The Question I Would Ask

The first presidential debate takes place tonight. As I was driving to work this morning I wondered what question I would ask if given the opportunity. There is one thing I’ve been curious about.

Did you know the Obama administration operates a fatherhood initiative? There aren’t many things President Obama has done that I support, but the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse is one. From the “About us” section of the site:

Fatherlessness is a growing crisis in America, one that undergirds many of the challenges that families are facing.  When dads aren’t around, young people are more likely to drop out of school, use drugs, be involved in the criminal justice system, and become young parents themselves.

Yes! As the Manhattan Declaration states, the family is the most fundamental unit of society. Kids raised in intact families become healthy, responsible adults equipped to contribute to society and raise the next generation. Dads matter in all of this! It is tremendous to see the president acknowledge this inarguable fact and dedicate resources to promoting the unique role of the father.

But, last May, the president made an announcement that doesn’t square with his strong stance on fatherhood. He said that he was now a proponent of same-sex marriage. Forgive me for spelling it out, but a marriage between two women lacks a dad. And it’s no stretch to posit that, like fathers, mothers have a unique and vital role to play in the life of their children. A marriage between two men lacks a mom.

So, my question is do dads (and moms) matter or not?



  • Beth

    I have wondered this same thing, myself. I’m hearing the same-sex marriage debaate more and more often referred to as the “war on fathers,” and that, to me, is EXACTLY what it is. Here is a small sampling of some of the research I have found, if any readers are interested:

    According to Child Trends “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage…. Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seem to support child development.”

    According to the Center for Law and Social Policy “Over the past 20 years, a body of research has developed on how changes in patterns of family structure affect children. Most researchers now agree that together these studies support the notion that, on average, children do better when raised by two married, biological parents who have low-conflict relationships.”

    The US Census Bureau has acknowledged the importance of fathers: “It is undisputed among researchers and policy pundits alike that fathers’ involvement is extremely important for children’s proper social and emotional development.”

    If fathers weren’t that important, the myriad of such organizations as the ACFC, NCFM, and Fathers & Families would not have been founded.

    Here is a study done by the National Institute of Health about how FATHER absence, in particular, places daughters at greater risk for early sexual activity and teen pregnancy:

    A digital version of the book “Fathers and Families: Paternal Factors In Child Development:”

    A digital version of the book “The Role of the Father in Child Development:”

    I’ve also heard that the book “Dimensions of Fatherhood” is a good one, though I haven’t personally read it.

    This is only a tiny portion of all the data and writings out there on fatherhood that I have found. And let’s not even go into the vastly different and equally negative effects of mother absence.

    Even the famous lesbian parent Rosie O’Donnell confessed that her six-year-old adopted son, Parker, has repeatedly asked for a daddy.

    The simple fact that biological, two-gender households are the best construct in which to raise children has always been universally recognized. It has been irrefutably PROVEN. There is a WEALTH of information out there on the subject. The answer to the author’s question is YES, moms and dads absolutely matter. THIS is why I oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage. Not because I am a bigot or a religious nutcase or because I hate all gay people. But why should we force society to treat as equal a family structure which is clearly–as proven by over thirty years of social science research–NOT equal? How can an argument be made for equality when there isn’t even equivalency?

  • Vincent Magaraci

    This President goes beyond sheer hypocrisy regarding his pseudo pro-family posture. He wants to enact the Homosexual Classroom Act which has been endorsed by a sizeable number of democrats in both the house and the senate which will make it a virtual “hate crime” for students and their parents who dissent and want no part of such a monstrous program taught in their schools. His administration will stop at nothing to promote the most non-religious, relativistic, values free and radical democracy here in America. Please consider your vote very carefully in a few weeks, as our country might not recover from this onslaught of immorality and odious public policy if he and his cronies prevail in November.

    • Evelyn L McKenna

      Bravo!!! How do we get you and other well spoken people more involved in issues that so many people are not even aware of? I have know since I first heard that B. Obama was running for President in 2008, after little research, I did not want him as a our leader of the free world but could not articulate the many reasons why I felt he was very dangerous. Of all the comments I have ever read, this is the best. I would be interested in reading more of your thoughts and insights. Please tell me how.

  • Velvet Covered Brick

    “For me personally….”
    I find it interesting that in the interview in May where President Obama iterated his support for same-sex marriage, this was the phrase he used. He searched himself, and for reasons he calculated from within, came to the conclusion that he, in the end, supported same-sex marriage. What I don’t understand is how that is now translating into the use of the strong arm of the law, nationwide, to change an established institution, that was never man’s to change, let alone any American man. So it is fine that he feels that way “personally”, it should just not be interpreted to be used as the “law of the land” making everyone bow down. Interesting article. And I also appreciate your post too Beth.

  • Jeanna D.

    This comes as no surprise to me, as the president is shooting to win an election, and is doing what is necessary to win. If one looks closely at what Mr. Obama’s claims to being a so called Christian, it is no wonder that his values as a father is also changeable. His views on abortion are also changeable, and what you feel as a father, also determines your views on abortion. The president embraces too many ideals that runs contra productive to his being pro family, and pro fatherhood. Same sex couples cannot produce a family unless there is outside intervention. But the president is free to believe what he wants. He is not free however, to force his views on others by forcefully enacting laws.

  • John N.

    Thank you Beth as your wonderfull post brings joy to so many fathers who love their children all over the USA. Note what Vincent said: As this has already happened in states like Massachusetts and California.

  • Chris G.

    I understand the points being made here. But help me understand: in what way, specifically, does giving gay persons the right to marry someone decrease the number of responsible fathers/mothers of children in the country?

    Fatherhood DOES matter. Of course it does. So does motherhood. No one could deny that and most of us believe it sincerely, including the President. But let’s be real: a gay mother is unlikely to live with her child’s father. A gay father is unlikely to live with his child’s mother. Just not likely to happen. A devoted, monogamous male-female parental team simply isn’t a reality when a parent is openly gay. Banning gay marriage is not going to change that.

    So when it comes to children of gay parents, how does banning gay marriage improve their condition? Surely two devoted parents, linked in formal and committed monogamy, is better than one on their own? Because I’m telling you now: keeping gay marriage illegal hasn’t thus far prompted gay parents to marry opposite sex partners en masse!

    It’s an honest question.

    • Eric Teetsel

      Great question Chris G. Where you seem to differ from the opinion of the president and others in the gay rights movement is your acknowledgment that homosexual unions are substantively different from heterosexual marriage when it comes to the affect on children. We can debate whether two dads is better than a single father, but your willingness to accept that both options are worse than a father-mother parent team is important.

      So, if you’re right about the superiority of marriage – and I think you are – as a matter of public policy we should strive to uphold the best option, right?

  • Michael D

    Chris, I think you have missed a critical component of this issue and, at the same time, made a major and untenable logical leap.

    First, as we both know, in our current society where the moral compass spins at a dizzying pace, there are no restrictions on living arrangements. That is, and we both know this, if two adults wish to engage in an openly homosexual relationship, live within the same house and commit themselves to monogamy, no one can or is stopping them. Therefore, just as you argue that continuing to defend traditional marriage won’t change the number of openly homosexual adults living with their child’s opposite parent, neither will giving homosexuals a marriage certificate change the number of homosexuals engaged in the type of relationship you describe. (Indeed, I am truly perplexed by where these children of homosexuals came from you seek to use as the basis of your argument?)

    So then, what it seems you miss is the true issue behind this movement. At its core it is not about all of the peripheral arguments framed in its defense, it is about making homosexual behavior acceptable, no, I should say “good” (see the new classes conducted in lower level schools promoting the accomplishments of homosexuals), and demanding we accept two homosexuals living together as equal to and as valid as the traditional family. Adding to that the idea that in such an arrangement these homosexuals should have the same right to adopt is again pushing for that same acceptance, though it flies in the face of the results of every study and common sense. That home is clearly not as good, nor as valid, for children.

    The logical leap you make, then, is this. “Surely two devoted parents, linked in formal and committed monogamy, is better than one on their own?” Really? And where does that conclusion come from? What studies have you found that demonstrate this fact? I would like to see a show of hands among those who understand the issues. How many would be comfortable having their children raised in the home of a homosexual couple? That is, if for some reason your children were left without parents, and I ask only those whose relational and sexual behaviors generally produce children, would you be happy to know they were placed in the control of practicing homosexuals?

    The issue is and always has been the few forcing a moral precept on the many. Since every obstacle has been thrown down except for marriage, you will continue to see this one railed against until it too comes down. And will our society be improved because of it?

    My last thought is this. For Christians, the Bible expresses things I never hear included in this debate. God describes something mysterious happening between a husband and wife when they “come together,” as “the two become one flesh.” The fact that this refers to the sexual act is clear, as Paul describes in his first letter to the church at Corinth.

    Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body [with her]? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” (1 Cor. 6:16, NKJV)

    Even the word “marry” means to physically join, a term used, for example, to describe what a mariner does when joining two shorter pieces of rope into a long one. It is not popular to say it, but two women, not even two men, can accomplish this. Calling what they do “marriage” is a lie, but repeat the lie often enough and…