(Crossposted to journal and LiveJournal)
One of the anti-gay-marriage arguments I’ve seen used more than most is the notion that a child who grows up without a father is doomed to failure.Â The people I’ve seen carrying on about it are just absolutely, positively incensed at the idea of lesbian couples raising children “fatherless” or (less often) two gay men raising children “motherless.”
The issue of no father, though, seems to dominate their concerns.Â I’ve seen more carrying-on about the idea of fathers being necessary and kids without fathers coming to a bad end than about any other “no parent” issue.
Well, of course fathers are necessary (especially in the biological sense).Â They’re good to have around.Â If a kid has heterosexual parents it’s a good thing to have one of each gender who form a stable relationship so the kids start life with a sense of security.Â If a kid has homosexual parents, it’s a good thing to have two parents who form a stable relationship so the kids start life with a sense of security.Â Funny how that works out.
But is growing up fatherless a fast path to jail?Â I got to thinking about that this afternoon, so I did a little research.
George Washington’s father died when he was 11.
Thomas Jefferson’s father died when he was 14.
Andrew Jackson’s father died three weeks before he was born.
Andrew Johnson’s father died when he was 3.
Rutherford Hayes’ father died 10 weeks before he was born.
James Garfield’s father died when he was 17 months old.
Grover Cleveland’s father died when he was 16.
Herbert Hoover was orphaned at age 9.
Franklin Roosevelt’s father was an invalid throughout his childhood.
John Kennedy…Â well, we all know what kind of father old Joe Kennedy was.
Richard Nixon’s father was abusive.
Gerald Ford’s father was abusive and his parents separated 16 days after he was born.
Ronald Reagan’s father was an abusive alcoholic.
Bill Clinton’s father died 3 months before he was born and his stepfather was an abusive alcoholic.
Barack Obama’s father abandoned his family and his parents were divorced when he was 3.
So that’s 15 out of the 43 men who became president who had absent or abusive fathers.Â It may be more than that; that’s just my quick run through easily available sources.Â But even at that, it’s 38%.
Somehow I think that ought to be considered, next time people start thrashing around insisting that fatherless children are on a fast track to doom.