Sunday, March 26, 2006

Shunning the Family Freaks

Let's return to the thrilling days of...the 20th Century. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, both urban and suburban homes were crypts holding the zombies from failed marriages, the dreaded broken home.

The post-WWII euphoria and marriage-by-lust led to a divorce rate we had never seen. In colonial times, many couples never bothered to marry or accepted common-law marriage (what would be living in sin in later eras). Then, post-industrialization and pretty much post-agrarian America witnessed a boom of marriage rates.

If you check the U.S. Census reports from 1900 and on, you'll see big peaks in marriage rates after WWI and a huge one after WWII. Following WWII, the rates were almost three times per 1,000 as they are now.

This is the fantasy that the anti-gay/anti-SSM folk continue to live. They pretend, first, that these rates go back millennia, not decades. Second, they don't mention that these high marriage figures are invariably followed by high divorce and abandonment rates, plus lower marriage rates.

Long before the first Massachusetts homosexual couples wed, this nation was in an all-time low of marriage rates. For over half the straight couples, marriage failed, as an institution and personally.

To get snarky, you might note that the Southern states, with the exception of South Carolina, have scarily high divorce rates. The highest concentration of evangelical Christians typically marries early and young, has high rates of infidelity, and divorces at least once. In contrast, the SSM isle of Massachusetts has the nation's lowest divorce rate, even lower than other largely Catholic states. Also, the three lowest divorce rates in the nation include New York and Connecticut.

Back to my crotchety vignette, among the middle-class society's hypocrisies was steering clear of divorced moms. That term broken home had the same unsavory, even cacophonic, taint as gay marriage does to many pinheads today.

Back then, family service departments and adoption agencies were loath to entrust orphans and unwanted kids to such dangerous environments. Several decades later, it was as though society as though were one dumb person slapped its figurative forehead. "Oh," it thought in overdue awareness, "over half of marriages end in divorce. Maybe that's a new norm."

Those who get discouraged by the silliness of DoMA states and rushes for anti-SSM constitutional amendments might reflect on that similar irrationality of 50 years ago. Watching the public acceptance of same-sex couples, same-sex couple adoption and same-sex marriage, slowly, slowly grow, suggests a similar pattern. However, instead of ostracizing those already punished by an errant spouse or failed union, the effort now is to harm and hamper those want what most of society wants, including a recognized, dedicated relationship and kids to raise.

We were going to point to a piece in today's Boston Globe. For the life of us, we cannot find online Same-sex couples face unique hurdles in adopting children. Part of the Balancing Act column series in the Boston Works section, this one cites the extra problems that comes from hostile adoption agencies or even from a couple's hesitance to be out when trying to adopt.

The advice is to be open with the agencies, according to Bev Baccelli, who runs the Marion-based Southeastern Adoption Services. "There's no place in the closet for them if they're going to be parents. If you want your child to grow up to love both of his mothers or fathers, you have to show him that this is a family that deserves respect."

Of course, for the large society, that comes with the biggest benefit. When folks see that a same-sex couple...with kids...is a regular family, attitudes shift and prejudices erode.

3 comments:

mem from somerville said...

Hello Mass Marrier--

I've got the copy of that adoption article here with me on the sofa, but I'm damned if I can find it on the web site. I'm glad you spotted it too, I felt like I was in some alternate state....

Anyway, I need a copy of that because it describes a couple who moved from Oklahoma--where the wind comes sweeping down the plains--to our blue ghetto. I have a friend who is collecting anecdotes like that.

Any idea why that article isn't linked and e-mail-able from the Globe? Is that weird? Or do I just usually not need the BostonWorks section....?

Mass Marrier said...

The Globe definitely missed a beat (or two) on this one. She's local and appears every two weeks. There was no reason not to put it on the site yeseterday.

They finally got it up -- . That should be good for a week before they demand a paid login.

mem from somerville said...

Thank you, got it, sent it!

I'll try to remember to come by here and post the link when my friend gets this oeuvre together. He lives in San Francisco and is seeing a lot of flight to blue, ya know?

Again, thanks for the link.

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