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Old 2015-07-21, 21:02   #1497
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An excessively brief answer to both your questions: governments should have no say in how sapients are created. They should restrict themselves to how they are subsequently treated. I'll probably expand on this at greater length in future. Excessively brief includes not yet considering the consequences of rape, etc.
Re-reading this, I realise that I shouuld have written "little or no say" and "should largely restrict". Still excessively brief.

Note also that I believe in forward planning: being prepared for the future rather than reacting to it long after it occurs --- when it is often too late to do a good job, or even an adequate one.
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Old 2015-07-26, 02:15   #1498
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Ok, that's made things clearer. AFAICT, you agree with me that the genetic parents may have little or no connection with social parents: example, adoptee raised by others; surrogate parents, and so forth.
Yes, and that's part of the problem. Many genetic fathers have nothing to do with the children they fathered, and this is tragic. It is also costly to society.

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This is such a big subject that I can't really do it justice in one or two posts so it will take time. This one will attempt to set forth my present views on what the child can reasonably expect from a modern civilized society. If I understand you correctly, that's also your primary concern.
I don't think I'm talking about what children can expect from modern society, so much as what we should do to improve what they get.

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First off, I think it completely irrelevant, from the child's point of view (and should be from society's too but society appears to be well behind me in this respect), whether the child has zero, one, two, three or more genetic parents. To explain: two parents is the classical, and oversimplified view; three parents include those having maternal nuclear DNA and maternal mitochondrial DNA; one parent corresponds to a clone; more than three is beyond current technology but I see no reason why chromosomes can't be selected from a number of different individuals which provide for up to 47 parents (23 nuclear pairs and mitochondrial); pick-and-match genes, some of which may be entirely articial, allows the possibility of many more genetic parents. By "classical and oversimplified" I mean various degrees of in-breeding amongst the child's ancestors. Having zero genetic parents deserves a paragraph of its own.

At the moment, organisms with no genetic parents are remarkably primitive, barely reaching the beetle level of interaction with their environment, though a few almost idiot-savants exist, the most advance being Watson (AFAIK). Before too much longer AI's with self-awareness and human-level IQ >= 50 will be created. I'm firmly of the opinion that they should also be granted sapient rights. For that matter, I believe bonobos and chimpanzees should be given much greater protection than they currently are in most (all?) jurisdictions.

I haven't even started on the situations of ETs, cyborgs, chimeras, inhabitants of virtual universes, ...
I'm struggling to know how to respond to this part of your post. Firstly, because social science clearly shows us that children do in fact care about these things (even if you think they should find them irrelevant). Secondly, I'm also struggling because of your question-begging phrase "society appears to be well behind me in this respect".

But mostly because it seems to miss the essential issue I've been raising. What is happening to most of the children in our society?

Most children are not clones, they do not have artificial DNA, and not have three or more genetic parents. Most are not ETs, cyborgs, chimeras, or inhabitants of virtual universes. An overwhelming majority of children are the result of coitus. And we as a society used to encourage this act only in a stable marriage relationship.

Over the past few decades, the number of children being raised by their genetic parents has dwindled. And the cost to both children and society has been immense. What bothers me is that we don't seem to have the will to make a change.

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In summary I believe that all young sapients should be entitled to a supportive upbringing, regardless of their method of creation. What's important is sapiency, roughly defined as self-awareness and the minimum level of intelligence needed to attain that state.
So, what should we, as a society, do to "entitle" a support upbringing for the vast majority of children who are not being supported as they used to be?

It's nice to hear you want to be supportive. What specifically should we do to be supportive as a society?
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Old 2015-07-26, 08:55   #1499
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Yes, and that's part of the problem. Many genetic fathers have nothing to do with the children they fathered, and this is tragic. It is also costly to society.
Agreed, we are both addressing the question: what can we do to reduce the cost to society --- and children are members of society. We may need to address your estimation that genetic fathers' non-involvement is "tragic" but I'll put that aside for the moment.
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I don't think I'm talking about what children can expect from modern society, so much as what we should do to improve what they get.
Again, we are in agreement except that I believe that we need to start from where we are, in "modern society", and use that as a baseline to see what should remain, what should be removed, what should be modified and what should be created.
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I'm struggling to know how to respond to this part of your post. Firstly, because social science clearly shows us that children do in fact care about these things (even if you think they should find them irrelevant). Secondly, I'm also struggling because of your question-begging phrase "society appears to be well behind me in this respect".
Addressing your second point first: I've been thinking about sapient rights, obligations, education, support and so forth for over 20 years now. The vast majority of society has not. I firmly believe that intelligent and emotionally aware entities will be increasingly created outside the (western) model of a nuclear family consisting of a man and a woman in a long-term legally and socially recognized marriage contract. As you point out, many children are already being raised outside such an arrangement.

My view is that we should recognize that many "children" (which I use as shorthand for immature sapients of whatever nature) do not have at present and are increasingly likely not to have "parents" (again shorthand, I'm sure you can work out what I mean) which fit the man-and-wife model. Given that view, I believe society should accept it and develop already existing alternative models and establish others for child care in addition to the traditional one .

Adressing your first point, though once more excessively briefly: I agree most children at present and in most westernized societies do eventually care about their genetic heritage. Some adoptees appear not to but they are in a minority. Social sciences show that what the vast majority of children care about is being raised in a supportive environment, whether or not they are raised by their parents. Israeli kibbutzim have provided one alternative model of socially distributed child care. Many societies over the millenia have provided another: the extended family of parents, grandparents, elder siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins co-operating to raise youngsters. Adoption and fostering relationships have long provided other models.
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But mostly because it seems to miss the essential issue I've been raising. What is happening to most of the children in our society?
At the moment they are raised in a traditional man-and-wife nuclear family.
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Most children are not clones, they do not have artificial DNA, and not have three or more genetic parents. Most are not ETs, cyborgs, chimeras, or inhabitants of virtual universes. An overwhelming majority of children are the result of coitus. And we as a society used to encourage this act only in a stable marriage relationship.
Indeed. I am arguing that as time goes by we will be increasingly forced to define additional mechanisms, at least in part because of the increasing proportion of children not created in the traditional manner. My view is that additional mechanisms will come along faster than most expect. Consider,Louise Brown is now a mother herself. She was created in vitro when I could very easily have been a parent myself. In the subsequent 38 years many others have been created by IVF. That mechanism is now so mainstream that it's barely mentioned. The UK has legalised the creation of 3-parent children this year. The oldest known 3-parent child is now 18 and, presumably, has reached puberty. I forecast that in twenty years time the procedure will be as unexciting as IVF is now. I believe that human cloning will be feasible within 15 years and that twenty years after than will also be unexciting. I belive that sapient machines, at least at the chimp / elephant / New Caledonian crow / dolphin level of intelligence will be created within 20 years.

In these respects I appear to be well ahead of society in general.
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Over the past few decades, the number of children being raised by their genetic parents has dwindled. And the cost to both children and society has been immense. What bothers me is that we don't seem to have the will to make a change.
Again, we are in violent agreement. My view is that we should recognize the phenomenon exists and will become of ever greater importance. Rather than forcing everyone, children and adults, into the traditional model (which as you say is breaking down) we as a society need to develop additional models. Society needs to change. Society is changing. Society will change, come what may, but not necessarily in anything approaching an optimal manner. By thinking ahead we may be able to influence those changes for the better.
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So, what should we, as a society, do to "entitle" a support upbringing for the vast majority of children who are not being supported as they used to be? It's nice to hear you want to be supportive. What specifically should we do to be supportive as a society?
There are many, many possibilities. So many that initially I will give only a small selection from only a small portion of the subject: that to do with reducing the likelihood of children finding themselves in a situation of poor support. Some of these ideas will be controversial. Resolving disagreements is an important part of societal response.

First: raise the educational and financial status of children and child-rearers in general. Study after study shows that unwanted children are much more likely to be created by low-status individuals. Average fertility drops markedly as average wealth rises and especially so as women's status rises.

Second: make sexual and adult relationship education compulsory for all children, starting significantly before the age of puberty. The UK is only just beginning to catch up with other northern European countries in this regard. It is no coincidence, IMO, that the UK has a markedly higher incidence of STIs, teenage pregnancies and single mothers than Scandinavia and The Netherlands.

Third: make contraception and early-term abortifacients (up to, say 4th week of pregnancy) freely available and socially acceptable. "Accidents" will happen and sexually mature people will have sex, regardless of whether moralists advise abstinence.

Fourth: Make efforts to trace absent genetic parents and to enforce maintenance of their offspring. (Important proviso: this may not be a requirement, and should not be IMO, for gamete donors.) The UK, through the Child Support Agency, has been taking steps in this matter for quite a while now. As genetic databases become ever more ubiquitous identifying and tracing genetic parents will become ever easier. There are important civil liberty questions associated with such traceability. However, there are important civil liberty questions associated with restricting marriage to one man and one woman. You seem to have decided that restricting liberty in the latter case is a price worth paying.

Fifth: make adoption and fostering arrangement much simpler than they currently are in some jurisdiction and/or better monitored and supported in some others. The UK made a start on this in the last few years.

Sixth: provide financial and administrative support for those who raise children. Some societies are now more comfortable with such socialist ideas than others.


That will have to do for the time being.

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Old 2015-07-27, 14:55   #1500
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Agreed, we are both addressing the question: what can we do to reduce the cost to society --- and children are members of society. We may need to address your estimation that genetic fathers' non-involvement is "tragic" but I'll put that aside for the moment.

...

Again, we are in agreement except that I believe that we need to start from where we are, in "modern society", and use that as a baseline to see what should remain, what should be removed, what should be modified and what should be created.
I agree with both of these points.

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Addressing your second point first: I've been thinking about sapient rights, obligations, education, support and so forth for over 20 years now. The vast majority of society has not. I firmly believe that intelligent and emotionally aware entities will be increasingly created outside the (western) model of a nuclear family consisting of a man and a woman in a long-term legally and socially recognized marriage contract. As you point out, many children are already being raised outside such an arrangement.

My view is that we should recognize that many "children" (which I use as shorthand for immature sapients of whatever nature) do not have at present and are increasingly likely not to have "parents" (again shorthand, I'm sure you can work out what I mean) which fit the man-and-wife model. Given that view, I believe society should accept it and develop already existing alternative models and establish others for child care in addition to the traditional one .
So, by saying "society seems to be well behind me" you were saying that society is not currently dealing with these future issues, not that the current societal view on the morality/benefit of creating intelligent machines is backwards. Is that right?

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Adressing your first point, though once more excessively briefly: I agree most children at present and in most westernized societies do eventually care about their genetic heritage. Some adoptees appear not to but they are in a minority. Social sciences show that what the vast majority of children care about is being raised in a supportive environment, whether or not they are raised by their parents. Israeli kibbutzim have provided one alternative model of socially distributed child care. Many societies over the millenia have provided another: the extended family of parents, grandparents, elder siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins co-operating to raise youngsters. Adoption and fostering relationships have long provided other models.
Agreed, although I would add that whether or not one "cares" is somewhat beside the point. (The point is whether or not the nuclear family has the fewest social costs associated to it, whether children fare optimally in that environment, etc...)

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But mostly because it seems to miss the essential issue I've been raising. What is happening to most of the children in our society?
At the moment they are raised in a traditional man-and-wife nuclear family.
Perhaps world-wide that is true. But here in the US and elsewhere in the modern world, that is no longer true.

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I belive that sapient machines, at least at the chimp / elephant / New Caledonian crow / dolphin level of intelligence will be created within 20 years.
They already are, and they are called children. But I suppose you meant non-biological machines. :-p (Yes I'm attempting humor, and no don't take this as a sign that you need to be more precise!)

------------------------------

Now, on to the important points.

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First: raise the educational and financial status of children and child-rearers in general. Study after study shows that unwanted children are much more likely to be created by low-status individuals. Average fertility drops markedly as average wealth rises and especially so as women's status rises.
This is a great idea. But, it could be implemented in a number of different ways, some of which are not good. For instance, we could raise their educational and financial status by making it illegal for poor people to have children--but that is clearly a bad idea.

So, how would you implement your change?

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Second: make sexual and adult relationship education compulsory for all children, starting significantly before the age of puberty. The UK is only just beginning to catch up with other northern European countries in this regard. It is no coincidence, IMO, that the UK has a markedly higher incidence of STIs, teenage pregnancies and single mothers than Scandinavia and The Netherlands.
Agreed, in principle.

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Third: make contraception and early-term abortifacients (up to, say 4th week of pregnancy) freely available and socially acceptable. "Accidents" will happen and sexually mature people will have sex, regardless of whether moralists advise abstinence.
I don't like the term "freely available" (since it is inaccurate on many levels), so let's call it what it is-- "subsidized by the government".

I personally have no problem supporting government subsidization of contraception, if it could be shown that such measures actually led to lower birth-rates outside of marriage. Do you have any studies backing up such a claim?

Subsidizing abortions is different for me, as you might expect, since it involves the destruction of a life (which has a strong potential for great intelligence). Why the 4th week?

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Fourth: Make efforts to trace absent genetic parents and to enforce maintenance of their offspring. (Important proviso: this may not be a requirement, and should not be IMO, for gamete donors.) The UK, through the Child Support Agency, has been taking steps in this matter for quite a while now. As genetic databases become ever more ubiquitous identifying and tracing genetic parents will become ever easier. There are important civil liberty questions associated with such traceability. However, there are important civil liberty questions associated with restricting marriage to one man and one woman. You seem to have decided that restricting liberty in the latter case is a price worth paying.
I have a sincere question. How does supporting the definition of marriage as being between a man and a women restrict liberty?

Next, a side question. Why should gamete donors be free from tracing efforts, when it has such a cost on the children created from those materials?

I am in strong and complete agreement that we as a society should enforce maintenance by genetic parents of their offspring. Of all your ideas, I think this one would do the most to reduce the number of missing fathers.

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Fifth: make adoption and fostering arrangement much simpler than they currently are in some jurisdiction and/or better monitored and supported in some others. The UK made a start on this in the last few years.
Agreed.

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Sixth: provide financial and administrative support for those who raise children. Some societies are now more comfortable with such socialist ideas than others.
Do you have evidence that this lowers the number of children in need of help from the government? Here in the US, for instance, this often creates a cycle of dependency. By making cheap housing even cheaper for those with children, some women who wouldn't qualify go out and have children so that they will qualify.

I like the idea of helping, but I worry about the possibility of creating negative incentives.
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Old 2015-07-27, 15:34   #1501
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Quick reply to easily answered points. More substantive response later.
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So, by saying "society seems to be well behind me" you were saying that society is not currently dealing with these future issues, not that the current societal view on the morality/benefit of creating intelligent machines is backwards. Is that right?
Yes.
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They already are, and they are called children. But I suppose you meant non-biological machines. :-p (Yes I'm attempting humor, and no don't take this as a sign that you need to be more precise!)
Understood, but not restricting myself to machines. Consider genetically enhanced bonobos for instance.

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I don't like the term "freely available" (since it is inaccurate on many levels), so let's call it what it is-- "subsidized by the government".
My bad. I also meant free as in speech , and not necessarily free as in beer. I believe that both interpretations are important. Government may or may not be the subsidizing agent. Charitable organizations or free enterprise, for instance, could also play a role. More important, IMO, is for there to be no social stigma or embarassment attached to contraceptive devices, techniques, etc. Make it become as unnoteworthy as washing your hands after using the toilet or brushing your teeth each day. Yes, I know that each of these activities are not universally followed all the time but ...
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Subsidizing abortions is different for me, as you might expect, since it involves the destruction of a life (which has a strong potential for great intelligence). Why the 4th week?
4th week is a purely arbitrary choice on my part. At that age the embryo has no discernable intelligence and only very limited interaction with its environment. To me it is as human as Hela, itself a genetically human female. Four weeks is also ample time for pregnancy to be tested with a high degree of reliability. Subsidy need not be an issue as early-term abortifacients need not be particularly expensive. The morning-after pill is a widely used example.
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I have a sincere question. How does supporting the definition of marriage as being between a man and a women restrict liberty?
I thought that one had already been cleared up. Gays are not at liberty to enter into a marriage contract in most of the world.
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Next, a side question. Why should gamete donors be free from tracing efforts, when it has such a cost on the children created from those materials?
Pragmatics. Sperm donation fell dramatically when traceability requirements were introduced in the UK. To compensate, foreign (i.e. untraceable) donors were in greater demand and serious concern has been raised about the long-term consequences of reducing the gene pool by reducing the number of donor genomes.

However, I'm not dogmatic about this one as long as the rights and expectations of the donors' are satisfied as well as those of their children.
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Old 2015-07-27, 18:45   #1502
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Perhaps world-wide that is true. But here in the US and elsewhere in the modern world, that is no longer true.
An easily accessible entry into the literature indicates that you are wrong.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single...t#Demographics In particular "The results of the 2010 United States Census showed that 27% of children live with one parent, consistent with the emerging trend noted in 2000."

In the US, UK and other western societies, single-parent families and single-parent children are a minority.
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Old 2015-07-28, 00:55   #1503
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An easily accessible entry into the literature indicates that you are wrong.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single...t#Demographics In particular "The results of the 2010 United States Census showed that 27% of children live with one parent, consistent with the emerging trend noted in 2000."

In the US, UK and other western societies, single-parent families and single-parent children are a minority.
My question was: "What is happening to most of the children in our society?" Your response was: "At the moment they are raised in a traditional man-and-wife nuclear family."

I took "traditional" to mean "genetic, married, never divorced parents". By that measure this article says that indeed less than half of the children in the US are raised in such a situation. If we allow previous divorces, this article says that 58% of children are currently with both their biological parents who are married (and another 4% are with their biological parents, who are not currently married). However, the article also points out:

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The Census picture of children’s living arrangements is only a snapshot at a single point in time. It does not portray family relationships between children and parents that cross household boundaries. Nor does it show us changes in arrangements and relationships that occur as children grow and develop: for instance, if current trends hold steady, by the time they reach 17 years old, less than half of today’s youth will have spent their entire childhood in a two-parent family. But the Census findings do give an indication of the challenges we face in trying to ensure that all children experience a stable and supportive family life.
If by "traditional" you meant to include adoptions, etc..., then yes, it is a majority.

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Old 2015-07-28, 01:07   #1504
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Yes.
Then I retract my problem with your statement about society being behind you, and am in agreement.

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My bad. I also meant free as in speech , and not necessarily free as in beer. I believe that both interpretations are important. Government may or may not be the subsidizing agent. Charitable organizations or free enterprise, for instance, could also play a role. More important, IMO, is for there to be no social stigma or embarassment attached to contraceptive devices, techniques, etc. Make it become as unnoteworthy as washing your hands after using the toilet or brushing your teeth each day. Yes, I know that each of these activities are not universally followed all the time but ...
I agree with the spirit of much of what you write. However, I think there will always be some social stigma to it, as long as sex outside of marriage has a social stigma to it. And there are a number of reasons to keep such a social stigma apart from the possibility of children outside of marriage, failure of contraception, etc...

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4th week is a purely arbitrary choice on my part. At that age the embryo has no discernable intelligence and only very limited interaction with its environment.
This seems a reasonable social policy to me (though I don't agree with it).

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I thought that one had already been cleared up. Gays are not at liberty to enter into a marriage contract in most of the world.
As I understand it (and I may be misunderstanding what you meant to say), this seems false to me. When entering a marriage contract (even before gay marriage was legalized) there was no test whether someone was gay. They were at the same liberty to enter the institution, if they so desired, as anyone else.

If I misunderstood what you meant, feel free to clarify.
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Old 2015-07-28, 07:19   #1505
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As I understand it (and I may be misunderstanding what you meant to say), this seems false to me. When entering a marriage contract (even before gay marriage was legalized) there was no test whether someone was gay. They were at the same liberty to enter the institution, if they so desired, as anyone else.

If I misunderstood what you meant, feel free to clarify.
You misunderstood me due to my lamentable lack of clarity.

Homosexuals were, and still are in many places, not at liberty to enter a contractual relationship equivalent to that available to heterosexual couples. You appear to believe that they should be denied that liberty because of its apparently deleterious effects elsewhere in society. I suggest, but at the moment do not argue strongly in favour, that increased traceability of absent genetic parents may have advantageous effects despite it having deleterious effects as well.

Perhaps we could try another approach, one on which I was embarking before the recent SCOTUS decision.

Which characteristics of what you call "marriage" would you permit homosexual couples?

IIRC, you've already allowed for legally recognized co-habitation and sharing of property. I'd have to go back in the thread to list any others.

In other words, what's your line in the sand?
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Old 2015-07-28, 10:33   #1506
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My question was: "What is happening to most of the children in our society?" Your response was: "At the moment they are raised in a traditional man-and-wife nuclear family."

I took "traditional" to mean "genetic, married, never divorced parents". By that measure this article says that indeed less than half of the children in the US are raised in such a situation. If we allow previous divorces, this article says that 58% of children are currently with both their biological parents who are married (and another 4% are with their biological parents, who are not currently married). However, the article also points out:

If by "traditional" you meant to include adoptions, etc..., then yes, it is a majority.
Curious. I thought that re-marriage and adoption were traditional arrangements for raising children. They've certainly appeared in many cultures for (at least) several millennia. Some ancient religious tracts explicitly state what should be done to care for widows and orphans.
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Old 2015-07-28, 14:08   #1507
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Curious. I thought that re-marriage and adoption were traditional arrangements for raising children. They've certainly appeared in many cultures for (at least) several millennia. Some ancient religious tracts explicitly state what should be done to care for widows and orphans.
Sure, but as you saw the Pew study used the word "traditional" in the more restricted form, and I thought you were using it similarly. I'm glad we are on the same page now.

I think the reason they and others use it in this restricted form is to emphasize that the children raised by genetic, never-divorced parents fare significantly better than any other group.

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Homosexuals were, and still are in many places, not at liberty to enter a contractual relationship equivalent to that available to heterosexual couples. You appear to believe that they should be denied that liberty because of its apparently deleterious effects elsewhere in society.
My support of defining marriage as the union of a man and a women does not mean that I believe same-sex couples should be denied the liberty to enter contractual relationships, equivalent in the relevant ways, to marriages. Indeed, I support civil unions, as you yourself seemed to recall in your post.

But I also support the liberty to distinguish between the two arrangements when that is relevant. For instance, one significant difference between them is that one arrangement has the ability to create children by accident, while the other does not. This, among other reasons, has led to the formation of common-law marriage laws. But common-law marriage makes little-to-no sense in the realm of same-sex roommates.

So, to sum up, I still assert my position does not restrict liberty. But I would further assert that forcing government to treat the two situations equivalently, despite rational reasons to the contrary, does restrict liberty.

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Which characteristics of what you call "marriage" would you permit homosexual couples?
All those that are not rationally related to encouraging/helping-with/supporting/etc... childbirth and parenting of genetic children.

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In other words, what's your line in the sand?
Rationality.
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