Thursday, August 31, 2000

Mama, they won't let me discriminate

I have been working the last few days putting together materials for my "Marriage and the Family" course this coming semester. In addition to looking at the concept of the family across time and space (historically and anthropologically), I do a section on the changing concept of the family in Japan and the West. That naturally includes "the chosen family" (gay, straight, or however defined) and same-sex marriage, gay adoption and related issues.

So my eye caught an interesting article in the Austin Chronicle of August 25 about the rapid increase in gay adoptions. According to this article, some 27% of American gay men are raising children (compared with 60% of straight men, 72% of straight women). One small datum on the status of the American family, but that figure is considerably higher than I had imagined. Also surprising is the fact that 67% of lesbians (i.e., more even than straight men) are raising children. According to the Gay and Lesbian Parents Coalition International, that means some four million gay men and lesbians are raising between 8 and 10 million children in the U.S.

For somebody like me, raised in an era where the common sense was that gays were dirty old men who abused children, this is wonderful news. I'm even having pangs of regret that my move to adopt in the 70s when I was living in Santa Cruz, came to naught. I'm living a vicarious sense of joy through the gay people of this decade who, although their hurdles are still enormous, are succeeding in greater numbers.

Meanwhile, back at the "family values" camp, there is the so-called Family Research Council. Their web page lists organizations that have extended benefits to the domestic partners of their employees and urges boycotts and protests. The following is an example of their rhetoric:

With the recent merger between Exxon and Mobil Oil comes a long prayed for benefit: respect for marriage. Exhibiting the resolve that makes a company great, Exxon has carried its pro-family policies into the merger, making the newly formed Exxon Mobil the second corporation to rescind benefits for the sex partners of homosexual employees.

Finally, at the end of this doodoo-in-the-road, is this bit:

Pro-family and religious Americans increasingly face reprisals at the office for opposing homosexual indoctrination or speaking out against policies that marginalize them or their beliefs. If you have faced threats or discrimination because of your pro-family principles or religious beliefs, please contact the Family Research Council via mail or e-mail with a phone number where you can be reached, or call 1-800-225-4008.


If you or somebody you know has been discriminated against because you urge gay people to deny their sexual nature, because you have spent time and money and energy making sure they do not have the right to keep their jobs, work with children, live on your block, or sing along with Bette Midler, by all the means call the cops. Tell them you are a victim of a changing society.

God Bless America.

August 31, 2000

Monday, August 21, 2000

Gay Adoption in Indiana

Am grooving in my summer escape from the work routine, moving around among family and friends and reflecting on the joys of connection.

Since I got here to California, I've had a good close look at how my (chosen family) nieces and nephews are growing up. Was reflecting with Luis and with Sandy yesterday at how curious it was in the 60s to find nearly all of my friends came from what they described as dysfunctional families. Now, I'm equally surprised to find everybody around me doing such a good job of raising kids.

It's not all roses in the home of the brave, however. In the Chronicle this morning is this story carried by the Associated Press about a man named Craig Peterson who tried to adopt a little girl and was turned down because he's gay.

Peterson ran into opposition from the girl's foster father, Earl Kimmerling, who objected on the grounds that homosexuality is sinful. Kimmerling was supported by Indiana state and Madison County officials who brought in two psychologists who determined "she would be harmed if forced to live with a gay man."

Peterson went to the Indiana Civil Liberties Union for help. They tried, but found that child welfare officials had followed "appropriate procedures" and could not be faulted.

So Peterson lost the chance to give the girl a home. Instead she was adopted by Kimmerling himself. Look on the bright side. Peterson lost, but at least the system put the child first, right?

Not exactly. It's now two years later. The girl is now 11 and living with Kimmerling's wife. Kimmerling is in jail on a 20-year sentence for molesting her.

Peterson did not get to be her foster father. He is, however, the foster father of her three brothers.

Go figure.

August 21, 2000