Be a man, a Morehouse Man — and treat your boyfriend right

I’m sure other people will have more insightful things to say about Obama’s speech to Morehouse College’s graduation today [official transcript here, one copy of the video here]. But let me just point out the juxtaposition of what seemed like serious heteronormativity with whatever the opposite of heteronormativity is.


He opened with jokes about the rain, including this:

I see some moms and grandmas here, aunts, in their Sunday best — although they are upset about their hair getting messed up.

And he gave several references to what it is to “be a man” — such as, “a family man, and a working man, and a Morehouse Man,” and, referencing previous Morehouse graduates…

…what it means to be a man — to serve your city like Maynard Jackson; to shape the culture like Spike Lee; to be like Chester Davenport, one of the first people to integrate the University of Georgia Law School.

And then there was this:

Keep setting an example for what it means to be a man. Be the best husband to your wife, or your boyfriend or your partner [some response, and he wags his finger at them.] Be the best father you can be to your children. Because nothing is more important.

That’s my transcription from the video at 22:17. For whatever reason, this passage has been transcribed incorrectly by some people. The White House website quotes it as:

Be the best husband to your wife, or you’re your boyfriend, or your partner.

While USA Today had it as:

“Be the best husband to your wife, or boyfriend to your partner.”

Anyway, he also had an interesting passage on what it means to be an outsider in America:

As Morehouse Men, many of you know what it’s like to be an outsider; know what it’s like to be marginalized; know what it’s like to feel the sting of discrimination. And that’s an experience that a lot of Americans share. Hispanic Americans know that feeling when somebody asks them where they come from or tell them to go back. Gay and lesbian Americans feel it when a stranger passes judgment on their parenting skills or the love that they share. Muslim Americans feel it when they’re stared at with suspicion because of their faith. Any woman who knows the injustice of earning less pay for doing the same work — she knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. So your experiences give you special insight that today’s leaders need.

Including “gay and lesbian Americans” in that list of outsiders isn’t shocking anymore. But I was intrigued by his reference to “parenting skills.” Could it be a nod to the Regnerus affair, in which the parenting outcomes of gays and lesbians were at issue?

5 thoughts on “Be a man, a Morehouse Man — and treat your boyfriend right

  1. I think it’s just that Obama doesn’t know much about “parenting skills” himself. He makes clear he tried to shift his responsibility for parenting when his children were small to his wife.

    He and Michelle seem to have created a stylized marriage, where she is “mom-in-chief” and he pursues public power.

    He is concerned with equal pay for women, but not the way in which the federal tax and benefits system assigns unpaid work to women and paid work to men, giving them men more room, time, energy to compete for resources. (Part of this issue was revealed in the Warren Buffet regressive tax illustration, of which the Obama Admin has not followed through on the details.) He tells the private sector to do things such as “equal pay”, but does not really face the way government discriminates in this way. This seems to suggest he thinks it should be the man in charge.

    He and his wife named their family after his father, a man who was never around. His mother didn’t use the name “Obama” even. They don’t even use the name Robinson, when her parents were much more there for her.

    And Michelle Obama did not even mention her mother’s work as a secretary to support the family in her Dem Convention speech. It was all focused on her father’s “itty bitty” paycheck and Michelle’s “mom-in-chiefery”.

    None of this is healthy or responsible parenting, where the parents have worked through their conflicts and issues and are functioning in adult fashion (which includes not overvaluing someone like Barack’s father, and not undervaluing someone like Michelle’s mother).


  2. It is clearly a response to the Regnerus Study. Regnerus used a panel of 15,000 people who were participants in a longitudinal study. As a social scientist who has read that study thoroughly, it must be recognized that the study is terribly flawed. He sorted through that panel and only found a handful of participants who had been raised by lesbian and gay parents. A handful out of 15,000! Clearly the issue of sampling bias is involved. Then, he compared this handful to a subset of a couple thousand other participants. Regnerus compared children who were raised by opposite sex parents who never divorced, with children raised by single parents and divorced parents. He then concluded that homosexual parents cause unemployment for their children. Seriously. When challenged by the scientific community, Regnerus acknowledged that his study has serious limitations that challenge the conclusions he reached. That the study was even considered by the U.S. Supreme Court is scary. But that the moderate Justice Kennedy would consider this one flawed study as equaling the many valid and reliable (legitimate) social scientific studies that consistently prove the sexual identities of parents do not cause harm to children, shows the gravity of myth and stereotypes. Robert J. Hironimus-Wendt, PhD


    1. Calling this study “flawed” does not accurately describe what occurred. The study design was booby-trapped with malice aforethought. Brad Wilcox — who understands how numbers apply to the study of tiny minorities — knew that by sampling the general population, without doing any targeted sampling for young adults actually raised by gay parents, Regnerus would dredge up nearly no people actually raised by gay parents, but a lot who had been in a hodgepodge of unstable family situations involving some parents who followed the break-up of their heterosexual unions with relationships with persons of the same gender. Documents had via Public Information Act requests to Regnerus’s UT show that Knowledge Networks itself told Regnerus that its Knowledge Panel alone would not allow him to survey enough young adults raised by gay parents. They told him that he would have to do targeted sampling. Nonetheless, even though Knowledge Networks itself says that its panel is not adequate to reach the tiny national minority of young adults raised by gay parents, Regnerus is deliberately misleading the public by saying that the Knowledge Network panel alone provides a scientist with a possibility to reach this tiny national minority. Editor James Wright is aware of this. It is unacceptable that a paper known to have been published without benefit of professional peer review remains in publication in a journal that claims to put submissions through peer review.


  3. Clearly, President Obama would be aware of the Regnerus hoax.

    A group of sociologists recently sent letters to Wright and the SSR editorial board, explaining the reasons they think the Regnerus paper should be retracted. Wright blew them off — but then the Committee for Publication Ethics told a member of that group that COPE is investigating my complaint against Wright, that he is cooperating and will comply with their findings. COPE chair is Dr. Virginia Barbour.

    I first filed my complaint with COPE in August of 2012, when I had documented proof that Witherspoon’s Brad Wilcox booby-trapped the study design. The fact that Wilcox and Regnerus met with Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton in August 2011 — before data collection had occurred — to discuss study public relations and media promotions speaks volumes.

    I am fluent in German, Spanish, Italian and French and can read Portuguese, Dutch and all of the Scandinavian languages. Anti-gay hate groups are promulgating anti-gay hate speech in each of those languages on the basis of the Regnerus paper and the Marks paper and also the Schumm paper that Wright published without benefit of valid professional peer review.


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