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The one group ignored in the marriage debate – children

The question of what children might want has been largely ignored in the debate over marriage

By on Friday, 19 July 2013

Children need mothers and fathers

Children need mothers and fathers

On Wednesday this week the Queen gave Royal Assent to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act. It will now come into effect in mid-2014. Because the Church of England opposes the Bill, the Coalition has forced her Majesty to go against the institution of which she is the head – something that was not envisaged when she took her Coronation oath to uphold the national Church. Whatever the Queen’s private thoughts on the matter, as a constitutional monarch she could hardly refuse this assent.
Archbishops Vincent Nichols and Peter Smith, the president and vice-president of the Catholic bishops’ conference, have stated, among other things, that “With this new legislation, marriage has become an institution in which openness to children, and with it the responsibility of fathers and mothers to remain together to care for children born into their family unit, are no longer central.”

I tried to put this intrinsic aspect of marriage to a woman I accidentally happened to share a table with during lunch in the crypt of St Martin-in-the-fields a few weeks ago. I had gone to London for the Vermeer exhibition at the National Gallery; it turned out that this was the same day as the London Pride event. As I sat down with my tray of food the woman – I discovered during our conversation that she was a grandmother in her mid-70s, originally from South Africa and now living in America – asked me to join her in a toast to the victory of equality in marriage for same-sex couples. Feeling very awkward, I declined. She was both astonished and horrified at what seemed to her my obvious bigotry. I briefly wondered if she would complain about me to the police. Fortunately, being two mature and older women, we managed to have a polite argument on the subject.

Like the Archbishops, I tried to put the case for children, that they need a father and a mother. She pointed out that many children were brought up in single parents very successfully. I said that even though divorce and the death of a spouse happened, they were sad events, not planned in advance, and that governments should support and protect the ideal: traditional marriage with a father and mother as the best and most balanced environment for raising children. She countered with cases of abusive opposite sex parents and loving same-sex ones. And so it went on, me defending the right of children to a father and mother and she attacking it, until I excused myself and returned to Vermeer.

I mention this encounter because of an article I read this week on LifeSiteNews about same-sex parenting, written by an American academic, Robert Oscar Lopez who was himself raised by his mother and her female partner. He writes, “Even the most heroic mother in the world can’t father. So to intentionally deprive any child of her mother or father, except in cases like divorce for grave reasons or the death of a parent is itself a form of abuse.” These are strong words so I emphasise that Lopez is not saying that individual same-sex parents are abusers; he is pointing out that children are denied a fundamental right when government legislation deliberately deprives them of a father or mother.

Lopez quotes a reflective article in the New York Times, written by Frank Litgvoet, who is raising his two adopted children with his male partner. Litgvoet is honest enough, in Lopez’ words, “to name the integral flaw in same-sex parenting” when he writes, “Being a ‘motherless’ child in an open adoption is not as open as it looks, because there is a birth mother, who walks in and out of the lives of our children. And when she is not physically there, she is… still present in dreams, fantasies, longings and worries…” Litgvoet continues, “When the mother walks into the lives of our kids it is mostly a wonderful experience. It is harder for them when she walks out, not only because of the sad goodbye of a beloved adult, but also because it triggers the difficult and painful question of why she walked in in the first place.” Lopez adds his own reflection to this: “Every child has a mother and father, and when that figure is missing, there is a narrative that is experienced as pain, loss, and at times shame.”

I, too, was moved by the courage of Litgvoet, in breaking ranks from his own powerful constituency, to write as honestly as he did. It is certainly the only commentary from this perspective that I have found (and I have only quoted a small part of the whole article.) I don’t think for a minute that his observations would have cut any ice with the grandmother I argued with over lunch that Saturday. But they should be taken seriously. We need to focus on children: what environment they need to flourish best and how government should support it.

  • aaglaas

    Here’s a perfect example of your homophobia Julian:

    Benedict Carter: “Patriarch Kyrll said yesterday that ho mo-marriage is a harbinger of the approaching Apocalypse and Second Coming of our Lord. I agree with him.”

    Julian Lord’s reply to Benedict Carter “So do I.”

    Ahh… so nice to catch you and your true feelings towards gay people Jabba… I’ll have to save this one for future reference when you deny that you aren’t bigoted towards gays. :-)

  • aaglaas

    “The exception is presented as the norm ; the norm as the exception.” That’s exactly what you do when you speak about gay people, though… That said, Church leaders had covered up ‘endemic’ and ‘ritualised’ abuse of thousands of children by hundreds of priests in Roman Catholic schools and orphanages in the Irish Republic. The ‘norm’ there was quite atrocious, don’t you think?

  • Julian Lord


  • aaglaas

    Ah… you do seem to facepalm yourself so often… Maybe you could do a magic show with it somewhere and show off your facepalm talent… So… /facepalm/ is your reaction to the endemic child abuse and rapes perpetrated by hundreds of priests that occurred throughout the entire system of Catholic run orphanages in Ireland and which were covered up by the Church, huh? Unsurprising.

  • Julian Lord

    The only un-surprise here is the sheer depth of your anti-Catholic bigotry, your misunderstanding of the meaning of the word “endemic”, your sheer hatred, and your utter inability to use logic as the basis for your “reasoning”.

    Anyway — one more thread KILLED by your trolling, I wonder how long it will be before the Moderators wise up to the nature of your trolling, and ban you ?

    ta-ta, feel free to have your undoubtedly nonsensical and hateful last word.

  • aaglaas

    So…. you’re ignoring once again the fact that thousands of children were raped and abused within the Catholic Church’s orphanage systems around the world? As to ‘endemic’ that was the word used in the final finding of the ‘Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse’, not me who chose that word, so the only inability to use logic and absence of reason here is your own. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse found that nuns and priests terrorised children and covered up years of brutality, rape and molestation in workhouse-style schools. Ritual beatings were encouraged and paedophiles were shielded. The commission’s five-volume, 2,500-page report describes a Victorian model of childcare that survived from 1914 through most of the 20th century and will further erode the moral authority of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

    It says a climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and “all those run for boys”, adding: “Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from.”

    Sex abuse was endemic in boys’ homes and common in girls’ schools by priests and nuns.

  • PaulF

    I think it is like I said, Julian. The more you press the more of it comes out. His ‘diagnoses’ are shown to be fake. His ‘reputable studies’ you have shown to be riddled with pro homosexual bias. He has to go back 800 years for his one historical example, and even that you have shown to tell against rather than for him. And still he comes chirping back proclaiming that wrong is right and that lies are truth.
    Let him go. Only God can rescue him. May the Mother of God minister his great mercies.