I was astounded to see a news story this morning on the Today Show that President Obama's budget director Peter Orzag had a child out of wedlock with one woman this November and was now engaged to another woman. It was a feature story on Politics Daily today as well, who announced his "love child."
My astonishment though wasn't about his life situation - but that this was considered news in 2010. Love child, really?
Mr. Orzag and the child's mother have asked for privacy. I'm going to go further and ask for common sense.
Mr. Orzag's private life is not anyone else's business but his and the women in his life. Nor is any other adult who engages in consensual, legal sexual behaviors.
By age 22, ninety percent of single adults have had a sexual relationship. According to the largest study of sex in America, now nearly fifteen years old, more than 70% of single adults in non-cohabitating relationships had sex with a partner last year. And, 40% of births in the U.S. last year were out of wedlock.
In other words, Mr. Orzag has lots of company in America.
I can hear lots of readers saying, "Just because a lot of people do it, doesn't mean it's right." And my answer is that the only people who can determine that are the people in the relationship. I don't know anything about Mr. Orzag's moral decision making; I just know it's not mine - or yours - to judge. The data is persuasive overall that children do better in couples when the parents are currently married; the effects are minimized when age and income are factored in the analysis. I'm guessing that Mr. Orzag's new children are well cared for and loved.
As a minister and a sexologist, I believe that adults, both married and single, both straight and gay and bisexual, have the right and responsibility to make their own sexual decisions and ethical choices. That's why I support marriage equality for same sex couples; it's why I support access to safe and legal abortion; it's why I support sexuality education for young people and adults. It's why I teach people that a moral sexual relationship is consensual, non-exploitative, honest, mutually pleasurable, and protected.
It's why I think we should let Mr. Orzag do his job in the Cabinet and the media should leave his private life alone.