When reading an article in Scientific American, I stopped cold in my tracks. I had been all set to like the article: I enjoy many articles in the magazine, and the topic sounded interesting. But, I became upset before I even got to the heart of the article.
The article was called “Why People ‘Fly from Facts’” by Troy Campbell and Justin Friesen. The beginning of the article discussed several topics for which people have strong beliefs. One of the topics the authors brought up was same-sex marriage. The authors claimed that how well children fared who were raised by same-sex couples was an objective fact that would be relevant to the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry. The authors stated, “Facts could be relevant to whether it should be legal—for example, if data showed that children raised by same-sex parents are worse off—or just as well-off—as children raised by opposite-sex parents.”
While the claim the authors made regarding how children of same-sex couples fared being a relevant fact was not the point of the article, it was an aspect that struck me. I had a hard time reading any further in the article because I could not get the authors’ statement out of my mind.
I believe that the issue of how the children who were raised by same-sex couples fare is irrelevant to whether same-sex marriage should be legal. This statement presumes that marriage is solely, or at least primarily, about having children. This is clearly not the case. Plenty of straight couples marry without any intention of having children. And, plenty of people have children without any intent on marrying. Marriage is about a legal partnership between two people.
We do not put any restrictions on straight couples based on whether they will make good parents. When deciding if an eighteen-year-old man and an eighteen-year-old woman should be allowed to marry, we do not first require data that demonstrates young parents are just as good as older parents. Also, we do not require data showing that straight abuse victims make as good of parents as non-abused parents before allowing them to marry. There are many factors about people that might affect how well their children fare, but we do not consider any of these factors before deciding if couples will be allowed to marry legally. As long as couples are of the legal age, not legally married to anyone else, follow necessary state protocols, and their partner is of the opposite gender, they are allowed to marry – period! We should not put any burdens on couples just because they are gay.
What if we were to find that children raised by same-sex couples fared far better than children who were raised by straight couples? Would we then take away the right of marriage from straight people? Would make marriage legal for only same-sex couples? No. We would not.
The right of a legal marriage should be applied equally whether people are gay or straight. If we do not prevent straight couples from marrying who might make less than desirable parents, we should not even entertain the idea with same-sex couples.
This is not to say that I think same-sex couples are generally inferior to straight couples as parents. I do not believe they are. What I do think is that the question is irrelevant to the discussion of rights. Everyone should be treated equally under the law, gay or straight.
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