Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Speaking of Dead Horses: I know I've taken up this issue before, but the otherwise interesting and smart Stan Kurtz is wandering around the mall in his slippers again. His pet issue of late, the Defense of Marriage Act, has brought him to this. In short, a lesbian couple wants the biological father of their child to join them as an officially recognized parent. As Kurtz puts it, Heather would now have three parents. Okay. So what on earth could be wrong with that? Kurtz:
Once parental responsibilities are parceled out to more than two people — even to someone living outside the household — it becomes that much easier for any one parent to shirk his or her responsibilities. The very notion that parents can be added and subtracted at will tends to cut against the feeling of special responsibility for a given child.
This is an exercise in idiocy. Why the numerical barrier to shirking? Why is it when "parental responsibilities are parceled out to more than two people"? Who knows? Two apparently is the magic number. (I might suggest that this barrier is a fig leaf for family values; after all, taken to its logical conclusion, and without the false numericals, isn't it an argument for single motherhood, since it concentrates the responsibility and encourages the mother not to shirk?)

He follows with the fear that this three-parent family would open the legal door to polygamy (The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming!) and, thus, this startling news: "Marriage as an institution depends for its successful functioning upon the support and encouragement that the ethos of monogamy receives from society as a whole." That is, the only reason I haven't ditched my wife to live with a free love commune in Vermont is the "ethos of monogamy" in "society as a whole." (If he wasn't arguing right-wing doctrine, I'd swear that Kurtz had gone back to the left. This theory of societal pressure sounds pretty Marxist.) No argument remains too silly for the right on this subject.

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