When faith fails, true believers on the political Right can always turn to science. Nowhere is the tactic more egregious than when the Righties need to defend marriage as between a man or a woman–a union that neither gay man nor beast can put asunder.
When it comes to gay marriage, the societal argument holds real force—that marriage as an institution between a man and a woman has persisted for thousands of years, endorsed and embraced by virtually all organized religions, Tradition, like size, really does matter, and it should not be casually tossed aside. But the Right takes these defensible concepts to the indefensible realm of faux science. The phrase “studies show” is germane and downright dangerous, because opponents of gay marriage will point to reams of data showing an increased incidence of abuse in children raised by homosexual couples.
Say it ain’t so, you say. Well, I say it ain’t so—and I can prove it to you.
The hyper-conservative Corporate Resource Council, dedicated to denying equal benefits in the workplace, is a font of such misinformation and disinformation—and worse. Research featured on their Web sites, based on National Institute of Health (NIH) data, shows that mothers who have never been married are subject to far more abuse that those who had duly and dutifully wed. Fair enough: NIH data is not partisan, and there’s no reason to doubt their word or their research. But what is such a report doing on a family values, anti-gay-marriage Web site? The Corporate Resource Council, God love them, wants you to connect the dots between unmarried mothers, abuse, and gay marriage. Clever—because gay couples until recently could not wed at all. Single parenting of any kind is a challenge, but to equate an unmarried mother to a gay couple because the gay couple isn’t married takes the argument to the level of the absurd.
“There are no valid studies that show homosexual parenting is just as good as heterosexual parenting,” says The Liberator of March 2004. “To the contrary, the studies show just the opposite. Children raised in a homosexual environment tend to be more sexually promiscuous and experiment with sex much earlier than those raised with a mom and a dad. Adoptive children are often at more risk of social maladjustment. This is especially true of those children who have been removed from their natural parents after infancy. To permanently place these children in a home with two fathers or two mothers is insane. Children tend to model themselves after the relationships they observe between their parents. Gender identity and sexual development is critical to a child’s well-being.[MC1] Mess up this area in a young child’s life and you are asking for trouble. That’s why common sense and human history declare that children do best with a mom and a dad.”
So it goes when “studies show” whatever the political proponents on the Right want to say based on their say-so.
“There will be serious legal consequences and threats to religious liberty if marriage is redefined by the courts,” according to an introduction to the issue of marriage on the conservative Heritage Foundation Web site. “There could also be long-term social consequences. Data is available from European countries that have already experimented with same-sex unions.”
Even organizations as reputable as the Heritage Foundation stumble when it comes to making their point about homosexual marriage. The aforementioned “data” arrives on their Web site via a “Statement by Five Dutch Social Science Professors on the Deterioration of Marriage in the Netherlands” in July 2004. Translated by the foundation and placed on their site, the statement presumably renders irrefutable the case against gay marriage.
“Until the late 1980s,” the Dutch scientists write in their Statement, “marriage was a flourishing institution in the Netherlands. The number of marriages was high, the number of divorces was relatively low compared to other Western countries, and the number of illegitimate births also was low. It seems, however, that legal and social experiments in the 1990s have had an adverse effect on the reputation of man’s most important institution.
“Over the past fifteen years, the number of marriages has declined substantially, both in absolute and in relative terms. In 1990, 95,000 marriages were solemnized (6.4 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants); by 2003, this number had dropped to 82,000 (5.1 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants).
“This same period also witnessed a spectacular rise in the number of illegitimate births. In 1989 one in ten children were born out of wedlock (11 percent); by 2003, that number had risen to almost one in three (31 percent). The number of never-married people grew by more than 850,000, from 6.46 million in 1990 to 7.32 million in 2003.”
Coincidence? Probably not. Because the data is far from definitive, the scientists nonetheless stop far short of connecting the dots (with my emphasis added below).
“The question is, of course,” they continue, “what are the root causes of this decay of marriage in our country. In light of the intense debate elsewhere about the pros and cons of legalizing same-sex marriage it must be observed that there is as yet no definitive scientific evidence to suggest that the long campaign for the legalization of same-sex marriage contributed to these harmful trends.”
The four Dutch scientists are men of science, after all, and they can’t make the case without hard evidence. Irregardless, as they say in conservative think tanks, the Heritage Foundation not only cites but translates the scientists as if their letter constitutes definitive proof—and even refers to their “conclusions” on other parts of the site.
Yet the Heritage Foundation persists on its Web site: “The most extensive research we have about the effect of same-sex ‘marriage’ on society comes from the Netherlands. The Netherlands has seen significant changes since the 1980s in its unwed birth rate. Dutch social scientists have observed a correlation between the campagin for same-sex ‘marriage’ and the increasing disconnect between parenting and marriage.”
Since the foundation puts “marriage” in quotes, perhaps it should do the same for “extensive research,” given that the Dutch scientists cited on the site say “there is as yet no definitive scientific evidence” to reinforce their concerns about same-sex marriage.
This kind of intellectual dishonesty from the Heritage Foundation is breathtaking, but there is plenty more to be found. One plum on the official site, with God and family cheek by howl: “A Portrait of Family and Religion in America—Study illustrating the intact family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human and social goods and least generator of social ills, and that the broken family that does not worship is the greatest generator of social ills and the least generator of social goods.” The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) is at the heart of Wave I of this particular study, based on 90,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17, with the number winnowed down for Wave II to 14,027—“those children from the family structures described below who answered the “in-home” section of the survey in Wave II.”
Here’s the kicker: the two waves are from 1994-1995 (Wave I) and 1996 (Wave II)—with the most recent data more than a dozen years old as of 2009. The “family structures” studied are particularly telling for their complete ignorance and/or dismissal of homosexual couples with children, admittedly a rarity more than a decade ago. Instead, the Add Health study focues on 9,668 “intact married parent families” (68.9 percent of the sample); 517 “stepparent families” (3.69 percent); 247 with “one biological parent cohabiting with a partner families” (1.76 percent); 327 with “both biological parents cohabiting families” (2.3 percent); 725 “always single, never-married parent families” (5.17 percent); and 2,543 “divorced single-parent families: (18.13 percent). Also worth noting: more than 60 percent of the sample “worship” at least once a month, presumably at a church.
The sample, overwhelmingly weighted toward traditional two-parent family relationships, is not only ancient in terms of social change in the United States but does nothing to measure the impact of homosexual versus heterosexual relationships on parenting. Twelve years ago there were no legal civil unions in the U.S., and absolutely no possibility of a gay marriage. Yet “studies show”—or purport to prove—the noxious nature of relationships they have never studied. No wonder this study, displayed so definitively on the Heritage Foundation site, crows that “the broken family”—note the bias in that description—is the root of all social ills.
How do they know?