04 Aug Same-Sex Marriage: Harmless or Harmful?
April Poulter and Jessica Widenhouse
Have you ever sat on a high balcony of an auditorium while attending a play, or stood in the nosebleed section of a baseball stadium while watching a game? It is times like these when you pull out your binoculars or wish you had a pair. When used in the right way, binoculars can help magnify distant objects, allowing the viewer to focus precisely on specific bits and pieces. This can be useful at times, but can potentially cause you to miss what is going on in the bigger picture.
Same-sex marriage has been looked at with more and more binoculars over time. In 2001, thirty-five percent of Americans were in favor of same-sex marriage. In 2013, the number has increased to more than fifty percent. Pew Research asked people what made them change their minds about same-sex marriage, some of their responses include: “People have the right to do what makes them happy to a certain extent if it does not affect other people.” “The fact that it’s happening, and there is no bad consequence of gays getting married.” “It doesn’t affect me.” “Because it is more acceptable now.” “Personally, I think there are same sex couples who make better parents than heterosexual couples.”
Much of the rationale behind these statements supporting same-sex marriage is that there are no adverse consequences for other people. However, studies show that there are negative effects. These studies also show that the people most affected are children. According to a study by Mark Regnerus, children with intact biological families fare better overall than children raised in any other family structure.
After interviewing adults who had been raised in different family structures, Regnerus found that children raised by lesbian mothers were more likely to be sexually abused and receive public assistance at some point during their childhood. These children were also more likely to be unemployed as an adult, and as a result once more require public assistance.
Children raised by lesbian mothers reported poorer educational attainment, lower family-of-origin safety and security, having received counseling for anxiety or depression, and reported that their current romantic relationships are in trouble more frequently than respondents from intact biological homes. These children, as adults, had statistically greater marijuana and tobacco use, arrests, and more sexual partners than children raised by biological parents. Through no choice of their own, children raised by same-sex couples are denied the optimal environment for development and growth.
The characteristics of both men and women are essential for the proper development of children. In a family, fathers tend to encourage their children to achieve while mothers are more nurturing, “both of which are important to healthy development.” For example, fathers and mothers play with their children differently; fathers engaging in more rough play and mothers in quiet play. The different styles foster different aspects of a child’s development. Children raised by same-sex parents do not get the benefit of exposure to the different parenting styles and gender characteristics of heterosexual couples.
Same-sex couples are far less likely to maintain a relationship with one person and far more likely to have multiple sexual partners. Imagine your reaction as a child upon coming home from school and finding that one of your parents was not there. Now picture coming home from school and finding that your father or mother has a new partner; how would you feel? Confused, scared, abandoned? Children need stability in their lives to help them establish a sense of safety – we’ve learned that from 40 years of rampant divorce and broken families. Stability also encourages healthy development of relationships, emotional management, and a healthy self-esteem.
An intact heterosexual home is more stable than any other family structure, that fact is unassailable. Instability in a child’s home has a profound and on-going impact on that child. When children experience failures, they look to their parents for comfort and solace. A home in which the parental figures change or are infrequent does not encourage a child to trust. This discourages the healthy development of trusting relationships which causes psychological damage such as heightened aggressive and anti-social behavior. It also inhibits a child’s ability to make wise and rational decisions. An unsteady family structure does not provide a secure base from which children can develop healthy autonomy.
What about societal impact?
Adults and children in the younger generation reared by same-sex parents are more likely to need public assistance. As mentioned before in Regnerus’ study, adults raised by lesbian mothers are more frequently unemployed. Additionally, families headed by lesbian mothers and adults who were raised by lesbian mothers are more likely to receive welfare payments, food stamps, Medicaid, WIC, or free lunches. The government, which derives its money from taxes, funds these programs. Employed individuals pay taxes and these taxes fund government programs. Increasing amounts of people who require public assistance will place a heavier burden on the working class to provide the funds for social welfare programs.
In addition, the birth rate in America is the lowest it has been in twenty-five years. Not only is it below the replacement level—2.1 births per woman—but there is also a greater need than ever for the financial foundation of the younger generation. The population of the United States is aging. The number of senior citizens that receive social security is increasing at a rate higher than the birth rate. The monetary support of these aging individuals falls to the younger generations. Same-sex relationships cannot produce offspring on their own contributing to an already falling birth rate. The trend line will continue with a smaller generation having fewer children. A smaller number of citizens will be taxed more and more in an attempt to cover the short fall.
Summing it all up
In summation, the cost to families and societies far outweighs the supposed benefits of same-sex marriage. Children have no choice in deciding their family structure and therefore must be ensured a stable family environment. By making same-sex marriage legal, children are more likely to be deprived of the most beneficial environment for proper development and growth. Additionally, society will be forced to shoulder the expense of increased spending on government assistance programs through increased taxes leaving less and less for them to care for their own families.
Contrary to what many think, same-sex marriage does negatively affect families and society. In order to see this bigger picture, we must be willing to see the wider perspective by “putting down our binoculars” and recognizing the negative effects of same-sex marriage on families and society now and in the future. We cannot allow today’s fleeting ideology to destroy the time-tested and absolutely necessary institution of marriage – our children deserve better.
April Poulter is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University – Idaho with a Bachelors degree in Child Development and a minor in Marriage and Family Studies. Strengthening the family in order to improve the quality of life for children and youth is her passion. April plans on attending graduate school to get a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Jessica Widenhouse is a graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelors degree in Marriage and Family Studies. She enjoys learning how to successfully advocate for the family. Jessica’s favorite thing to do is spend time with her husband and family, and looks forward to what the future will bring for them.
Goo, S. (2013, June 06). In your words: Views of same-sex marriage, homosexuality. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/06/in-your-words-views-of-same-sex-marriage-homosexuality/
Jones, J. M. (2013, May 13). Same-sex marriage support solidifies above 50% in U.S.. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/162398/sex-marriage-support-solidifies-above.aspx
Lau, C. Q. (2012). The stability of same-sex cohabitation, different-sex cohabitation, and marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74(5), 973-988. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.01000.x
Pew Research. (2013, June). Changing attitudes on gay marriage. Retrieved from http://features.pewforum.org/same-sex-marriage-attitudes/index.php
Regnerus, M. (2012). How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex