Friday, November 20, 2015

The Harm of Same-Sex Marriage

I have often claimed that same-sex marriage does no harm to anyone, and shouldn't be prohibited.  In this video, Jennifer Roback Morse, a Catholic, presents her religious-based views describing the supposed harms of same-sex marriage.

This is yet another case of piety as a cover for bigotry.  There is absolutely no factual, objective information in this presentation.  For the most part, it just appeals to the emotions of fellow bigots.  She makes plenty of assertions about what's right, but doesn't support those assertions with facts and data.  I'll examine her claims and show that it's nothing more than hot air from someone with a religious-based anti-gay agenda.

The most notable thing about this video is that she doesn't identify any harm at all that would result from the simple fact of same-sex marriage.  All of her claims of harm are about the supposed harm that would be suffered by children involved in the marriage.  Now, the last time I checked, gay couples had a decided tendency not to procreate.  In fact, the overwhelming majority of gay couples, whether married or not, do not have children living with them.  I don't know if Morse thinks that people get married specifically for the purpose of raising children, but it appears that she would deny people the right to enjoy a loving relationship with the legal benefits of marriage, simply because some portion of them might want to have children.  Alternatively, if she thinks that marriage should be limited to only those couples who intend to raise children, she needs to argue against all childless marriages, including heterosexual marriages, lest she be (rightfully) seen as the bigot she is.

But what of these claims of harm to the children?  Her first and most prominent claim is that children have a right to be with their biological parents.  I would agree that it is an ideal situation for children, to be raised by loving and financially supportive biological parents, but we need to recognize reality.  Some parents don't stay married, or never were married in the first place.  Some are not loving or supportive.  Some see their children as a burden.  Some don't have the means to provide for their children.  Given the realities of the world, many children are better off not living with one or both of their biological parents.  And these things are true regardless of whether same-sex marriage is allowed.  Let's be clear about this: the fact of gay couples getting married does not imply that children will be snatched away from their happy, supportive, heterosexual, ideal biological families.  Yet this is what Morse seems to want her audience to believe.  If any children are part of a SSM family, it is because they didn't belong to a family that fits Morse's ideal in the first place, and therefore, their well-being is not degraded by being removed from that ideal situation.

Morse also asserts that children need both a mother and a father - that they are not interchangeable.  And that it is harmful to the child to be deprived of this.  Again, this is an ideal situation that simply doesn't exist for many children, and this is true regardless of whether gay couples are allowed to marry.  But the fact is that the vast majority of psychological studies that have examined this issue have found otherwise.  Here is a summary of a few of them.  The consensus is clear - belonging to a stable family with same-sex parents is not harmful to the child.  But what about the small number of studies whose results differ from the scientific consensus, such as this one?  Most of them were conducted by people with an anti-gay agenda (this one by a Catholic University), and use seriously flawed methodology to support their agenda.  In other words, they don't actually measure what they purport to.  Unbiased data shows that being raised in a stable, loving family is the most important factor in the well-being of the child, not the sex of the parents.  Morse's claim that being raised in a same-sex family is harmful to children is simply not supported by the evidence.

Another claim that Morse makes is that adoption by heterosexual couples is acceptable, and does not undermine the biological rights of the child because it is a "child-centered" exception, apparently meaning that this is for the benefit of the child when the biological parents can't or won't do the job adequately.  This seems to be special pleading.  Wouldn't adoption by a same-sex couple also be child-centered?  Would the child not be generally better off in a loving family than a foster home?  If adoption puts the child in a better situation, it's still beneficial for the child, no matter what the sex of the parents is.  By this argument, Morse is (again) only revealing her bigotry.

Other arguments proffered by Morse relate to documentation and state recognition of parentage.  She seems to be really bothered by the idea a passport that indicates "parent A" and "parent B" rather than "mother" and "father".  She doesn't say why or how this might be harmful to the child.  She simply doesn't like it.  And on that basis, same-sex couples shouldn't be allowed to get married, by her bizarre logic.

In summary, Morse argues against same-sex marriage on the sole basis that it is harmful to the children involved, despite the fact that most same-sex marriages don't involve children.  And the harm she claims is mostly non-existent.  Children are better off in a loving two-parent family with attentive and supportive parents, and adequate financial support and health-care benefits, as opposed to a foster home or a single parent without the means to properly care for the child.  Morse evidently prefers the latter.

1 comment:

  1. Morse's perspective is little more than closing the gate after the horse has bolted. It is the sort of knee-jerk one expects from reactionaries in response to the community which has already moved on in the quest of extending the principles of justice, equity and fairness to all under the law. It was a telling decision of SCOTUS that even conservative judges on the bench knew and were persuaded it was time to redress one of the more divisive, unethical, fraudulent and unsubstantiated religious claims that branded good, decent people in the community as unworthy of rights simply on the basis of their sexual orientation.

    Morse has every right to bleat her nonsense in a democratic society. But the reasoned, fair and responsible members in society have already set aside such religious-inspired nonsense in the marketplace of ideas. The horse has truly bolted. And that is a good thing.