Sunday, September 7, 2008

Family Values

I approach this subject gingerly, stones, glass houses, all that stuff. I make a disclaimer here, too: I'm a late middle-aged gay Democrat living in an open 25 year relationship. I have four children, and I was absent in their lives while they were growing up.

I'm concerned about Sarah Palin's politics as they are shaped by her religious and political beliefs. Her family values are different than mine, and I'm afraid that a McCain-Palin administration might want to impose her brand of family values on the rest of us. I think it's fair game in this election to examine her family values and to explore their implications.

Governor Palin is opposed to abortion except to protect the life of the mother. She would ban abortions for women whose pregnancies are caused by rape or incest. This stance goes beyond the protection and sanctity of life to fundamental government interference in traumatizing personal crimes against women. In effect, the government forces women to carry the fruit of the violence with them for another nine months. This is not a family value that I can support.

Governor Palin is opposed to sex education other than abstinence-only education. People who support abstinence-only education often point out that contraception fails, but, as Governor Palin knows, abstinence-only education fails, too. A better policy is to teach young adults that abstinence is the best choice for preventing pregnancy and disease, but those same young adults need to learn the mechanics of disease and pregnancy prevention. They need more information, not less informaton. High school kids will continue to have sex, regardless of what they are told about it. Give them the tools to make the best decisions that fits their situations. Doing anything less means more pregnant teenagers.

Governor Palin has a beautiful family, and lots of love and support from her extended family to help her raise her children. She and her husband seem to manage the balance of being parents, and supporting their family, too. I believe this is an important example to bring into the public light. I also believe that many families don't have the extended family or resources to be effective parents or build strong families. Maybe seeing families like the Palins, the Obamas, the Bidens, and the McCains at the conventions and during the campaign will focus some attention on the urgent needs that many families have, especially for childcare and healthcare.

Finally, my family values are very different than Governor Palin's values, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't sit down and talk with each other. I'm worried about single mothers. I'm worried about young men who father children without thinking through the consequences. I agree with the governor that abortion is not a good solution, rather we need to find effective ways to prevent teen pregnancies from occurring. I personally believe that abstinence-only education doesn't work.

I won't be voting for McCain-Palin in November.