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Jephthah's Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family 'Equality' Paperback – February 17, 2015
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About the Author
Robert Oscar Lopez is president of the International Children's Rights Institute: www.internationalchildrensrights.com.
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The sections are:
The book starts off with its strongest section, asking, "What is the impact of gay parenting on children?" and proceeds to answer mostly in the negative. However, there are a couple of caveats that become readily clear.
First, many of the first-hand experiences of the people who describe their suffering due to gay parenting were not raised under what would be thought the ideal gay parenting model -- i.e, a child raised at least from birth by a same-sex couple who are committed to each other during the whole process of child-rearing, with no additional parents (biological or otherwise) gumming up the works. Instead, most adult children of gay parents are the product of divorce or donation (and surrogacy if the gay parents are male). So it becomes clear early on that apples-to-apples is not the nature of the comparison being made, and gay marriage advocates will be quick to point that out, claiming, "If only we could have the perfect arrangements we want, then there would be zero difference between gay parenting and straight parenting." That's a hypothetical argument, though, but the lack of apples-to-apples situations that could yield conclusive results one way or the other makes for a frustrating inability to make definitive claims.
Second, the contributors to this work don't make any bones about the axes they have to grind concerning their own life situations. The anger at the offenses against their childhoods comes through in many places, making what should be logical, dispassionate arguments into off-putting vents of suppressed rage that don't quote well. It's understandable that people would feel angry over childhood violations and be outraged over a political and social climate that seems hellbent on encouraging further violations against more innocent children, but attaching negative emotion to one's argument doesn't improve the quality of an argument -- it's actually rather like inserting profanity into a comedy routine that's perfectly good without it: You drive the audience away even as you make them laugh.
Third, some of the analogies made in the book concerning adoption and surrogacy are not only off-putting but also sometimes bizarre. Yes, it might be true that a surrogate mother is essentially an "easy-bake oven" for the embryos she will sell off to parents once they are done cooking into babies, and maybe there are gay male couples who do treat surrogate mothers exactly that dismissively, but using that terminology is hardly helpful. And trying to tie adoption to slavery is just going beyond the pale. Yes, if an adoption takes place over and above the objections of the biological parents, then that can be an abuse of state power, but generally adoption involves a *voluntary* relinquishing of rights on the part of the biological parents, and this voluntary character applies to gamete donation, too. The argument is made repeatedly that gamete donation amounts to the buying and selling of children, which is essentially slavery, but the analogy is too imprecise to be taken seriously -- gametes are not themselves children but human-derived biological materials, akin to blood or hair. The fact that these particular human-derived biological materials can be used to make new human life is a compelling difference, but so long as the materials are what is sold, it isn't a human being that is being sold, and so the slavery analogy falls through. It's perfectly reasonable to consider whether one *should* be allowed to sell one's gametes on the free market so that children can be manufactured from them -- I myself consider this a despicable, egocentric practice that should be outlawed on the grounds that already-conceived children need adoption more than infertile parents need to build a child to spec -- but that's one thing, and slavery is another.
Ultimately, the book's main problem is that it draws from too many diverse sources and makes too many diverse arguments to be considered a coherent polemic. Indeed, once you get past the first section, you start to wonder just what kind of book it is that you bought. Some of the materials selected for inclusion in this book are real head-scratchers, whereas some of the materials *not* included make for a fit of depression when you realize how good and useful they are. For example, I have no idea what good it does to include essays on spiritual homoeroticism in colonial-days America, nor do I see the use of an overview of queer theory spanning decades. It's slightly interesting, but it's fringe stuff, and it doesn't contribute to the book's overall message. What would have been far more useful is Lopez' "Growing up with Two Moms" and other personal stories from children of gay parents -- something to bolster the authenticity of this book's many claims concerning gay parenting.
The book is at its best when it highlights the unintended consequences of the gay marriage campaign. For example, gay parents' desire to have both their names placed on "their" child's birth certificate without any reference to the child's other biological parent(s) flies right in the face of the adoption lobby's desire to have open adoption records. (It also flies in the face of reality itself -- so far, every child born today has a biological mother and a biological father; why is it necessary to obscure that fact for the sake of gay parents? Should a *legal document* reflect reality or feelings?) Another great point comes from a Chinese translator who notes the Chinese language has no gender-nonspecific words for "couple" or "parents", so gay parenting would actually require *new words* to be invented to describe gay marriage and gay parenting.
Perhaps the strongest argument against gay parenting (and, implicitly, gay marriage) is sadly buried in the middle of one of Lopez' later contributions: In parenting studies that have nothing to do with same-sex marriage it is nearly universally concluded that divorce, adoption, surrogacy, gamete donation, and in vitro fertilization result in some sorts of negative outcomes for children. If we really cared about children, we would want to reduce all of these practices as much as we could and instead return to a more normal world in which a man and a woman fall in love, marry, and then have children. But the fact is that gay parents can *only* acquire children through one of these child-damaging methods. Ergo, gay parenting and the welfare of children must necessarily be at odds. One might argue, "To make an omelet, you have to break some eggs," but the "omelet" in this case is something that shouldn't exist in the first place -- i.e., a gay household -- and the "eggs" in this case are something precious beyond description -- i.e., children. It should be absolutely clear whose needs should come first. It is an absolute travesty that society is now doing its worst to occlude this clarity in the name of desire.
This book is less than it could have been, but an important work nonetheless. It brings to light a largely hidden sector of the population -- children of gay parents -- whose views are assumed to be monolithically behind gay marriage, and then shatters that assumption. If you were previously unaware that some children of gay parents stand in vehement opposition to gay marriage and gay parenting because of their personal experiences, then I would suggest that this is a must-read book for you. I only wish it were a more refined, polish, and coherent work that I was recommending.
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Having said that, I found the book interesting and the arguments convincing.Read more
Let me start with saying this book does bring up excellent points about third party...Read more