Monday, March 21, 2005

Families With N Mommies

One thing that upsets opponents of the new sex education curriculum is the definition of a "family." The section entitled "Family -- the Basic Unit of Society" includes a list of types of families:
1. Nuclear family
2. Single-parent family
3. Married couple without children
4. Extended family (includes additional relatives and/or friends)
5. Blended family (remarriage with children)
6. Same sex parents family
7. Foster family
8. Adoptive family
9. Others

It's that Number Six that gets 'em, yep it is. When they see stuff like that, the Family Blah-Blah types say that "liberals are re-defining the family," or even better, "homosexuals are re-defining the family."

Now, I grew up the Southwest, where there's even another kind of family, not too rare. Here's the governor of Massachusetts joking about it at a roast this past weekend in his honor:
Gov. Mitt Romney traded off-color barbs with fellow politicians at a roast Sunday, even throwing his Mormon heritage into a one-liner about gay marriage, which he opposes.

"I have to admit that as a Mormon, I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman ... and a woman and a woman," he said. Romney Tells Off-Color Jokes at Roast

OK, well, there's gubernatorial humor for you.

I came across an interesting article from last year in Utah's Deseret News, talking about the Mormon's place in the "religious right."
In Utah politics, there is a different kind of religious right.

Like their counterparts in other states, the ideology of Utah's overwhelmingly conservative population can be traced directly to the door of its church. But because this is Utah, and behind that door is the LDS Church, religious conservatives here aren't like those in "Bible belt" states.

Here, despite agreeing with virtually everything the national movement stands for — a strong faith in God and a belief by many that faith should influence social policy — most people here don't consider themselves a part of the "religious right," an Associated Press survey has revealed. Utah GOP is, isn't part of religious right

(Read the rest of that article, it really is kind of interesting and well written.) Utah, I believe, gave G. W. Bush the greatest majority vote in the last Presidential election. It is a very conservative state, and the Mormons as a population are very conservative.

But there's that polygamy thing. From Richard S. Van Wagoner's Mormon Polygamy: A History:
Presently there are an estimated 30,000-60,000 polygamist "fundamentalists" living in Utah and surrounding states. The two leading groups are the United Apostolic Brethren, located in a suburb of Salt Lake City, and residents of the twin border towns of Colorado City and Hildale (originally called Short Creek), straddling the Utah-Arizona border and known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Many fundamentalists continue to practice marital plurality for idealistic religious reasons. Nevertheless, in recent years the fundamentalist community has been plagued by power struggles that have sometimes ended in bitter disputes, financial losses, and violence, as well as accusations by teenage girls of having been pressured into abusive relationships with older men. A third group of Utah polygamists, the Kingston group, became widely known in 1998 when a fifteen-year-old girl accused her father of having forced her into marriage with her uncle as the uncle’s fifteenth wife; she stated that both her uncle and father had beaten her when she had tried to leave the relationship. Mormon Polygamy

So the question has to do with the definition of a family, and who is accusing whom of changing the definition.

I don't see "polygamous family" in the MCPS list. But in the Southwest there are tens of thousands of such families. And I don't see any outcry about it, either. Why aren't the "family values" folks crying about Mormon polygamy?

Here's why: it's because it's all heterosexual. Duh.

The complaint is not that the word "family" is re-defined. There is really no limit to what can be called a family, there never was, and there never will be, no matter how these guys try to argue about it. You've had the old friend who's "almost a part of the family." Or the "Uncle Simon" or "Aunt Josephine" who aren't siblings to mom and dad. There's no problem with that.

(Now, some of those old-timers I've seen down in Florida, sitting in a bar with their "nieces," those just might not be family. But, hey, if they say it is, then ...)

The argument about re-defining the word -- and I know I'm stating the obvious here, but let me get it on the record -- is simply one manifestation of the anti-gay sentiment that is motivating so much political action in the present. It's not about families, it's about hatred of homosexuals.

"The family" is a very flexible concept. There isn't, and never was, any exclusion clause for gay couples, don't let the bluenoses fool ya.


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