Monday, October 21, 2013

Gay Marriage is Unconstitutional in Wisconsin. Somebody Was Very Forward Thinking, However. . . .

Some interesting litigation is going on in Wisconsin.  Here is a link to the news article that prompted this commentary.  Of all of the states I have lived in, I have always remained a little partial to Wisconsin after having grown up there.  Wisconsin's existing constitutional ban on gay marriage, and even civil union, is also a pleasant surprise.  The fight over what is, and what is not a marriage, is their's to lose.

At first you may think it a little unusual for a Christian to be against legalizing gay marriage, yet o.k. with gay civil union.  I will try and keep it simple.  All truth is simple.  Hopefully these are sound premises that will conform to the only truth already handed down to us by the Lord. 

My argument here will be that the Christian must learn the distinction between what is a "marriage" and what is a "civil union", or, share responsibility for the demise of the Christian institution of marriage in America.  In no way does a civil union resemble a marriage, either in definition or in substance.  My encouragement in this post is to keep civil unions political, and marriage scriptural, spiritual, and intact.  After gaining legalized gay marriage at the federal level in America, the well-organized international gay community will then revisit Wisconsin and attempt to reverse the constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and gay civil union.  With the momentum gained from winning the right to marry at the federal level, they will likely win majority public opinion in Wisconsin and vote out the amendment, unless in the meantime Wisconsin Christians are able to make the distinction between what comprises a marriage and what comprises a civil union.  
I once heard an assistant preacher give an informal definition of the law of the land.  He said, "The law is there to protect people from other people".   This seemingly sensible summation has stuck with me.

In this world, there are two different types of kingdoms.  There is both the spiritual kingdom, and the worldly kingdom.  In one region of the worldly kingdom, that of the United States, we have the constitution which dictates that all men are entitled to equal treatment under the law, and with the ninth amendment, we can no longer ignore women.  All men's rule making is legally overseen by this contractual agreement all Americans share by virtue of their status as American citizens.
The U.S. Constitution provides tremendous opportunity and freedom for Christians as well as all men. Christians both love it and hate it.  For an example, according to the pastor of one of the churches I have been attending lately, Christians should be entitled to equal time on choir or band recital night to perform their hymns and spiritual songs or else they are being treated unequally under the constitution.  He feels that to be unjust based on protections designed for him under the constitution.  Well I think this is an extreme example which, incidentally, does not characterize all Christians, but is an example no less.  On the other hand, the same constitution enforces that Ishmael's children, the people of the Muslim religion, are entitled to that same equality at the school program.  If this were constitutionally enforced, it would not be met with the same enthusiasm from many Christians.  In this way many Christians love the constitution when it favors them, and figure it has flaws when it does not.  It remains a hopelessly secular document, yet God's ordained way of ruling the godly along with the godless.  It has a job to do for all men.  In most of the world Christians are truly persecuted.  In America, they are favored, and even spoiled and made weak -- free to be weak -- right along with the rest, as is evidenced by simply comparing them with citizens from around the world.  Hence, for Christians, as well as all men, the constitution is a double edged sword.     
The constitution does not declare equality, it declares equal protection under the law.  That does not mean we are equally entitled to all things in every instance. A man is not equally entitled to be a woman and a woman is not equally entitled to be a man; in fact, it is impossible.   Public restrooms for another example, men and women are not equally entitled to all public restrooms under the constitution.  They are simply entitled to equal opportunity under the law and equally entitled to access a restroom in public domains.  Perhaps not a great example at face value, but suddenly much more relevant in the discussion on gay marriage.

To try and keep it simple for now, the same constitution presumes to proclaim equal rights for the homosexual . . . , yet certain things reserved for either men, or women, or one of each together, are outside of the others realm of entitlement; and in that same way, not all things can marry.  

The reason they (gays) cannot marry would be at least two-fold.  First, look at the definition of the word, which specifies opposite sex, and husband and wife.  That is not a "constructed" definition, nor consequently one that is available for reconstruction in this ever changing changing world of social norms.  It is the other kind;  it is a "discovered" definition.  A word that, at one time, was attributed to something unique -- something with its own unique set of characteristics -- the permanent union of a man and woman.  Oh sure, men can elect to change discovered definitions as well, any time they desire, but not without much torture and harm to the word and the language, and themselves.  Did you know that we think through language? Language and words are important.  Can we leave the unique physical, social and legal union of a man and a woman without its own unique word in our vocabulary?  And if so, why?  Just to make others feel equal?  I don't think the world will end if we gut the word marriage, but a unique way in which we label a unique human condition, marriage, will.
The second reason is, in all of the clamor about how the institution of marriage is being unjustly and selfishly hogged by Christians, and that the homosexual is being unjustly deprived of something other opposite-sex couples can have, the same people acknowledge that the word and the institution itself are Jerusalem religion in origin (Christian, Hebrew), which would further make marriage off limits to the homosexual.

Yet, are homosexuals constitutionally entitled to forming legal social partnerships simply to legally share in each other's personal belongings and entitlements? To protect them from other people? Constitutionally they are entitled.  So how do we pull marriage out of that fire?
The problem in my mind is this.  Presently, homosexuals, or anybody suspected of being homosexual, or anybody who it is convenient to label as homosexual, are open game to every form of violence, discrimination and stereotyping anyone in society feels free to launch at them.  Generally speaking, I have seen Christians do nothing to address that.  Perhaps they feel it is not their responsibility.  But it is the responsibility of a "just" secular government to address that.  God and Christ are willing to love the homosexual, and yet earnestly hate the practice thereof.  Christ invites all men (male and female) into his body, his church, to be encouraged and strengthened by him to turn from the practice of futile and profane things.  This includes you, and I, and, people who possess chronic challenges such as the homosexual.

The constitution begins as a document of formal political science.  Political science is governed -- like all of the rest of science -- by our God given senses.  He has given us eyes that see and ears that hear, and sound rules that govern their use.  When we fail to follow them wisely it is not the fault of science, it is our fault.  Science is simply  that sum total of things we observe and make note of with our senses while here in God's earthly creation.  Several papers ago, one addressing the question, "Do science and religion conflict?", the answer became easy.  Just as there is false religion, there is false science.  Any good scientist will attest to that.  And there is only one known God.  He is the one who revealed himself at the beginning of mankind.  The one whom Jesus explained.  The one whom furnished proof to all men by raising Jesus from his would-be grave and then returning his own spirit back to earth to continue his beautiful presence and work in his earthly possession.  Science is just the study of the orderly way God has set up the elemental things of this earth, and political science is the study of the way "men" have set up the things of government.

Science heralds itself as being impeccably objective, and must be to be science, we Christians appreciate that, yet, in the larger scheme of things, objectivity is maybe its biggest weakness.  Science allows for no subjectivity, no value statements.  It is a wonderful tool and record of the elemental things of God's creation, yet is vastly inadequate and incomplete when it comes to truth.  We are human.  We need truth.  We need to evaluate.  We need value statements. We better be subjective.  We need science, but then we must leave science and give things a value.  Humans need to discern the values of "good" from "bad", what is beneficial from what is harmful, on a day to day basis if they hope to survive.  Science is a tool, but leaves us humans right when we need it the most.  And so it is with constitutional politics.  The constitution provides a valuable means to legal fairness.  A basic outline from which to approach our basic collective humanity.  Much like a useful algebraic expression, we have to assign values.  And we need to be careful.  Not all things are nearly equal to each other (marriage is not equal to civil union), nor are all things nearly equal in value (civil union does not equal marriage).  Science, political documents, leave us wanting values.  Yet, under our constitutional system of governance, for the purpose of governance, all are entitled to equal protection under the law;  all have an equal opportunity to, at some point, either now or later, come to God;  and ultimately, to answer to God.  Interestingly, under the purview of the constitution, we are all equal as citizens;  and under the eyes of God, we are all equal as well, as disobedient sinners.  God includes values, and the desire to overlook our sins if we do not overlook his call to us through Jesus, and the constitution does not.       
So, should the homosexual individual be entitled to not be fired from a job for having a picture of her best friend on her desk, denied entrance to a restaurant, denied entrance to the hospital room of his/her best friends relatives.  I don't have a problem with the government stepping forward and assuring the homosexual person has those basic rights of protection as a person that we all benefit from.  One might feel that all sinners should be fired on the spot, and sinners would include all Christians as well as non-Christians;  but neither Christ nor the state or federal constitution provide for that.  No one would be left in the workforce.

One more brief sermon.  In America, through a constitution which he ordained, God shows his grace and kindness to all men, and then asks them to look still further, beyond politics, and choose to honor him as their father and creator, daily, hourly;  be near him and let him be near to them, and in that way be led by him through this world and on into the next age.  God extends his offer to all men, his creations, wherever they are in this world, to turn from themselves, their worldly obsessions with their jobs, fleshly preoccupations, unfaithfulness', alcohol problems, envy, even homosexual practice, and coveting things other than the offer of his spirit, his provision, his presence in every place, and instead be led by him, and not only that, but to be led by him in a way that would honor the unsurpassing offer of his inheritance.
I believe, and perhaps I am wrong here, but the constitution which the people of this country, particularly Christians, have agreed upon, entitles the homosexual to a protected civil partnership (friendship) under the law equal to that of other domestic partnerships.  I believe a marriage is not an option.  The definition of the word marriage does not include the homosexual.  In doing so, the word becomes a pitiful oxymoron, incongruous and contradictory.  Two men or two women cannot even begin to satisfy the unique definition of opposite sex, husband and wife.  Two people of the same sex can have a beautiful and rich friendship, deep intellectual and emotional intimacy, yet emotional and physical intimacy between a man and a woman is multiplicably different than that between two men or two women.  It cannot be a marriage.  A gay union, no matter how determined, can never be any more than a deep and lasting agreement to stay friends, perhaps adopt children, and maintain a legal, yet solely self-gratifying and contorted sexual relationship.  It cannot be a marriage.  It resembles a personal business relationship, not a marriage.  Let's call it what it is, not what it pretends to be.  It is solely a legal contract, and wholly not a marriage.    
The people of Wisconsin have dealt with this issue by amending their state constitution in 2006 to ban gay marriage.  This has saved marriage, at least in principle, as a unique legal, social and physical partnership between a woman and man, for the time being. They have honored the discovered definition given to it for its unique qualities from eternity to eternity.  I think Wisconsin could head off a long legal battle and settle the question of gay marriage permanently by allowing gay civil unions.  I think it may still be possible to lose public opinion here in Wisconsin on gay marriage, go the way of the federal government, and lose marriage altogether in Wisconsin, if we do not recognize the purpose of the state and federal consitution to protect the godly as well as the ungodly.

Perhaps this is the last clarification I must make.  I know that homosexuals are born the way they are because I was not born that way.  In the same way, I know alcoholics are born with a weakness for alcohol, because I have nothing but a casual fondness for it and can muster no more.  I had always had a fondness for it when I was younger but it was never problematic, I could always easily control it and easily take it or leave it.  Not all men can.  Some have a problematic desire for it and must completely abstain from it, forever.  They have to completely abstain, because they are alcoholics, and they remain so forever.  The weakness does not go away, but rather is ruled over by their self-control.  If they don't have that self-control, then the spirit of the Lord can give it to them.  If they want to test that self-control and supply more alcohol to their body, their body quickly falls back into love with it.  Without abstaining from it, they will enjoy it.  Without the self-control, they will not abstain from it.  Many heterosexual men and women are ruled over by their lusts, even to the point of self-destructive immorality.  A heterosexual must identify when their lusts lead them to sin, and abstain.  If they cannot, then they must ask the Lord for His power in them to do it.  Nonetheless, they remain a heterosexual with a potential problem that they must find a way to rule over, so it does not rule over them.  So it is with the homosexual.  A homosexual remains a homosexual, attracted to the same sex, and tempted by his/her lusts, even if he/she does not practice after their lusts. When they exercise self-control, they please the Lord.  It does not change how they were born. If they don't have the self-control, then he offers it to them.  If they are led by him to honor him -- as they were made to -- as their Lord, and God as Father and Creator, then he treats them as his own children. So it is with everyone in 'His' human creation who turns away from himself and his own futile ways and back toward 'Whom' and where he came from.  And 'He' has told us that that is precisely his plan because he loves those individuals he has created and created them with the ability to love him back.  He also asks that we love each other, all me, somehow, as he does.  Therefore, those who are led by God through Christ, Christians, must find a way to love the heterosexual, love the homosexual, love the adulterer (which Christ said, in our hearts, is all of us).  We were all born with an equally sinful nature, and one man is not greater than the other in the kingdom of heaven, yet warn each of them they must still turn from their Godless ways.  Somewhere between our inward parts and our outward actions is Christ in his temple, ready to be our help those whom would be led by him.  

None of us can change our sinful nature, or we would not need Christ's atoning provision.  Let's not suggest to the homosexual that his or her lusts are just a figure of their imagination, that they are just mixed up heterosexuals, or that they can just chose not to feel the way they do -- the alcoholic can't, not without Christ, neither can they.  They deserve to know that the spirit of Christ, the loving spirit of God, wants to be the gratification of their desires.  Their misplaced sexual desires are not necessarily going to go away, but the loving spirit of God is willing to help them overcome, and find their way to him.  And in the process, we can help them distinguish between what is a legal social partnership and what is a marriage.
         The following is a very inadequate and hurried paper I managed to throw together for a Social Problems class at Ashford University several months ago.  What its preparation did do was to spur me to a lot of good thinking.  It is what it is.  Probably, much like everything else in my life, it is a work in progress. Nonetheless, for me it is a useful record.

Final Paper: Gay Marriage versus Civil Unions
Todd Saunders
SOC 203: Social Problems
Instructor: Risa Garelick

 Gay Marriage Versus Civil Union
      In Western Democratic societies in recent years there has been a greater acceptance of legalized gay civil partnerships and even gay marriage. Making the matter a little more complex, in the United States there is also a disagreement as to what constitutes a marriage.  While it is a simple matter to give same-sex couples rights that are, "equal to married couples under the law", in the form of  a civil union (as demonstrated by Vermont in 2004), the question still remains, "can a marriage reasonably consist of members of the same sex"?  There seem to be other alternatives than to semantically reconstruct both the legal and social definitions of marriage in the modern day, solely for the purpose of accommodating members of the same sex in marriage.  One of these alternatives might be the legal concept of the same-sex civil union.  In the following paper, with the aid of other scholarly sources, it will be argued that civil union is in fact the better alternative than forcing gay legal union into the existing institution of marriage.  It will further argue that if marriage, rather than civil union, is made to accommodate both male/female and homosexual civil union models, then it will harm both. It will do so first, by undermining the existing institution of heterosexual marriage and subsequently the critical support mechanism for the already suffering nuclear family. Secondly, for this country, it will create a problem of national identity.  And lastly, will present a permanent stumbling block to gay and heterosexual relations in general, which could have been easily and harmlessly foreseen and averted.
      At one time, it was thought that the threat of gays pursuing marriage rights was problematic for both marriage and society in general.  This explains the creation of laws in the U.S. and Canada defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman (Kollman, 2005).  This definition was not able to harmonize with many western national governmental constitutions which insisted that all men were entitled to equal rights under the law.  In many cases, and the national constitution prevailed, and equal entitlement to marriage for gays was ushered in.  With the longstanding violence against gay people and their need for equal protection under the law, this seemed reasonable, even a long time in coming, yet, there is a difference in the public perception between a, "gay marriage", and a, "gay civil union".  This was evidenced in a 2004 USA Today poll showing that Gay 'civil union' was not as divisive as 'marriage' (USA, 2004).  It still remains unclear, or how important, given the lack of any futher research, exactly how the general public will actually weigh in on this issue (Gaines & Garand, 2010. p. 564).  In addition to that, available research leaves many more unanswered questions. Expressly, how are attitudes toward same-sex marriage and other forms of legal recognition of gay and lesbian partnered relationships (e.g., civil unions) related in the minds of the mass public (Gaines & Garand, 2010. p. 564)?  As well as, what explains the decisions of other democracies to implement different models of same-sex union recognition (marriage vs. registered partnerships vs. domestic partnerships (Kollman, 2005. p. 329)?
      Affecting the political leaders, national debates, and the media, in at least 18 western democracies has been a largely European transnational network of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization (Kollman, 2007.  p. 330).  Has the mass public been doing any thinking, or simply letting these special interest organizations be doing the thinking for them?  When the results of some of these potential future policy changes start to materialize, what will the public reactions be?  Will it become a highly charged chronic issue like, for instance, the abortion issue?  Then, it truly will start to have an impact on the many political campaigns of those in power. 
      Without a change in the core values, just as changing racial discrimination laws are not able to legislate away racism, will legalizing gay marriage be able to legitimize it, or merely legalize it and leave it still as illigitimate in much of the the publics eye?  There have been instances of backlash under similar circumstances such as with the repeal of sodomy laws in Texas.  Will the public ever, even if legal, condone sodomy, and thus, allowing gays into a heterosexual institution?  Sexual privacy laws are just, but they cannot wall out the public imagination.  As one gay author put it, it is not the acceptance of “who we are”, but of, “what we do”, that is at stake here. (Cuomo, 2007.  p. 80).  What gays do “do”, can do, and cannot do, is strikingly at odds with the imagery of the heterosexual marriage model.  Moreover, there is a widespread public perception of homosexuality that it is abnormal and morally unacceptable behavior.  This bodes of a lingering social problem on several levels. (Hausknecht, 2007.  p.10).  These are conflicting core beliefs that society may likely never get passed.   It might be a tragedy not to consider how the discerning use of the term “civil union’ could affect the social fabric long-term in a positive way.

      From a biological family angle, there may be an argument for gay marriage as a social problem based on what it may do to the nuclear family structure of our society.  The nuclear family is said to already be in decline in our society.  There is also much speculation that that decline is likewise responsible for many present day societal ills (Korgen & Furst, 2012. p. 8:2). Throughout history in this country there has been a widely held core value that “marriage” is a concept consisting of a union between “a man and a woman”.  The fact that it has existed until recently can be attested to by the consensus  demonstrated in 2004 by 39 states, the national government in the United States, and one provincial government in Canada adopting "defense of marriage" laws (DOMA) that had marriage defined as “an institution between one man and one woman” (Kollman, 2005).  There is also the belief expressed in the evangelical Christian community, and a measure of even non-Christians as well, that holds to a procreative imperative behind the idea of marriage, which is nothing more than that a marriage union contains a procreative element.  This existing procreative imperative is unique, and until recently has consisted of a one man and one woman functionality and personality.  The uniqueness of male and female union as compared to a same-sex union, in my opinion cannot be overstated – there simply is no comparison. Brain research, parenting studies, and frankly human experience testify to a simple, yet powerful truth—men and women differ not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally, (ElHage, 2011).  This radical difference introduced by gays pursuing marriage introduces a social problem in that it could potentially injure the original concept, definition, and even the very practice of marriage, and thus, the crucial (biological) kinship structure that has thus far in western history been necessary for societal continuity, community, and stability (Kollman, 2005.  p. 46).
      Surely, there are new alternative nuclear family based “family-like” constructs for raising children, but the nuclear family still stands as having the greatest potential for raising children.  Statistically, children are simply better off when living with two nuclear parents (Korgen & Furst, 2012.  p. 8:3).  This model used in much of Western society gets high marks for the family model.  Yet at the same time, marriage and the standard of a family being “nuclear” or biological is now thought to be in decline.  It is also thought by many that the model of the nuclear family is no longer considered to be meeting the needs of present day society (Korgen & Furst, 2012.  p. 8:2).  Individuals are simply opting out of marriage for a number of reasons. Some shun the traditional gendered roles of "man and wife," some seek freedom to do what they want when they want it, and some prioritize their careers over permanent relationships (Korgen & Furst, 2012.  p. 8:2).  Individualization appears to be helping to reshape the idea of marriage toward the individual’s interests and away from the benefit of the group.
      What is marriage?  Socially, around the 1950’s  marriage-based nuclear family model in the U.S., Canada and Europe, remained the only socially acceptable way to have a sexual relationship and to raise children (Cherlin, 2004. p.851).  Legally speaking, marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman sanctioned by the state (Hausknecht, 2007).  At the same time, marriage is supposed to be the private institution that establishes kinship relations in the family (Ferguson, 2007.  p. 39).  As such, the dictionary does not begin to exhaust the cultural definitions marriage, meaning that, it is now largely a culturally institution which has come, out of necessity, to be dictated by the state. Marriage is also the West’s institution of kinship.   In Undoing Gender, Judith Butler defines kinship as "a set of practices that institutes relationships of various kinds which negotiate the reproduction of life and the demands of death" (Ferguson, 2007.  p. 41-42).  It appears as though not until the gay marriage movement did the definition of kinship leave out the element of childbearing and reproduction.  This leaves the historically valuable institution of marriage very vulnerable.  And this leaves out the argument that marriage has always been a religious institution which precludes the same-sex debate altogether.
      The undermining of marriage predates the push for gay marriage. Marriage was already being undermined by an increase in childbearing outside of marriage, unmarried stepfamilies, cohabitation – even becoming acceptable to the point of being indistinguishable from marriage in Denmark, Sweden (Cherlin, 2004.  p. 849), and more married women entering the workforce.  There was also the perceived transition in the 1950’s divorce law; popular media based depictions of the ideal new individualized model of marriage driven by advertisers (Cherlin, 2004.  p. 852), loosening legal and social restrictions on marriage, and the hesitancy of young adults to enter into marriage. The declining power of social norms and laws as regulating mechanisms contributed to the new lack of sustaining power of marriage (Cherlin, 2004.  p. 853).  These all help to explain its present day decline in usefulness and popularity.
      In some scholars view, marriage has been becoming an intimate partnership entered into merely for its own sake, lasting only as long as both partners are satisfied with the rewards which were mostly intimacy and love.  A phenomenon hinting of increasing individualism and the deinstitutionalization (Cherlin, 2004.  p.853). with the quest for intimacy becoming the central focus of people’s personal life, many theorists of late modernity predict that marriage will not remain distinctive or important. They claim it has become a choice rather than a necessity for adults who want intimacy, companionship, and children. (Cherlin, 2004.  p. 853)
      At one time nuclear biology defined a family.  Now, it has gone to individual interpretation.  Now, western society gives individuals the freedom to experience vast latitude for choice in their personal lives, and they are taking it as far as they can. More and more forms of marriage and more alternatives to marriage are socially acceptable (Cherlin, 2004. p. 853). Sociologists have called a "family of choice" as being one that is formed largely through voluntary ties among individuals who are not biologically or legally related. Lesbians and gay men already use the term "family" to describe their close relationships, but they usually mean something different from the standard marriage-based family (sorry, I dropped the reference somewhere).  If it is the case that they mean something different, then why not call it something different?
    There is also the national identity issue that will persist long after gay marriage is legalized.  Contained within the issue of gay marriage is a contradiction in the American national identity.  With the supports of gay marriage, the normative status of the heterosexual nuclear family is undermined.  Yet if gay marriage is disallowed, then the individual freedom and civil rights of homosexuals are undermined. So it appears that to resolve it the national identity will have to change (Ferguson, 2007.  p. 40).   It may be that one could reasonably hope that this national identity problem would go away, with the choice of civil union over marriage.
      There are several sociological theories that one might use to explain the social problem raising from the national choice of marriage over civil union. The contact theory, one used to explain the diminishing of racial and ethnic tensions through increased social contact, could also be used to raise hope that increased contact and exposure to gays and gay marriage might acclimate the general public to those characteristics.  Although it is not clear if race and sexual orientation are comparable in this context (Gaines & Garand, 2010. p.564).  One question raised by this same source is, “Why does contact with gays and lesbians lead some individuals to move their attitudes in the direction of support for same-sex marriage, while for others contact has little or no effect” (Gaines & Garand, 2010. p.564)?
      Threat theories suggest that members of the majority may perceive a threat by members of the minority, and continue to rale against gay marriage.   And according to this theory, as the size of minority population increases, so does the perception of threat, and this may result in increased negative perceptions of the minority population (Gaines & Garand, 2010. p. 564).
      Other scholars promote the intergroup conflict theory, which suggests that contact between members of competing group’s results in negative interactions that reinforce negative attitudes of each group toward the other (Gaines & Garand, 2010. p. 564).
      Another is Urbanism, frequently included in studies of morality politics because people living in urban areas are exposed to more diverse life-styles and, therefore, more likely to be tolerant of those life-styles. 
      Here are some of the possible social implications of deciding on marriage instead of civil union.  It may exacerbate a national identity crisis.  It may also involve risking a backlash the likes of the one in Texas after the repeal of the sodomy laws.  It is gay rights activists putting themselves at odds with the long-standing belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and possibly adding to the irrelevance of marriage such as is happening in Denmark.
      As a society we likely would do well to look closely why the adopter countries have implemented different models of same-sex union recognition (marriage vs. registered partnerships vs. domestic partnerships (Kollman, 2005. p. 329).  These could give us valuable grounds for deciding ourselves. 
      We do know some things for sure. American society had already started to address this problem by granting full marriage rights to same-sex civil union partnerships, and it worked.  The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in October 2006 that gay and lesbian couples  must be guaranteed the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.  A New York Times story reported that, under New Jersey’s civil-union law, homosexual couples are to be “treated like married couples” (Hausknecht, 2007.  p. 10) 
      Due to the lack of studies on the subject, many social scientists are mute.  a few of the warnings from the other direction have been mentioned here.
      We need to continue to work as a society to dispel stereotypes and convey more information about the reality of being born gay.  but in the meantime, we need to continue to encourage a more flexible and egalitarian heterosexual marriage in tune with the changing national and world economy.
      This has been a discussion of the considerations needed to be made in the decision between gay marriage and gay civil union.   An attempt has been made to look at available information on the subject and examine a series of potential social problems that could ensue if proper consideration is not given to the effort of deciding on the legal title to give the union.


Korgen, K. & Furst, G. (2012). Social problems: Causes & Responses. San Diego, CA:                  Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Alysse ElHage, "Why Gender Matters to Parenting: Not All Families Are Created Equal," North Carolina Family Policy Council, 2011. GenderMatters.pdf

Hausknecht, Murray, (Spring2007).  Gay Marriage: The Third Option.  Dissent (00123846). Vol. 54 Issue 2, p9-10. 2p.

Grossman, Cathy, (2004). USA Today. 01/14/2004. Accession Number:     J0E074327935804.  Academic Search Premier.  Gay 'civil union' not as divisive       as 'marriage'

Kollman, Kelly, (August 11, 2005).   Same-Sex Unions: The Globalization of an Idea.       International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Jun., 2007), pp. 329-357. The      International Studies Association.  Stable URL: .

Gaines, Susan, N. & Garand, James, C., (SEPTEMBER 2010).   Morality, Equality, or      Locality: Analyzing the Determinants of Support for Same-sexMarriage. Political      Research Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 3, pp. 553-567. Sage Publications, Inc.          University of Utah.  Stable URL: .

Haider-Markel, Donald P.  and Meier, Kenneth J., (May, 1996).  The Politics of Gay and Lesbian Rights: Expanding the Scope of the Conflict.  The Journal of Politics,         Vol. 58, No. 2, pp.332-349. Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Southern    Political Science Association.  Stable URL: .

Ferguson, Ann, (Winter, 2007).  Gay Marriage: An American and Feminist Dilemma.        Hypatia, Vol. 22, No. 1, Writing Against Heterosexism, pp. 39-57. Hypatia, Inc.        Stable URL: .

 Cuomo, Chris, (Jan., 2007).  Dignity and the Right to Be Lesbian or Gay.  Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, Vol.             132, No.1, Selected Papers from the American Philosophical Association,Pacific         Division, 2006.Meeting, pp. 75-85Published by: SpringerStable URL:
Haider-Markel, Donald P. & Meier, Kenneth J., (May, 1996). The Politics of Gay and       Lesbian Rights: Expanding the Scope of the Conflict.  The Journal of           Politics, Vol. 58, No. 2, pp.    332-349. Cambridge University Press on behalf of       the Southern Political Science            AssociationStable URL:    .
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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Great Recession

The following article is an excerpt from a textbook I used in a course at Ashford University:


Korgen, K. & Furst, G. (2012). Social problems: Causes & responses. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.  (2:2)


Many thanks to them.


The Great Recession and the Mortgage Crisis

In late 2007, a cascade of complex economic events converged, leading to a dramatic drop in American housing prices, the collapse of huge financial institutions, and downturns in global stock markets. These events, referred to as the Great Recession, or the Global Financial Crisis, peaked in 2007–2008 and continue to have a profound effect on the United States and the world, including lingering high unemployment and ongoing housing foreclosures. The Great Recession is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression that began after the stock market crash of 1929.

One of the countless factors that led to this crisis was related to supply-side policies freeing businesses from regulation. In the midst of the Great Depression, in 1933, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banking (which accepts deposits and lends money) from investment banking (which issues securities and invests with credit).

This law was designed to prevent banks from taking investment risks that could jeopardize their solvency. For decades, banks pressed for the repeal of the act, which finally occurred in 1999 under President Clinton. This freed commercial banks to again invest their clients' deposits and practice both investment and commercial banking. During the same period, under a push to provide home ownership to as many people as possible, government mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lowered their standards and began issuing mortgages to people who could not afford them. Meanwhile, as government regulators turned a blind eye, other mortgage lenders followed suit and housing prices soared as more and more people bought homes.

In the absence of government regulation, mortgage lenders profited enormously by collecting fees from homeowners who were assuming mortgages they could not afford. But the original lenders did not hold onto these risky mortgages; instead, these residential mortgages became the basis for another level of investment. Lenders bundled these so-called "toxic mortgages," whose owners were likely to default, into a type of pooled securities called collateralized debt obligations (CDO). The lenders sliced these bundles into more CDOs and sold them to banks, who sold them to investment firms, which purchased insurance against possible losses on the bundled mortgages.

Freddie Mac sign
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty images

Government mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were among the lenders whose practices helped lead to the housing bubble burst in 2008.

Companies that insured the investors who bought CDOs failed to maintain the resources needed to fund insurance claim payments for those they insured. Lax government rules and oversight allowed these insurance companies to say they could insure far more than their resources on hand would allow. As a result, when homeowners defaulted on loans and investors filed claims to cover their losses on the CDOs, the insurance companies shirked their responsibility and the entire system crumbled.

At the same time, credit rating agencies, which rate securities so that potential investors will know the risks associated with them, also failed to sound an alarm. These credit rating agencies (Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch), in a clear conflict of interest, are paid by the banks to whom they issue credit scores. Without looking carefully into the problems with the CDOs, they granted them high credit ratings, leading investors to think their money was not at risk (Morgenson, 2008). When these CDOs started to fail, many investors lost money and some banks, such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, went bankrupt while others were saved through government bailouts to prevent further damage to the economy (Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, 2011).

With banks reluctant to lend money, homeowners and new businesses could not obtain the funds they needed to keep the housing market and the overall economy healthy and functioning. At the same time, big businesses, fearful of further economic downturns, refused to risk major investments such as hiring new employees (Leonhard, 2011). As a result, in 2011 the national unemployment rate doubled, standing stubbornly between 9 and 10% (BLS, 2011a), and consumer confidence, which indicates people's willingness to purchase goods and services, sharply decreased (Conference Board, 2011).

The housing crisis and the Great Recession caused a catastrophic drop in the wealth of Americans. Housing prices, which had peaked in 2006, dropped precipitously, as did home equity, pensions, retirement funds and other savings and investment assets. This bursting of the housing bubble had a dramatic impact on the level of economic inequality, particularly harming many working- and middle-class Americans. The wealth of this group most commonly relies on the value of their houses. Those who do not own a home tend to have few other assets. When houses declined in value with the fall of the housing market, much, or in some cases all, of the wealth of many Americans disappeared. When adjusted for inflation, the median net worth of U.S. households fell 28% from 2007 to 2009 (Kochhar, Fry, & Taylor, 2011). People with other types of wealth such as stocks were shielded from losses by the diversity of their assets. The result was greater economic inequality between people who could afford many assets and people whose only significant asset was their home (Korgen & Furst, 2012)

To see an illustration that traces the events of the Great Recession, click on the link provided: