The legalization of same sex marriages has become one of the most polarizing political debates in American history, perhaps more so even then that of abortion rights. No one thinks women’s reproductive rights are unimportant regardless of the side you’re on; it’s time we recognize Gay Rights are not simply between normal people and right wing zealots. With the recent Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 it’s important to know what the changing laws are and its effect on society. The purpose of this article is not to debate whether or not two people love each other, or whether the government should recognize that love; however, we are concerned with the implications such marriages may have on children and society.
Marriage was the means by which children were brought into the world, and that children can only be born when both male and female is involved. In the pamphlet What is Marriage put out by the Heritage Foundation they state the importance of marriage is far more than what goes on in a house between two people. “Marriage is the building block of all human civilization. Marriage has public, not just private, purposes. Marriage is a unique relationship; it brings together sexually complementary spouses, in a monogamous relationship, where they pledge to each other to be faithful by vows of permanence and exclusivity.” This claim backs up the pages and pages of research that shows us that children of divorce often have more behavioral problems growing up and can have many of those same problems as well as emotional ones lasting well into adulthood. We also know that children of single parent homes usually do not have the same opportunities as those raised in intact dual parent households. Namely that children raised by both their biological parents is the best setting for a child to grow up.
There has been research on children raised by gay and lesbian parents; a brief written by the American Psychological Association was used in the Supreme Court cases above. However, when we look closer at the 59 studies cited in the brief we can see that there may be some problems with the research. Loren Marks, a professor at Louisiana State University wrote a peer reviewed paper wherein he pointed out many of the flaws in those studies. Often they were small studies and included only white upper middle class and high educated lesbian parents, often completely excluding gay fathers. Because of the sample those findings cannot be generalized to the American public at large and certainly not to the world’s population. In fact they cannot even be generalized to all same sex couples as gay fathers were left out. Mr. Marks was quoted in an article by the Washington Times as saying “the jury is still out…. The lack of high quality data leaves the most significant questions unaddressed and unanswered.” He also pointed out that the research showed only how children feel about and fulfill their gender roles, not how they are doing in life whether they graduate high school at the same rate, go to college or are as likely to live above the poverty line as children in traditional families.
Recent research continues to show that men and women are complementary and that previously held beliefs that any difference in male and female behavior and psychology exist primarily because of environment are wrong. For example, a day-old female infant will look longer at faces then a day old male infant; there is no time for environmental intervention to have taken place, yet that difference exists. There is even cause to doubt that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls because of society. Several years ago researchers Melissa Hines and Gerianne Alexander gave toys to monkeys wherein male monkeys played more with truck and females with dolls.
Is there a difference?
As previously stated, more research is needed to concretely determine differences between parenting styles between hetro and homosexual couples; there are multiple studies that show children raised by same sex parents may fare worse than their traditional family counterparts. A recent study in Canada, where same sex couples have had all the same taxation and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples since 1997 and have been able to legally marry since 2005, showed that there may be dramatic differences between children raised in traditional homes then those raised by same sex parents. Children with same sex parents were only 65 percent as likely to graduate from high school, with girls being slightly less likely than boys. An important difference to this study is that same sex couples are shown in the Canadian census; children were asked to which type of household they belong: intact, common law, single parent, gay or lesbian, which is not the case in the U.S. Also the sample size was representative being 20 percent of the population. More importantly it excluded single parents that identify as homosexual, only couples currently in same-sex relationships were included.
A particularly interesting and unique aspect of this study was its ability to isolate gender differences, meaning isolating boys raised by gay parents from boys raised by lesbian parents and the same for female children. For instances boys raised in homes with two fathers fare better then with two mothers, while the opposite is true for girls. In the sample it showed that girls raised in gay households were only 15 percent as likely to graduate high school as their traditional counterparts.
Every family is different. Some children in single parent households may thrive better than intact families. However, on average we can say that children raised in traditional families thrive better than children in any other family setting. Until there is more solid evidence on homosexual couples and families they cannot make the same claim. We believe that children in traditional families thrive better because of the differences between males and females. The different roles a mother and a father play in a child’s life are necessary for a child’s growth and development.
As more studies come forth we encourage you to read them. Know the facts so you can make your own informed decision on this controversial topic. This issue is bigger than simply “love” and right or wrong. This is not about the “rights” or needs of adults, but should be about what is best for children. We are looking at giving our children the best chance at a happy and successful life, something every parent should want for their child.
Girgis, S., Anderson, R., & George, R. (2012). What is marriage. Encounter Books.
Lesbian and gay parenting: Theoritical and conceptual examinations related to lesbian and gay parenting. American Psychological Association, Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting.aspx
Regnerus, M. (2013, October 8). A married mom and dad really do matter: New evidence from canada. Witherspoon institute, Retrieved from http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/10/10996/
Science and Technology: The mismeasure of woman; Differences between the sexes The Economist 380.8489 (Aug 5, 2006): 71.
Wetzstien, C. (2012, June 10). Study: Children fare better in traditional mom-dad families. Washington times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/10/study-children-fare-better-traditional-mom-dad-fam/