Resources from Marriage Savers: Columns
What Social Science Says Of Same Sex Marriage
Column #1,172 /
Copyright Michael J. McManus.
In hours of debate by the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention over whether
to legalize "same sex marriage" the more articulate advocates opposed a
constitutional amendment limiting marriage to "one man, one woman."
Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, an African American said she was born "one generation
removed from slavery" in an Arkansas shack "because the public hospital would
not allow blacks to deliver children." She saw same sex marriage as a civil
rights issue: "I know the pain of being less than equal and I cannot and will
not impose that status on anyone else. I could not in good conscience ever vote
to send anyone to that place from which my family fled."
However, marriage is not a civil rights issue. No one at the Constitutional
Convention noted that America's major black denominations support a Federal
Marriage Amendment which states "Marriage in the United States shall consist
only of the union of a man and a woman."
House Speaker Thomas Finneran, a Democrat, was eloquent at one point, "Every
society, every culture, every nation in all of recorded history, including
Massachusetts, has up until this point at least defined marriage as one man and
Yes, but why? Social science research can answer that question, but it was not
Outside the Constitutional Convention, Ron Crews, President of the Massachusetts
Family Institute said, "The reason we are in this battle to preserve the
definition of marriage is that we believe the state should be concerned about
the highest good. And we believe that the highest good, the ideal, is that
children need a mom and a dad."
That is backed up by a large and growing body of social science research. The
Witherspoon Institute at Princeton has posted the "Top 10 Social Scientific
Arguments Against Same Sex Marriage (SSM)."
1. Children hunger for their biological parents.
A third of lesbians have children according to the Census. Some do it by In
Vitro Fertilization, deliberately creating a class of children who will never
know their father. Yale Psychiatrist Kyle Pruett reports that children of IVF
often ask, "Mommy, what did you do with my daddy?" "Can I write him a letter?"
"Has he ever seen me?" "Didn't he like me?"
2. Children need fathers:
"We know that fathers excel in reducing antisocial behavior/delinquency in boys
and sexual activity in girls," says Witherspoon. "Girls who grow up apart from
their biological father were much more likely to experience early puberty and a
teen pregnancy than girls who spent their entire childhood in an intact family."
3. Children need mothers:
A fifth of gay couples have children. There will be more if SSM is legalized.
"Mothers excel in providing children with emotional security and in reading the
physical and emotional cues of infants. Obviously, they also give their
daughters unique counsel as they confront the physical, emotional and social
challenges (of) puberty and adolescence."
4. Evidence suggests children raised in SS homes experience gender and sexual
Judith Stacey, an advocate for SSM and a sociologist, writes "lesbian parenting
may free daughters and sons from a broad but uneven range of traditional gender
prescriptions." For example, sons of lesbians are less masculine and daughters
of lesbians are more masculine. She found that a "significantly greater
proportion of young adult children raised by lesbian mothers than those raised
by heterosexual mothers...reported having a homoerotic relationship."
5. Sexual fidelity.
Witherspoon asserts, "One of the biggest threats that SSM poses to marriage is
that it would probably undercut the norm of sexual fidelity in marriage." In his
book, "Virtually Normal," Andrew Sullivan writes "There is more likely to be
greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than
between a man and a woman." Research of civil unions and marriages in Vermont
reveals that while 79 percent of heterosexual men and women value sexual
fidelity, "only about 50 percent of gay men in civil unions" felt similarly.
6. Women & marriage domesticate men.
Witherspoon reports, "Men who are married earn more, work harder, drink less,
live longer, spend more time attending religious services and are more sexually
faithful...It is unlikely that SSM would domesticate men in the way heterosexual
marriage does." Gay activists like Andrew Sullivan disagree but are likely
"clinging to a foolish hope. This foolish hope does not justify yet another
effort to meddle with marriage."
For the other "Top 10" findings, see Witherspoon's website, http://www.winst.org/toptenlists.htm.
Advocates for traditional marriage need to cite this sort of research if they
expect to win the day.