1) READ BOTH OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES
2) SELECT THE ARTICLE WITH WHICH YOU LEAST AGREE.
3) ANALYZE THE ARGUMENTS IN THAT ARTICLE (THE ARTICLE WITH WHICH YOU LEAST AGREE).
The analysis should, 1) frame the issue by a) identifying the issue of the article and explaining the main point or conclusion of the arguments presented and b) by explaining something about the context, e.g. the general point of view liberal, conservative, the tone, or other relevant background information etc.
2) Explain at least the main reasons (premises) mentioned that support the main point. You need not explain EVERY premise in the argument. But you should show the reader you understand the general structure of the argument of the article and how key evidence and ideas are used to support the conclusion Make sure that you explain carefully those elements of the argument that you will critique in evaluation. REMEMBER: THE QUALITY OF YOUR ANALYSIS OF THE ARTICLE YOU DISAGREE WITH WILL BE EVALUATED INDEPENDENTLY FROM YOUR CRITIQUE AND THE ARGUMENTS PRESENTED FOR YOUR OWN POSITION. DEMONSTRATE TO THE READER THAT YOU UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE FINE POINTS OF THE ARGUMENTS IN THE POSITION OPPOSING YOUR OWN.
4) EVALUATE AND CRITIQUE THE ARGUMENTS. Form a criticism of the arguments. In your evaluation and criticism you should a) clearly identify the premise(s) or inference(s) in the argument that you object to, and b) present evidence and reasoning why the premise(s) are questionable or false or the inference(s) do not support claims.
5) FORMULATE YOUR OWN ARGUMENT ON THE ISSUE OF THE ARTICLE OR A RELATED ISSUE. Following your criticism and evaluation of the arguments in the article, formulate your own position on the issue of the article or a related issue. Then, support that position with at least two arguments. These arguments should present evidence and reasoning which provide cogent support for your position.
To the threshold of equal rights
Sfgate.com: Friday, February 13, 2004
THE DEBATE over same-sex marriage moved out of the margins Thursday. It's no longer a matter of whether "separate but equal" -- civil unions, domestic partners, marriage by any other name -- is the moral and legal equivalent of a state-sanctioned declaration of "husband and wife." San Francisco finally, officially, cut to the essence of the issue Thursday by issuing marriage licenses at City Hall to same-sex couples.
It may seem premature to some Americans, but for 83-year-old Del Martin and 79-year-old Phyllis Lyon, it was a long time coming. The lesbian couple, together for about a half-century, became the first in the United States to marry with the full recognition of a government body. Tears flowed during the historic moment at City Hall.
There was no doubt that the euphoria of this revolutionary action will soon give way to a long, potentially tedious legal battle that may ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The issue was forced by Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is showing extraordinary mettle in his first weeks of office. Newsom declared that his reading of the California Constitution left "no room for any form of discrimination."
There is no doubt that many Americans remain highly uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. Some members of Congress, with an assist by President Bush, are pandering to this unease by proposing a constitutional amendment to restrict the rights of gays and lesbians. Democrats are clearly worried about it becoming a wedge issue in the presidential race. Democratic front-runner John Kerry has been taking the typically hedged position of most politicians, supporting an expansion of rights but adhering to a narrow definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
San Francisco's bold move will force the core question, whether Americans -- and its elected officials -- are ready or not.
We extend our best wishes to Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon; may they live happily ever after. We extend our kudos to Mayor Newsom, who recognized that confronting discrimination is not about timing or political calculation, but about about principle. We also offer words of caution to Americans who may be tempted to reflexively want to support a constitutional amendment in defense of a tradition they have known and cherished through their lifetimes. Pause to contemplate whether discrimination based on sexual orientation is consistent with the constitutional principles that have defined and defended this country's precious freedoms.
The hour has arrived to decide whether there is any rationale -- in a nation guided by a Declaration of Independence assuring "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" -- for government to deprive some Americans from the rights and responsibilities of marriage.
San Francisco should be proud to have provoked this showdown.
End of marriage as we know it
(sfgate.com) Stanley Kurtz, Sunday, February 29, 2004
The mayor of San Francisco has made up his mind about same-sex marriage without considering the experience of countries where same-sex unions already exist. Scandinavia has had a system of marriage-like same-sex registered partnerships for more than a decade. Marriage in Scandinavia is dying.
According to data from European statistical bureaus and demographers, a majority of children in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock, as are 60 percent of firstborn children in Denmark. In those socially liberal districts of Norway where acceptance of same-sex marriage is highest, marriage has virtually ceased to exist.
When registered partnerships were enacted in the early 1990s, Scandinavian marriage was already in decline. Many Scandinavian parents were having children without getting married, although parents still tended to marry before the birth of the second child. Cohabiting parents break up at two to three times the rate of married parents. So as Scandinavian parents began to cohabit, family dissolution increased -- especially after the birth of the first child, which was often treated as a test of the cohabiting relationship. As the link between marriage and parenthood weakened, there seemed little reason to withhold marriage from same-sex couples.
Yet once enacted, de facto same-sex marriage tended to lock in and reinforce the separation of marriage from parenthood. Today, in areas of Norway where same-sex marriage is most accepted, 80 percent of firstborn children and nearly 60 percent of subsequent children are born out of wedlock. In conservative and religious parts of Norway, where out-of-wedlock birthrates were still relatively low in the early '90s, births outside of marriage have also risen significantly.
Marital decline in Scandinavia is the product of many factors: contraception, abortion, women in the workforce, cultural individualism, secularism and the welfare state. Scandinavia is extremely secular, and its welfare state unusually large -- which is a factor in why it has no underclass. Scandinavian law tends to treat marriage and cohabitation alike. Yet the factors driving Scandinavian marital decline exist in all Western countries. Scholars such as David Popenoe note that family patterns tend to spread from Scandinavia throughout the West. Single-parenting is on the rise among the underclass in England, where the Scandinavian pattern of middle- class parental cohabitation has recently increased.
Scandinavian registered partnerships have accelerated family decline in several ways. Disputes over registered partnerships have split Norway's Lutheran church. In socially liberal Nordland county (where marriage is a relative rarity), churches fly rainbow flags. These flags welcome gay and lesbian ministers in registered partnerships and signal that clergy who do not approve of homosexual conduct are banned from preaching. Yet these conservative clergymen are the only ones to preach in favor of married parenthood. So the purge of conservative clergy in Nordland has removed a critical cultural check on births outside of marriage.
Same-sex registered partnerships have also reinforced the sense that marriage and parenthood are unrelated. Scandinavian opinion leaders have not seized on de facto same-sex marriage to urge marriage upon heterosexual parents. Instead, Scandinavian public intellectuals such as Kari Moxnes have touted registered partnerships as proof that any family form is acceptable. In 2003, Sweden gave same-sex registered partners the right to adopt. Yet instead of treating adoption by gays and lesbians as an affirmation of the connection between marriage and parenthood, advocates identified it with the need to accept single parenthood.
Most Americans take it for granted that parents ought to be married. Yet the prestigious American Law Institute has already proposed an equalization of marriage and cohabitation along Scandinavian lines in its 2000 report, "Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution." We have even seen the bare beginnings of middle-class parental cohabitation in America. Same-sex marriage would draw out these trends and put us firmly on the path toward a Scandinavian-style separation of marriage and parenthood.
Growth of the Scandinavian family pattern would have enormous consequences in America, especially in the underclass. A further separation of marriage from parenthood could reverse the healthy turn away from single parenting that we have begun to see since welfare reform.
Mayor Gavin Newsom has defied California law without bothering to look at the record elsewhere. Scandinavia's decade-long experiment makes it clear that same-sex marriage could spell the end of marriage itself.
Stanley Kurtz is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. This article was adapted from "The End of Marriage in Scandinavia" in the Feb. 2 Weekly Standard.
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