Friday, March 27, 2009

More anti-private-school rubbish from Ms Parker

In her weekly column in yesterday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph, education writer Ms Marilyn Parker has put together another diatribe against the private school system. The basis for this latest rant is (partly) the notion that, by offering scholarships luring talented public school pupils into the non-government sector, private schools are thereby harming the educational prospects for the less talented pupils who remain in government schools. Hence the article’s print edition title of “Take the cream and the others will curdle” and Ms Parker’s contention that

As [public] schools lose such families [middle class families with academically successful children] they become more marginalised. Just one or two high achieving families leaving a school can trigger a spiral effect.
(my emphasis)
But what evidence can Ms Parker adduce in support of this assertion? She provides no data to which the reader can refer, so one must infer that the only evidence that Ms Parker has for this is anecdotal. Now I will concede that there is probably a grain of truth in the notion that the loss of high-achieving pupils will have a negative effect on other pupils, but I think that it is a preposterous exaggeration to say that it will produce a “spiral effect” (unless those one or two pupils come from a school population of no more than a handful!) since one would expect there to be a critical mass that needs to be reached; in a grade of a hundred or more pupils it seems highly unlikely that the tipping point would be one or two. And even once this critical mass has been reached (if such a tipping point even exists) there is still the question of balancing the improvement in results for the departing pupils with the deterioration of results for the remaining ones, but Ms Parker only looks at it from the point of view of the remaining pupils. Now I’m a strong believer in Catholic social teaching and hence acknowledge that an authority can impose a disadvantage on an individual if a proportionately greater advantage is expected thereby to be conferred on the community, but it’s hard to imagine that the loss of one or two, or any small number, of pupils will have a catastrophic effect on the remainder, and any deleterious effects have to be weighed against the gains—not just short-term financial, but long-term career prospects and so on—made by the scholarship recipient.

Later in the article Ms Parker goes on to say that

We already have an elite minority of well educated medium and high socio-economic families. What we need is a majority of well educated Australians.

And the only way to get that is to have a quality public system that has not been stripped bare of all the easy to educate students and any who have potential of some kind.
But Ms Parker completely ignores the fact that the public system practices élitism itself by designating some schools as ‘selective’ schools that only accept the more talented pupils! She is happy to inveigh against what one might called mixed financial-educational incentives (scholarships, with their accompanying promise of better marks) but fails to be even-handed by criticising purely educational incentives (the enticement of better marks that one expects at a selective school), despite the fact that both produce the effect (by her logic) of harming results for pupils in the so-called ‘comprehensive’ (non-selective) schools, which was Ms Parker’s focus in this article.

A while later Ms Parker alleges another unethical aspect to the situation:

But offering St Spyridon type scholarships is immoral on another level. As the Greens education spokesman John Kaye pointed out St Spyridon is taking twice as much for each student from governments in subsidies than it is offering as a scholarship. [… ] [I]f the scholarships are being used to fill classes in classrooms that are already paid for, taught by teachers that are already paid for, it is hardly an act of charity.
(Once again we see Ms Parker taking her cue from the notoriously anti-Christian Greens.) So here we are reminded that one really cannot win with these secularists: if the private schools had retained the money that would otherwise go into scholarships then the secularists would be condemning the schools for selfishness (spending the money on 'another swimming pool', or some silly attack like that), yet here we have schools offering scholarships for families who might not otherwise have been able to afford admission for their children, and the schools are accused of immorality.

I conclude by noting that Ms Parker seems to be mistaken about the very case that provoked her reflections, the case of a Greek-Schismatic school’s $3000 scholarship—which, it appears, is not even paid for by the school! See what a reader, ‘Jonah of Sydney’, has to say at the on-line edition of Ms Parker’s article:

Firstly, get your facts straight: the scholarship is parish funded, not paid for by the school. The money needed is raised by the St Spyridon parish in support of its community school, and not paid for by taxpayers, so therefore your linking of public and private school funding issues to this scholarship is completely irrelevant.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
27.III.2009 A.D.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Facts and figures: on the percentage of homosexuals in the population

Mr. Muehlenberg has a good blog post debunking the urban myth that something like 10% of the population is homosexual; he shows that reliable data indicate that the percentage barely makes it into single digits, let alone double digits. There are some good reader comments at the post as well.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
26.III.2009 A.D.

Facts and figures: on the exponential rise in staff levels at the Sydney C.E.O.

In a Sydney Morning Herald story on Br. Kelvin Canavan F.M.S. last Monday I read that

Since joining the Catholic Education Office in 1968, Brother Canavan has helped oversee its growth from a staff of nine in the late 1960s, to more than 300.
Staggering. Needless to say, I don’t think that enrolments have increased by a corresponding 3233⅓%.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
26.III.2009 A.D.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Follow-up to my post on natural law and same-sex couples: Cardinal Medina Estévez on gay parenting

[WARNING: when I visited the following blog post web-page I was confronted by an advertistement featuring a half-naked sodomite and other pro-sodomite advertisements. I have notified the webmaster and he is going to rectify the situation.]

A few days after the post in which I argued against same-sex adoption by reason of a same-sex couple’s inability to give credible instruction in the natural law to its children, His Eminence The Cardinal Prefect Emeritus of the C.D.W.D.S. had the following things to say:

"St. Paul says that those who practice homosexuality will not see the kingdom of God, therefore, I think that a person under these conditions is not able to form values in others, even their children" …

Citing the case of CPW, a man of 35 years who obtained from the mother custody of her children and now lives with someone of the same sex, the priest pointed out that it is difficult to believe that "a bad example of that nature" does not influence children.

"If they are Christians and deny that homosexual cohabitation creates a situation which is favorable and if the children end up accepting it, it means they agree with something that goes against the morals," he stressed.

He added that the religious relativism in moral matters has gained ground in our country, and that is why they are allowing things that previously were not accepted. "There are many things that are unacceptable and that no one questions they anymore. I think the judge acted in the wrong way and I do not think that a child can be happy watching his father living against God's law, " he argued.

"In Chile we have the habit of trying to fix everything with laws, the problem is that above human laws there is the law of God, natural law and morality ... And when the laws of man and people want to evade them, they always find a way to get around them,, "he said.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church, A.D. 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mr. Ackland and others on an Australian bill of rights

Mr. Richard Ackland had an opinion piece in last Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald on the prospective Australian bill or charter of rights. In this piece he reported on the pro-charter views of former High Court judge The Hon. Michael McHugh A.C. Q.C.:

Far better and constitutionally stronger [than a specified ‘dialogue model’ of rights legislation], McHugh says, to adopt the 1960 Canadian model of a legislative bill of rights, and use it to give effect to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This would create a "judicially enforceable" regime with remedies for breaches of rights. However, politicians could still stay in charge by inserting "notwithstanding" clauses into legislation to remove provisions from the need to be compatible with a human rights act.
Now how bizarre is that—a human rights charter that Parliament can override at will. What could the point of such a charter possibly be if Parliament can override it with such ease?!

The next day the Herald published a letter from Ms Catherine Branson, the President of the pro-charter Australian Human Rights Commission, in which she mentioned a couple of other possible features of an Australian charter of rights, as well as the one that Mr. Justice McHugh mentioned:

A declaration of incompatibility is only one possible feature of such an act. Others include requiring Parliament to scrutinise the human rights impact of new laws; requiring courts and decision makers to interpret laws consistently with human rights; and providing enforceable remedies for actions of public authorities that breach human rights.
I suppose that the first feature—requiring Parliament to scrutinise the human rights impact of its legislation—is pretty unobjectionable, but even to a non-jurist such as myself the second proposed feature—requiring courts to interpret laws consistent with legislated human rights—seemed rather odd. The Australian’s letters section of the same day showed that I was not alone in my concern:

Such a move would destroy any certainty about the future meaning of any federal law.

A ruling by a possibly idiosyncratic High Court judge could decide that the plain meaning of a certain wording was incompatible with the ICCPR’s [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’s] interpretation, and therefore must be interpreted to mean something else. This has already happened in the UK and the ACT.
wrote one Roslyn Phillips. The third proposal—enforceable remedies for human rights breaches—also seems rather dubious to me, especially since, as Mr. Justice McHugh acknowledges, Parliament could simply opt out of it at will! It seems to me that the pro-charter lobby is already scraping the bottom of the barrel (and here we are only talking about how a charter of rights would operate—no-one even knows yet what rights such a charter would contain).

Reginaldvs Cantvar
16.III.2009 A.D.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Question to readers: how to prove the teaching of Romans 3:8 from natural reason?

In Romans 3:8 one finds the well-know precept that one must not do evil in order that good may come of it. Obviously I, as should all who profess to be Christian, accept this precept by the authority with which it was promulgated, but I’m wondering how to prove it, by natural reason alone, to secularists, many of whom are infected with utilitarianism and would not hesitate to do evil if they thought that they would thereby procure a greater good or avert a greater evil. St. Thomas Aquinas does not, as far as I know, answer the utilitarian objection directly (please correct me if I’m wrong and let me know where he does), though he does invoke Romans 3:8 a couple of times in other contexts. Also, in St. Thomas’s treatment of the natural law he notes that

… the first principle of practical reason is one founded on the notion of good, viz. that "good is that which all things seek after." Hence this is the first precept of law, that "good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided." All other precepts of the natural law are based upon this …
(Ia IIæ, q. 94, a. 2,
So is it as simple, then, as asserting that the first precept of the natural law enjoins the avoidance of evil? If so, then how does one answer the more moderate utilarians who, while agreeing that one should never do grave evil (like what Catholics would call a mortal sin), would nevertheless argue that if the evil were small in some absolute sense (rather than just relative to the good that one expects to obtain), like what Catholics mean by venial sin, then one ought to do it if a greater good were expected to be obtained thereby? I would be interested in, and appreciate greatly, any arguments and/or references that you could provide for me, readers.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
13.III.2009 A.D.

On H.H. The Pope’s Letter to the Bishops regarding the Decree on the S.S.P.X. Bishops

I’m just making this brief post in order to highlight and comment briefly on what seems to me to be the most important (and exciting) point in the Letter:

In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" – the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope – to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
(Beginning of Paragraph 4)
This development, and developments consequent on it, will be interesting to watch. And I wish to bring to your attention what a commenter at Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s blog noted:

While +Lefebvre was still alive, the SSPX submitted a document containing 39 dubia about the council. The response was a 50 page document from the CDF that did not address any of the dubia in particular.

The doctrinal issues are not unresolved for lack of effort on the part of the SSPX. Hopefully, these new talks will bear more fruit.

It sounds like the Holy Father is willing to hear them out.

Comment by Merriweather — 11 March 2009 @ 8:08 pm
Regarding Dignitatis Humanæ, a good place to start, perhaps, would be a wide distribution of and discussion on the C.D.F.’s official (or at least quasi-official) response to the late Msgr. Lefebvre’s dubia; the response has had, as far as I know, a very limited readership hitherto.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
13.III.2009 A.D.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Natural law and same-sex couples: a proof for why the N.S.W. Parliament ought to reject the proposal for same-sex adoption

(Note: throughout this post, ‘the proposal’, as in anti-proposal or whatever, refers to the New South Wales proposal to grant to same-sex couples full equality with opposite-sex couples in access to adoption.)

While thinking about how to argue against the proposal, I have always had an intuition that it should be rejected because it offends the natural law, but until the other day I (and the anti-proposal submissions and public hearing interviewees) have been unable to articulate precisely why or how it offends the natural law. Then the other day it occurred to me: the proposal ought to be rejected because same-sex couples are constitutionally incapable of giving their children credible teaching on the natural law. Now I need to begin by making the following definitions:

End: an end is something’s perfection or completion.
Nature: a thing’s nature is its tendency towards a certain end or ends.
Good: the good is that which suits a thing’s nature.
Evil: evil is that which does not suit a thing’s nature.

So the natural law, by which one tells good from evil/right from wrong/moral from immoral, is basically just a matter of respecting the natures of things. Clearly there is nothing in this formulation with which non-believers, whether agnostics, atheists or strict materialists, must necessarily disagree, since ends and natures are empirically verifiable. To give an example: the end of the digestive system is the digestion of food. Now the rectum belongs solely to the digestive system, so buggery is evil: it does not suit the nature of the organ or of the organism.

Now it is a parent’s duty to teach his or her children, by word and example, to abide by the natural law, that is, to teach them right from wrong. Without this instruction a child will tend not to grow up to be healthy and virtuous. But a same-sex couple is incapable of giving this teaching credibly because it is, in its very structure, in open and willing defiance of the natural law. It is in defiance of the natural law both at what one might call the ‘micro’ level and at the ‘macro’ level. It is in defiance at the ‘micro’ level in the sense that the things that its members do to each other do not suit the natures of the organs involved or of the organisms taken as wholes. It is in defiance at the ‘macro’ level in the sense that the primary end of a sexual relationship is procreation, of which a same-sex couple is structurally, and therefore willingly, incapable.

Note two things about this argument against the proposal: firstly, the argument does not depend, strictly speaking, on the sexual (dis)orientation of either or both of the parents—even if one, or even both, of the parents in an opposite-sex couple suffered from a same-sex attraction he, or she, or they, are trying nonetheless to live by the natural law. Note secondly that, whereas in my earlier arguments against the proposal I have had to make sure to invoke the ceteris paribus assumption, it is not necessary to compare an opposite-sex couple and a same-sex couple while holding all else equal—even the most slovenly of opposite-sex couples offers a more credible witness to the exigencies of the natural law than the most well-organised (if that’s the right way to put it) of same-sex couples. (It goes without saying, of course, that couples that would actually inflict evil on their prospective adoptive children will already have been weeded out of the adoption process; here it is a question of teaching evil, whether by word or example.)

Conveniently, the Sodomite’s League itself provides some evidence to back up my analysis. In her much-touted review of various studies on same-sex parenting, Dr. Jenni Millbank reported the following findings from one study:

In 1995, Lisa Saffron interviewed 17 children and adults in the UK who had been raised by lesbian mothers. Saffron states that most of the sociological literature has been focused upon whether there is any disadvantage to having a lesbian parent and that very little inquiry has focused upon whether there are in fact advantages to having a lesbian parent. Saffron reports:
According to the people I interviewed, there may well be meaningful differences in moral and social developments. Respondents suggested that children raised by lesbian mothers have the potential to develop more accepting and broad-minded attitudes towards homosexuality, women’s independence, the concept of the family, and social diversity than children from families which conform more closely to the norm.
(italics in the original,, pp. 43-44)
So this study supports my contention—it suggests that children raised by lesbian ‘co-parents’ are more likely to contemn the natural law than their traditionally-reared peers.

Now what objections might the Sodomite’s League raise against my argument? The only major objection might be that many opposite-sex couples defy the natural law too—they practise contraception and unnatural pseudo-sexual acts, for instance. And no doubt many couples, perhaps even most these days, do indulge in evil of this sort. But this kind of witness against the natural law occurs in spite of the underlying structure of the relationship, whereas in a same-sex couple it occurs because of it; it can at least be said of the former that its structure continues to exemplify respect for the natures of things, whereas the latter will never, in any way, do so.

So to relate this back to the Inquiry into the proposal: will the proposal, if implemented, promote the well-being of children in both the short- and long-term? Certainly not, since a same-sex couple cannot credibly teach its children to observe the natural law. And what if we use the less stringent criterion of whether the proposal, if implemented, would simply leave children no worse off? The answer is still: certainly not, because a same-sex couple’s teaching on the natural law is necessarily inferior to that of an opposite-sex couple.

So I think that we have here a pretty solid confutation of the case for same-sex adoption. Perhaps one day the Sodomites’ League will be able to produce the faintest hint, the tiniest fragment, of an argument in favour of the proposal. Until then, while the empirical findings remain inconclusive let’s stick with the true family, not experiment with a counterfeit version.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Frances of Rome, Widow, A.D. 2009

Facts and figures: on Oregon’s decade-long experience of legalised euthanasia

Perhaps the most powerful argument advanced by euthanasia advocates is that euthanasia is a way of escaping unbearable suffering. In his weekly Sydney Morning Herald column, Mr. Michael Duffy provided the following figures from Oregon, U.S.A., where euthanasia was legalised in 1998:

The Public Health Division's report on the first decade of deaths under the law says patients' main end-of-life concerns were (more than one could be nominated): losing autonomy 89 per cent; less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable 87 per cent; loss of dignity 82 per cent; losing control of bodily functions 58 per cent; burden on family or friends 39 per cent; inadequate pain control or concern about it 27 per cent; and financial implications of treatment 2.7 per cent.
So here, pain appears to be one of the lesser, though still significant, concerns. Furthermore, this figure is probably something of an exaggeration:

[Dr. Courtney] Campbell notes that even this relatively low level of concern about pain does not necessarily reflect the experience of pain. In at least some cases it meant the patient was concerned about experiencing pain in the future.
Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Frances of Rome, Widow, A.D. 2009

Follow-up to my posts on the N.S.W. Upper House Inquiry into same-sex adoption: what the future holds

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the proposal will pass into law (as the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (G.L.R.L.) points out, this proposal is the last big hurdle to full equality of same-sex couples with opposite-sex ones, and somehow I think Parliament won’t be drawing a line in the sand here); the only question is whether an exemption will be granted to Catholic and Anglican adoption services to continue refusing to put children in same-sex pseudo-families. One must never underestimate the bloody-mindedness of the Sodomites’ League (see the first comment in this combox for a sample of its in-your-face triumphalism; I wish that this, its true face, could have been on show at the public hearings), and indeed the G.L.R.L. made clear at the public hearing (Day 1) that it won’t support any such exemption. Nonetheless, I think secularism isn’t quite as rampant in Australia as in the U.K., so it won’t surprise me if such an exemption is indeed granted.

So as I mentioned, the G.L.R.L. says that this is the last significant piece of discrimination again same-sex couples to be dismantled. (Or is it? More on this in a moment.) It’s worth pausing here to think about the amazing success, over a period of only about ten years, that these degenerates have had in conforming society to their own image. The strategy has been a brilliant one: piecemeal, patient alterations to the law so that anomalies are opened up, allowing them to plead for further legislation in order to remove the inconsistencies. Now of course, in general, when there is an inconsistency between two things such that one is good and one is bad, one can eliminate the inconsistency in one of two ways: one way is to replace the bad thing with a good thing so that we have two consistently good things, and the other way is to replace the good thing with a bad thing so that we have two consistently bad things. Either of these two ways will eliminate inconsistency, but it’s clear which way is to be preferred. Yet it is the latter way that the Government no doubt will opt for, eliminating the inconsistency of same-sex couples being allowed to have foster children by letting them have adopted children too.

So what next? The G.L.R.L. regards this as its crowning achievement, so what more could it want? As I mentioned in an earlier post, by achieving equal access to adoption, same-sex couples will be able to put forward an irrefutable argument for so-called gay marriage legislation: if a formal marriage provides the best foundation on which to raise a family, they will point out, then how can the law deny same-sex couples with adopted children the right to marry? Thus the Sodomite’s League will have turned pro-family forces’ (rightful) preference for de jure marriage over mere de facto marriage against them.

But that won’t be all. The narcissism of the gay supremacists will not leave them content with mere public tolerance of their depraved lifestyles: the rest of us will have to celebrate this debauchery. A regular commenter at Mr. Muehlenberg’s blog, Mr. David Skinner, offered the following warning:

Having spent some years in Australia, first as a ten pound pommie and then years later as an exchange teacher and since it is where God found me; I naturally have a special love of the Australian people. May I alert you therefore to what is in store for you?

In 2006 the UK Labour government brought in the Sexual Orientation Regulations; a year later this was followed by the Gay Adoption Bill and then last year they brought in the Incitement to Homophobic Hatred Bill. This last bill would have carried more destructive power if it had not been for a Lord Waddingon who successfully got an free speech amendment to the bill that said:

“In this Part, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.”

For those interested in looking in Hansard this now forms section 29JA in the Public Order Act 1986. That clause is going to be overturned this year, barring a miracle wrought through prayer. This will mean that anyone not wholeheartedly supporting the gays could be deemed as inciting hatred and could face up to seven years in prison. ...
So just as liberals won’t hesitate to trample on ‘freedom of conscience’ (see, for instance, the recently-passed Victorian Abortion Law Reform Bill), neither will they hesitate to spit on ‘freedom of speech’. And there won’t be anything wrong with that, of course; it’ll just be a matter of destroying the diversity in order to celebrate it, I suppose.

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Frances of Rome, Widow, A.D. 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On the N.S.W. Upper House Inquiry into same-sex adoption: public hearing transcripts

Let’s now look at the transcripts for the two day of public hearings, held last Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m mostly just going to quote portions from here and there in order to make a few points, so I’m afraid this might seem a bit disjointed. I’ll begin by drawing your attention to this interesting portion of an exchange between a (pro-family) Labor member of the Inquiry, The Hon. Greg Donnelly, M.L.C. and Mr. Rod Best, the Director of the Department of Legal Services, Department of Community Services:

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Perhaps I might conclude with this comment because I am conscious of the time. In 2004 the American College of Paediatricians issued a statement with respect to homosexual parenting. I will not read the whole statement read to conclusion. It is not a statement, but the research data and concludes:
The research literature on child-rearing by homosexual parents is limited.
I will interpolate that between 2004 and now, I think the reality is things are pretty much the same. There is not a lot of literature. Would you agree to that?
Mr BEST: I would certainly agree to that.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: There is very limited literature out there in terms of the effect of children being raised in homosexual families.
Mr BEST: And of the literature there is, it is unclear as to whether it has had appropriate control groups and whether it has been a sufficient number.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: That is true.
Mr BEST: So not only is the literature limited, but also it is of limited use in terms of its scientific basis.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: That is correct. In fact there was a fair bit of critiquing being done about the validity of many of those research projects. The article goes on to state:
The environment in which children are reared is absolutely critical to their development. Given the current body of research the American College of Paediatricians believes it is inappropriate, potentially hazardous to children and dangerously irresponsible to change the age-old prohibition on homosexual parenting whether by adoption, foster care or by reproductive manipulation. This position is rooted in the best available science.
It is a very definitive statement by the American College of Paediatricians. Are such clear statements made by organisations like that, which obviously specialise in looking at the best interests of the child, matters that come before the department in terms of influencing its thinking on the arrangements with respect to adoption?
Mr BEST: Clearly, they do—just as does, similarly, the statement by the American Psychological Association, which has a membership of some 50,000 psychologists and which also brought down a report in 2004. It says that that association opposes any discrimination based on sexual orientation. Their department's position is that that is why we welcome this inquiry: the literature is there on both sides. The literature which is there on both sides is not easy to understand or apply. We are hoping that this inquiry will assist in that regard.
pp. 14-15

So a dispassionate civil servant acknowledges unambiguously that the weight of scientific research is by no means fully behind the pro-gay-adoption case.

I also found interesting the interrogation by the Greens member of the Committee, Ms Sylvia Hale M.L.C. of a representative of Anglicare:

Ms SYLVIA HALE: What I find curious is that you are prepared when it comes to adopting a child to say persuasion could be irrelevant, all other things being equal, but when it comes to what is your position in relation to adoption by same-sex couples, according to your summary in part six you say that this is an authentic and fundamental issue of religious belief, and it goes on to say that it is Christian belief. In assessing your approach to this issue, it is dominated by your religious convictions, but when it comes to placing a child, that is not an absolutely fundamental requirement. I just find that a bit of an imbalance.
Ms WEST: I do not experience it as a conflict of interest. What we do is profoundly child focused. What we are really looking to do is place a child, having had a thorough background provided by their birth parent or parents, with a family that we feel—or, in our assessment, more to the point—will best meet that child's needs. For example, we would work with birth parents who may not declare any particular religious persuasion, but specifically because birth parent requests are considered. We cannot always meet them, but they are considered for placement. We will work with parents who say unequivocally that they do not wish their child to be placed in a church-attending or Bible-believing family, but then by the same token we work with birth parents who specify that they would like their child placed with a Christian family.
p. 31

This notion of an inconsistency between, on the one hand, being willing to place children with parents who disagree with an adoption agency’s religious beliefs while, on the other hand, refusing to place them with same-sex couples is something that Ms Hale pursued with Mr. Christopher Meney from the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney; it can be refuted in a couple of ways. The first way is to note that two wrongs do not make a right, and it’s better to be inconsistently good than to be consistently bad. The second is to note that family structure pertains to natural reason, whereas the faith beliefs of the members of that structure pertain to Revelation. It seems to me that one can appeal to the principle of double effect here: by placing a child in a (natural, mother-and-father) family of a different religious denomination the adoption agency abides by the natural law while merely permitting the undesirable effect of the child being brought up in a different denomination (which will be the lesser evil if there are no alternative potential adoptive parents belonging to the agency’s own religious denomination). But one can never do what is intrinsically evil, even if one imagines procuring a greater good thereby, and putting a child in a pseudo-family whose fundamental structure defies the natural law seems to me to intrinsically evil. I would be interested to here readers’ thoughts on this apparent inconsistency.

I found the following extract interesting for its affirmation of the particular importance of fatherhood and motherhood rather than mere ‘co-parenthood’:

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Professor Kim Oates, who was the Chief Executive Officer of the Children's' Hospital at Westmead and a team of professionals from that hospital produced a publication in 2005 titled "The complete parenting guide: caring for the young child from toddler to teenager". The research was overseen by Professor Oates. A section of that publication deals with mothering and fathering, and it states:
But modern fathers are more involved with their children than fathers of many previous generations were and are able to offer their children their particular gifts.
The sentence I was you to focus on states:
The importance of a father's contribution to his children's health and wellbeing should never be underestimated.
Here we have an expert, the chief executive officer of the Westmead Hospital, and a number of professional experts from that hospital acknowledging what appears to be a fundamental importance of fathers and fatherhood in the raising and raring of children. They say that it "should never be underestimated". From your experience over many years of facilitating adoptions of children in New South Wales, do you agree with that statement?
Ms PALMER: Yes, I agree with that.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Can one simply turn it around and say the same with respect to mothers and children with regard to the fundamental importance of having a mother with respect to the raising and rearing of a child?
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: There is a fundamental complementarity between those two.
Ms WEST: That is the important thing: the fundamental complementarity and that both sexes bring something different to parenting that we in our practice value but also see in good outcomes for children.
pp. 33-34

Now I come to the interrogation of Mr. Meney. The following extract from his opening remarks provides an excellent summary of the case against same-sex adoption:

The reality is that birth parents choose the adoptive parents and they unequivocally choose adoptive parents in stable heterosexual family situations. Considering legislative change, without a body of longitudinal research to understand its full implication and without any obvious need, is not warranted nor is it in a child's best interest. There is significant evidence to support adoptive children being placed with married couples when such couples are available and willing to welcome these children. Married couples tend to place a high value oncommitment and fidelity, which provides a safe and loving environment to children. Empirical studies, as well as the wealth of our collective human experience, has shown a distinctive—and distinctively valuable—benefitthat women give to children as mothers and men to them as fathers.
Every society before our own has privileged heterosexual marriage as the place for the upbringing of children because this has been sought and found to be the best situation for all concerned. To propose alternative models of family and parenting is to be willing to experiment on children not for their own benefit, and to be willing to dispense with the accumulated wisdom and experience of millennia. Some experts and professional associations have claimed equivalence between married heterosexual parenting and same-sex couples, but this claim remains unproven. The studies to date have generally been undertaken by same-sex parenting advocates and they all suffer from serious methodological problems.
In a review of 14 studies of homosexual parenting, Belcastro et al reported that:
All of the studies lacked external validity. The conclusion that there are no significant differences in children raised by lesbian mothers versus heterosexual mothers is not supported by the published research database.
Lerner and Nagai, in the 49 empirical studies that they reviewed, concluded:
The methods used in these studies is so flawed that these studies prove nothing. Therefore they should not be used in legal cases to make any argument about "homosexual" versus "heterosexual" parenting.
Professor Nock before the Attorney General of Canada said:
Through this analysis I draw my conclusions that all the articles I reviewed contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution, and not a single one of those studies was conducted according to general accepted standards of scientific research.
A 2003 paper from the Australian Institute of Family Studies confirms the lack of evidence: Much of the available research has involved small, unrepresentative samples that are predominantly well educated, middle class and American. The degree, to which results reflect sampling biases of the research, and their applicability in the Australian context, are thus difficult to evaluate.
It would be unwarranted and deeply unfair to place children in same-sex parenting situations when its equivalence with married heterosexual parenting has not yet been established and the evidence base is so lacking, particularly with respect to longitudinal studies.
p. 37

I thought that Mr. Meney handled the following question particularly deftly:

The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: If you take the situation of a Supreme Court judge or a High Court judge in a long-term gay relationship, are we seriously saying that that person could never be a fit and proper person, in the best interests of a child, to adopt?
Mr MENEY: We are seriously saying that, no matter how committed that couple are to one another, they could never mother that child, and to place a child in that circumstance would be an injustice to that child.
p. 43

Ms Hale brought up the alleged inconsistency that I mentioned earlier:

Ms SYLVIA HALE: You say on page 2, and you repeated it earlier today, that Catholic Care's adoption service is available to all potential birth parents and adoptive parents regardless of race, faith and/or creed and it is then summed up in a vision statement. Does this mean that at the moment Catholic Care would be quite happy to facilitate adoption by a couple that practised birth control, or were not married or who disputed such doctrines as papal infallibility? Would those religious beliefs impact on whether Catholic Care proceeded with an adoption?
Mr MENEY: They are not the sorts of things that are normally part of the discussion process between adoptive parents and the agency.
Ms SYLVIA HALE: You say they are not normally part of the discussion process yet you say they are matters of fundamental belief that are sufficiently important in the UK to prevent agencies participating in the process. Here in Australia you turn a blind eye to them because you say it is in the best interests of the child that they be adopted. It just seems to me there is something of an inconsistency.
Mr MENEY: I think you are comparing apples with oranges when you talk about what happens in the UK because there is an inability to comply with the law and so they had to withdraw their services from an area.
Ms SYLVIA HALE: But if the law were to change here and no religious exemption applied you would be facing the same situation.
Mr MENEY: A similar situation, yes, that is correct.
Ms SYLVIA HALE: I am trying to ask how you would respond in the light of your apparent not taking into account fundamental issues of belief when you are facilitating the adoption process through Catholic Care at the moment.
Mr MENEY: There are a whole range of things that the Catholic Church holds to be true and important and many things about how people should live their lives and be able to flourish as persons, but we do not advocate that they necessarily be mandated under the law.
Ms SYLVIA HALE: So why do you select whether a couple is gay or not as the absolute stumbling block?
Mr MENEY: It is not the absolute stumbling block. It is one item that directly relates to ensuring that the best interests of a child in terms of ability to flourish as a person are always taken care of. We believe that the situation that most enables that to happen is the placement of a child with a married couple who are committed to one another for life and that to place a child who is in an extremely vulnerable situation in another arrangement that is different from that is not doing justice to that child. So we are unable to embark on that process because we would see that as an unjust process that is not in the interests of the child.

Then Ms Hale starts talking about what it means to be a man or a woman:

Ms SYLVIA HALE: So to you the gender of the parties is more important than the commitment or the quality of the commitment between the parties?
Mr MENEY: What is most important is the ability of the parties to deliver what is in the interests of the child in terms of the ability to provide a mother and a father and to enable mothers to mother and fathers to father. I think it is a long stretch to suggest that fathers can mother or that mothers can father, and that is where the child's best interests are going to be compromised in that situation.
Ms SYLVIA HALE: Do you have philosophically a conception of what is the quintessential mother and what is the quintessential father and never the twain shall meet? My understanding is that human sexuality
is more or less along a spectrum and that people at either end of the spectrum share qualities with people at the other end of the spectrum and it is impossible to say that this is a mother, other than biologically having had a child, and this is a father. How do you distinguish between the mother and the father?
Mr MENEY: I think there are substantial differences between men and women. I think what men can offer as fathers in terms of their ability and their influence on children are well documented in the evidence, and I have represented some of those in the report. Similarly, mothers raising children and caring for infants and how they respond to difficult times. The nature of sexuality being some sort of continuous spectrum is a much put about notion but one which is ideologically driven. There are certainly circumstances in which people may have attributes of either sex but that is not the case where you have a continuous spectrum of sexuality as such.
p. 40

But if I were Mr. Meney I would simply have turned the question back on Ms Hale and said “Well you tell me, Ms Hale, you belong to the Greens, you’re a big supporter of so-called ‘sex affirmation (!) surgury’; if there’s no big difference between men and women and their respective attributes then why do you support the government funding people to undergo operations for giving them bodies that match their own perceived attributes? If someone thinks that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body, then on what basis does he make this judgment if gender is just one big spectrum and there’s no such thing as masculinity and femininity?” Admittedly though, some of the pro-family speakers were vague about precisely why it is that fatherhood and motherhood—as complements, not substitutes—are of such great importance.

Mr. Donnelly went on to help Mr. Meney with the following questions, reiterating the importance of fatherhood and motherhood:

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: In your testimony you refer to fathering and mothering of a child as being important, not just in the context of the doctrines and the views of the Catholic Church but—and this is where they are not at odds with each other—the social science of mothering and fathering and what that social science shows us. I would like to take you to a quote from Michael Lamb, who is recognized internationally as the pre-eminent expert on the role of fathers. I want to specifically quote from the fourth edition of his well known book The Role of Fathers in Child Development. Dr Lamb says:
Now that researchers have amassed a solid body of evidence regarding the benefits of positive father involvement for children's wellbeing, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers are eager to link scientific findings to initiatives and programs designed to enhance and support a commitment of fathers to their young children.
What Michael Lamb is saying there is that there is a wealth of information about the role of fathers and the positive contribution that fathers make to the wellbeing of the development and rearing of children. In the research that you have done in looking at this area, is that statement consistent with what you have seen as to the role of fathers?
Mr MENEY: I do not think there would be an academic body anywhere in the world now that would seriously debate that fathers are not vital in terms of outcomes for kids. I think all the sociological effects if
you look at what happens in urban environments, rural environments, the outcomes for kids as a result of not having fathers in the home indicate that that is against their best interests; they do worse on a whole range of parameters. Granted, much of that research is looking at heterosexual family situations which have broken up, or fathers who have not assumed their responsibilities as fathers to raise their children and have walked away from them. But the absence of the father figure has a deleterious effect on outcomes for kids.
The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: Would the same apply to the mother? When one looks at same-sex adoption, one is also looking at two men adopting a child. Would your views be the same in relation to the female mother component not being present in the relationship?
Mr MENEY: The contributions of mothers and fathers are both vital, but the effects that result from not having a mother are different from the effects that result from not having a father.
p. 42

An example of a speaker who stumbled when explaining the importance of fatherhood and motherhood was Mr. Damien Tudehope from Family Voice Australia; fortunately, though, Mr. Donnelly came to his aid:

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Thank you for coming today to provide additional information to this inquiry. At this stage I do not want to specifically question you on your submission, but I take you to a couple of statements I would like you to respond to because they deal with the issue that you were endeavouring to grapple with in your discussion with Ms Hale. I refer to some commentary by Dr William Pollock, the Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. It is a secular university. This is not a case of religious ideology, religious perspective, coming to bear; this is a clinical professor at a secular university. His well-known book was published in 1999. Chapter 6 deals with the issue of fathers and sons and the relationship between the two. He started the chapter by referring to the special role of fathers, and the first words are:
Fathers are not male mothers. Interactions between fathers and sons are, as we know, crucially important in a boy's life.
Regarding the comment about fathers not being male mothers, or that fathers are not mothers, from your research does the phrase come up often that researchers comment on in relation to the nature of manhood and fatherhood compared to women and motherhood?
Mr TUDEHOPE: Absolutely. The objective studies relating to it relate to absent fathers arising as a result of breakdown of marriage. A lot of my experience relating to Family Law matters, where fathers become absent and then, in those circumstances, the impact on children arising from that, is that the material would seem to indicate that the effect on those children is that they suffer serious issues relating to their performance at school, there are serious delinquency issues relating to the absence of the father, and generally those children do not do nearly as well as families where the father is present.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: In the chapter "Real Boys", he deals with the issue, for example, of the nature of play and how fathers play with their children differently from the way in which mothers engage with their children.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: It states that with respect to the fathers, play tends to be more vigorous with boys, and forces a boy to learn to read their father's emotions. It is through that exchange of watching how the father reacts to boisterous play that the son learns to understand human emotion. He gives some detail in examining that. Are these the types of subtle matters that you were alluding to in your discussion with Ms Hale? That these things are not completely measurable in specific time, distance or quantity, but rather go to the whole issue of human nature?
Mr TUDEHOPE: I tried to do it badly, I suppose, in relation to the way I read to my children. The example that you used in relation to play is an excellent example. There is no doubt that women play with their children, men play with their children, but they do it in different ways.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Perhaps I will switch from that example to Dr Bruce Robinson. Once again I am talking about a secular university, the University of Western Australia [UWA]. Dr Robinson heads the Fathering Project at UWA. His book, released last year, was entitled Daughters and their Dads. In that book he looked through 2,000 published articles that deal with the issues of gender, fatherhood and daughters, and more than 40 books. He also conducted research that he converted into the book, including 400 interviews across 15 countries. He examined what came out of those sets of interviews. Under the heading "Why the father/daughter relationship is important" he wrote:
There is an incredible power in the father/daughter relationship, a power which strongly influences a woman's future for good or bad. Girls long for affection and affirmation from their fathers. The influence that fathers have on their daughters is profound and lasts for the whole of their lives and it creates a hole in their lives if it is absent … Many published studies have confirmed the powerful effect that fathers have on daughters with few dissenting voices.
The footnote gives 10 academic references. Would it be consistent with your submission that there is fundamentally a difference in the nature between manhood and womanhood and in terms of that nature when it comes to the rearing and nurturing of a child that really that is the optimal arrangement that the State should continue to honour as the arrangements for the adoption of children in this State?
Mr TUDEHOPE: Absolutely. If you accept that that is the optimal arrangement—and I submit that it is—the position of public policy in relation to the way we deal with and create legislation is that the onus is on us for the benefit of children to create the optimal situation. I put this to you: Assuming that there were competing couples, one a gay couple and one a heterosexual couple, both of whom sought to adopt a child, noone could tell me for one moment that there is not a difference between the two couples. There is a difference. If we are asking what is the difference, it is fundamentally observable that one provides a different model of family than the other. In the interests of the children the best one to choose, and what public policy ought to choose, is to say that the one we would support is the mother and the father role.
What I would like to say is this. I remember in 1975 when we were considering amendments to the Family Law Act all those that were suggesting that divorce had no impact on children, and there were lots of studies that showed that children cope overwhelmingly well with divorce. It was one of the reasons why government pushed a no-fault divorce scheme—it was an adult-centred arrangement. Since then the bulk of evidence has been that divorce is not good the kids. If today we are saying we are going to amend adoption arrangements, are we going to go down the same track and say that same-sex adoptions have no impact on children? Because there is nothing that says that it does not have an impact on children.

Now we move on to Day Two of the public hearings. One of the day’s speakers was none other than Dr. Damien W. Riggs, who identifies himself as

speaking as one of the authors of the Australian Psychological Society's literature review on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parented families, and I speak with their permission.
p. 8

I found his views on questioning the ‘politics’ of research quite interesting:

The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: Please be assured that I am not in any way prejudiced in relation to whether it is a heterosexual couple, a gay couple or a lesbian couple. My paramount consideration is the child. I am a lawyer by occupation, not a scientist or a researcher. I have real difficulty because one group or person talks about one body of evidence that says one complete extreme and then another group or body of evidence gives the other complete extreme; each attacks the other on the basis that their evidence or scientific research is flawed. You are in this area and clearly this is your specialty. Where does someone like me go with this? How do I distinguish between your evidence compared to someone else's?
Dr RIGGS: Thank you, I think it is a wonderful question. I am sorry that we got embroiled earlier talking about scientific methods and scrutiny because that takes us away from the point you raise, which is essentially about the welfare of children. If we look at this as a battle over the ideological positions of two different parties, we need to look at who has the power to have their voice heard the most. The reality is that the dominant position or perhaps the current legislation is the one that is most likely to be holding sway at the moment.
p. 12

I find that incredible; a pro-sodomite academic is the Australian Psychological Society’s semi-official spokesman, and he thinks it’s the anti-sodomite academics who have the upper hand?! Knowing that in fact it is the pro-sodomite forces that are dominant in academia, it is interesting to apply Dr. Riggs’ principles to the research that Dr. Jenni Millbank later cites in favour of gay adoption.

It was good to see Mr. Donnelly notice the relationship between legislating for gay adoption and what will no doubt be future demands for legal recognition for more than two parents per child (Mr. Boers in the following extract is Mr. Paul Boers, Solicitor and Director of Inner City Legal Centre):

The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Why cannot three adults in New South Wales come together in a unit or a house and describe themselves as being on a domestic basis and that not be acknowledged by the law? What is wrong with that?
Mr BOERS: It can in a way but in what I described as the second-best scenario, if you like.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: That is your opinion.
Mr BOERS: I will give you an example.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Hang on, that is second best—you speak for yourself—but these two women and this man want to live in a bona fide domestic relationship under the one roof.
Mr BOERS: I have not explained what I meant by the second best scenario. And I think I used that characterisation previously. Prior to the changes to section 60H of the Family Law Act the only way to confer parental responsibility upon a person in a legal vacuum was with parenting orders. The parenting orders is what I mean by the second best offering. It gives you the parental responsibility; it does not make you a legal parent. In cases of the co-parenting arrangement, which you have described, the advice I give is to apply for parenting orders.
I have had situations where I have assessed people in three-way parenting arrangements. Most recently through the legal centre, I had a gay male couple and a single woman, and the three of them agreed to co parent.
They achieved the parental responsibility between the three of them through consent orders made in the Family Court. That was a relatively straightforward process. I would agree, from a legal, technical perspective, with what you are saying with the amendments that you have proposed to the definition. That would confer the status of legal parent amongst all three parties—
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Which would be important for that family?
Mr BOERS: Yes.
The Hon. JOHN AJAKA: To what age—18 only, or forever?
Mr BOERS: The parental responsibility is exercised until age 18. When a child becomes an adult the parents cease to have authority over the child. The only reservation—maybe that is not the right word—the advice that I give for couples coming to us, or with a donor proposing a three-way arrangement, one thing I always ask is, "Have you had any discussions about how you are going to make the parenting arrangements work? How are you going to exercise that parental responsibility between you? How are you going to make the decisions? I always think it is a good idea that people get counselling to work out all these issues before they go through with a three-way parenting arrangement, because I would imagine that it can get a bit awkward.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: It seems to me that your definition does not go far enough. If what you are saying is that we need to legislate reality, the reality could be two men wanting to live in a domestic relationship with a woman. Why should not that relationship be recognised in law, if that is the reality?
Mr BOERS: I agree. I must confess, I was not expecting this angle. But I do not disagree with what you are saying.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: That is consistent with the legal positivist view you put forward: that we legislate to reflect the reality? That is essentially your submission, is it not?
Mr BOERS: That is right.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: That being the case—that the notion of best interest debate and paramountcy is superfluous in some sense, in that arguably that debate should happen before we look at thisissue—what you are doing is that you are taking a positivist view of saying we should reflect reality in the law and superimposing on that the discussion about the best interest, so you get a fit. In effect, that is what you are doing. The best interest debate should be taking place prior to, and looking at properly and objectively, the competing views about what is in the best interests of the child: looking at the laws, looking at sociology, looking at psychology, looking at psychiatry—the very best information we can get to establish what is in the best interests of the child.
Mr BOERS: But is that not always going to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis?
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: But as members of Parliament what we are challenged to do in this inquiry is to look not at individual cases but at the law of the State, which applies to the whole of New South Wales. So we are not legislating for individuals.
pp. 25-26

Note also the important point that Parliament deals, not with individual cases, but with the law of the whole State.

I’ll finish with a quotation from a lesbian ‘co-parent’, Ms Tanya Sale:

Ms SALE: I think it has to be understood here that we are not anti-men. Trust me, we love them, but just not to marry them. We understand the importance of having a male in the children's lives. They are not surrounded by a mad bunch of females. There is a beautiful mixture here. A male is very important—we believe that—and that is why we have male role models in the children's lives.
p. 71

This is more evidence for my fundamental principle here: given that it is important that children have male role models (and, in the case of male ‘co-parents’, female role models), why not aim for the family structure that incorporates this need into its very foundation?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
4.III.2009 A.D.

On the N.S.W. Upper House Inquiry into same-sex adoption: the written submissions

Firstly I want to note how little attention this whole matter has received in the media. Every day of last week from Monday I read the print edition of The Daily Telegraph and the websites of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, and I found nothing on the story. Before writing this blog post I did a Google search and, after checking out the top seventy or so results, I found only a handful of mainstream media articles—one from The Australian that I must have missed (with its content apparently reproduced in the other Murdoch papers, except, oddly, Sydney’s own Daily Telegraph) and a couple of A.B.C. news articles, and that was about it. I don’t whether the commercial T.V. networks covered the story but I strongly doubt it (let me know in the combox if they did).

Now to the written submissions that the Inquiry received. The Inquiry’s website has posted a selection of a couple of dozen out of the more than two hundred received, and I encourage you to check them out. I’ll begin by looking at those written in support of the proposal. I’ve downloaded and read a few for the proposal and a few against, and I’ll start with the submissions written by supporters of the proposal. Ranking first in infamy must surely be two organisations that are supposed to be at the front line of defending and promoting the welfare of children, the Council of Social Services N.S.W. (N.C.O.S.S.) and the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (A.C.W.A.). N.C.O.S.S.’s submission was particularly interesting. In its introductory section, providing background on the matter, it implicitly acknowledges that the promotion of children’s welfare was not the driving force behind this move—rather, it was the simple fact that, rightly or wrongly (wrongly, I contend), more and more same-sex couples are acquiring children:

There are increasing numbers of same-sex couples who have children and who want to have children in the future. Gay couples are using surrogacy to enable them to have children and lesbian couples are seeking assisted or self insemination. This means that there will be an increasing number of families where the same-sex partner will want to be recognised as their child’s parent through adoption. And, as with opposite-sex couples, there will be same-sex couples who are unable to have children and who will want to adopt a child as a couple.
p. 4
So clearly this whole proposal is, at least in its origins, more about the homosexuals than the children.

Offensive though it is, the support of welfare groups for same-sex adoption was, unfortunately, pretty predictable. Quite surprising, though, was what Dr. Damien W. Riggs had to say in his submission. Surprising would probably be an understatement, actually. Dr. Riggs says some incredible things, incredible even by the consistently mind-boggling standards of the Sodomite’s League. His submission is only two pages, and I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing if you want to begin to understand the thinking of the G.L.B.T. intelligentsia. (Curiously, when one goes to download the document one would infer that it is some kind of official statement from the Australian Psychological Society (A.P.S.), yet judging from the document itself it is unclear whether it offers the official position of the A.P.S. or just Dr. Riggs’ own thoughts). The submission is drawn from a book by Dr. Riggs, and the book’s title is enough to start the alarm bells ringing: it is called Becoming Parent [sic!]: Lesbians, Gay Men and Family. Furthemore, Dr. Riggs says that

Whilst empirical evidence continues to demonstrate the suitability of lesbians and gay men as parents and the positive outcomes for their children, it is also important that we question the very terms upon which existing stereotypes or myths are made.
p. 2
So this man is clearly some kind of positivist/constructivist. He goes on to question several of these ‘myths’, in the course of which he asks

How may lesbian or gay headed households potentially challenge gender norms or provide a space for children to develop their own relations to, or critiques of, gender norms? In this sense, lesbian- or gay-headed households may be an important place where children of a range of gender identities can develop a positive sense of self.
Watch it, Riggsy—if the kids start doing their own ‘gender norm critiquing’ you might be out of a job! Dr. Riggs then goes on to examine a third ‘myth’:

Myth #3: Lesbian and gay parents are ‘radicals’ or ‘militants’ who try to recruit people, or who teach their children to be lesbian or gay. Lesbian and gay parents thus interfere with the ‘normal development’ of children.

This type of argument against lesbian and gay parents is one that encourages lesbians and gay men to decry any involvement in politics or advocacy. This can result in a denial of some of the very concrete reasons for why advocacy or ‘radicalism’ may be necessary. For example, and as research on domestic violence has long demonstrated, a significant proportion of women continue to suffer abuse in the context of heterosexual relationships. For some women, this may result in the choice of lesbianism as a viable alternative to remaining in heterosexual relationships. ...
p. 3
So far from allaying our concerns about radical lesbians, Dr. Riggs inflames them! It’s good of him to take his positivism to its logical conclusion though—in the face of gays and lesbians defending themselves by arguing that their sexual (dis)orientation is not of their choosing, he acknowledges that homosexuality can be a free choice. Most amazing, though, is how Dr. Riggs’ deals with his last myth:

Myth #5: Lesbians and gay men lead transient lives with multiple sexual partners and show a lack of regard for long-term monogamous relationships. As such, they are unable to provide children with stability or safety in a family environment.

This final argument against lesbians and gay men who parent can be challenged in two distinct ways. First, we can make reference to the extensive literature on lesbian families (in particular), which shows that children raised in such families actually experience many positive outcomes that arise precisely from the specific forms of family created by lesbians that are indeed very stable and nurturing.

The second response to accusations of instability focuses on the terms employed in the accusation itself: the presumption is that having more than one partner over the life course is inherently detrimental to children. This denies the ways in which children are often very robust in their responses to change, and denies the positive benefits that children may gain from interacting with the many differing adults who come in and out of all children’s lives. Rather than focusing on presumption about what could impact upon children negatively (for which the list is endless), it is more appropriate to focus on things that do support children, namely caring relationships that respect children’s right to knowledge as active participants in the families that they are part of.
p. 3
There are a few things to note in this nonsense. The first is the focus on lesbian parents; but what about gay male ‘co-parents’? Given that even heterosexual men have a worse reputation for infidelity than women, what of homosexual men, who are notorious for their promiscuity? Mr. Muehlenburg, in this post, noted that a recent Dutch study found “that homosexual men with a “steady partner” have 8 casual sexual partners a year.” Furthermore, it is bizarre that Dr. Riggs speaks of “specific forms of family created by lesbians”, when the mantra of the same-sex adoption advocates is supposed to be that family structure are irrelevant.

But the second paragraph is simply stunning; incredibly, Dr. Riggs speaks of

the positive benefits that children may gain from interacting with the many differing adults who come in and out of all children’s lives.
So for Dr. Riggs, children having to live through a string of mummy’s or daddy’s paramours is a good thing! Far from refuting the contention that same-sex couples are more unstable than opposite-sex couples, he celebrates their instability! What planet is this man on?! Yet apparently he is in good enough standing with the A.P.S. to act as some kind of quasi-spokesman for it. I have now lost all respect for the psychological profession. What a bunch of quacks.

The topic of multiple parents brings us to the submission from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. Now this disgraceful organisation’s very name ought to be enough to discredit it—this is a matter of children’s rights, not parents rights; indeed, N.S.W. adoption law affirms that there is no right to adopt. But let’s not shoot the messenger; let’s see what this Lobby has to say. Its submission was by far the biggest as far as I can tell, yet its effectiveness was in inverse proportion to its size. The document was, naturally, strong on the detail of exactly how the law needs to be changed in order to achieve the Lobby’s aims, yet pitifully weak on explaining why the those aims should be accepted—a mere three pages out of a total of forty-eight were devoted to making its case that same-sex parents are no worse than opposite-sex parents. I encourage you to read the three pages for yourself, pages 29-31; I fail to see how an impartial observer could find this convincing beyond reasonable doubt that same-sex parents are no worse than opposite-parents. Surely it would have benefited them to include lengthier quotations from the supposedly ‘overwhelming’ body of research in favour of same-sex parenting. The best the Lobby can do is point out the automatic materialistic benefits that would flow from recognition of same-sex parents, such as inheritance rights; the non-material side of things seems secondary to this organisation. And have a look at some of the other assertions it makes when comparing same- and opposite-sex parent families:

In some cases, children parented by same-sex couples have even demonstrated better development outcomes than those raised in other family structures. Some research suggests that children benefit from seeing a more equitable division of paid and unpaid domestic labour characteristic of same-sex partnerships. Chidlren may also develop more empathetic attitudes towards other social difference [sic]. Lesbian and gay parents have also been found to use less physical discipline than other parents.
pp. 29-30
Well if division of household labour is so important (!) why stop at two parents? Why not have one to take care of the front yard, one to take care of the back yard, and one to cover each room of the house! That sounds a bit silly does it? Not necessarily, according to this Lobby: Multi-parent adoption
One suggestion has been consideration of whether multi-parent adoption could be desirable. This would given an ‘opt-in’ mechanism for a third (or fourth) parent to adopt their child where the existing legal parent(s) consent. There is one reported case of a three-parent adoption being granted by the Court of Appeal in Ontario, Canada for a child with two mothers and one father. In that case, the lesbian co-mother was legally recognised as a parent to the child in addition to (rather than replacing, as in step-parent adoption) the existing biological mother and father. p . 39

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby wants a future inquiry called to look into its suggestions for the complete demolition of the two-parent family. No longer can my thesis about the substitutes vs. complements views of parents be dismissed—the Sodomites’ League is now openly canvassing the absurd possibility of a child having three or more ‘co-parents’. It looks like the slide into the abyss is only beginning.

As for the submissions written against the proposal to extend recognition of same-sex ‘co-parents’, the Archdiocese of Sydney’s submission was one of the biggest, and a strong one at that. It cites some interesting studies that have found that in fact children of same-sex co-parents are more likely to be homosexual, more likely to cross-dress and more likely to be promiscuous. Its brief section 17 is worth quoting in full:

17. In contrast [to the values of heterosexuals], in the first edition of his book in defence of same-sex marriage, ‘Virtually Normal’, homosexual advocate and intellectual Andrew Sullivan wrote:

“There is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman.”

One recent university study of civil unions revealed that 79 percent of heterosexual married men and women reported that they strongly valued sexual fidelity. In comparison, only about 50 percent of gay men in civil unions valued sexual fidelity.
Other sources are also cited as evidence of the greater infidelity of homosexuals relative to heterosexuals (though I suppose that those in the G.L.B.T. intelligentsia like Dr. Riggs won’t regard this as a big deal).

Importantly, the Catholic submission highlights the particular importance of the role of fathers, especially for girls (though it by no means fails to acknowledge the importance of mothers); naturally, the Fatherhood Foundation’s submission points this out too, as well as drawing attention to the greater prevalence of lifestyle and health problems among homosexuals.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the Catholic submission highlights, with supporting evidence, the methodological problems that are often acknowledged to plague empirical studies that have produced results favouring same-sex co-parents. To read the Sydney Archdiocese’s submission is to be left with serious doubts about whether it is in children’s best interests ever to place them with homosexuals, even if the only alternative is the orphanage. The Australian Family Association’s submission was shorter than the Catholic one, but good for its length, supporting the Catholic position that, based on the available research, it is impossible to make firm conclusions about the desirability of same-sex parents.

I’ll conclude by mentioning something pointed out by the Children’s Rights Council of Australia, namely, the poor timing of the inquiry, with the time for submissions spanning the festive period. Was this impulse for this Inquiry really so urgent that it couldn’t wait till the new year was in full swing?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
4.III.2009 A.D.

On the N.S.W. Upper House Inquiry into same-sex adoption: first principles

Before I examine some of the submissions to the Inquiry and the transcripts of the Inquiry’s public hearings I will state here the basic principles underpinning my analysis. These are principles with which any man or women of good will—including homosexuals—ought to be able to agree.

1. All else equal, a child is better off being reared by a mother and a father than by ‘two mums’ or ‘two dads’ because even the homosexuals (such as here) acknowledge that a child needs balanced, first-hand exposure to members of both sexes, and the mother-father parenthood structure provides this exposure most stably and enduringly, for the obvious reason that both sexes are represented in the relationship.

2. Given the ceteris paribus assumption in 1., it is fair to ask how likely it is that all else—such as the health and virtue of the parents and the stability and longevity of their relationship—will indeed be equal. Evidence available from pro-homosexual organizations such as the A.I.D.S. Council of New South Wales (ACON) indicates (see its 2006-07 Annual Report) that same-sex relationships are more likely than opposite-sex relationships to involve debilitating acquired diseases, drug abuse, mental illness and domestic violence. As to the stability and longevity of same-sex relationships, same-sex relationships appear to be less stable and enduring than opposite-sex ones—see the data and observations cited here, for instance. So even if we suppose that an adoption agency faces a choice between a same-sex couple and a opposite-sex couple whose members are equally healthy and virtuous (though obviously I reject that a same-sex couple can ever be virtuous, of course) and who have been together for a long time, the likely future prospects for the opposite-sex couple will be better than for the same-sex couple.

3. To assert, as pro-same-sex-adoption advocates argue, that family structure is irrelevant, is to call in question not only the superiority of the mother-father structure, but also whether the number of parents should even be limited to two. Indeed, if, as is implicit in the case for same-sex adoption, mothers and fathers are not complements but substitutes, one might even imagine that children’s outcomes could improve as the number of ‘co-parents’ increase! Yet no-one hears gay adoption advocates calling for the abandonment of the two-parent model altogether. So if, one way or another, we are going to be ‘arbitrary’ and ‘normative’ (though obviously I reject that the mother-father model is arbitrary), then why not stick to the model that has served society well hitherto?

Reginaldvs Cantvar
4.III.2009 A.D.