Gov. McDonnell Says Marriage Equality Should Be Left To The States, But Claims Gays Make Inferior Parents

ThinkProgress.org, by Igor Volsky, February 24, 2012

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said that he respected Maryland’s right to decide the issue of marriage equality, just one day after that state passed legislation same-sex marriage. “The beauty of our regulators under the 10th amendment…is that states are the laboratories are democracy and innovation and they have the freedom to make different choices,” he said during a Politico forum this morning with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). “Martin and I have different views on this issue, on others, but that’s what’s great about having 50 states.”

But when O’Malley responded by suggesting that the well-being of children informed his own evolution towards marriage equality — “we concluded that it was not right and not just that the children of gay parents should homes that are protected in a lesser way under the law than other children,” he said — McDonnell remained unconvinced, insisting that gays and lesbians make worse parents than heterosexual couples and should thus be the last to adopt children:

MCDONNELL: Most of the data that I’ve read that the best environment for a child to grow up to be fully capable of achieving the American dream and having the best start at life in an intact two-parent family made up of a man and a woman. I would say that that’s what all the data would suggest…An intact two-parent family is in fact the best for our country. Should be the model, but when it doesn’t work we have safety nets.

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For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage

February 17, 2012
New York Times
By JASON DePARLE and

LORAIN, Ohio — It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.

Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.

Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still largely resists the trend: college graduates, who overwhelmingly marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

The forces rearranging the family are as diverse as globalization and the pill. Liberal analysts argue that shrinking paychecks have thinned the ranks of marriageable men, while conservatives often say that the sexual revolution reduced the incentive to wed and that safety net programs discourage marriage.

Here in Lorain, a blue-collar town west of Cleveland where the decline of the married two-parent family has been especially steep, dozens of interviews with young parents suggest that both sides have a point.

Over the past generation, Lorain lost most of two steel mills, a shipyard and a Ford factory, diminishing the supply of jobs that let blue-collar workers raise middle-class families. More women went to work, making marriage less of a financial necessity for them. Living together became routine, and single motherhood lost the stigma that once sent couples rushing to the altar. Women here often describe marriage as a sign of having arrived rather than a way to get there.

Meanwhile, children happen.

Amber Strader, 27, was in an on-and-off relationship with a clerk at Sears a few years ago when she found herself pregnant. A former nursing student who now tends bar, Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind. “It was like living with another kid,” she said.

When a second child, with a new boyfriend, followed three years later — her birth control failed, she said — her boyfriend, a part-time house painter, was reluctant to wed.

Ms. Strader likes the idea of marriage; she keeps her parents’ wedding photo on her kitchen wall and says her boyfriend is a good father. But for now marriage is beyond her reach.

“I’d like to do it, but I just don’t see it happening right now,” she said. “Most of my friends say it’s just a piece of paper, and it doesn’t work out anyway.”

The recent rise in single motherhood has set off few alarms, unlike in past eras. When Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a top Labor Department official and later a United States senator from New York, reported in 1965 that a quarter of black children were born outside marriage — and warned of a “tangle of pathology”— he set off a bitter debate.

By the mid-1990s, such figures looked quaint: a third of Americans were born outside marriage. Congress, largely blaming welfare, imposed tough restrictions. Now the figure is 41 percent — and 53 percent for children born to women under 30, according to Child Trends, which analyzed 2009 data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Still, the issue received little attention until the publication last month of “Coming Apart,” a book by Charles Murray, a longtime critic of non-marital births.

Large racial differences remain: 73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites. And educational differences are growing. About 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62 percent of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.

Almost all of the rise in nonmarital births has occurred among couples living together. While in some countries such relationships endure at rates that resemble marriages, in the United States they are more than twice as likely to dissolve than marriages. In a summary of research, Pamela Smock and Fiona Rose Greenland, both of the University of Michigan, reported that two-thirds of couples living together split up by the time their child turned 10.

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Gay adoption ban survives in Va. Senate

WAVY.com, February 17, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – With little debate, a Senate committee has endorsed a House-passed bill allowing private child placement agencies to deny adoptions for gays or others who offend their religious or moral teaching.

The measure heads to the Senate floor after an 8-7 party-line vote Friday in the Republican-dominated Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. The Senate has already approved a similar bill and sent it to the House.

Mindful of the earlier defeats and the inevitability of the same outcome, committee Democrats largely held their fire except for Sen. Mark Herring.

He told the bill’s patron, Del. Todd Gilbert, that it was a bad bill full of harmful consequences, both intended and unintended.

Virginia: Bill Allowing Adoption Restrictions Advances

February 10, 2012
New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The State Senate passed legislation on Thursday allowing private adoption agencies to deny placements that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, including opposition to homosexuality. The mostly party-line vote virtually ensures the Republican-backed bill will become law. The House has an identical bill, and Gov. Robert F. McDonnell says he will sign it. Virginia would become the second state with such a law, which supporters modeled after North Dakota’s. Senator Jeffrey L. McWaters said his bill protected the religious rights of private child placement agencies, including dozens that contract with the state. Opponents say agencies that contract with the state should not be allowed to discriminate. Senator Adam Ebbin, the only openly gay member of the General Assembly, said the bill would endanger gay and bisexual children by letting agencies place them with parents opposed to homosexuality.