Wednesday, September 27, 2006

‘Family-diversity model’ failure, say academic and legal experts

More than 100 North American academic and legal experts say the “family diversity model” has failed and are calling on all of civil society to shore up traditional heterosexual marriage as a social institution.

In a report, “Marriage and the Law: a Statement of Principles,” released in September by the Institute for American Values and the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, the experts say the diversity model reduces marriage to a “set of benefits created by law” and imagines traditional marriage as “just one of many equally valid lifestyles.”

The diversity model is a “normative commitment to the idea that no family form is superior to any other family form,” and “transforms family fragmentations from a social problem into a sign of progress,” the report says, arguing that 40 years of “social experimentation” have proven the family diversity model has failed.

“When marriages fail, or fail to take place, children, women, men and society suffer,” the report says.

“Marriage is a key social institution, with profound material, emotional, and social consequences for children, adults, and society,” it says. “As marriage weakens, fewer men are committed to family life, more women are saddled with the unfair burdens of parenting alone, and children’s ties to both their parents (especially fathers) are weakened. Communities face increasing social and economic problems.”

“Children raised outside of intact marriages have higher rates of poverty, mental illness, teen suicide, conduct disorders, infant mortality, physical illness, juvenile delinquency and adult criminality,” the report says. “They are more likely to drop out of school, be held back a grade, and launch into early and promiscuous sexual activity, leading to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and early, unwed parenthood.”

Not only do children and mothers suffer disproportionately, so do poor children and members of ethnic and racial minorities because marriage is a “wealth-building institution” and “source of social and human capital,” the report says.

The family-diversity model has led to a growing acceptance of fatherlessness as “normal,” promoting a “dehumanized vision of men and masculinity.”

“A culture that no longer expects most men to become reliable fathers and husbands promotes a degraded vision of masculinity to men and about men, one deeply at odds with the human dignity of men and women and with the needs of children,” they say.

The report recognizes that marriage breakdowns occur and that children are already living in a variety of family forms, and that single parents need support. It rejects, however, that society must “equally affirm all the choices adults make about family forms, regardless of how they affect children.” [....snip] Catholic OnLine

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