Written by Guest Columnist Alex Wiltbank
Dear Dr. G,
With everything that has happened this last week with gay marriage, I wondered what your theory is about it. I watched a video that explains why heterosexual marriages are better for America. I think this has a lot to do with love and sex, so I thought maybe you could give me your take.
Kinda Kulturally Konfused
An anti same-sex marriage video titled “Traditional Marriage vs Gay Marriage” surfaced on Facebook a little while ago. This video has many issues throughout, but about a minute and 10 seconds in, it lists the 5 “benefits” which traditional marriage—or “natural marriage,” as they call it—has for society.
The video states that natural marriage creates children, best raises children, protects women, civilizes men, and lowers crime, poverty, and welfare, which reduces government spending and deficits.
So let’s start, shall we?
Marriage creates children
Children are created through sex, not marriage. Marriage is the legal recognition of a relationship, not the legal recognition of parenthood. Children are conceived outside of marriage all of the time, and many people who are in “natural marriages” cannot conceive (as the video states). So while marriage often leads to children, it is neither inherently nor legally bound to.
Marriage best raises children
According to this study surveying hundreds of families, children raised in same-sex families actually score higher on general behaviors, general health, and family cohesion measures than the average heterosexual family. This is likely due to the fact that same-sex families are better prepared, because they choose when they have children rather than having “accidents.” In addition, they don’t adhere to strict gender roles, so the parents show love in many ways, not just how they feel they are “supposed to” as a mom or dad.
Marriage protects women
Under this heading, the text in the video itself reads, “…who often give up or postpone their careers to have children from being abandoned or harmed economically by uncommitted men,” which doesn’t really make any sense. I suspect that it is actually two separate ideas and that the video author didn’t proofread. Regardless, nearly 25 percent of women report having experienced domestic abuse during their lifetimes. Being in a natural marriage doesn’t protect women; being in a safe relationship does.
Marriage civilizes men
This one is actually just pure offensive rhetoric. There are “civilized” men who aren’t married (I’d like to believe that I am one), and there are “uncivilized” men who are (see the domestic abuse stat I posted above). While the commitment that comes with marriage often leads to more stability and responsibility in a person’s life, it doesn’t necessarily lead to being a civilized person. It also might be worth noting that women can be uncivilized, too.
Marriage lowers crime, poverty, and welfare, which reduces government spending and deficits
There really isn’t data to back this up. The video author put no references or citations for any of the statistics he presented. However, this article detailing the poverty statistics for the LGBT community found that the poverty rate for lesbian families is 9.4 percent and compared that to a poverty rate of 6.7 percent for those in heterosexual married couple families and 5.5 percent for those in homosexual male families. This means that lesbian couples are 1.5 times more likely to be impoverished that heterosexual couples (versus 7 times more likely, as the video claims) while gay couples are actually less likely to be living in poverty. Additionally, some of the reasons many LGBT couples are poor is employment discrimination and a lack of access to various tax benefits and other financial benefits via exclusion from the right to marry.
Regardless, none of these points actually has anything to do with same-sex marriage. Allowing same-sex couples to get married doesn’t impact any of the positive aspects of traditional marriage. Heterosexual couples can still have babies, raise them well, create safe environments for the women, bring stability for the men, and lead to a lower rate of crime and poverty. This is completely unaffected.
Also, same-sex marriage does provide benefits for society. Society consists of everyone, and that includes minorities like gays and lesbians. So when they benefit, society benefits. There are a huge host of benefits that married couples receive (1,138 to be exact) including tax benefits, social security benefits, and small things like both parents being allowed to pick a child up from school (yes, people actually have been denied this before).
If you disagree with same-sex marriage for religious reasons, that’s fine. But the reasoning used in this video and many others like it is inaccurate.