Sacramento, CA–Some of you are grumbling about the recent decision of the California Supreme Court (Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco) that legalizes gay marriage in California. You are grousing, “I don”t have anything against gays, but I don”t see why a loving, uncontroversial father can”t get jack in the way of rights, while the elites are falling all over each other giving rights to a controversial segment of society.’
Glenn and I see it differently. We see this decision, and the similar one four years ago in Massachusetts, as proof positive that the family court reform movement can and will win its goals. “If they can do it, we can do it.’
The victories by gays and lesbians prove that a small minority who are determined and committed will win their civil rights. How did they win? The answer is simple — they organized, they sacrificed, and they fought for what they wanted.
What do we have going for us in our struggle that gays and lesbians don”t have?
1) Gays are maybe 2% or 3% of the overall population. Fathers are around 40% of the overall population.
2) Gays probably have around half the population on their side. We have 86% of the voting public on our side, as judged by the voting results in Massachusetts in 2004.
3) Gays have faced centuries of prejudice, some of which continues today. Fathers, by contrast, historically have been a central part of both their families and society.
4) Yes, fathers seeking equality in family court face well-funded, organized opposition in the form of feminist groups and bar associations. At the same time, gays face well-funded, organized opposition from religious and social conservative groups.
Whereas many in the family court reform movement are under the delusion that our movement can succeed without money and without donors, gays have effectively and consistently raised money to promote their issues and their agenda. Whereas most fathers” rights rallies draw a few dozen people, gays have mobilized hundreds of thousands of demonstrators when needed.Whereas gays have understood the importance of having well-funded advocacy organizations and paid, professional staff, some in the fathers” movement expect its organizations to survive on air and to thrive without their personal involvement.
There are many, many civil rights and social movements that have succeeded over the past century despite facing far more problems than our movement does. The African-American civil rights movement is one example. The trade union movement — which was largely built during the Great Depression, when massive unemployment made cheap labor plentiful and undercut efforts to organize unions — is another example.
To those we can now add the gay marriage movement. The family court reform movement will achieve the same types of successes.
Fathers & Families has no official position on gay marriage. While most of our members have a “live and let live’ attitude on the matter, it is nevertheless divisive in this movement just as in society at large. We DO have an opinion on parenting after parental separation or divorce: that when children have come to feel that certain people are their parents, those adults should be allowed to continue as their parents, regardless of sexual preference. (If you think you disagree with this point of view, consider the following scenario: a man married to a woman has a divorce and wins joint physical custody of his children. Later he comes out of the closet and becomes the committed partner of another man. Would you deprive him of the custody of his children? If so, what effect do you think this would have on the children?
Fathers & Families supported the parenting rights of a lesbian mother who was not the biological mother of a child in an amicus brief I authored for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. It can be viewed here.
By the way, this brief has plenty of information and arguments in it that are useful to heterosexuals seeking joint custody of their children.