[Science Solitaire] Two less reasons to oppose gay marriages
A married heterosexual couple was looking through their window at a gay couple walking towards the latter’s place. The husband, looking like he was in despair, says to his wife, “Uh-oh honey, that gay couple living in that corner is now married; and you know that will spell doom for our own marriage.”
That is how I remember the joke I heard from Wanda Sykes a while back. It made me laugh. It also made it so creatively clear why between your own marriage and a gay couple’s marriage, there is no tug-o-war except perhaps the one you imagine.
Last April 2013, I was struck by what Bill Clinton said when he was asked what made him change his mind such that he now favors gay marriages. He said it was his daughter Chelsea who convinced him that those who oppose gay marriages are actually “acting out of concern for their own identity, not out of respect for anyone else.” In other words, when you oppose it, it could be because you think it is about you and all your imagined notions of what marriage is, whether dictated by your own religion or your own insecurities.
You may not like Wanda Sykes and Bill Clinton. Perhaps they are too liberal for you and thus find it repulsive to be convinced by these personalities even if what they say makes so much sense, not to mention, probably the kindest attitude you can take on. So how about a menu of evidence, aged over 30 years, debunking two commonly cited “horrible things” that could happen if gay marriages were allowed? Two recent studies have now laid them out for us.
One is a review of literature amounting to 30 years of work that looked at children raised by gay or lesbian parents and compared them with the children raised by heterosexual couples to see if there was a difference in their social, psychological and sexual health. This review was published last March 2013 in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and entitled "Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian." It was done by Ellen C. Perrin, Benjamin S. Siegel and the committee on the psychosocial aspects of child and family health.
One of the objections to gay couples being together is that they will mess up the heads of the children they choose to raise. The perception was that having gay parents was too off-the-norm that it would lead to confused children beset by more troubles, compared to children raised by husband and wife. Well, that perception does not have basis.
The collective insight from the mounds of data reviewed is that children of gay or lesbian couples do just fine, and the things that adversely affect them are not different from the things that affect children of heterosexual couples.
What then are these things that affect children, whether they are raised by gay or heterosexual couples? The studies revealed that the children’s relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family are what determine children’s overall well-being. It is NOT the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents.
Effect on traditional marriages
The other usual objection to gay marriages is that it will cause an erosion of traditional husband-and-wife marriages. I really cannot, by any stretch of imagination, figure out how that could happen. I guess it was the same frustration that beset Alexis Dinno and Chelsea Whitney of the School of Community Health, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon who published a study last June 11, 2013 in the journal PLoS ONE.
They wanted to see if indeed gay unions/marriages, as they began to be allowed, caused a decrease in traditional marriages. The study is entitled, "Same Sex Marriage and the Perceived Assault on Opposite Sex Marriage."
The study compared the rate of traditional marriages across 13 states in the US plus Washington DC from 1988 to 2009, with rates in the rest of the US. This was the period chosen because in those 13 states, some forms of same sex marriage/union had already been in place before they gained a definite momentum in 2009. And what was the bottomline? Gay marriages and unions have NO effect on the rates of traditional marriages.
In fact, the study even noted the inclination among engaged heterosexual couples to postpone marriage until gay marriage becomes legal across the US. As my heterosexual friends always say, homosexual couples should also be entitled to the same problems as heterosexual couples.
The world will not end when gays are allowed to marry. It is only your world as you knew it and secured it that would “end.” In the face of common sense and evidence, opposing gay marriages now seems to spring only from the obsessive guarding of one’s personal or religious beliefs. But what always puzzles me is how we can brazenly assume that our personal measures are the only valid ones when it comes to things like love. – Rappler.com
Maria Isabel Garcia is a science writer. She has written two books, “Science Solitaire” and “Twenty One Grams of Spirit and Seven Ounces of Desire.” Her column appears every Friday and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.