Saturday, March 6, 2010

Institutional Discrimination

The Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives are currently considering a bill that calls for the ineligibility for cohabitants to adopt a child.  Senate Bill 0078 and House Bill 0605 prohibits the adoption of a minor by either same-sex or opposite-sex individuals cohabiting outside of a marriage that is valid under the constitution and laws of the state.  The Senate has referred it to the Senate Judiciary, while the House has referred it to the House Family Justice Subcommittee.  I find it grotesquely ironic that, the future of this bill will be determined by two political committees that both claim to uphold and legislate ‘just’ laws, when it is blatantly obvious that this bill is strictly hetero-normative. 

            If passed, this bill will prevent foster children from being adopted into financially stable, safe, and loving homes.  Consequently, foster homes across the nation will continue to weigh the burden of an unjust system of adoption in America.  Overpopulated and under-funded, foster organizations face numerous obstacles in achieving their ultimate goal of housing homeless children.  The adoption process is already extremely rigorous, wearisome and time-consuming for straight and eligible couples.  So to pass a bill that prevents equally eligible and loving couples from adopting an orphan is simply illogical and discriminatory towards same-sex couples who, mind you, also do not have the right to legally marry. 

            By institutionalizing the terms of marriage and adoption requirements, the government is essentializing a political system that is presumed to promote the best-interest of the majority of American citizens, when in reality it is only reifying a system that benefits the privileged Americans.  According to this bill, if you are capable of marrying then you are potentially capable of raising adopted children.  This assumption is predicated on the belief that all married couples are inherently more qualified to raise children than are same-sex or non-married opposite-sex couples.  If you do not see something fundamentally wrong with this assumption, alone, then I suppose the argument stops here, but if we take moment to consider what our state politicians aren’t, then perhaps we can see past the superficial implications of this bill. 

            I do not disagree with those who argue that having same-sex parents is a potential risk for being ridiculed in school, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t?  Every child is picked on; every child goes through a traumatizing experience at some point in his/her life.  It’s only a matter of time and setting.  Kids may be ruthless, but they are not a legitimate reason to deem same-sex couples inept at raising children.  In fact, the slightest consideration that same-sex couples are some how incompetent parents perpetuates the tendencies to justify such a discriminatory discourse. 

            Perhaps if we shifted our focus from the potential risks of raising a child in a same-sex household to the potential risks of raising a child in a household with a married opposite-sex couple we can being to illuminate the nuances of what is implied by this bill.  For example, what if the child up for adoption is gay, and is placed in an extremely conservative homophobic family?  What if the child’s previous parents were gay, and he or she feels more comfortable being raised by a similar couple?  What if the child is guaranteed to get a better education if adopted by a same-sex couple?  I guess what I am trying to highlight with these questions is my doubt that politicians and citizens who support this bill are really advocating for the best interests of children in state custody.  It seems more reasonable to recognize that they are driven by their self-interests to get re-elected and preserve the sacredness of marriage, all at the expense of hundreds of children without a home and even more unmarried individuals who are willing, able and eager to provide one.  Yet, we’re supposed to believe in something called justice? 


  1. Keep in mind there are many views of justice. From a deontological standpoint, it is possible to say that homosexuality is immoral, and we should therefore not condone it by giving homosexuals the same rights.
    Kant said that for an action to be moral it needs to be able to be applied universally without contradiction and without problems. A society of nothing but homosexuals can exist but it can't at the same time. A homosexual society can't have kids to allow the society to continue existing. Also where did those homosexuals comefrom in the first place. You have society and also no society. Theres a contradiction, it violates reason, and is therefore immoral. The fact that we cannot have a society of all homosexuals without losing society means that homosexuality is immoral. It can't be applied universally.
    I don't actually believe what i said, but you need to be careful when you use words like justice, there are many interpretations of it to justify the stance of those people

  2. Thank you for reminding me that I should conceptualize my usage of 'justice' prior to using it. I was assuming that I had contextualized my concept of 'justice' in reference to our political system, which predicates a quality of being fair and reasonable.

    I see how your argument for the immorality of homosexuality may seem logical, but I invite you expand your interpretation of sexuality before treating as a constant. Do all my acts constitute my sexuality? Can a female self-define as a lesbian and still have intercourse with a male, or does that automatically define her as bisexual? If you agree that she must assume the title 'bisexual' I would ask that you not impose your strict definition of sexuality onto an autonomous being, and rather explore the implications of a strict definition of homosexuality. To present it a different way, are all heterosexuals still considered heterosexual if they have a single homosexual experience? What I am trying to illustrate is that the fundamental problem with your argument is your assumption that an all homosexual society can't reproduce (and would then die out--quickly), when in fact one's self-defined sexuality has little to do with our reproductive capacities. Members of an entirely homosexual society would still engage in sexual reproductive acts with their opposite sex so as to create and raise their beloved children. This, of course, may call for a radical change of our understanding of the familial institution, but it does not imply that it can't ever "be applied universally" and therefore is deemed immoral.


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