Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What Americans Can Learn From France

The week before last, the Socialist government of French Prime Minister François Hollande completed its plan to shove through national legislation giving individuals with non-normative sexual tendencies the same status under French law as married men and women, including the right to adopt children. Shortly thereafter, Hollande’s “partner”,  Valerie Trierweiler, announced that she would attend the first official “wedding” arranged under the new law. 
This is nothing new. Hollande’s legislation makes France the world’s 14th nation to enshrine the non-normative sexual preferences of a tiny percentage of its population in the laws of its land.
What is news is that the French population is saying no. Better yet, the French people are saying no for the right reasons, and they have refused to back away from their resistance—despite the intervention of federal anti-riot police who have covered their demonstrations with tear gas and knocked down and dragged children by their necks from crowds, and despite the usual left-leaning coverage from the mainstream media that seeks to obfuscate the fundamental issues at stake in Hollande’s policy. With a level of political and physical determination that is shaking the Fifth Republic to its fundament, hundreds of thousands are demonstrating that they understand the future of their society and their children hinges on the truth concerning family and marriage.
Americans who are considering what is at stake in the current Supreme Court cases regarding marriage and the family, take note: A majority of French citizens oppose legalization in law of the unions of individuals with non-normative sexual tendencies and an even larger majority opposes adoption of children into the households they establish. They know why they oppose these arrangements, and they have decided that it is necessary to put themselves in harm’s way to oppose the enshrining of these policies in the law of their land.

For more than a month, buses and trainloads full of families and children have converged on Paris to demonstrate in what European newspapers are calling "without a doubt the largest public mvements in French history (Spectator of London, April 25). Their lead organization is La Manif Pour Tous, (Demonstrating for Everyone). Their slogans include "One Mother, One Father," "Two mothers, no father: That's not equal rights," "A Baby without a Father--That Can't Be Done," and "Justice for Children."
Across France, 14,900 mayors of municipalities have signed a public pledge of non-cooperation: They will perform marriage ceremonies only for men and women—that is, one of each—and will participate in no official actions to legally bind together two individuals with non-normative sexual tendencies.
The very existence of this French resistance movement reveals some fundamental truths on serious issues of law and justice—truths about marriage, family, and the rights of children under the law.
Americans should pay attention to what is happening in France. And Americans should understand the truth that has brought their French brother and sisters into the streets.
The truth is that:
1.    Same-sex attraction is not a normative inclination in the human individual. Precisely because it is non-normative, its existence constitutes a faulty ground to establish a norm for society as a whole.
2.    To legislate to enshrine non-normative inclinations in the laws of our society, threatens—in fact, guarantees—injustice under the law for all of those involved.  If we continue down the path that Hollande has paved in France, and that the U.S. Supreme Court is considering, there will be no end, except the end of what we now know as the rule of law. It is unreasonable to legislate on constitutional order in this fashion.
3. There is no justice for the adults in a relationship centered on non-normative same-sex attraction. 

Truth #1: Same-Sex Attraction Is Not Normative
Note that there is no ethical implication in this claim. No one is saying that people with same-sex tendencies are undesirable or evil. The affirmation is a simple statement of fact. Same-sex tendencies are present in men and women in a percentage fluctuating between 2% and 4%. To make the point clear, if you, the reader, show up late for work two times out of a hundred, it would be false for your manager to report up the line to your employer that you are normally late. You show up on time (98 out of 100 times), and your occasional tardiness is outside the norm.  Likewise, normally, men and women have a sexual tendency oriented towards the opposite gender. It is outside of the norm to have tendencies toward the same sex. This is simply a fact.

Non-normative tendencies are not limited to sexuality. Anorexia—a  non-normative tendency as regards food—is found in about 1-2% of the population, Bulimia in women—another non-normative tendency in relationship to food—is found in about 1-3% of all women. We say that these tendencies vis-à-vis food, are non-normative, because the universal tendency toward food normally does not incline in either manner. Anorexia and bulimia are outside the norm, not on account of a conventional social belief regarding whether anorexia is an acceptable tendency to be embraced and promoted, or a bad tendency to be despised. No, these tendencies in relationship to food are simply non-normative as a sociological and empirical fact. In the sexual realm, non-normative tendencies appear not only toward adults of the same gender. Some women have sexual tendencies that are heterosexual yet non-normative (nymphomania), or heterosexual, non-normative, and oriented towards minors (pedophilia), and so forth. Some sexual tendencies can be oriented towards both sexes (bisexuality). Other such non-normative examples abound. Same-sex attraction is merely one of many non-normative tendencies.

Men and women with non-normative tendencies are not therefore a special case or class or group which requires new laws and institutions. They are, like all of us, men and women dealing with the complexities of human desires and the passion for such ends. The sexual tendency is indeed a fluid and fragile thing. Non-normative tendencies are real and possible in many ways for all of us. But they are not matters for legislation.

The problem here is that if non-normative tendencies become the criteria for constitutional or state law, law itself will become biographical. The atomization of the law culminates in the inability for us to have fundamental rights, as human beings. Things are institutionalized after centuries in law and custom, because they are recognized as normative, and, in the case of marriage, as a good for society. The legal institution of marriage is the normalization of that which is de facto normative in man.

The French protestors correctly point out that, as the law is atomized in this process, another process accelerates: The precious genealogy of families, towns, cities, and the nation itself, is lost. As Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon, told the Times of London  “[The French] Parliament has decided to change the meaning of the word ‘marriage.’ For the people, it is a very violent thing to do.”

If we continue down that path, there will be no end, except the end of what we now know as the rule of law. It is unreasonable to legislate on constitutional order in this fashion.

Truth Number 2: Legislating for Same-Sex Unions and Adoption Is Unjust to Children

The protesters in France, typified by the La Manif Pour Tous (Demonstrating for Everyone) organization leading the Paris resistance, has pushed hardest on the issue of justice for the children. The cultural DNA of this historically Roman Catholic  nation is showing:  French men and women of all ages are in the streets rejecting the right to adopt children for individuals with non-normative sexual tendencies.

Here is what is at stake:

Children have an ius (debt in justice) from us all: a mother and a father. The need for two parents, one of each gender, is an unwritten need of the child, and one which, in justice, society cannot ignore. The same legal system that has condoned abortion now contemplates denying those that are allowed to be born a father and a mother. Having eliminated the first fundamental right, the right to life, in positive law, the legal system continues down that path, logically consistent and undeterred.

Our society is absolutely ignoring the right of each child to a father and a mother. Most can see the moral, social, and economic consequences of fathers and mothers abandoning the home. No one likes this. The family is breaking up and we are reaping the bitter fruit of these breakdowns in society. To now legislate for the institutionalized denial of a father and mother from birth, is to enshrine in law, that which from the outset is prejudicial, gravely disadvantageous, and unjust to children. To deny a father and a mother to some children by law, would be to institutionalize a situation, which in fact we are trying to, or should be trying to,  correct in our society.

Not to foresee the consequences of denying a child a father and mother is obtuse. One spark for the massive demonstrations now going on in France is the move by Hollande’s government, in a colossal display of just such obtuseness, to strip the very categories of “mother” and “father” from French law, legislating to replace these words in all official documents (birth certificates, school records, the laws themselves, and so forth) with the word “parent.” It is not a question of having two adults in a family; it is a question of having a father (male) and a mother (female). To not see the difference is to deny that gender per se exists, since the implicit claim is that gender makes no difference. Indeed, good nuns can raise children, but as even Mother Teresa always stated, their love and care cannot replace the father and the mother. Why would we normalize in law, something that is so hindering child development in our society--namely the absence of a father or a mother? To set in law the possibility for this to be the fate of a child from birth is clearly a violation of justice against that child.

Truth #3: There is No Justice for the Adults
Now, when human behavior is outside of the norm, we seek causes. We ask: Why is this non-normative behavior taking place? We don’t start making laws for an entire population based on the non-normative tendencies of a tiny segment of the population. 
We have a duty to ask: Why? Why is this taking place? What experiences are triggering and augmenting the non-normative behavior?

Unfortunately, the powerful lobby that claims to speak for American men and women with non-normative sexual tendencies is trying to keep anyone from asking or answering these questions. In California, for example, it is against the law for a private counselor or psychiatrist to counsel patients on the root cause of their non-normative sexual behaviors. This is contrary to simple justice. It ignores the fact that real suffering lurks in the background of most of these cases. To seek to impose normality and silence on the issue is an injustice, first and foremost against many who are experiencing non-normative sexual tendencies and who wish to speak and exercise their right to have adults and professionals listen to them.

Compassion obliges us to lend an ear, and many of us have found, while doing so, that much pain, tragedy, and sadness exists and is shared when these conversations take place. This used to be unanimously admitted among psychologists until this powerful lobby intimidated the profession.

Teenagers and adults, when free to speak regarding their same-sex non-normative tendencies, often reveal that they have experienced sexual trauma, sexual abuse, sexual violence, dysfunctional homes, improper relations with one or more of their parents and/or other trauma that were clearly major contributing factors to their non-normative behavior. Many live with other effects and behaviors which they themselves attribute to the non-normative behavior: depression, suicidal thoughts on a regular basis, hatred of self, drug and alcohol abuse, and so forth.

 If a woman is abused by a man or men at certain stages of her life, this experience is strong enough to affect her normative sexual inclination toward men. The causes may be varied. However, to deny them and pretend all is well—and not just well but institutionalize and solidify it as normative for all—is at best unreasonable. To teach in faculties of psychology that there is no issue here and that what is non-normative is to be ignored by all, is a tremendous injustice, and a method easily verifiable as false by anyone in the field of serving and counseling men, women, and especially teenagers. To sweep it all under the rug, pretend that there is no real human suffering in these cases is cowardly and bad counsel. Courts may “bless” it,  and push the normalization, but that does not take away the pain and real suffering of these men and women, who in many cases are being told to ignore that they have been victims of great moral and human abuse.

To direct society to decline to listen and discover the many cases in which these and other tragedies of the human condition are leading factors in the development of non-normative sexual tendencies, is an injustice to precisely the men and women that the powerful lobby keeping them from being helped claims falsely to be advocating for.

Parents should never offer their children the mantra “just embrace it.” They should ask why? Often parents do not know what their children have gone through in school and elsewhere. They should realize same-sex tendencies are non-normative and should inquire into the matter. This is not a hateful but a sensible approach. Asking why? often reveals great human tragedy.

Many in France are taking a stand, at great personal risk, to defend these truths about marriage and the family, and to challenge the socialist government of French President Francois Hollande for the injustice  it has and will cause by turning away from these truths. Here in the United States, our nation is on the verge of the same great error: Enshrining into law the non-normative behavior of the same-sex attraction tendency in an attempt to make perfectly normative without scientific or psychological basis something that is verifiably a source of suffering for so many.

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