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Robert Oscar Lopez on gay parenting

Posted By David Blankenhorn On 02.11.2013 @ 10:18 AM In Marriage | Comments Disabled

At Public Discourse today, Robert Oscar Lopez, has a long, powerful piece denouncing the idea of gay people raising children.  (Lopez was largely raised by his mother, a lesbian, and her partner.) 

Lopez’s indictment is total and unyielding.  Should gays ever adopt?  No:

 Same-sex marriage enthusiasts will say that same-sex couples are already raising children, so if I object to such arrangements my objections should extend beyond merely marriage rights. My response: Yes, my objections do extend to any same-sex couple consciously seeking out exclusive custody of an infant or toddler.

 Is there any legitimate reason – even one shred of one good reason – why we might consider with sympathy the desire of gay couples to marry?  No:

Whatever same-sex marriage is, that’s not what gays are after. They are after a symbolic vehicle that can make them equal to people who can do something they cannot—procreate.

Lopez’s main argument is that marriage establishes parenthood, and that gay marriage means more children not growing up with their own two biological parents.  He says:

Compare the weightiness of the child’s stakes to the levity of what gay activists are fighting for. A same-sex relationship is always a choice, for even if one can’t help having same-sex attractions, one decides with whom to couple and whether to couple at all. Many gays will decide never to settle down with one other person, or if they do, some will decide never to formalize the relationship, and still others will be happy with a civil union. Gays can change their mind, get divorced, and marry the opposite sex. Children of gay couples cannot divorce their parents and go looking for new ones.

Is there any connection at all – even one shred of a connection – between the struggle for gay rights and the struggle for African American civil rights?  No. In fact, quite the opposite:

As long as the focus is on gays, a wealth of metaphors, especially the notion that gay is the new black, can shield the gay activist from inevitable scrutiny about the effects of his demands on children.  By contrast, when speaking of the child’s interests, metaphorical reasoning is highly dangerous. To what can we compare a child who has been partly engineered—either through surrogacy or insemination, always for some kind of fee—and then placed under the power of same-sex parents who deemed their quest for validation more considerable than the possibility that the child might be less than happy missing a father or mother?

To what can we compare a child trafficked from a third world orphanage to America by a couple that knew that the child’s birth culture frowns upon gay relationships? To what can we compare a child who’s been told either that “mother” is double and “father” is nil, or that “father” is double and “mother” is nil? To what do we compare a child who must know, forever, that his mother was treated like a leased oven or that his father was a stranger in a sperm clinic who masturbated into a glass jar for $750?

… Given that the entire basis for overturning Proposition 8 depends on invoking a constitutional amendment designed to protect freed black slaves, racial parallels can only help the cause of people who oppose redefining marriage. From virtually all angles, the modern-day equivalent of uprooted blacks reduced to chattel and severed from their own flesh and blood is not anyone in a same-sex couple, but rather, any child forced to be raised by such a couple!

Lopez has a valid story to tell. (Don’t we all.)  He’s a powerful writer who knows exactly what he wants to say.  In my view, there is some portion of hard truth in what he writes.   I thought so when I opposed gay marriage, and I still think so now that I favor it. I credit Lopez for these things. 

But overall, I am repulsed by what Lopez says and the way he says it.  To me, his voice is the voice of the fanatic, the denouncer of others, the accuser, the utterly self-confident dogmatist who wants to pound us all, in party by the sheer vehemence of his language, into accepting whatever doctrine he is insisting on.  I read him with care, and I find some nuggets of truth, including some that are troubling to me now (in a good way), but  in him I find no wisdom, no maturity, no way of seeing the world that reminds me in any way of our shared humanity or the  complexity and mystery of the human condition.  

I do not a trust a voice of this type on anything that truly matters to me.


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