Category Archives: Family

European Court of Human Rights: There Is No Right to an Incestuous Relationship

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that German courts did not violate a man’s rights by convicting him for incest with his sister.

Patrick Stuebing came into contact with his biological family in 2000. That year, he began a sexual relationship with his sister. They have four children together.

Mr. Stuebing was sentenced to fourteen months in prison in 2005. The ECHR said the German courts did not convict his sister because she has a personality disorder and was “only partially liable” for her actions. Mr. Stuebing claimed his rights to private and family life were violated; the case prompted calls for Germany to follow France, Turkey, Japan and Brazil in ruling that consensual sexual relations between adult relatives are no longer illegal.

Via The Independent.

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Maryland Becomes 8th State with Marriage Equality

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With Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature, marriage equality will become law in Maryland. Maryland will be the eighth state to enact such a law.

In just three weeks, following a major court victory against Proposition 8, marriage equality bills have passed in Washington, New Jersey, and now Maryland.

Despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s heartbreaking veto, the legislature’s pro-equality vote marked a powerful moment in this years-long battle.

These victories are exhilarating, but they are not accidents. All of these gains are the result of years of working together to elect fair-minded candidates and placing organizers on the ground to build support for these bills.

Join thousands around the country in congratulating Maryland on this remarkable moment.

Congratulations, Maryland!

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Marriage Is a Luxury for Young Mothers

More than half of births to American women under thirty occur outside marriage.

Once limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree.

Among all mothers, a most are married when they have children, but the surge of births outside marriage among younger women is a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

One group still resists the trend: college graduates, who marry before having children. That is turning family structure into a new class divide, with the economic and social rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education.

The shift is affecting children’s lives. Children born outside marriage face higher risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems.

By the mid-1990s, a third of Americans were born outside marriage. Congress, blaming welfare, imposed tough restrictions. Now the figure is 41% and 53% for children born to women under thirty.

Racial differences remain: 73% of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53% of Latinos and 29% of whites. Educational differences are growing. About 92% of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62% of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43% of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.

Via The New York Times.

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Does Gingrich’s Marriage Matter?

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Sex was one of the topics on the minds of voters as South Carolina prepared to go to the polls on Saturday. Also, there was the big debate, in which Newt Gingrich said that asking about his marriage was “despicable.”

Marianne Gingrich, Wife Number Two, told ABC News that Mr. Gingrich called her while she was visiting her mother, told her he was having an affair, and proposed an open marriage. Newt denied the open marriage part and referred all questions to his daughters by his other former marriage.

This seems like a lot to dump on the daughters.

South Carolina is probably not the ideal state in which to be accused of breaking the matrimonial bonds, smashing them, and jumping up and down on them until they’re a pile of dust. Mr. Gingrich has framed his sexual history in terms of a redemption story. Everybody likes a story of the fallen man who rejects his wicked ways and starts a new life. Remember how well George W. Bush did with the one about renouncing alcohol on his fortieth birthday? There is, however, a lot of difference between giving up drinking on the eve of middle age and giving up adultery at about the time you’re qualifying for Social Security.

Still, he has several things working in his favor, one of which has to be the public’s lack of appetite for thinking about Newt Gingrich’s sex life at all.

Another is that his hound dog persona is old news. Marianne even told the break-up story to Esquire a while back. That version included the description of how Mr. Gingrich explained that she was a Jaguar, while he needed a Chevrolet like Callista.

Gingrich fans lined up to argue that his bedroom behavior made no difference. Dr. Keith Ablow opined on the Fox Web site that it actually made Newt a better candidate: “So, as far as I can tell, judging from the psychological data, we have only one real risk to America from his marital history if Newt Gingrich were to become president: We would need to worry that another nation, perhaps a little younger than ours, would be so taken by Mr. Gingrich that it would seduce him into marrying it and becoming its president.”

Voters seldom penalize politicians for sexual misbehavior — unless it’s of a type that suggests the pol in question is a little off. (See: having tickling parties with your young male aides.)

Beyond the hypocrisy of this behavior from a guy who wants to protect the sanctity of matrimony from gay couples, there seems to be a streak of almost crazed self-absorption that runs through the Newt saga. Who would ditch a spouse of eighteen years in a phone call? Shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? Of course, he broke up with his first wife while she was battling cancer. Do you see a theme? This is the same guy who proudly announced “I think grandiose thoughts” during the last debate.

After the ABC interview broke, Mr. Gingrich said: “Callista and I have a wonderful relationship. We knew we’d get beaten up. We knew we’d get lied about. We knew we’d get smeared. We knew there would be nasty attack ads. And we decided the country was worth the pain.”

The country is so grateful for your sacrifice.

Via The New York Times.

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Washington Considers Same-Sex Marriage Bill

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The bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Washington is notable for its ambition; that it was proposed by Governor Christine Gregoire, whose last remarks on the issue placed her in the not-yet camp; and the fact that it is supported by those in the legislature who have also changed their minds.

The bill would make Washington the seventh state where same-sex couples are allowed to marry. Bill sponsors are just a few votes short.

In 1998, Washington passed a law saying only a man and woman could marry. The State Supreme Court upheld the law in 2006, but that same year, Washington passed a civil rights bill that recognized domestic partnerships. In 2009, it approved what has become known as an “everything but marriage” law.

Opponents challenged that law through a referendum; voters upheld it 53% to 47%. In 2008, while seeking reelection, Gov. Gregoire suggested that churches should decide the issue, but in her State of the State this month, she said, “Let’s tell the children of our same-sex couples that their parents’ relationship is equal to all others in the state.”

In an interview, the governor said, “I’m a lawyer, I’m a wife, I’m a mom, I’m governor. I’m also a Catholic, and I have struggled with this issue for the last seven years.”

This is Ms. Gregoire’s final year in office. People have speculated that she is supporting same-sex marriage now that the political risk of doing so has diminished, but she has said her position had evolved, in part through conversations with her daughters.

The bill is modeled on the law passed by New York, which included language clarifying that religious groups and churches are not required to marry same-sex partners.

Senator Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat, has been one of the Legislature’s most persistent advocates for same-sex marriage. Sen. Murray said Gov. Gregoire strengthened protections for religious groups beyond what he had proposed.

Some lawmakers say they will organize a coalition to defeat a marriage law, should it pass. On Friday, a group of Roman Catholic bishops issued a statement opposing the new bill.

Sen. Murray, noting that Washington’s petition-friendly system makes any bill passed by the Legislature vulnerable, said he and others had worked since last spring to build support behind the scenes, anticipating a battle in the Legislature and at the polls.

“I’m a little concerned that people are popping the Champagne corks,” he said. “They need to remember it took us years to find one vote on the civil rights bill and we’re several votes short on the marriage bill. We’re very close, but we don’t have the votes yet.”

Via The New York Times.

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Men with Lower Voices Have Lower Quality Sperm

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Last year saw lots of research into low-voiced guys, with scientists finding that women are better at remembering things when they’re said in a deep, manly voice, and that women prefer deep-voiced partners. The authors of the latter study wrote, “Lower-pitched men’s voices are not only rated as more attractive, but are associated with a greater number of reported sexual partners, and greater reproductive success than are higher-pitched men’s voices.”

It appears that’s not the case: a recent study found that men with deep voices actually have lower-than-average semen quality. The study authors write,

Consistent with previous voice research, women judged lower pitched voices as more masculine and more attractive. However men with lower pitched voices did not have better semen quality. On the contrary, men whose voices were rated as more attractive tended to have lower concentrations of sperm in their ejaculate.

Scientific American speculates that a deep voice might be a symbol of sexual and social maturity: men who speak in low tones may be perceived as powerful and established.

Via Jezebel.

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Big Surprise: Rick “A Fetus is a Person” Santorum Is a Hypocrite

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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In 1996, Rick Santorum’s wife had a medically necessary procedure that resulted in the deliberate death of her fetus. Today, Mr. Santorum says that having such a procedure (again, even to save one’s own life) should be a crime.

Karen Santorum’s difficult pregnancy and induced early delivery is no secret; in a 2004 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, her husband characterized the procedure as harrowing but necessary. Mrs. Santorum, in her nineteenth week of pregnancy, received a surgery to save a pregnancy doctors thought had little chance of survival. After the surgery, she came down with an infection, and doctors told Mr. Santorum that unless the fetus was removed, his wife would die. The doctor also told Mr. Santorum that his wife’s fetus would not survive outside of the womb. Doctors gave Mrs. Santorum a drug that induced labor, she delivered, and, unfortunately, the doctors were right.

Mr. Santorum said of the terrible event, “The doctors said they were talking about a matter of hours or a day or two before risking sepsis and both of them might die. Obviously, if it was a choice of whether both Karen and the child are going to die or just the child is going to die, I mean it’s a pretty easy call.”

After Mr. Santorum talked to the press about his wife’s pregnancy and their loss, rumors circulated that Mrs. Santorum had an abortion and not induced delivery. Our Silver Ribbon asserts that Karen Santorum did, in fact, have a second-trimester abortion.

The irony is that whether Karen Santorum had an abortion or medically induced the birth of a non-viable fetus doesn’t matter in the eyes of someone with views as extreme as Mr. Santorum. He’s against abortion if there is no hope of the fetus surviving to full term, or even if the woman carrying the fetus risks death doing so. Karen Santorum would have died if the fetus were not removed, and labor was induced knowing that the fetus would not survive.

As Rick Santorum gains ground in the polls, please remember that Mrs. Santorum’s lifesaving medical intervention is different from the abortions that Mr. Santorum wishes to outlaw only in that the woman getting the lifesaving medical intervention was Karen Santorum. His policies would prevent other women from receiving the care they needed, and leave scores of non-Santorum children motherless. If that’s not hypocrisy, then I don’t know what is.

Via Jezebel.

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Twin Birth Rate Has Doubled in Last Thirty Years

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The number of twin births is on the rise. The development of fertility treatments has led to an increase in multiples, and new data shows just how much the rate of twins has increased.

According to a new report from the CDC, in 2009 one in every thirty babies born in the U.S. was a twin, up from one in every fifty-three babies in 1980. That is a 76% increase in the twin birth rate. In addition to fertility treatments, the jump can be attributed to women waiting to have children. The rate of twin births increases with maternal age. Seven percent of babies born to mothers over forty were twins, compared to 5% of births among women ages thirty-five to thirty-nine and 2% of births to women under twenty-five.

While people used to focus on cuteness and the potential to put kids in matching outfits, there’s now more awareness of the dangers associated with multiple births. Most twins are born healthy but are more likely to arrive early and at a low birth weight.

We may soon see the twin birth rate decline again; since fertility specialists are more aware of the risks of multiple births, they’ve started transferring fewer embryos during in vitro fertilization.

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Elizabeth Santorum Has “Gay Friends” Who “Support” Her Dad

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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The Huffington Post profiled Elizabeth Santorum, Rick’s twenty-year-old daughter and a piece of his “campaign infrastructure:”

It is tough, after all, being a young surrogate for a candidate/father clinging to an older worldview. Her father’s stance on same-sex marriage and gay rights, in particular, has caused some friction from non-supporters. “It’s a policy thing, he thinks this is the right thing for America and the foundations of our country,” she said of gay marriage…. Opposed to same-sex marriage herself, Elizabeth said she has gay friends who support her father’s candidacy based on his economic and family platforms. But her father’s doctrinaire opposition to change on these fronts has made her the occasional target at school and on the trail—”never aggressively,” she said, though “obviously, there are certain people that aren’t [respectful].”

You know what else is tough? Losing your home after the death of your spouse or seeing your husband deported because your marriage isn’t recognized by the federal government.

What is really interesting about the interview is Elizabeth’s claim to have gay friends. Just like her father. And Rick Warren and Joel Orstein and Sarah Palin.

All the high-profile homophobes seem to have gay friends!

Elizabeth Santorum has gay friends who support her dad based on his family platform? That is astonishing! Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum despite his having compared sex between consenting adults of the same sex to child rape and bestiality? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum despite his having asserted that gay relationships are a threat to “homeland security”? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum despite his opposition to any legal recognition of same-sex relationships at all? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum despite his promise to write anti-gay bigotry into the U.S. Constitution, forcibly divorce every same-sex couple that has gotten legally married in the U.S. over the last decade, and reinstate DADT? Who are these gay people who support Rick Santorum despite his opposition to adoptions by same-sex couples?

Via slog.thestranger.com.

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Illinois Bishops End Catholic Charities Rather than Stop Discriminating against Gays

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Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a requirement that they consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents to receive state money. The charities served for more than forty years in the state’s social service network for poor children.

The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.

For the nation’s Catholic bishops, the Illinois requirement is an example of a campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are the victims of persecution is a frequent theme for Catholic bishops, Republican Presidential candidates, and evangelicals.

The bishops face opponents who also claim to have justice and the Constitution on their side. They include gay rights advocates, many religious believers, and churches that support gay equality. They frame the issue as a matter of civil rights, saying that Catholic Charities was using taxpayer money to discriminate against same-sex couples.

The bishops have asked the Obama administration to lift a new requirement that Catholic and other religiously affiliated hospitals, universities, and charities cover contraception in their employees’ health plans. A decision has been expected for weeks.

The bishops are also protesting the denial of a federal contract to offer care for victims of sex trafficking. An official with the Department of Health and Human Services said the program was rejected because it did not offer the survivors of sex trafficking, who are rape victims, with referrals for abortions or contraceptives.

Critics of the church argue that no group has a constitutional right to a government contract, especially if it refuses to provide required services.

The controversy in Illinois began when the state legislature voted in November 2010 to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples. The legislation was titled “The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.”

Via The New York Times.

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