S.L. Tribune op-ed: World Conference of Families does not spread fear

WCFfamilyof3As administrator of the ninth World Congress of Families (WCF) to be held next fall in Salt Lake City, and as a lifelong Utah resident and Latter-day Saint, I appreciate the opportunity that Erika Munson’s Nov. 2 op-ed provides to explain why Sutherland Institute is bringing the ninth World Congress of Families to Salt Lake City.

When my dad founded the Institute almost 20 years ago, one of the core principles was: “To live as free people, Utah law, policy and culture must cherish family as the fundamental unit of society.” To this end, Sutherland has long worked on a variety of issues, from immigration to prison reform, with groups holding a diversity of viewpoints, always with these questions in mind: How do we strengthen families through public policy? How do we address challenges relating to the breakdown of the family? World Congress of Families IX has that same focus.

As the World Congress has done in the past, WCF IX will convene internationally recognized scholars, political leaders, world-class entertainment and family advocates to help organizations throughout the world learn, share ideas and collaborate on ways to strengthen the family.

Another essential part of this effort is bringing together diverse faiths that, despite doctrinal differences, unite to support the family – Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Protestants, Jews and Muslims.

The World Congress of Families stands with millions across the globe who do amazing work on a wide range of critical issues affecting the family, including declining fertility, human trafficking, parental rights, euthanasia, marriage, adoption, pornography, drug and alcohol addictions, fatherlessness, divorce, religious freedom, sanctity of human life and so on.

Notably, past speakers at WCF events include The Hon. John Anderson, former Australian deputy prime minister; Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (Holy See) and adviser to Pope Francis (Holy See); Sheri Dew, former second counselor in the LDS General Relief Society presidency; Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi of the Inter-Provincial Rabbinate in Holland; the late President Lech Kaczynski, past president of Poland; Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr.; Elder Russell M. Nelson, apostle of the LDS Church; Paige Patterson, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Jehan Sadat, former first lady of Egypt; Ellen Sauerbrey, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and Brad Wilcox, associate professor of sociology, University of Virginia. Read more

U.N. Human Rights Commission defends the family unit

Flag_of_the_United_Nations.svgIn a post titled “No Good Document Goes Unpunished,” Laura Bunker of United Families International points out that even the United Nations recognizes the family as the fundamental unit of society. She writes,

In observance of the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, the UN Human Rights Council recently adopted a resolution on the “Protection of the Family.”

This remarkable, family-affirming UN document recognizes:

•    “that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children and that children, for the full and harmonious development of their personality, should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,”
•    “that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community,”
•    “that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Perhaps even more significant than the language this resolution contains is what it does not contain. The Human Rights Council rejected an amendment that has been adopted in other past UN documents, endorsing “various forms of the family.”

Of course, there are those who object to this most natural, commonsense, human concept:

Opponents claim that the countries who voted for the resolution “betrayed their responsibilities as members of the Council,” and describe the document as “censorship,” “divisive,” “problematic,” “deeply flawed,” and “appalling.” …

For example, a Joint Statement opposing the resolution expresses concern that, “some states will seek to exploit it as a vehicle for promoting a narrow, exclusionary and patriarchal concept of ‘the family’” and “the family is also a setting in which human rights abuses sometimes take place.”

For our part, we’d like to applaud the U.N. Human Rights Council for getting this one right.

Click here to read “No Good Document Goes Unpunished” on the United Families International Blog.

There’s so much more to caregiving than government ‘support’ – Mero Moment, 7/8/14

elderlyThis post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

Big-government advocates at AARP tell us that Utah ranks dead last in support for family caregivers. To be clear, AARP means that Utah ranks dead last in providing government support for family caregivers. A claim to which most Utahns would respond, “Well, isn’t that the cultural point of family caregiving?” We care for our own loved ones for a variety of reasons, including that most of us feel as if caring for our elderly parents and relatives is our personal responsibility.

The AARP research isn’t news. It’s politics. They admit that 89 percent of adults with disabilities in Utah are satisfied with their quality of life. Nearly every solution AARP has to the genuine needs of elderly Americans involves your tax dollars.

I was 26 years old when I asked to be and was appointed legal guardian for my disabled sister, my only sibling. I remember our small two-bedroom apartment in Provo back then. I was a student at BYU. My sister shared a bedroom with our two young daughters. When our son was born, we put his crib in the living room. We sacrificed to care for her.

Today, my elderly parents and my sister live with us. Mom is at a rehabilitation facility due to a broken hip. Dad has dementia and my sister has developed even more health complications. My wife and I live in our basement because my parents and sister can’t go up and down steps. Caregiving is what we do. We feed them. We shop for them. We handle their finances. We drive them to appointments. We keep them company. We have their health care proxies.

I think I can speak confidently for all family caregivers when I say – we’re exhausted. My wife and I hardly have time for each other. Family caregivers do need support but not like AARP thinks.

Here’s the support we could use. Read more

Self-selected sample sinks same-sex study

iStock_000002098320MediumAn Australian study about the well-being of children in families headed by same-sex couples has been seized upon as an indication that the children benefit from an ungendered structure that creates “a more harmonious family unit … therefore feeding on to better health and well-being.”

But wait a minute, and look deeper.

In addition to the problem of comparing children to the general population rather than children raised by married couples, you have the problem of a sample recruited through gay and lesbian media and events, and the problem that results are reported only by the parents.

Here are some other things we noticed looking at the actual study. The mean age of participants is 5.12 and the median age is 4. That doesn’t give us many years to pick up differences. Unfortunately, the study doesn’t report the corresponding demographics for the comparison group.

The number of children in the sample born while the current relationship is ongoing also seems much higher than is generally the case where far higher percentages of children of same-sex couples were conceived in a previous relationship.

The measures used seem to focus on physical health which (especially at the young age of the participants) would not seem to be very responsive to parenting, unless asthma is caused by parents. (The most touted value, “family cohesion,” is not defined.)

In an article for the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse website pointing out the problem with the study’s methodology, social scientist Mark Regnerus writes:

[T]his non-random sample reflects those who actively pursued participating in the study, personal and political motivations included. In such a charged environment, the public—including judges and media—would do well to demand better-quality research designs, not just results they approve of.

Snowball sampling doesn’t cut it. When I want to know who’s most apt to win the next election, I don’t ask my friends whom they support. Nor do I field a survey asking interested people to participate. No, I want a random sample of the sort often conducted by Gallup, NORC, or Knowledge Networks.

Another reason for healthy skepticism is that the [study] participants—parents reporting about their children’s lives — are all well aware of the political import of the study topic, and an unknown number of them certainly signed up for that very reason. As a result, it seems unwise to trust their self-reports, given the high risk of “social desirability bias,” or the tendency to portray oneself (or here, one’s children) as better than they actually are.

So our question is this: Will the left and its academics take the path of integrity (dismissing this study because of its methodology) or the path of hypocrisy (embracing this study, despite its methodology, simply because its conclusions fit their ideological paradigm)?

Utah beware! A list of ‘extremists’ and potentially ‘very dangerous’ people at the World Congress of Families

Family_playing_a_board_gameYou may have heard a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) spokesman claim on Utah radio that Sutherland Institute will be bringing 3,000 “extremists” and “very dangerous” people to Utah to attend the ninth World Congress of Families (WCF) next year.

That struck us as an odd and rather irrational claim, given who has attended and spoken at WCF: presidents of nations, religious leaders and people of faith from most major religious denominations, widely published scholars and researchers, high-level government officials, and extraordinary people engaged in helping the less fortunate around the world. While this description evidently leads the HRC to see “extremists,” it reminds us of the majority of mainstream Utah.

In any case, we thought it would be useful to provide a brief list of some past WCF attendees, supporters and speakers. Read more

Sutherland’s amicus brief calls marriage and family ‘pre-political institutions’

Wedding ringsSutherland Institute filed an amicus curiae brief Monday with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in the state’s appeal of Kitchen v. Herbert – the case in which the judge struck down Utah’s Amendment 3, briefly allowing same-sex marriages to be performed.

Judge Robert Shelby wrongly “characterized the ‘goal’ of Utah’s marriage amendment as ‘imposition of inequality’ as if legislators had gathered in a brainstorming session to determine how to harm the chances of same-sex couples, and came up with a thing called marriage to which these couples could be intentionally excluded,” the brief says.

Marriage and family are “pre-political institutions,” it says. “Given that marriage and family are pre-political and not mere instruments of state policy, they are fundamental to a system of ordered liberty …”

“All of this is not to say the state has no role to play in regards to marriage and the family. The state can, and ought to, provide a legal structure for the family to be recognized and it can protect the integrity of that structure.”

Click here to read the full brief.

Why the ‘natural family’ matters to the community

Family beachMany Utahns are asking why, exactly, the “natural family” is so vital.

The short answer is this:

A free society requires formal and broad recognition that the natural family is the fundamental unit of society. Marriage is the cornerstone of the natural family.

Defining marriage as between a man and a woman is the central characteristic of this cornerstone because a man and a woman provide a free society with many vital benefits such as child-bearing and child-rearing.

An equally important benefit comes from the complementarity between a man and a woman – combined, men, women and children are healthier, more prosperous, better educated, happier, more communal and transcendent, and physically safer.

In other words, the natural family promotes limited government; any other “family” formation increases government dependency.

The recent Judge Shelby ruling, on the backs of several Justice Anthony Kennedy rulings, has dethroned the natural family as the fundamental unit of society and replaced the natural family with selfish individualism – meaning these radical court decisions seek to center a free society on any chosen behavior between consenting adults, regardless of the common good and the state interest.

If you believe in limited government within a free society, you would support the natural family as the fundamental unit of society.

For more on the social science research, you can read this report, “Why Marriage Matters,” found here: http://sutherlandinstitute.org/…/why_marriage_matters.pdf

Dodgy social science in the Utah same-sex marriage case

graduationIn their recent submissions to a federal court judge who’s being asked to mandate same-sex marriage in Utah, the plaintiffs included a declaration from a sociologist, Charlotte Patterson, who commonly weighs in on litigation with the message that mothers and fathers are interchangeable. The problem, of course, is that there are now studies with larger sample sizes and employing better methodologies than have been conducted in the past which indicate there are real differences in outcomes for children raised by married mothers and fathers compared to those raised by same-sex couples.

For instance, a very recent Canadian study that suggested poorer educational outcomes for the latter. The plaintiffs’ expert tries to minimize this study.

We asked the author of the Canadian study, Dr. Douglas Allen of Simon Fraser University, for his response to the treatment of his work in the “expert” affidavit. Read on for his response:

Read more

Family and poverty

familypovertyOn Father’s Day 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama spoke at the Apostolic Church in Chicago. He spoke about families and how tragic it is that half of all black children live in single-parent homes. He said this rate had doubled during his lifetime, and he lamented that “fathers have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”

The presidential candidate spoke of the societal ills caused by this weakening of the family. It results in poor education, higher crime and rising poverty. His remarks have application to every family of every race in America. The principles of two-parent homes and the advantages they give to children are undeniable.

For instance, in the 1960s the U.S. poverty rate was 13.3 percent. Forty years later, despite huge gains in our national wealth, the rate had only crept downward to 12.8 percent. Many have cited this number as proof that the economy during this time only rewarded the rich or the lucky. But the truth is that the poverty rate decreased dramatically for every single demographic group, no matter how you slice up the numbers. Married, unmarried, children or childless – the poverty rate decreased across the board. So why did the total rate drop so little?

Click here to find out why, and much more, at Utah Citizen Network.

DOMA ruling reveals ultimate goal of "gay rights" activists

Rainbow hat

The following post is a transcript of a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations.

Recent Supreme Court decisions regarding homosexual rights have confirmed the validity of the old adage that, “The devil always oversteps his bounds.” In the Defense of Marriage case, Justice Anthony Kennedy reminded every Utahn leery of “gay rights” why we’re right to be suspicious. The goal isn’t equality or fairness under the law. The goal is public acceptance of homosexuality.

Justice Kennedy told Americans that all attempts to defend traditional marriage are acts of animus, malice and irrationality. He left no room for exceptions. This is a great lesson for our Utah Legislature to remember when it convenes for the 2014 legislative session and is asked to, once again, support a statewide nondiscrimination law.

Like Justice Kennedy’s opinion, the basis for nondiscrimination laws is one person’s perception that another person is motivated by hatred and bigotry. The proposed Utah law is based on what one person thinks about another person’s thoughts. It assumes any unwitting landlord or employer is guilty until proven innocent if some homosexual doesn’t get his way. It is an unjust and immoral legal construction. Read more