Gay marriage: Bad science, bad politics
Arthur Goldberg and Michelle Cretella
SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH STATE
June 19, 2009
Legislation is presently pending in the New Jersey state legislature to approve same-sex marriage. There is a strong effort by gay activists and their allies to push such a bill through the legislature rather than asking the citizens of the state to vote for its approval. Because informed public policy decisions should be based on rational judgment grounded in fact rather than fiction, it is helpful to review a few of the key considerations relevant to this debate.
Nearly every argument favoring same-sex marriage is based on the belief that homosexual orientation is inborn and immutable. Thus, the argument often is made that just as interracial marriage gained approval so, too, should gay marriage.
But sexual orientation is not like skin color; it is not genetic. An avowed lesbian, Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, professor of developmental biology and gender studies at Brown University, admits "[Although the claim that homosexuality is genetic] provides a legal argument that is, at the moment, actually having some sway in court, [f]or me, it's a very shaky place. It's bad science and bad politics."
No genetic earmark distinguishing homosexuals from heterosexuals has ever been identified. Homosexuals and heterosexuals are genetically indistinguishable. As stated in a British medical journal, "From an evolutionary perspective, genetically determined homosexuality would have become extinct long ago because of reduced reproduction."
Indeed, taking the question further, more than 100 scientific studies indicate that change of sexual orientation is possible for many motivated individuals. The father of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (the Bible of psychiatry), Dr. Robert Spitzer, changed his own lifetime view. He published a study in 2003 confirming that many dissatisfied homosexuals are able to make substantial long-term changes in orientation.
Another premise of the same-sex marriage debate claims homosexual coupling involves stable, long-term relationships equivalent to heterosexual marriages. Drs. David McWhirter and Andrew Mattison, both openly homosexual, studied 156 male couples who had lived together for 20 years or more. To their dismay, they found that the longest period of sexual monogamy for those couples was five years; the average was under two years.
Within the gay subculture, the concept of monogamy is simply not synonymous with sexual exclusivity. Gay activist Andrew Sullivan writes: "homosexuals have a need for extramarital outlets." Lesbian writer Camille Paglia notes how gay magazines glamorize "the bigger bang of sex with strangers" and advocate "monogamy without fidelity" in same-sex couplings.
The instability of same-sex relationships and prevalence of polyamory cannot be attributed to social discrimination or "homophobia." During the 1990s many gay-affirming countries legalized same-sex marriage. The instability of homosexual relationships, however, remained unchanged. For example, a 2003 Dutch study found the average male homosexual partnership lasted only 1.5 years (Compare that figure to a CDC U.S. study of heterosexual marriages showing 50 percent of heterosexual marriages lasting 15 years or more.) Similarly, a 2004 Swedish study found that homosexual unions had a 50-percent higher divorce rate than heterosexual unions.
Inherent health risks of the gay lifestyle present another issue. Life expectancy for men who have sex with men, according to a 1997 International Journal of Epidemiology study is eight to 20 years less than that of heterosexual men. There is also a higher rate of intimate partner violence between same-sex couples.
Higher parent mortality and promiscuity increased rates of domestic violence and greater rates of divorce are not healthy for children. Consequently, acceptance of gay marriage requires a disregard for the best interests of children. It follows logically that if marriage is defined merely by "who we love" regardless of what is in the best interest of children, then the government has no right to discriminate against those with other sexual orientations including orientations toward children or animals. This is why advocates of pedophilia, group marriage, bestiality and incest cite gay marriage victories as their own. It is also no coincidence that within 10 years of legalizing same-sex marriage every Scandinavian country legalized polygamy.
Clearly, New Jersey has an interest in promoting and protecting traditional marriage. Decades of research demonstrate that children fare best physically, emotionally, and academically when nurtured by a married mother and father. Fatherless families, in particular, are associated with higher rates of violence, poverty, delinquency, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, and teen pregnancy, all of which cause an increase in tax dollars required to fund remedial social programs. Clearly, if Americans want to improve the economic health of our nation and maximize the wellbeing of our children, traditional marriage must be strengthened.
The European experience, however, demonstrates that same-sex marriage weakens the institution overall. Every Scandinavian nation legalizing same-sex marriage, for example, has seen an unremitting decline in traditional marriage rates, and a surge in cohabitation and out of wedlock births. Predictably, the cost of social programs in those countries has risen sharply.
To summarize, homosexuality is not genetic like skin color. Interracial marriage never changed the definition of marriage; marriage remained the exclusive and faithful union of one man and one woman. Defending traditional marriage is not bigotry. Defending traditional marriage protects the greater common good for everyone including those with homosexual attractions.
Arthur Goldberg, J.D., C.R.S., is the author of "Light in the Closet, Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change." Michelle Cretella, M.D., is chair of the Sexuality Committee, American College of Pediatricians.