanizing. their child.

They are separating the person from a precious and sacred element of what it means to be human- having a mother and father. And it all stems from the mistake of philosophically separating the mind from the body. For parents via 3PR, I am not the enemy to their children finding happiness. Neither is the Catholic church. The enemy to their children’s happiness is humanity itself. Humanity as it has always been known. For them, their fight is with every book that ever mentions a mother, or father, every film, every Mother’s Day event at school, every image on a billboard with a pregnant woman, or intact family cooing their child that just so happens to look like a perfect blend of them both. In order for parents via 3PR to protect their child from pain, they will have to isolate them completely from any and every reminder of what every human in history has always had: a mother and father.

So…. good luck with that.


50 Responses to “Mind, Body, Soul.”

  1. Kevin says:

    Alana, biological parenting is clearly something important to you, so I proceed with caution and, hopefully, sensitivity.

    What do you make of the anti-same sex marriage crowds’ latest tactic that marriage must be limited to different-sex couples, because straight people have sex primarily for pleasure, and children are an unintended, and undesired, consequence? Apparently it is so common for parents to lack interest in their children, that there needs to be an exclusive institution called marriage to force them to parent. How special is it, then, to have biological parents who see you as a burden?

    Doesn’t this create a concern that even if you had been raised by your biological parents, that they might not have had much interest in you? In other words, you were merely a biproduct of their passion, as likely to be considered an annoyance as a joy?

    Can you really long for someone who is evidently indifferent to you?

    Again, I hope this isn’t insensitive, and I hope the moderator deletes this comment if it crosses a line.

  2. kisarita says:

    why do you think children are an undesired consequence of sex?
    just because people weren’t thinking about it when they had sex does that make them undesired?

  3. Kevin says:

    I don’t think it, the anti-same sex marrige people do. I think I made that clear. They believe that if their isn’t a marriage incentive exclusive to them, straight people won’t care enough about their children to parent them. That’s in the amicus brief submitted to the US Supreme Court.

    I personally don’t think marital status affects your feelings for your kids. Perhaps they mean that if a man agrees to marry a woman, he’s making a commitment to be a father to those children, or at least pay for the cost to raise them, even if he doesn’t want children, or to be a father. Why gay people have to be excluded from this calculus remains a mystery.

  4. Teresa says:

    Alana:
    And it all stems from the mistake of philosophically separating the mind from the body.

    I see where you, and perhaps, Dr. George are going here; but, I’d like to add a bit more. I believe a more fundamental problem is our exaggerated immaturity in even recognizing, let alone accepting spiritual principles … no matter what traditional faith belief espouses them. These spiritual principles reify themselves within the natural construct and order of ourselves and our environs: men vis-a-vis women,and all the myriad implications of understanding that basic gendering.

    Our reductive science, which disrupts nature at every turn, has been disastrous for us all. It has now supplanted spiritual principles with trickery and magic. It has seduced all of us into believing there are no consequences to our behavior, to our being human. It has replaced the good, the true, and the beautiful with the damaged, the false, and the ugly.

    Our own immaturity, really selfishness and self-centeredness, lives in a fantasy world of “whatever I want, I’m supposed to have” … and, “what’s more, I’ll get it, whatever it takes, no matter who gets hurt”. We confuse, and belligerently so, a singular desire, with a ‘civil right’.

    We, as a society, are all toddlers demanding: what we want, when we want it; and, no one’s gonna be the boss of me. Reductive science is a toddler’s best friend.

    Alana:
    … then it is totally ridiculous and pointless that I am spending so much time talking about and pining for my biological father.

    So, no, Alana, it is not totally ridiculous and pointless talking about and pining for your biological father … far from it. Your voice is necessary, and more than necessary, to keep all of us, society as a whole, grounded in basic spiritual principles and laws. Your courage and commitment uplift me.

  5. kisarita says:

    “Why gay people have to be excluded from this calculus remains a mystery.”

    Gay people aren’t part of that issue in the first place, in order to be excluded since gay people can not reproduce together.

  6. kisarita says:

    If you would ask why gay people should be excluded from other benefits of marriage that do not assume reproduction, I would agree with you. But then it wouldn’t be the same institution.

  7. Ralph Lewis says:

    Alana,

    In keeping with a recent biblical thread about the Jacob and Joseph story, think about Abraham and the beginning of Israeli religion that he symbolizes. The tribes of Israel were like no other humans either of their time or before them. Other cultures had always worshipped pagan gods that were fundamentally different than the one God of Israel, who was all-encompassing, all-good, all-powerful, and outside of the natural world. Everywhere this tribe would have looked, they would have been isolated from every other human in history. They probably seemed less than human to their contemporaries, because they had lost the ability to see the obvious divinities that literally lived in the sun, the moon, the wind, etc.

    I can’t compare myself to them exactly, but I, too, grew up Jewish, and also very “different” (i.e., gay, though I didn’t know it) in Mississippi and Tennessee. Everywhere I looked there was a reminder of how virtually everyone around me was different – there were the country clubs we couldn’t belong to or even enter, the Christian symbols and expectations we faced everywhere, and the prayers I heard at school every day, “in Jesus’ name, we pray”.

    And all around, and inside our home as well, I saw the signs of the kind of “manhood” I would never have, my brothers playing football outside, the billboards with ads showing heterosexuals in love, strapping men with the world on a string, gorgeous young women in ballgowns. I wasn’t like any of these people.

    So I know what it’s like to feel isolated. It wasn’t so much a fight with anybody, but it began a long, slow education in being human, without much help from those around me.

    For my children and the children of thousands of same-sex couples, there will be many differences from that. Most will not be isolated, for we, like the first Jews who banded together, collect in communities not just for each other, but so that our children will not be isolated and alone. And most importantly, unlike many of the donor-conceived children of your generation, Alana, our children will grow up knowing, and exuberantly knowing, the truth of their origins.

    I was volunteering this morning at our twins’ pre-school. My daughter H. was sitting next to her friend E. at snack time. E. asked me to help her stuff some filling into the pocket of her pita bread. After helping her, I decided to chirp, “I’m Hannah’s Dad!” She gave me that roll-the-eyes-withering look that 5-year-olds are just learning to perfect, and said proudly, “I *know* that. Hannah has two Dads.”

    “That’s right,” I said, “she does.” Hannah, next to me, beamed. You see, you live outside our communities and don’t see or experience the support that others, the vast majority of them Mom/Dad families, give to our kind. These people are vital; their attentiveness and good will is crucial in enabling us to teach our children that just because they are different, they are *not* isolated. They belong.

    The only way to win the battle you’re waging is to continue to ramp up the vitriolic metaphors you present. Prostitution, slavery, predation, de-humanization. The reason is that, unlike your generation, the coming generation of donor-conceived offspring are far more likely to be raised in truth, without the shame and guilt connected to every kind of secrecy that plagued you and many of the young adults you know.

    And if you are not able to convince a sizeable minority of this young generation to resent and demonize the parents they have, and crave the parents they don’t, your cause is lost.

    So, good luck with that.

  8. Elizabeth Marquardt says:

    This is a beautiful reflection, Ralph.

  9. Karen says:

    I hear what you are saying Ralph, truly I do. I would never want my parents to feel shamed. I am proud to be their daughter. I was brought into this world to love and support them. They were wonderful parents.

    But question for you, how would you feel if your biological daughter someday decides to sell her eggs anonymously or identity disclosed when the child/children are 18 (to pay it forward so to speak) and say a heterosexual couple (or a gay couple, single man, single woman) buys her genetic material and conceives a son who looks just like you and is gay…he feels that no one understands him and pines at a young age to know more and be a recognized part of his genetic maternal family (to know you, to be loved by you and your daughter etc.)? But he can’t express his feelings for fear of hurting those he loves and depends on. He doesn’t want to shame.

    Would you encourage your daughter to do this? Would you be worried that your daughter might be one of those women who becomes infertile because of her egg selling, or even worse, dies from it? Would you support it?

  10. kisarita says:

    Karen the assumption is that children are most likely to take after their biological families in all sorts of traits and that’s just not correct. After all, Ralph didn’t take after his folks heterosexuality. Many many biological families have one member who is a “black sheep.”

    However I do think your question is still valid without this assumption, because the simple fact that one has other roots from elsewhere may cause some sense of alienation. (I say May, not will- cuz people are very different.

    What would a grandparent’s feeling be about their blood grandchild who is part of some far off family instead of their own? Very interesting question.

  11. kisarita says:

    What would y’all prefer, your daughter to be an egg donor or in the military?

    (joke. sorta).

  12. Karen says:

    kisarita writes:
    Karen the assumption is that children are most likely to take after their biological families in all sorts of traits and that’s just not correct.

    I don’t understand why you draw this conclusion. There is all kinds of evidence that shows that nature has a strong correlation with traits.

  13. Mark Diebel says:

    Alana,

    I think you are putting a lot of weight on the conclusion “body-mind dualism”.

    Here are three plausible “philosophies” for the rise of DC practices.

    1) monism (in the form of materialism), a person is fundamentally and essentially only matter in complex arrangements.
    2) Lockean “blank paper” – there are no innate ideas (and by extension) qualities in a person, so everything that happens to a person after birth becomes potential content of consciousness
    3) demythologization – that the gamete is only a clump of matter, without identity or history and the goal is to educate humanity about its true nature.

    You write, “They are separating the person from a precious and sacred element of what it means to be human- having a mother and father. And it all stems from the mistake of philosophically separating the mind from the body.”

    I think you are narrowing the reality about the kinds of thinking that underlies the rise of the practices you are concerned about. The mind-body dualism has been around a long time (Plato), but DC a short time. Why does it appear when it does, especially since the technology for DC is not very sophisticated?

    If you are right and the practice stems from this dualism, what is the response?

  14. Hector_St_Clare says:

    Re: Karen the assumption is that children are most likely to take after their biological families in all sorts of traits and that’s just not correct

    Uh, no, it is correct, at least for a wide range of traits.

    Intelligence is about 80% heritable, religiosity and belief in traditional gender roles about 50% heritable, conscientiousness I think about 45%, desire to have children has a strong heritable component, and a lot of other personality traits do as well.

    Re: After all, Ralph didn’t take after his folks heterosexuality. Many many biological families have one member who is a “black sheep.”

    Right, which doesn’t disprove the fact that heredity has a strong influence on our personality traits.

  15. Matt N says:

    If ‘we’, our true selves, are our mind, and our body is just a vessel- then what harm are drugs, promiscuity, abortion, and 3PR? Gender will be just a social construction.

    In order for parents via 3PR to protect their child from pain, they will have to isolate them completely from any and every reminder of what every human in history has always had: a mother and father.

    I think your points here are related, but that when you understand that relationship, it gets easier to see both where you are coming from and where the rest of us are coming from. If for you, your biology and your gender match, and for you, who you consider your biological parents and your social parents match, then the idea that there’s an equation of those two concepts might seem strange to you. After all, one seamlessly flows from one into the other.

    But I think where you go wrong here is viewing your experiences as the sole way that people can, well, exist. I’m not transgender but I have a lot of transgender friends, and it’s work for me as a cisgender person to understand that their gender and sex don’t match. There’s so many assumptions and expectations and again connections that seem to logically flow but when you actually examine them, it really does seems strange. Why should someone’s genitals mean they can or can’t wear dresses in public without people staring? Why should they determine the “appropriate” length of their hair? Simply because those assumptions work for me, doesn’t mean they work for my transgender friends. It’s a learning process to see how for some people those assumptions can hurt them, and make their lives unnecessarily harder.

    Likewise, I want to ask you try to do the same thing with regard to equating biological and social parents. For me, they’re overlapping categories (I’ll get into that later I suspect) that can be equated, but in some cases they aren’t. Why should they? Why should willful cohabitation be a sign of a parent-child relationship rather than the basis for it? So, yes, for a broader category of people than those with 3PR involved in their conception (let’s not cast aside adoption, which many same-sex and male-female couples use to have children!), the process can prove traumatic and parents should seek to understand that, if their “child” processes their parentage in such a way. But does that necessitate restrictions on marriage and ARTs in cases like mine, where the division of social and biological parentage isn’t traumatic?

    Because one of the greatest difficulties in my life are statements like the one you closed this post with, which suggest that my understanding of who my parents are isn’t something you can imagine let alone accept as being valid. And more than encounters like this one, that experience of being told that I’m wrong and my ~real~ parents aren’t who I think they are is something that was forced on me in custodial decisions, which were won by the argument you’re making.

    In short, I’m asking you to try and place yourself in my shoes, where who you viewed as your parents was not who society was trying to coerce you into believing were your parents. Isn’t that the real problem? It stretches across both our experiences, and many others’ as well. It’s bigger than that children always have a biological mother and father, is what I’m trying to say…

  16. Karen says:

    Matt N writes:

    …which suggest that my understanding of who my parents are isn’t something you can imagine let alone accept as being valid.

    I am perplexed as to why you think she is saying that the understanding of your parents isn’t real. I’m like you in that my parents and my love for them as family is very real and valid, but I do not at all take offense in what she is trying desperately to defend.

    I often feel as if the other side of the argument (the loss) cannot be written or spoken of because of perceived offense by a handful who objects. Only that handful with your POV can wave their proverbial flag and be recognized and supported. Something is not balanced about that.

    I mean, just look at the media and culture programs (such as the New Normal)… All the cards are stacked in favor.

  17. Karen says:

    This cultural bias just cannot continue…it just can’t. Saying that mother’s and or father’s in media and culture don’t matter….there are huge enormous problems involved with this cultural mindset. I’m confident it will burn itself out eventually. Truth always always wins in the end. I have no problem what-so-ever with Alana’s advocacy. She is on the right side of history.

  18. Karen says:

    Not sure why the bloggers here are not posting this, but I will:

    “Winners and Losers”

    http://www.cbc-network.org/2013/01/2012-winners-and-losers/

    “Alana S. Newman: One fearless young woman, who goes where no man or woman dares. Even if that means going into the belly of the beast, daring to attend a fundraising event in NYC to challenge gay men from using women as surrogate wombs and egg donors so they can have a baby. Alana, a donor-conceived woman, runs AnonymousUs.org and is a strong advocate for children, who often aren’t considered in the pursuit to have a child no matter how extreme the measures.”

    “Shark Tank Girl”
    http://www.cbc-network.org/2012/10/alana-s-newman-shark-tank-girl/

  19. Victor says:

    Alana,

    Thanks. I’ll go start planning how to dehumanize more children.

    I’m sorry but if Alana’s post is an attempt at civility, it has failed miserably. But then, I guess, why should I expect even a modicum of civility from someone who has already shown her colors when she called same-sex parents “sexual predators.”

  20. Karen says:

    Victor: Good try at the usual attempt at cliche shaming without engaging in the legitimate issues.

  21. Victor says:

    Karen:

    What legitimate issue? How people who use egg or sperm donation or surrogacy “dehumanize” children?

    I suggest we instead engage in discussion how Alana just dehumanized her opponents.

  22. Karen says:

    Victor writes:
    what legitmate issue?”

    The fact that everyone EVERYONE comes from 1 man (sperm) and 1 woman (egg) and the loss involved with the rhetoric that it doesn’t matter and in relation to everything Alana tries to advocate for – in spite of the current PC climate. She’s a hero in my opinion.

  23. Matt N says:

    Karen: “I am perplexed as to why you think she is saying that the understanding of your parents isn’t real.”

    Because Alana states that her experiences are universal. She’s talking about “every human in history” having a mother and a father. I don’t, at least when it comes to what I consider important and who I would have liked to have had custodial rights over me when I was a child. The fact that I was produced by a sperm (that, yes, indeed was from a man!) and an egg is irrelevant to those needs. Conflating those two issues in my life directly contradicted my needs and wants. I am quite literally relegated to nonexistence in her writing.

    And yes, there are some presentations of families like mine on television now. Try to think of one other than the one on The New Normal. There’s none that come to my mind, unless you’re going to count Glee’s Rachel, but the only way she rationalizes calling both of her fathers “dad” is because she doesn’t know which one is her biological father and one of her driving motivations is to meet her birth mother. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement of social parentage. We’ve had this discussion before about media representation, and what’s out there isn’t terribly charitable to my perspective. Do you realize how many switched-at-birth plots are out there? And how they almost inevitably end with reinstating biological parentage? I’m not opposed to that conclusion, but I only want it to be the ultimate decision if the child elects for it. That’s typically how it’s presented, but again, people like me aren’t represented if every person in such a context wants to make estranged biological parents into involved social parents too.

    Are you threatened by any representation of people who prioritize social parentage over biological parentage? Because what I’m threatened by is the idea that no one like me could possibly exist (and notice I’m only trying to divorce the notion of biological and social parents as innately connected, I’m not even getting into other ways that my parents deviate from the definition of parent that Alana is presenting as universal here).

  24. Karen says:

    Matt writes:

    “She’s talking about “every human in history” having a mother and a father. I don’t, at least when it comes to what I consider important and who I would have liked to have had custodial rights over me when I was a child. The fact that I was produced by a sperm (that, yes, indeed was from a man!) and an egg is irrelevant to those needs. Conflating those two issues in my life directly contradicted my needs and wants. I am quite literally relegated to nonexistence in her writing.”

    Of course, I know some ppl don’t care…but honestly Matt N. YOU DO HAVE A FATHER…and the fact that he doesn’t matter to you sounds more like a political statement than a reality. Father’s matter. Very much Matt. Someday you might be one unless of course you choose to “donate/sell” your children away – because father’s don’t matter.

    All cards are in your favor though. So no need to worry that those of us who think it matter are going to infringe on the “rights” of those who don’t. Those who don’t will always win via the law and current culture.

    In my opinion, that is NOT a good thing.

  25. Matt N says:

    As we speak the House of Representatives is pushing a modified version of Obama’s immigration plan. One of the key changes is that same-sex couples and the children of same-sex couples wouldn’t even have some of the immigration rights extended to male-female couples and are married and their children. I’m sorry Karen, but the law and the current culture is pushing restrictions on one of use and it’s pretty clear which one of us it is.

    And it’s seeming like you aren’t willing to even entertain the framework of who are parents and in what sense that actually works in my life. It’s pretty deliberately set up to say that the wants and needs that you and Alana have expressed here are valid, but that mind are as well. Literally, accepting that I have a view that’s different from yours and but has merit at least within the context of my life is apparently too far for you?

  26. Chris S. says:

    I notify her that I am against gay marriage and cite being donor-conceived as the essential experience that informs and shapes my opinion on this subject. She responds “but marriage and donor-conception have nothing to do with each other.” Even though she just propped up her son as the main reason why she and her partner should receive marriage privileges.

    The fact that she has a son, and is raising him with her same-sex partner, is a reason to support same-sex marriage. How he was conceived is irrelevant; that child still deserves the legal protections of married parents.

    It makes no sense to oppose same-sex marriage because you are concerned about donor conception. After all, you were donor conceived at a time when same-sex marriage was not legal in any U.S. state. Furthermore, as I am sure you know given your concern over this issue, the vast majority of donor conception is done by straight people, and most gay couples do not use donor conception. So while I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the two issues have “nothing” to do with one another, it is clear that opposition to donor conception does not logically require you to oppose same-sex marriage.

    You believe donor conception causes great harm to children. I am torn on this issue, but I am sympathetic to your experience. However, I certainly am not sympathetic to your methods, which only cause further harm to children of same-sex couples. I find it strange that you can’t seem to grasp how your opposition to same-sex marriage harms children and creates a similar sense of isolation and stigma to what you yourself write about so passionately on this site.

  27. Victor says:

    Karen,

    I guess if it’s not directed at you, you just don’t see what I have pointed out is offensive. Let me try it another way.

    Do you think a particular Catholic priest would be willing to discuss with me the issue of child molestation if I said that the Vatican is a bunch of pedophiles?

  28. Ralph Lewis says:

    Karen,

    I bet by the time our daughters are young adults, I will have had a lot of experiences I haven’t had yet: witnessing them making both good and bad decisions that I had very little control over. Were one of them to be an egg donor, I don’t know how I would feel. I would hope she wouldn’t be an anonymous donor. I hope I would have explained my reasons for that stance sufficiently well to prevent her from proceeding that way.

    The specific outcome you’re posing as a thought experiment? I would hope this hypothetical young man would search for what he thought he needed. He would either find it, and find out whether it was what he thought he needed, or he wouldn’t find it, and would have to use that experience to move on. Truly, I think it’s an unlikely enough outcome (a young man with precisely those characteristics, as a result of egg donation) that I’m not concerned.

    I would be much more concerned about one of our daughters becoming an egg donor if the process were the same as it is today. Egg donors currently are treated like chattel – advertised to deceptively, with their short-term and long-term health considered not worthy of study. Most tragically, I think, they are allowed to donate repeatedly with almost certainly a high risk to their fertility and/or general health. It’s a situation I hope to be part of improving.

  29. Victor says:

    My point being that Alana S. is not simply making her point. (Whether she has a point or not others can address.) With her language, she is demonizing her opponents.

  30. marilynn says:

    That’s my girl stirring up trouble fearlessly. I love that. I am maybe one of a very few people you know Alana that believe the law prohibiting same sex marriages is unfair and I believe the laws that exempt some parents from the crime of abandonment so long as they fall into the category of donating their child are unfair to the the child.

    I get you though. Its very true that same sex couples often cite raising children together as a reason for them to get married because anti same sex marriage people are always saying that marriage is for raising children. So I say I got the answer….Go ahead and get married it will make you a step parent, not a parent. And straight people, you too! Stop trying to say that you are a parent to someone else’s offspring just because you happen to be married to one of the parents. Get rid of marital presumption because it allows straight people to lie and its bad for anyone to lie and say they are the parent of someone else’s offspring. Stop allowing people to create their offspring as gifts for people who want to raise them stop saying that they have not abandoned their offspring and start listing them as the parents of their offspring on their birth records. If you want to donate your genes, fine, but once your offspring are born you should be held to identical standards as anyone else with offspring or your offspring is being treated unfairly.

    Gays and lesbians are not being granted equal rights when it comes to marriage. That needs to change. But don’t be all down for your own equal rights and then pretend like the kids your raising don’t deserve equal rights too just like you. Don’t be hypocrites. Worse yet don’t be a hypocrite that gets what they are asking for and then turns a deaf ear and blind eye when other people are being denied their equal rights. Equal rights to what? To have their bio parents be physically and financially responsible for them the way other children of unmarried parents get. Imagine how frustrating it is to be donor offspring and see all your friends at school get the state to hunt down their fathers and name them on their birth records based on a DNA test. Those guys can’t hide but for some stupid reason the fathers of donor offspring get to hide. There is a laundry list of things that donor offspring are denied equal access to and if you are just complaining about the handfull that come with not being able to get married then count yourself lucky. You are on the way to winning equality and if your raising donor offspring you have a hand in denying those people their equality. Do something about it. Change the way you think and find some compassion for their need for equal protection too.

  31. marilynn says:

    Alana I find that marriage is the focus of both sides of the argument to the detriment of the children its suppose to be so good for. We ought to be recognizing that human beings are created by human reproduction entirely unrelated to whether the humans reproducing are married or not. The obligation to take care of ones own offspring stems from having offspring not from being married to the other person who reproduced to create their offspring. We have genetic testing now so that people can be sure that the right person is taking responsibility and that nobody is unfairly burdened with raising a child they did not themselves create and so that no child is unfairly identified as being the wrong person’s child. Its a good thing for people to take responsibility for raising their own offspring despite their feelings for the other parent. They should be cooperating for their child’s benefit. The child should not have to loose half their family because their parents can’t play nice and act like adults in an effort to both do their share of taking care of them.

    We are teaching children that they are of no value to the people who created them if those people were not married to one another. Unmarried couples give their children up for adoption to nice married couples who deserve them, then those unmarried couples go on to have other children with spouses that they do raise. Those children were worth raising because they were created with a spouse. We say donors should not care about their 150 offspring created with strangers because they don’t know those people, they are not married to them. Oh but donors raise the children they create with their spouses because those children matter more. Bio parents who reproduce with donors would not raise their donor offspring if the donor was required to be named a parent because the donor is a stranger they are not married to the donor. Bio parents who raise donor offspring only raise their bastard children if the child forsakes their rightful roll as a member of their absent parent’s family. If the rearing bio parent is single they pretend the child has no father or mother (because they were not married to him/her) If the rearing bio parent is married the child must pretend they are the spouses child not the step child they actually are because marriage is what makes a person a parent not offspring. And the step parent would not stick around to raise their step child if the world knew it was not their child so they agree to help raise their partners child by a stranger but only if they get the full title of parent.

    It is a sick and twisted thing to teach a child that their value as a human being is dependent upon their parents having been married to one another its not true. It is a cruel thing to do to make them pretend not to have a mother or a father or to pretend that their step parent is their mother or father just because they are doing the work doing such a good job of pretending they EARNED themselves a human being earned themselves a son or daughter.

    In reality people are not property to be earned through effort or bought or sold or traded or given or gifted. They are people. They are free they have identities of their own families of their own. Marriage is a construct stop putting it on a pedestal both sides just cut it out already.

  32. marilynn says:

    Matt
    What you have to say is so valuable because you have such a very positive opinion about the way you were raised and because you reject the idea of having your father been a custodial parent of you. You are happy he was not involved on that level because of the kind of person he was etc.

    I think the point you might be missing is that there is that people who raise other people’s offspring really need to come by their authority in a very ethical way. I have an inkling that your family might have been formed in just such an ethical way since you’ve known your father and fathers family all along and as I recall there were some pretty good reasons why your mother and her partner did not want him involved with you like abusiveness? Maybe I’m not recalling correctly but there is a big difference between keeping a child’s father away because you want them all to yourself or so you can make your partner their parent and protecting your child from a parent who is abusive. You deserved two parents who were not abusive taking their share of responsibility for you and if they each had partners of their own you would deserve to have them also play a positive roll in supporting your parents effort to raise you (separately from one another). The point is that it is possible for bio parents to objectify their children, to sell them to give them as gifts and that is bad. Wanting the other bio parent to just go away so you can have the kid pretend to be the child of your partner is bad. You are not an object to be handed around or an actor in someone else’s theater production. If your family came about in an ethical fashion as it seems it may have then your allegiance is well founded and certainly understandable. But to advocate for people orchestrating that kind of tragedy on purpose is not a good thing. Surely you think people deserve their parents best. Orchestrated failure is objectifying

  33. mythago says:

    Does Alanna also believe that infertile couples should not be allowed to marry? Surely a great many of them are going to rely on donor eggs and/or sperm to have children.

  34. marilynn says:

    Chris S

    Good grief man this is so frustrating! Do you realize what you just said??????
    Re-read your statement
    “The fact that she has a son, and is raising him with her same-sex partner, is a reason to support same-sex marriage. How he was conceived is irrelevant; that child still deserves the legal protections of married parents.”

    The child’s parents won’t be married if the mother’s marriage to her partner is recognized; one of the child’s parents will be married and the other parent will still be an unknown quantity. The child is being denied certain benefits by not recognizing the mother’s marriage to a female as being the same as a marriage to a male, namely that children’s financial position improves when their parent gets married because of the joint marital income with the step parent. Also the step parent can claim the child as a dependent on their medical insurance on their taxes and under those circumstances the minor child would receive social security death benefits from a step parent who died prior to their 18th birthday or 23rd if they remained dependent upon them into adulthood (say attending college or whatever). But their mother’s spouse male or female is not the child’s parent unless the child is also their offspring. There is a parent out there who is not pulling his weight because the law exempts him from responsibility to the detriment of his child. He should be just as responsible for sharing the burden of raising his child with his child’s mother as any other man. And if he gets married his spouse would also share that burden just as the mother’s spouse who happens to be a female.

    The benefit children of gays and lesbians get when their parents are allowed to marry same sex partners is that they benefit through legal step parenthood, not by getting to have their step parent as a parent. Then they are in no better position than millions of stepped on quasi marital children who lost membership in their own families due to paternity fraud in all its forms including donor reproduction. Step parent not parent.

  35. kisarita says:

    mythago… stop with that faux argument that has been repeated soo many times. the idea that because not everyone who marries reproduces, that marriage is not a union designed around reproduction. its old, worn, and illogical to begin with.

  36. kisarita says:

    And for the record, yes, Alana does oppose donor gametes for straight people.

  37. Peter Hoh says:

    Their adherence to the “left” or “right” on one issue informs their likelihood of responding to the “left” or “right” on another Life or Dignity-related issue. Because there is an underlying philosophy that heads their thinking on all of them.

    It must be awesome to be able to peer into other people’s minds and understand what motivates their thinking.

  38. Matt N says:

    Marilyn, okay, but who decides that it’s ethical? And based on what arguments? I think that directly connects to the discussion here in that the automatic assumption that non-biological parents have to prove their validity and ethical natures while our very laws are structured around the presumption of those traits for biological parents, even if they’ve been non-social for extended periods of time (with several pronounced exceptions, in cases of legally established abuse or severe negligence).

    My personal experiences suggest to me that such presumptions endanger children.

  39. mythago says:

    kisarita, an argument is not “faux” because you dislike it.

    It would be trivial to reinstate a requirement that prospective spouses affirm under oath that they are neither impotent nor inform, and to make infertility a ground for voiding a marriage. That’d cut down on donor-gamete use, don’t you think?

    There are plenty of same-sex couples who have no intention whatsoever of using donor gametes, or even of bearing biological children. To say that because Alanna knows one lesbian who wants to use donor gametes, that’s the end of the discussion on SSM, makes no sense to me.

  40. marilynn says:

    Matt we are communicating that is good. Ethical based on the exact same criteria applied to everyone for starters. I mean how about that for a base line? Whatever we decide is or is not ethical or abusive or inhuman should apply evenly to every human being’s offspring, correct? Whatever that gold standard is can we at least agree that there should never be a group of people the rules don’t apply to? Certainly the reason we have law is because not everyone will feel like treating people fairly and some people will not do what is expected of them and some people will get shafted or gypped out of what others are having a right to – but it is critical that we not say those people were never entitled to it just because they did not get it. There is a lot of dignity in having the law say that what hapened to them is not fair and that those they relied upon broke the law when they failed to meet whatever their obligations were and that if they are ever found and caught that they will be punished or that they will be made to comply of something better than your only entitled to rely on others complying with the law when they feel like it.

    So I like equal as a starting place, not asking for anything more or expecting anything less than the law says others are entitled to.

    So I like the idea of holding people accountable for their own actions as a basic principal and that others have the right to rely upon people to be identifiable as the source of their own actions, that there be no special provision for allowing people to pretend that they did not do or not do something that effects people other than themselves. Making a human being impacts every other member of our family because now they have a sister, cousin, uncle, grand child to avoid having sex with for starters. So another good starting place is to say that it is unethical to conceal information that other people need in order to make fully informed decisions about their healthcare and who they want to date. I’d limit people’s authority to control information to information that does not involve anyone other than themselves.

    For instance your health is your private business until you have a communicable disease like tuberculosis and then its everyone’s business. Your reproductive health is your private business until you reproduce and then the fact that you reproduced suddenly impacts people around you including the person you produced. It impacts the community if you don’t take care of the person you produced its a problem if you abuse them or sell them or give them away as a gift. It’s also a problem if you misrepresent yourself to have reproduced when you did not. That impacts all the people who think that a person is related to them when they are not. It impacts the family the person is related to because they don’t know it and cannot make decisions taking all that into account.

    Those are things Matt that cost no money and there is no reason why each person with offspring should not be held to some simple accountability for their actions. Certainly no child should be subjected to care by an unfit parent but planning to be unfit so that you can make some extra beer money or so that the nice couple down the block can raise the child they always wanted treats the person being handed off like they are the property of the hander-outer, and they are not.

    I think you have very important things to say and I think there is enormous prejudice for you and your family to overcome just for your daily function and that is not fair and that is why you speaking out is a very good thing. But remember that many people would actually plan to make children as gifts or for sale and that is not an ethical way to treat people. I don’t think that two women are necessarily better than two men or a man and a woman or just a man or just a woman because everything boils down to who the people are what their personal strengths and weaknesses are. But society should be protecting people from being bought and sold gifted or traded don’t you think?

  41. marilynn says:

    Matt of course non-bio parents have more to prove than bio parents. The bio parent can be wretched as hell but one thing is clear, it was there obligation all along to have taken care of their own kid and if they did not or did a lousy job of it everyone knows they failed their child. Their child has the right to expect that they would have complied with the law and the law is there to protect them when their parent fails by either compelling performance or by helping to find people to take over their flubbed job for them.

    When a person fully takes over legal parenthood of someone else’s offspring as opposed to being a step parent it means that the child’s parent failed them. failed to take care of them. Where are they and why did they not take care of them and where was the law that was suppose to be protecting the child and compelling performance? Well if the law was there and found the parent incompetent and then approved the non-bio parent based on an investigation that found there were no private contracts for parenthood say for instance and that the non-bio parent did not craft the parent’s failure in order to obtain the child and parental title then you have an ethical situation. If the non-bio parent purchased the child from a nun in mexico and the parents were told their child died or something it won’t matter how great that non bio parent is at raising kids what they did was wrong and the child should not be forced to live life identified as that person’s child.

  42. Karen says:

    Matt writes:
    Literally, accepting that I have a view that’s different from yours and but has merit at least within the context of my life is apparently too far for you?

    I don’t know how you draw this conclusion. I understand that it is better for you (as it was for me as well) that your father does not have parenting rights over you. But that doesn’t change the fact that everyone has (comes from) a mother and a father whether or not it’s in the child’s best interest to be raised by them. I do not support the practice of 3PR because I do think it seriously harms culture, society and human dignity with the message it conveys (that father’s and mother’s don’t matter and no one has a responsibility for their own sperm/egg when combined to create a new life unless they intend to parent). I offer no solutions via the laws on man. I’ve thrown in that towel a long time ago.

  43. marilynn says:

    Matt you brought up immigration rights for children of same sex couples. Matt what the heck is a child of a same sex couple? Do you mean a child who is the child of one and the legally adopted child of the other? Do you mean the the legally adopted child of both? Because surely you cannot mean a person who is the child of both because that is physically impossible.

    Do you realize that the children of people who are gamete donors are denied citizenship in this country even though they are the genetic children of U.S. Citizens? Do you realize that people with siblings born in other countries cannot sponsor their siblings for citizenship when they find them through the DSR even though they can prove that they are in fact siblings with a DNA test?

    Same sex marriage highlights crimes by people in opposite sex marriages and that is allowing false presumption of paternity to go uncorrected by the state. Lying to people about their true identities for the good of their marriages like cowards like sleazy little chickens. Instead of asking to be treated as the parents of their spouses children gays and lesbians should be expecting to be treated as their step parents and demanding that the same go for children of straight couples. Do something to protect children of all people instead of expanding the policy of pain that has destroyed the lives of children of straight couples.

  44. Karen says:

    Ralph,
    I’m not surprised that you’d be more concerned about your daughter than your grandchildren. (one is obviously more tangible than the other)

    The Donor Sibling Registry has submitted a new research paper to The Journal of Family Issues: “A New Path to Grandparenthood: Parents of Egg and Sperm Donors” which is expected to be published some time this year.

    I’m looking forward to learning from it:

    https://www.donorsiblingregistry.com/resource-library/dsr-research

    Current DSR Research
    2013 The Journal of Family Issues: A New Path to Grandparenthood: Parents of Egg and Sperm Donors
    Our paper has been accepted for publication in 2013. (The journal is apparently backlogged.)
    Excerpt: “…third-party reproduction has implications not only for the donor, recipients, and offspring, but also for the parents of donors, who in increasing numbers are learning that they are the biological grandparents of one, or sometimes many, children born outside of their family. In this article we examine this new path to grandparenthood by reviewing some of the social processes that have led to the emergence of this phenomenon.”

  45. Chris S. says:

    marylinn, I thought my meaning was clear. “Step-parent” is a type of parent, hence the reason the word is in there. Sometimes both members of a same-sex couple will be considered legal parents, although I don’t know if this is possible in states without legal SSM.

    Furthermore, many people consider their step-parents “parents,” and find great comfort and peace in doing so. I agree with you that the initial separation of the biological parents is a tragedy, but I don’t think “adopting” another parent, as many children do, adds to that tragedy.

    I agree with most of what you say, though, and I think your perspective as someone who is as opposed to ART as you are in favor of same-sex marriage is an important one in this conversation.

    ki sarita:

    mythago… stop with that faux argument that has been repeated soo many times. the idea that because not everyone who marries reproduces, that marriage is not a union designed around reproduction. its old, worn, and illogical to begin with.

    ki sarita, mythago’s argument is perfectly logical. Marriage may be “designed around reproduction,” but it still does not require it. It is in fact highly illogical for you to require one thing of same-sex couples (the ability to procreate together) and not the same requirement for opposite-sex couples, and then claim that you are treating them equally. The law has to treat similarly situated groups similarly. And an infertile straight couple who uses donor conception is similarly situated to a gay couple who uses donor conception. The only difference is their genders, and the government is prohibited from using gender alone as a basis for discrimination.

    And for the record, yes, Alana does oppose donor gametes for straight people.

    And yet, she doesn’t use that as an excuse to argue against marriage for straight people.

  46. Karen says:

    Chris S. writes: “And yet, she doesn’t use that as an excuse to argue against marriage for straight people.”

    No but her post is in response to lecture by Robert P. George on “What is Marriage?” which makes it clear.

  47. Karen says:

    http://familyscholars.org/2012/12/20/can-the-president-have-a-marriage-agenda-without-talking-about-what-marriage-is-3/

    Ryan T. Anderson asked David Blankenhorn:

    I asked specific questions, questions that Blankenhorn never bothered to even attempt to answer:

    The authors propose that the United States ban anonymity in sperm donation “and reinforce the consistent message that fathers matter.” But how does marriage policy reinforce that message if it redefines marriage to say that mothers and fathers—one of each—are optional for marriage? How does redefining marriage to include lesbian relationships not further incentivize the type of anonymous sperm donation and resulting fatherless children that the authors protest?

    Had Blankenhorn answered these questions and showed how the “President’s Marriage Agenda” is compatible with redefining marriage, he might have written a more constructive response.

    Instead Blankenhorn engages in ad hominem:

    Ryan Anderson wants to sit up in philosophical heaven and shout “Stop!” until until [sic] all definitions are agreed on and all principles are understood and accepted. And it just so happens that he already knows exactly what those definitions and principles are — so all we have do in practice is agree with him, and once we do, we can then (but only then) feel free to try to go to work in the real world to strengthen marriage. I view that as a fairly brassy and arrogant demand.

    And he concludes:

    The fundamental implication of Mr. Ryan’s argument is that by definition nothing can be said or done in the U.S. to strengthen marriage that is not premised in opposition to gay marriage. That’s the box that he wants us all to be in.

    The argument I made in my piece responding to the report—like the arguments I made in the various linked articles such as arguments in my new book What Is Marriage?—are all at the service of discovering the truth about marriage and better understanding why and how that truth matters. It’s not about agreeing with me, it’s about discovering and understanding the reality about marriage, and then moving law and policy and culture closer to a better embrace of and adherence to that truth—because the truth about marriage matters for law and policy and culture.

    David Blankenhorn is free to conclude that I’ve gotten it wrong, and he could help move the conversation along by pointing out the mistakes that I’ve made. However, that would require engaging with my arguments, countering the reasons I offered with reasons of his own, answering my questions to show how squaring this circle is possible.

    Blankenhorn is also free to conclude that there simply is no truth about marriage, or that none of us can know the truth, or that the truth doesn’t matter for law, policy and culture. But then again, I’d want to hear arguments and reasons why—not just heated rhetoric.

    No answers offered have made any sense. DB and I part ways.

  48. Manny says:

    Marriage has always united the husband and wife as one flesh, literally in their offspring and figuratively in their minds and legally in their status (in limited ways), it has never been a legal mechanism to obtain other people’s children through 3PR. That is an misuse of the presumption of paternity, which is based on the assumption that there is no way that a man’s wife could ever get pregnant by another man. It shouldn’t be used to justify lying about paternity or making an industry out of adultery. Marriage doesn’t allow people to commit adultery, it allows people to have children of their own! Even if a married couple is unable to or doesn’t want to, marriage is still symbolic and important in being allowed to have children with each other. That’s why we don’t allow marriage to a brother and sister, because they are not allowed to have children together, even though they probably could.

  49. Kevin says:

    Manny, I don’t think couples, gay or straight, have to be married to use 3PR.

    I also don’t think the presumption of paternity is based on the assumption that a wife can’t get pregnant with another man. If that were the case, that a wife can’t get pregnant with a man not her husband, there would be no need for a presumption of paternity. In fact, a woman CAN get pregnant with a man not her husband, and it must be, or must have been, fairly common to require a “principle” for addressing it.

    I think the presumption of paternity was created in order to spare the husband the shame and embarrassment that his wife slept with another man. Or maybe it dates from a time when children were considered an asset, a form of labor, on some level, such as on the family farm.

    Couples can have children regardless of their marital status. The oft-claimed connection of marriage and children is flimsy at best.

  50. David Blankenhorn says:

    Their adherence to the “left” or “right” on one issue informs their likelihood of responding to the “left” or “right” on another Life or Dignity-related issue. Because there is an underlying philosophy that heads their thinking on all of them.

    In my view, that is a very dangerous way to think, Alana. I know it’s popular these days, and I too have heard dazzling lectures that propound this thesis, but in my own experience, thinking this way leads to a way of seeing the world that is harsh and brittle and angry and just about anything but fresh and engaging. I am old, and many smart people in my life have told me that they are in possession of a philosophy that answers all questions, resolves all conflicts, and explains all current divisions in society. And other smart people have told me that they are in possession of no such philosophy. I’ll leave it to God to sort out who’s ultimately on God’s side on the question, but speaking as a mere mortal, I’m grateful to find myself in the latter category.