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The Nuclear Family's Half-Life

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A man, just graduating from high school, married his high school teacher. He was 19 and she was 26 years old. The year was 1962. He fathered two daughters. While his wife of 19 years was in the hospital having undergone cancer surgery, this man who had been supported by his wife through graduate school receiving a BA from Emory University in 1965, MA from Tulane University in 1968 and PhD in 1971 decided to divorce. This man had to be taken to court for child support, and he stated that $400/month plus $40/month allowance was the most he could afford to give his two daughters. The wife's church had to take up a collection to help her. It was also revealed that he was spending at the time about $400/month for dry cleaning and food. In today's money, $440/month amounts to $1,141/month while making $156,439/year. This man married a second time to an aide, this time lasting 19 years before a second divorce which was asked for by phone on Mother's Day. He had been having an extra-marital affair, eventually marrying for a third time to this woman.  

This man has long been an advocate for promoting traditional family values. He is quoted as saying "any male who doesn't support his children is a bum." He strongly criticizes sex outside of marriage. However, apparently, adultery is considered a family value by this man.  

Family values are a belief by conservatives to include the nuclear family essential to the definition. The nuclear family is defined here as a household with father, mother and their children only. It specifically does not include grandparents, parent's siblings, step-children, and other such people. This would be known as the extended family.  

If the nuclear family is a key factor in the opposition to same-sex marriage, then consider that the nuclear family is among the minority of family structures in the United States. When you look at households in the U.S. that are blended families, single-parent families, married couples without children, unmarried couples with children, and same-sex couples with children, the numbers amount to 75.9% of households (in 2005). While the nuclear family amounts to only 24.1%, the argument for an ideology that supports traditional morality begins to lose significance.  

The man at the beginning of this article has become a conservative strongman for those values. He was elected a Congressman from Georgia just before divorcing his first wife on her hospital bed. His power grew while carrying on an adulterous relationship with his now third wife and he became the Speaker of the House. Oddly enough, he converted to Catholicism this year, the religion of his adulteress wife. In November 2008 he stated, "Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion." This serial monogamist further stated, "These secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical..." This man is Newt Gingrich, adulterer and serial monogamist, the spokesperson for the values of the traditional nuclear family.  

Family values embraces so much more than simply having a father, mother and their children in a home. It includes all who want loving, committed relationships within the family structure. Imparting values of honesty, trust, hope, fairness, truth, and the list goes on. When the right wing recognizes what hypocrisy exists in their cause, perhaps they will come to perceive the gay rights movement as supporters of nuclear families as well as other family structures that provide for the well-being of those in the home.
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After 26 years retiring from the Navy, then another 14 years as a psychotherapist retiring again, I have finally found time to be more active.
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