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New Study Leaves No Doubt: Gay Marriage Good For Society

Nathaniel Haas |
June 10, 2013 | 3:32 p.m. PDT

Guest Contributor

“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

-- Chief Justice Warren, Loving v. Virginia (1967)

Traditional family values have some catching up to do. (Elvert Barnes, Creative Commons)
Traditional family values have some catching up to do. (Elvert Barnes, Creative Commons)

Ariel Chesler is a 35 year-old straight man. He has two daughters and is married happily. Ariel Chesler was raised by two moms, and he wouldn’t change a thing about it.

And yet, Mr. Chesler has listened to debate after debate about Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, and what he has heard from political figures like Justice Antonin Scalia and the rest of the evangelical right is troubling. They have trumpeted the bible and told him and thousands of others that share his experiences that gay marriage is unnatural. They have said that, as a child of gay parents, he had an inferior childhood. They have said gay marriage is antithetical to “traditional family values.”

As per usual, they have forgotten about the real world. Last week, however, the real world once again proved them wrong. As it turns out, traditional family values have some catching up to do.

In an interim report from the world’s largest attempt to study how children raised by same-sex couples compare to children raised by heterosexual couples, the dribble put in the way of equality by the religious right was no match for the facts.

The report from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, a comprehensive examination of 500 children raised by homosexual parents, revealed that children raised by homosexual couples are not only excelling, but actually exceeding the levels of satisfaction of children raised by heterosexual couples. The study, which drew its results from the globally recognized Child Health Questionnaire, found no measurable difference in self-esteem, emotional behavior or the amount of time spent with parents between children raised by homosexual couples and any other demographic. The study also found that children of homosexual parents scored higher than the national average for family cohesion and overall health.

Make no mistake: the new study only adds to a tidal wave of evidence. For advocates of marriage equality, a strong moral compass and a common sense of empathy is all that is needed to support the right of gay men and women to marry. For those who stand in the way of equality, the study is simply a reminder that their archaic conception of traditional family values flies in the face of not only what is right, but also what is proven by the lived experiences of children raised by homosexual parents.

“We believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage,” reads the newly reaffirmed platform of the Republican Party.

But what if that national standard is woefully inadequate? What if, forgetting for the moment that such a national standard is bigoted and discriminatory, the GOP’s national standard is just plain below average?

According to the new study, it is. Though it is a shame that it takes cold science (and not common sense) to convince some folks that the right to love whomever one wants is just that, such convincing is still progress, and those who change their opinion on marriage equality because of the study should be welcomed with open arms. For those who remain firmly behind their traditional family values, the study begs an intriguing question: where to now? Is Leviticus 18:22, the infamous bible verse decrying sodomy as an abomination, all that is left? For the sake of social advancement, we can certainly hope.

For what it is worth, they certainly cannot run back to the Constitution. According to Chesler, who is also a lawyer, “If a state provides a legal status and benefits emanating from that status but excludes certain people from attaining that status, equal protection requires at least a rational basis to do so."

In the United States today, the institution of marriage, federally defined as between a man and a woman by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), provides a slew of legal benefits to couples. Homosexual couples, due to DOMA, are excluded from those benefits, and are thus denied equal protection of the law. It is time to realize that homophobia and biblical views of traditional family values do not constitute a rational basis for this exclusion.

Four years after Earl Warren penned his famous defense of the freedom to marry in Loving, the instrument-destroying British rock band The Who released one of the most prolific songs of the decade. Though their lyrics were not nearly as prolific or eloquent as Justice Warren’s majority opinion, they offered one piece of advice that the intolerant social conservatives would do well to heed while concocting their next bogus roadblock to equality:

“We don’t get fooled again.”


Reach Guest Contributor Nathaniel Haas here.



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