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February 14, 2004
Column #1,172

What Social Science Says Of Same Sex Marriage

     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 one woman."

     Yes, but why? Social science research can answer that question, but it was not offered.

     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 disorders.

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,

     Advocates for traditional marriage need to cite this sort of research if they expect to win the day.

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