LGBTs Can Thrive By Building Courageous BridgesBy Donna Underwood
I can't say exactly when human decency began to falter. As a child I quietly rejoiced when my father, a WWII chaplain based in Alabama, raised holy hell (pun intended) and accomplished equal accommodations for Army Air Corps black soldiers in training. As a young woman I was treated with respect as I worked my way through three degrees. Merit was rewarded and respect was the way most persons approached others. Sometime in the 70s there was a coarsening of society. Maybe it was Viet Nam or birth control or depraved movies or affirmative action or Progressive Statist ideology, but the nation definitely changed. Gangs were cool, drugs were exciting, promiscuity was glorified, homemakers were mocked, marriage was battered, churches were "too absolute", divorce became easy, infidelity became commonplace, abortion was demanded, unwed mothers produced 48% of first births, and most music was shameless. Virtue, self-discipline, responsibility and honor had become distant values. No one has ever been able to explain how to instill virtue in the absence of faith based values. The nation as I had known it was gone and no amount of grieving would bring it back.
In the 90s when it seemed that militant homosexuals were attempting to administer last rites to traditional marriage, I vacillated between ambivalence and compassion. After all the assaults marriage had endured in the 20th century it seemed that this might well be its knock-out blow. I resolved to find a solution that would elevate homosexuals to complete parity without shredding heterosexual marriage. Although I fervently believed that the Bible contained God's Law, I intentionally left morality out of the debate because the word "abomination" was so abominable and the New Covenant in Christ sanctified mercy. This project began well and then received a sudden reversal when smoldering intransigence flared up on both sides fully-formed and blazing.
The Supreme Court in Lawrence v Texas struck down sodomy as a crime in 2003, making consensual homosexual sex legal in fifty states. In the 21st century it should be a given that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered (LGBT) persons can bond, contribute to, and find fulfillment and meaning in society. The benevolent premise of inclusion was sorely challenged when an organized effort to destroy the institution of traditional marriage and replace it with a "post marriage society" was quickly uncovered.  The official goal of post marriage society was described as "government recognition of radical family configurations such as three or more same sex partners, groups such as immigrants or seniors living together as legal families, same sex couples who jointly create and raise a child with another homosexual couple in two households, group households, polygamous/polyamorous households, and many other diverse family forms" that would co-opt the historic one man and one woman family. The 2006 publication, "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships" became the LBGT strategy for legalization of a "wide range of diverse families" and the deconstruction of traditional marriage.  This unexpected philosophical jolt raised sober skepticism about whether a benevolent, civil rapprochement between gays and straights might ever be achieved. Please read this well-intentioned treatise, its outcome, and thoughtful solutions.
In 2013, there is no ban on homosexual civil rights. In all fifty states homosexual citizens stand equally before the law and their civil rights are unequivocally protected. LBGTs can live alone or together, vote, run for elected office, open any bank account, live anywhere they choose, buy property, eat in any restaurant, attend any play, enjoy picnics in any park, choose to start their own or join a religious community that blesses their relationship(s), choose any workplace, write any binding contract, seek any physician, attend any hospital, visit a domestic partner in any hospital, buy any car, travel freely, gather freely, protest any cause, start any business, join the military, buy health insurance from any one of 7,400 insurers that offer domestic spousal benefits, contract to designate legal inheritances, write any legally binding will, and make legal end-of-life contracts. Contrary to published, widespread misinformation, the IRS recognizes community property. It is not possible, however, for a homosexual citizen to extend citizenship to an illegal, same sex partner -- but that illegal partner can obtain citizenship through established, lawful means. There are no inequalities for LBGTs in government benefits or rights. Marriage grants no advantage that legal domestic partnerships, legal reciprocal beneficiaries, or legal same sex unions do not provide. Hence the repetitive mantra that equates homosexual choices with Jim Crow "separate but equal" atrocities is not valid.
The U.S. Census does not provide information about the number of homosexuals in the population but most reliable resources, including self-identification, consider LGBTs to be approximately 1.5 % of the population. Therefore, unless a more accepting social structure can be combined with existing legal equality, these Americans will be forced to live as silent victims, belligerent deviants, or militant persecutors. After WWII a number of homosexual rights groups came into being, although most LGBTs continued to live quietly in a double-life subculture until the 1960s and 1970s. Those decades of "coming out of the closet" were years of emotional torment for both gays and straights. Acceptance was slow, victimization was common, and the behavior of straights was often shameful and cruel. Before, during, and after civil rights protections were achieved, there were many LGBTs who transcended the victim mentality and productively entered the mainstream of America in professional, political, and military capacities. Many of those achievers stated candidly that sexuality was irrelevant to their economic achievement. Apple CEO Tim Cook; PayPal co-founder Peter Theil; talk show host Ellen Degeneres; Ernst and Young partner Beth Brooks; CEO of The Phoenix Suns Rick Welts; CEO of Urban Outfitters Glen Senk; Vice Chairman of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Mark Stephanz; these are a few of the many openly gay individuals who became professional leaders. Most of these persons admitted regret that they had not come out earlier in their lives and stated that when they did the transition was unexpectedly painless.  Ellen DeGeneres has often remarked that she is a funny woman who happens to be gay.
As a slowly evolving, peaceful equilibrium was beginning to occur, the disease of AIDS erupted in the 1980s, which decimated the leadership, frightened many straights, and ended a lifestyle of passivity in the gay pride movement. This era marked an emergence of militant behaviors with action groups like "AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power" (ACT UP) and "Lesbian Avengers." Gender-variant persons across the nation and around the globe formed minority power movements. A landmark publication in 1987, entitled, "The Overhauling of Straight America" enjoined the LBGT community to stop perceiving themselves as victims and become persecutors.  The publication demanded harsh demonization and desensitization of "straights." Movies, television, large scale media campaigns, public sexual displays, promotion of famous gays throughout history, and expressive parades were tactics designed to "benumb the raw heterosexual objections" of "deranged homophobes." This publication directed its readers to downplay the existence of Man-Boy Love lifestyles (NAMBLA), active recruitment of straights, rampant promiscuity, and the goal to eradicate traditional marriage.
Gays experienced a legal setback when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Constitutional right to "freedom of association" in Boy Scouts of America et al v Dale.  The 2000 ruling allowed a private organization like the Boys Scouts of America to exclude a person from membership when "the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints." The freedom of association plainly presupposed a freedom not to associate. Thirteen years later the seventy member National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America continued to lean toward allowing locally organized troops to decide individually about admitting gay members and leaders even though incidents of sexual solicitation by gay participants had been documented.
In 1970, LGBT activists protested the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 1974, mental illness was replaced with a category of "sexual orientation disturbance" followed by "ego-dystonic homosexuality" which was eventually deleted. It remains as "gender identity disorder."
Courts began to grant custody of children to homosexual couples in 2005, when The American Psychological Association reviewed fifty-nine homosexual household studies by a few researchers and concluded that children of lesbian or gay parents would not be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. This practice was legally questioned when the academic journal, Social Science Research, published a detailed methodological review of the fifty-nine studies on which the APA based its conclusion: 
In 2011, the first randomly selected, nationally representative sample study was conducted by a University of Texas sociologist, Dr. Mark Regnerus.  The New Family Structures Study (NFSS) utilized Knowledge Networks  that screened 15,000 young adults and found 3,000 respondents. The data concluded that 175 young adults whose mothers had a same-sex relationship tended to fare worse than their peers in intact biological families on 24 of 40 outcomes. They were far more likely to report being sexually victimized, to be on welfare, or to be currently unemployed. Seventy-three young adults whose fathers had a same-sex relationship were significantly more likely to have contemplated suicide, to have had a sexually transmitted infection, or to have been forced to have sex against their will. Long-term stability was uncommon -- 57 % of the children reported living with same sex mothers for more than four months and 24 % reported living with gay fathers for more than four months. Two of the 175 respondents whose mothers had a same-sex relationship reported that the living arrangement lasted all 18 years of their childhood. This nullified the "no difference" assertion.  Dr. Regnerus concluded that the "stable, two parent, biological married model is the far more common and accomplished workhorse of the American household" and remains the safest place for children based on this study. At present, far too little is known about these new household forms to which activist courts are assigning "no difference." Much more data will be required before generalizable conclusions can be drawn.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defined marriage as one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law. DOMA passed Congress with an overwhelming bipartisan majority and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.  It is the subject of a court challenge that the Supreme Court will hear on March 27, 2013. The Obama Justice Department filed an amicus brief with the high court stating the Administration's position that DOMA is unconstitutional. The DOJ's duty is to enforce the nation's laws -- not obstruct, overturn or ignore them. Since 2008, the DOJ has redefined its constitutional role by arguing against existing federal statutes in court based on the Administration's preferences and political expediency.
A few days before the DOMA challenge, the Supreme Court will hear arguments against Proposition 8, California's state constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman, which was passed by popular vote of the citizens of that state. Two bedrock constitutional concepts will be argued: (a) whether the laws at issue prohibit the exercise of the fundamental right to marry in violation of the Due Process Clause, (b) whether they treat some people differently because of their sexual orientation in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.  In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled in Sherrer v Sherrer that "under the Constitution the regulation and control of marital and family relationships are reserved to the States." The 2013 ruling will probably suggest whether decisions should be made by the people directly in state ballots or through elected representatives.
Citizens in thirty-eight states have voted consistently to prohibit same sex marriage. Those states affirm that marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. The LGBT community argues that "love makes a family" and consenting adults must be free to live and love as they choose. This ideology elevates the desires of adults over the constraints of marriage.
Redefining marriage would put a new principle into law -- marriage would become whatever emotional bond the government deemed. Instead of redefining marriage it would make sense to maintain the ordinance of marriage that has provided historical stability for civil society and it would serve society equally to advocate for LGBT civil unions, domestic partnerships, or reciprocal beneficiary partnerships to establish entities that officially grant every legal benefit required for participation in government protection, benefits and social opportunity. At this time same-sex marriage has been legislated in six states: Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York as well as the District of Columbia. Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same sex marriage by popular vote. The remaining states that prefer traditional marriage might well strive to establish LGBT unions and the partnership variations that they are seeking if traditional marriage could be taken off of the Post Marriage Society chopping block.
The "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage" manifesto states that legal equivalence (marriage) will not satisfy most LGBTs and same-sex marriage is not the end goal -- "it is a way station on the path to a post-marriage society." The end goal, according to "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage" is not to have the same recognition, rights, and benefits as heterosexual married couples, it is to legalize a radical redefinition of marriage that includes unlimited diversity of families until the very idea of traditional marriage itself is "stripped of meaning."
In 2006, a diverse group of nearly twenty LGBT activists -- "some organizers, some scholars and educators, some funders, some writers and cultural workers" -- came together for two days to write the Beyond Same-Sex manifesto to reframe definitions of legal relationships and families. This "strategic vision" was signed by hundreds of leaders in the "interdependent, global community."  The goals profoundly disavowed the previously expressed notion that the gay community demanded committed marriage for its own sake. The imminent ruling of the Supreme Court will determine whether a same sex marriage goal will be granted or if the ruling will be more in line with the Boy Scouts of America et al v Dale in which the freedom of association presupposed the freedom not to associate. With either outcome we have been told to expect a societal push for radical definitions of homosexual households far "beyond" two same sex men or two same sex women.
One man and one woman marriage predates government. It is the fundamental building block of nearly all human civilization.  Government recognized marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship can. Traditional marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take legal responsibility for their children. Government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the natural institution for the complementarity of childbearing and the joint roles of childrearing. If the historical norm of male-female conjugal complementarity is abandoned and the philosophy that "love makes a family" is adopted, the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency come into question. The definition of traditional marriage could then become radically expanded based on political or social consensus.
What is at issue is whether the government will recognize polygamy/polyamory relationships and varied households as marriage and then force every citizen and business to do so as well. Redefinition of DOMA law would coerce and compel others to recognize and affirm expanded relationships that, according to the "beyond same-sex marriage" manifesto, would demand variable household forms.
An operating premise of this pursuit is that every citizen benefits by contributing to this first-in-mankind's Republic of individual liberty. There is no way to change the fact that heterosexuals are the majority and homosexuals are a small minority. It is, however, absolutely possible to coexist as cooperative but distinct entities. If straights trusted that they were being respected in their desire to preserve Traditional Marriage they could certainly support LGBTs who were seeking to obtain expanded unions designed to meet their expressed, unique bonds. When LGBTs and straights recognize distinctly different goals as valid, the outcomes can be potentiated beyond everyone's most optimistic expectations. This is not a zero sum dynamic in which, by formalizing legal, flexible, LGBT relationships, traditional marriage must be eliminated as it has existed historically -- or as the Beyond Same Sex Marriage manifesto states, traditional marriage must be deconstructed into "...recognition of partnerships, households and families which include members who shatter the narrow confines of gender conformity."
Solution: This longstanding conflict is no longer about civil rights because those already exist -- it is about legalizing lifestyles that are different. Those can exist in valid formulations called legal unions, i.e., Domestic Partnerships or Reciprocal Households, without assaulting or redefining Marriage. Human nature being what it is -- persons of diversity who have the option to live in cooperation or conflict - LGBT persons are at liberty to design legal unions that satisfy specific emotional, spiritual, and physical needs than are provided by the constraints of traditional marriage. Respectful accommodation of differing visions sought by LGBTs and straights will build bridges of mutual respect while destructionist policies on either side will result in unmitigated hostility and tragic consequences.
 Kirk, Marshall K. and "Pill, Erastus" pseudonym for Madsen, Hunter. 1987. The Overhauling of Straight America. Guide Magazine. November 1987.
 Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision For All Our Families and Relationships. 2006. Manifesto. DeFillippis, Joseph. http://www.beyondmarriage.org/full_statement.html. 26 July 2006.
 Kieffer, Katie. How Gays and Women Get in Their Own Way. 2013. Townhall.com. 04 December 2013.
 Kwoh, Leslie. A Silence Hangs Over Gay CEOs. Online.WSJ.com/article/A Silence Hangs Over Gay CEOs. 25 July 2012.
 Kirk, Marshall K; "Pill, Erastus" pseudonym for Madsen, Hunter. 1987. The Overhauling of Straight America. Guide Magazine. 1987.
 Greenhouse, Linda. 29 June, 2000. Supreme Court Backs Boy Scouts in Ban of Gays from Membership. New York Times. Retrieved 01 August 2008.
 Kim, Christine; Marshall, Jennifer. New Research on Children of Same-Sex Parents Suggests Differences Matter. 11 June 2012. @MarshallJenA. Posted in Family and Religion: 19 November 2012.
 Regnerus, Mark. The New Family Structures Study (NFSS). 11 June 2012. http://www.prc.utexas.edu/nfss/ University of Texas - Austin.
 Knowledge Networks. http://www.knowledgenetworks.com/
 http://blog.heritage.org/2012/06/11/new research-on-children of same-sex parents-suggests no difference.
 Heritage Foundation Morning Bell. 25 February 2013. Obama Administration vs. the Law on Same-Sex Marriage. https://webmail.reagan.com/versions/webmail/8.15.13-RC/popup.php
 Eastman, John C. Legal Memorandum to Heritage Foundation. Former law professor and Dean at Chapman University School of Law. Obama Administration vs. the Law on Same-Sex Marriage. 28 February 2013.
 Anderson, Ryan T.; Simon, William E. Why Marriage Matters for America. 28 February 2013. Heritage Foundation Culture Watch.
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