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Slavery and Gay Marriage? Frightening Parallels

November 27th, 2013

By Jennifer Thieme, Director of Fincance and Advancement, Ruth Institute

This article was first published at clashdaily.com on March 14, 2013.

Some Republican leaders recently announced their support of gay marriage, and some others claim they are following Abraham Lincoln’s legacy by supporting it. Lincoln is one of the most famous Republicans and is most well known for freeing the slaves. I was disappointed by these modern-day Republicans, because certain features that look like slavery are beginning to emerge in gay custody disputes.

Most people in our country know that the iconic story of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a novel published in 1852 about slavery. At one point it describes the plight of a slave mother, Eliza, who found out her son Harry had been sold. Lacking any legal recourse, she took him and ran away from her master in order to keep her child. What was the specific aspect of the law that allowed the government to side with a non-parent against a parent?

It was because the government was not required to honor the biological connections of slave mothers to their children. It was as if the biological connections did not even exist between them.

How does this relate to gay marriage? Gay marriage is a Trojan horse–it’s not what it claims to be. Gay marriage really means, “gender-neutral marriage,” and gender neutral marriage means that we must erase the concept of biological connections within the legal code.

Let’s examine a well known gay custody case: Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins.

Lisa Miller is a former lesbian. She was involved in a civil union with Janet Jenkins. During that time, they decided to use a sperm donor to conceive a child. Lisa is the natural mother, and we don’t know why, but Janet never adopted the child.

Their union broke up. Janet was awarded status as a parent and given visitation. The child started having problems, and Lisa tried to block contact. The courts then gave Janet full legal custody, even though Lisa was never accused of being a bad parent, nor did she ever consent to giving the child up for adoption. In order to keep her daughter, Lisa escaped with her to Central America. Her name appears on the INTERPOL Wanted List for parental kidnapping. A Mennonite pastor, Kenneth Miller (no relation to Lisa), helped her escape. He was convicted of “aiding an international parental kidnapping of a minor,” and recently sentenced to 27 months in prison.

There is something unique about gay custody disputes that allows the government to treat a natural parent like a slave and their child like chattel. Look at these features. They are just like what happened under slavery:

– The government can give a child to somebody who is not related to the child by blood or adoption
– the natural parent did not consent to an adoption (adoption requires consent or being found unfit)
– the natural parent was never found unfit or even accused of being a bad parent
– the natural parent wanted the child

We don’t see all of these features in custody disputes involving only a father and a mother. Why are gay custody disputes triggering an experience that resembles slavery?

Remember when I said that under slavery, the government didn’t have to acknowledge the biological connections of the family members?

The same thing is happening when we make changes to the legal code that are gender-neutral. State by state, we have been erasing the concept of biological differences from how we describe marital parties and parenthood.

If judges had been forced to respect biological connections of parents to their children in the days of slavery, it would have disrupted that institution for the better. This tells us that respecting biological connections of parents to their children is a characteristic of a free society and cannot be undermined. Remember that adoption does not undermine biology. The biological parent must consent or be found unfit. Removing biological connections from the legal code is not the same as adoption, and is legally cracking open the door to modern day parents and children to be treated like slaves.

Which Side Would Abraham Lincoln Take?

Would Lincoln support:

– erasing biological connections of family members in the legal code
– thereby transferring power from all biological parents to the government
– which begins to create situations that resemble slave children being legally taken from their biological parents by force
– so that a very small percentage of the population can start receiving federal benefits, tax breaks, and improved social recognition?

This is not an equal trade. In fact, it sounds very much like a small, powerful elite trying to leverage power away from ordinary people.

Regardless of victories by the opposition, I believe history will count the defenders of traditional marriage as the true defenders of freedom.

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