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John Waters views on gay marriage. Clue: he’s not a fan, and it’s something to do with cycle lanes and wheel barrows. Seriously. August 4, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Religion, Social Policy.
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John Waters gives us his views on gay marriage on Friday. And to be honest I was a bit surprised. He certainly doesn’t varnish those views. This, perhaps, unwelcome bluntness does at least have the virtue of clarity. For the overall thrust of the piece is a telling insight into how far and how fast he has travelled to a position that I find it unlikely he would have held even fifteen years ago. Now maybe that’s unfair of me and that Waters would have resiled at the very notion of gay marriage in – say 1995, but maybe not. I liked the old John Waters, the John Waters I still remain a… well, yeah, the word fan isn’t necessarily too strong. That John Waters who had sensible stuff to say about the complexity of Irish society, the issue of stereotypes as regards conservatism and progressives, the role of the media and suchlike, would perhaps have been a little bit more relaxed about it. He sure ain’t relaxed these days…

The heading is… “Gay lobby mangles meaning of marriage”

And first target in his sights is Amnesty. Now here, oddly, I’m not entirely in disagreement with his analysis, albeit I think it shows the limitations of his approach.

WITHOUT ANYONE emphasising or questioning the shift, Amnesty International has gone in recent years from being an organisation devoted to the rights of prisoners-of-conscience in foreign jurisdictions to a lobby group concentrating selectively on ideological issues within the immediate jurisdictions in which it operates. I often wonder what its founders would have thought about this. I wonder, too, if people who stuff cash into the boxes of Amnesty’s street collectors are aware of the implications of what has occurred.

Of course the definition of ‘rights’ (for which read his ‘ideological issues’) is a contentious one at the best of times. He neglects to note that Amnesty retains its original remit. But it is true that as the concept of rights has developed so has the approach of those organisations which engage with that on a practical level. And in that context it seems to me to be entirely legitimate for the focus of campaigning organisations to change… and oddly… as regards John Waters view… but hold, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyhow, he continues…

Twenty years ago, the idea of Amnesty lecturing the Irish Government in partisan terms on a matter on which there is democratic controversy would have been inconceivable. The old-style Amnesty considered human rights too vital to be mixed up with everyday political argumentation within democratic societies.

I find his use of the term ‘democratic controversy’. He himself, as we shall see, doesn’t have any particular controversy as regards his own definition of matters. Quite the opposite. He knows what’s what. He knows when a wheelbarrow is a wheelbarrow… Wheelbarrows, you ask? Well, again, I’m getting ahead of myself. Read on.

Speaking at his organisation’s annual International Pride Lecture in Belfast on Tuesday, Amnesty Ireland’s executive director, Colm O’Gorman, criticised the Government’s Civil Partnership Bill on the basis that it would create “a second-class form of marriage for what the Government clearly feels is a second-class group of people”. The most serious weakness of the Bill, he said, is its failure to provide for the children of gay couples, “creating insecurity for families across the State”.

“A same-sex couple will not be allowed jointly adopt their children. Children raised by same-sex couples will be denied the same protection as other children because the Irish Government chooses not to acknowledge their existence and denies their rights. These children will be discriminated against because the Government has decided to discriminate against their parents.”

He condemned as “cowardly” this alleged failure to uphold “the rights of children” on the basis of “ill-informed arguments rooted in a bigotry that still exists in a small and increasingly marginalised section of Irish society”. He referred mysteriously to “scare stories” about “gay bogeymen coming to steal away children”.

“This is not about the right to marry,” O’Gorman said, but “about the right not to be discriminated against because of who you love. Failure to provide full marriage equality means that same-sex couples will not have full protection under the law.”

Of this Waters opines…

O’Gorman’s statement was laden with disingenuous constructions and weasel words. Amnesty is either arguing for gay marriage or it isn’t, but can’t have it both ways.

I’m not sure they are trying to have it both ways. I think O’Gorman is suggesting that marriage is also about issues such as love and protection. But I may well be wrong.

Waters considers that…

The Bill does not discriminate against gay couples any more than unmarried heterosexual couples can claim to be “discriminated against” for similar reasons. In not dealing with the adoption of children at all, the legislation might be said to discriminate, in accordance with public policy, against both categories by comparison with married couples, but this is a false comparison. And nor does the legislation discriminate against adopted children being brought up in gay unions any more than against adopted children being brought up by unmarried parents who are not gay. It does not deal with adoption at all. O’Gorman’s reference to “the right not to be discriminated against because of who you love” is a piety designed to fudge the issue and bully the public.

And he continues…

Without wishing to rehearse the arguments against either gay marriage or a generalised policy of enabling gay adoptions, it bears repeating that there is no “human right” to be married or to adopt children [he’s actually wrong, as a letterwriter to the IT yesterday noted the ‘right to marry’ is enshrined in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights]. Many people never get married and do not regard themselves as discriminated against. There are “human rights” at stake in the area of adoption, but they are not the ones Amnesty is focused on.

The gay lobby has made its case by mangling the meaning of terms such as “marriage” and “discrimination”, and by bullying with accusations of “homophobia” and “bigotry” anyone who refuses to acquiesce in the new definitions.

And then oddly, in view of the sentence, ‘without wishing to rehearse the arguments against either gay marriage…’ he does precisely that.

Marriage, a contract between a man and a woman, is an institution maintained by society for reasons having little or nothing to do with “love”. All men and all women have a right to marry, provided they wish to marry members of the opposite sex to whom they are not closely related by blood. Heterosexuals, like homosexuals, are prohibited from marrying people of their own sex. It is no more valid to allege wrongful discrimination in this context against gays than to argue that cycle lanes “discriminate” wrongfully against wheelbarrows.

Now that seems to me to be a remarkably tautological definition of marriage… and in particular the nature of the exercise of the rights… ‘Heterosexuals, like homosexuals, are prohibited from marrying people of their own sex’. Yeah, that’s true, but it’s missing the point big time. Heterosexuals don’t (in the main) want to marry people of their own sex. The relationships that the institution of marriage embraces are relationships of a fairly specific kind between two people that would appear to exclude two heterosexuals. I could say they’re sexual relationships, although that wouldn’t be sufficient, for how many marriages are sexual throughout the entirety of their lifetime. I could say they are about parenting, but then what of those who make a decision or are forced by circumstance not to parent. And so on. There’s an issue of intimacy, an issue of affection… or indeed ‘love’. And ‘love’ is a central aspect of marriage, or why else do we tend in this society feel a repulsion to the concept of the forced marriage? Easiest to say that marriage is a combination of the above. But look, there I am rehearsing some of the arguments for gay marriage.

The point is that he doesn’t explain anything. Marriage is a social institution that has many possible permutations. Any social institution can. Marriage could encompass anything a society wanted it to, or be as constrained and limited as it might wish. Societies come to their own definitions of it… some see marriage as being between one man and many women, others – noxiously – as between one man and what we would consider a child (consider marriage laws in some states) and so on.

His paragraph doesn’t offer us an essentialist reason why a man and a man, or a woman and a woman cannot marry. Indeed worse still, from his perspective, I can’t see how his ‘explanation’ really allows for a legitimation of a man and a woman marrying. I don’t want to say it’s all relative, but really, does his argument rise above that either?

And the wheelbarrows and cycle lanes argument seems to be the echo of a much older one dressed up… and one which ignores the point that there is nothing intrinsically impossible about a wheelbarrow using a cycle lane. It’s a convention.

I don’t know, perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but I also seem to see a new and also unwelcome tone in his descriptions of the ‘gay lobby’. He sees them as ‘hollering about bigotry and discrimination’, ‘bullying’ and extending that to his thoughts on O’Gorman, whose words are described as ‘disingenuous’, ‘weasel words’, ‘designed to bully’. The Bill he describes as going ‘all but the full distance in capitulating to the gay lobby’. ‘Capitulating’? Strong stuff. I’m sure that’s far from the worst that’s been thrown at the ‘gay lobby’, but for the high-priest of transcendence in almost all matters both temporal and spiritual to be making such… negative comments… well, it’s quite a let-down.

Having said that there’s no point in pretending that there aren’t very very different views within the society on this taken by sincere people. However, that those views are different, that there is ‘democratic controversy’ doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have viewpoints expressed by those with views. I’d see no reason to criticise the hierarchy for making their views plain, anymore than I think it’s impossible for Amnesty to do likewise. Indeed I’d argue that the more voices the better. Once upon a time, I like to think, it would have been John Waters ferreting out the anecdotes about urban centres of resistance and rural islands of tolerance to the concept of gay marriage – and pointing out that responses are mixed and difficult to predict. Once upon a time.

Anyhow, to a central point of contention… remember his opening criticism that Amnesty had strayed from its original purpose by engaging with ‘ideological issues’? His last paragraph stands in odd contradiction to that.

Every child has a father and mother, so any adopted child is by definition separated from at least one of these. What is Amnesty’s position on the child’s right to be brought up by his/her own father and/or mother? What is Amnesty’s policy in relation to the Irish State’s consistent refusal to legislate on behalf of fathers seeking to parent their own children rather than have them adopted by third parties?

As an aside, the right of a child to be brought up by their ‘own’ father and a mother is one that in many instances is unable to be exercised for many reasons. It’s not inalienable but is also gifted by circumstance and by law. And it’s, dare I say, disingenuous in a discussion to ignore that pertinent fact. But what of this?

Now there’s an issue for a conscientious human rights organisation to get its teeth into.

So, unless I misread him, he appears to be saying that he has no problem with Amnesty engaging with ‘ideological issues’, or rights beyond what he considers its area of competency, as long however as they’re his rights.

Nice.

Comments»

1. EamonnCork - August 4, 2009

Having noted on this site lately that Waters’ religious beliefs were notably clear of meanness of spirit on issues like gay marriage I’d have to say this is a disappointing column. I wonder what business it is of anyone else’s if gay people want to formalise their relationships through marriage. It strikes me as an issue which doesn’t intrude on anyone else and one which, in any case, was turned into a hot issue by the American Republican Party before the 2004 election to mobilise the evangelical vote. I don’t think there’s any great groundswell of opinion against it here. Though, knowing Dermot Ahern’s form, I think he’ll be quietly pleased with criticism from the likes of Colm O’Gorman for stopping short at civil partnership as he continues in his self-appointed role as the scourge of the ‘liberals.’

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2. Tim Buktu - August 4, 2009

The premier screening of an Irish version of this short was held at the Dublin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival last night

I do hope Sinead’s Hand gets a wide showing here.

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Tipster - August 25, 2009

It’s available now.

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Tipster - August 25, 2009
WorldbyStorm - August 25, 2009

Good stuff. Thanks for that Tipster.

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3. Niall - August 4, 2009

I think one of the reasons I find Waters so frustrating is because he could be a useful talking head if he weren’t so blinded by his own biases. I think that he’s write to criticise O’Gorman for claiming that gay marriage is about “the right not to be discriminated against because of who you love” and there are legitimate questions for members of Amnesty International to discuss regarding policy shifts over time.

WBS, if love is a central issue in regards marriage, then the state has no issue dealing with marriage. Love is no more or less a central issue in regards marriage as religion. I do not want the state legislating for love or deciding which forms of love and religion should be approved or promoted by the state. Marriage is primarily a social institution, so what business is it of the state?

The problem with marriage is that it doesn’t exist as something that can be identified and defined in a universally accepted way. There are a certain group of qualities associated with the term, but not all are required to make what most would recognise as a marriage. There is not a single criterion that everybody would agree upon.

Historically, it may have been convenient for governments to adapt the social institution into law, but in a small, multicultural world where neighbours have competing and incompatible definitions of what constitues a marriage, it’s time for the government to abandon it. Let the government identify the material needs of its citizens and design a new flexible instrument that protects its citizens.

What would annoy me about O’Gorman is not so much that he seeks to have gay people awarded certain rights, as that he fails to seek those rights for other groups. It reminds me of how groups like the Italians and the Irish came to be regarded as White in the US. Those advocating gay marriage aren’t advocating ‘Queer’ rights, so much as they’re claiming that gay people are as ‘Straight’ as heterosexuals, that homosexuality is the equal of heterosexuality. They don’t stop to question whether sexuality, like Whiteness before it, is really the basis on which a right should be awarded.

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4. sonofstan - August 4, 2009

Another interesting point about the debate on gay marriage is that the ‘right’ to adopt always comes up: it might be worth while, especially for an organisation such as Amnesty, to pause a little and look at the rights issues involved in adoption……. chiefly, the complete denial of the rights of the child, and, still, in this country, of the adult adoptee.

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5. WorldbyStorm - August 4, 2009

Very true re adoption rights.

Niall, I’d actually have little disagreement with you as regards that being a possible way forward. Whether that’s an approach that we could see introduced here though in the near future I’d be dubious though. How though do you see it working in relation to parenting rights/duties, etc? But, I wonder is O’Gorman unfair in what he’s suggesting? After all, one could argue that the next group who want marriage rights, or at least are organised sufficiently to articulate that demand, are those seeking gay marriage. That’s not to say there aren’t those beyond them who also would seek something along those lines, but so far they would be more marginalised.

Thanks for the link TB.

I think it’s revealing that he’s gone so hard edged in his discussion EC. I wonder though why that is.

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6. Mark P - August 4, 2009

He has been a reactionary bore with little of interest to say ever since he discovered the whole “men’s rights” thing after the bitter break up of a relationship.

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7. splinteredsunrise - August 4, 2009

It’s the sort of muddle we’ve come to expect from Waters, and he’s an eternal disappointment bearing in mind how insightful a writer he used to be.

But I’ve also noticed, and probably remarked on, the way Amnesty have expanded their remit massively in recent years without any announcement of same. You still find them doing activity around Burma or Zimbabwe, but they’re at least as likely to be found lambasting the DUP over gay rights. Not that the DUP don’t deserve to be lambasted over gay rights, but it used to be NIGRA that would do that, and I’m a bit puzzled as to how this came within Amnesty’s bailiwick.

I suppose it illustrates the inherent expansiveness of a certain kind of rights theory. Like the way Peter Tatchell can run a hundred and one tiny campaigns simultaneously on behalf of various oppressed groups – his campaign for gay Rastafarians was a memorable one. It’s that reflex that can’t see oppression or bigotry anywhere without setting up a solidarity campaign.

Anyway, the gays in Belfast on Saturday seemed much more preoccupied with their inviolable right to blow whistles while walking through the public streets in underpants and fishnets, than in any debate about the merits of civic partnerships.

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Tim Buktu - August 4, 2009

But I’ve also noticed, and probably remarked on, the way Amnesty have expanded their remit massively in recent years without any announcement of same.

I don’t know if the last bit is a fair comment. I’ve been a most passive member of Amnesty for years — it is at least fifteen years since I did anything more than pay an annual sub.

I too have noticed the way they have expanded their mandate, but I would say it was pretty much discussed and aired: I saw the motions for the annual shindig in the magazine over the years as they amended their mandate. I do recall a proposal to amend the mandate making the news pages once a few years ago when the issue their stance on abortion was up for discussion. I seriously doubt that an announcement about a change in mandate of Amnesty would get much media coverage unless the new mandate was controversial or contested on its in itself (as distinct from being controversial within Amnesty because, say, it would dilute the organisation’s focus or change a principle like no own-country work that is held dearly by some members) in the way abortion is a controversial issue.

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Tipster - August 11, 2009

Irish Independent, 11 August 2009
Why same-sex couples must be allowed to marry

OPPOSING civil partnership for same sex couples does not automatically make anyone a bigot.

But if we are going to oppose equal treatment for a group of people we have to consider whether our arguments are based on reason, on facts and on evidence. If they’re not, we have to take a hard look at ourselves.

We have to confront the kind of unthinking prejudices that all of us have held at one time or another; that suspicion of the unfamiliar, the fear of the unknown. I believe it is those kinds of fears that characterise much of the opposition to same- sex marriage in this country.

The proposed Civil Partnership legislation denies equality in civil marriage law to certain people on the basis of their sexual preference. This is a Government-endorsed act of discrimination.

The right to marry is contained in Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Article 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Human rights are universal. They belong to everyone, regardless of their race, citizenship, gender, sexuality or any other status.

This is why we oppose discrimination in civil marriage laws on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Civil marriage grants rights and protections to people who choose to make such a commitment to each other. It is how couples gain social and legal recognition. It protects their relationship and grants a level of financial security. It provides an environment for raising children, should they chose to do so, though access to civil marriage in no way depends on raising a family.

International law demands that decisions on adoption must be made in the best interests of the child. In Ireland, gay people can adopt, just like anyone else. There is no bar to adoption on the basis of sexual orientation. A gay couple cannot jointly adopt, not because they are gay, but because they are unmarried. An unmarried heterosexual couple cannot adopt either, but they can choose to marry and jointly adopt, a choice denied to same-sex couples.

Because a same-sex couple is denied access to civil marriage, any adopted child parented by a same sex couple will not have the same rights, entitlements and protections afforded to a child adopted by a heterosexual couple.

They will not have the same inheritance and succession rights. They will not have a legal and secure relationship with one of their parents. Such families exist in Ireland today and they, and most importantly, their children, are entitled to equal protection and equal rights under the law. The issue at the heart of civil partnership for same sex couples is not gay marriage, it is discrimination.

Some people have suggested that Amnesty International should not involve itself in issues such as same-sex marriage; that they are too divisive or not pressing human rights concerns. Our members do not agree.

As a democratic movement of over two million people it is they who decide our policies and campaigns. Last year our members in Ireland voted to work on the issue of same-sex marriage. Human rights are always divisive. If they were universally respected and upheld, Amnesty International would happily have no cause to exist.

It is not enough for any human rights organisation to talk about human rights in far away places. It is not enough for a human rights organisation to choose to address only the safe and comfortable issues that don’t challenge us. If we are to credibly work to hold others to account, we must be prepared to apply those same standards to ourselves. To do otherwise would be hypocritical.

Colm O’Gorman is executive director of Amnesty International Ireland

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/why-samesex-couples-must-be–allowed-to-marry-1856058.html

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8. splinteredsunrise - August 4, 2009

Yes, I’d noticed Amnesty members involved in abortion events too. It makes me wonder whether, since the Alliance Party is a dead loss, Amnesty in the north is sort of functioning as the liberal party we don’t have.

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9. Jill Barry - August 4, 2009

Hi guys, I want to post a letter that we unfortunately found ourselves needing to write this week… I think it’s important that we highlight what happened to us so that maybe we can help change the way certain people behave toward gay people…it’s up to us all to stand up against discrimination no matter what form it cocks it’s ugly head up in…

Big love,

Patch and Jill

I am writing to you to report a very upsetting and unpleasant verbal attack that my girlfriend and I experienced yesterday (Sunday21st) in the park in Dun Laoghaire while attending the farmer’s market.

We chose to visit the People’s Park as it was a gorgeous sunny day. Having had a wander around the various stalls while sampling some of the delicious food, we chose to sit on a blanket and soak up the sun. We were happily chatting, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, at one point we had a very brief kiss, and out of nowhere, a woman in her late thirties approached us. She introduced herself by saying “what I am about to say will probably offend you but I feel it is my duty”. She continued with “I am speaking for so many others here in the park but they would not have the courage to approach you. I don’t mind what you do behind closed doors but I have small children here that I am trying to protect and I find your behavior disgusting”.

I found myself completely shocked and speechless. My girlfriend, who was also quite shocked managed to say “it was just a kiss and straight people are here doing the same”.

This woman replied with “yes, but they are meant to do it”, and quickly turned on her heels and walked off.

We both sat there in disbelief at what we had just heard. We went over in our heads thinking what could she possibly have imagined we were doing that was so “disgusting”. Even when we looked around us there were several couples dotted about the park being much more amorous. There were children playing near us. We didn’t stop them from playing with their footballs, or from generally enjoying their time and space in the park. Those children around us were not concerned with us, we sat in our own space minding our own business.

After a little while we decided to leave as we really felt so uncomfortable by what had happened. This woman stood watching with a couple of other adults and stared at us until we left. We were definitely not welcome in their eyes.

This woman had no right to approach us in such a manner, invading our space. It is after all a “people’s park”, there for all people to enjoy.

I consider both my girlfriend and I to be intelligent responsible people, perfectly aware of how to behave in public and around small children. We are both in our 30’s with respectable jobs and respect our community and the people in it. There was nothing inappropriate or sexual in our behavior. Being gay is not a crime. Sitting close to my girlfriend and giving her an affectionate kiss is neither inappropriate, a crime nor “disgusting”.

Surely protecting children is about teaching them about the world and the people in it. Teaching them to respect others and their privacy and to accept that not everyone is the same. Don’t teach them to hate people that are different. This woman and her minority group of fellow narrow minded bigots should open their eyes and see that they have brought children into a world with millions of gay people leading full lives, openly and happily, in every community. Her children will grow up to go to school and college with gay people. They will work with gay people. What if one day they realise that they, themselves, are gay? She will have taught them to feel “disgusting”. In my opinion this woman was not out to protect her children, she used them as a tool to verbalise her homophobic views.

It would be nice to think that the market organisers and their vendors do not hold this view, I would like to think that they support all communities and welcome all people. It’s a great place, and has a lovely vibe. This woman suggested that she spoke for most people in the park, I hope this is not true because this kind of hate and discrimination should not be tolerated.

Yours sincerely,

Patch Corcoran
patchdash@hotmail.com

Jill Barry
jillyb99@hotmail.com
http://www.emotionmedia.ie
0864000534

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10. big yellow taxi - August 5, 2009

That’s a depressing story, but bigotry and small mindedness is, sadly, to be expected. Can I ask who the letter was to be sent to?

Of course you are welcome to be affectionate in public and I doubt whether you were making anyone feel uncomfortable except this woman. I wonder if she ever made any effort to protect children from her allies in homophobia in the church, the ones who were quietly torturing and raping generations of children while the likes of her did nothing.

But that’s another story, so anyway, this is just to say that you are free and welcome to kiss in the park, whenever and whoever you want.

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11. Hankie Frowerd - August 5, 2009

Yeah, but no tongues.

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12. Ian - August 5, 2009

Sonoftstan is right and has hit the nail on the head

In terms of a right to adopt – there is absolutely no such thing and we (LGBT rights activists) should NEVER use that term – however I do strongly believe that we should have “the right to apply to adopt”

Also where a child is being raised by 2 parents of the same sex it is arguable that the childs rights are the ones being breached in not being able to have a legal relationship to both of those parents

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13. sonofstan - August 5, 2009

I hate to disagree with someone who starts by agreeing with me, but…..well, I don’t think anyone should have the right to (apply to) adopt, full stop. I think the practice is deeply, deeply suspect. At the same time, I’m not into having a long interweb discussion about it.

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WorldbyStorm - August 6, 2009

Hmmmm… what though are the alternatives?

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sonofstan - August 7, 2009

Sorry WBS,
I haven’t been ignoring your question, it’s just that when i get started on the subject of adoption I begin to resemble JW on father’s rights……it’s not pretty, and i don’t know when to stop.

So briefly, i hope.

The answer to your question is long term fostering: I’ve no objection to people looking after children whose parents can’t/ won’t look after them: it’s the way adoption is structured entirely towards the imaginary ‘need’ of the adopting ‘parents’ rather than the child that is the problem.

I don’t want to go into a full scale analysis of the issue: just a few things that ought to give leftists pause: any practice that involves the transformation of what ought to be unsubsitutable into a commodity and its transport across class lines from working class/ ‘underclass’ upwards (the old irish model) or from poorer countries to rich ought to be suspect.

Secondly, while there are obviously always children in need of care, the adoption industry, whether through moral or financial pressure, creates adoptees. It is, in a particularly nasty way, ‘consumer led’.

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14. WorldbyStorm - August 7, 2009

I’d have issues with many aspects of some adoptions… not sure though I go anywhere as far as you. I very much agree that fostering is crucial and that there’s a lamentable lack of emphasis on it.

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sonofstan - August 7, 2009

Fair enough.

I’m use to people who aren’t directly affected by the issue not agreeing with me on this – the converse is also true: I’ve yet to meet an adult adoptee without deep reservations about it. Anyway. back to gay marriage.

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15. patch corcoran - September 15, 2009

Please remove comment number 9 from your comments page.
I don’t know who posted it to your website but it was neither I, Patch Corcoran, nor Jill Barry. It was someone posing as us using our contavt details

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WorldbyStorm - September 15, 2009

Yeah, but how do I know you’re patch corcoran either? Don’t worry I’ll remove it.

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16. Helplessly Treading Waters « The Deserted Village - January 24, 2014

[…] rather limited liberalisation on such matters as patronage of schools, reproductive rights and equal marriage legislation. His dominant focus has been those very issues that are decided by voters at national level (and […]

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