The absurd arguments against same-sex marriage

Family Research Council's warnings about the consequences don't add up

February 01, 2012|Dan Rodricks

Among those who offered testimony in opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland was Peter Sprigg, senior fellow with the conservative Family Research Council, resident of Montgomery County and the "Sprigg" in this exchange with Chris Matthews onMSNBC's "Hardball" in 2010:

Matthews: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?

Sprigg: Well, I think certainly —

Matthews: I'm just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior?

Sprigg: I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.

Matthews: So we should outlaw gay behavior.

Sprigg: Yes.

Mr. Sprigg and Mr. Matthews were talking about the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Mr. Sprigg believes that the repeal of DADT will lead to more sexual tension, sexual harassment and even sexual assault in military units.

Also in 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center famously labeled the Family Research Council a hate group, citing not just its opposition to gay and lesbian rights — plenty of conservative Christian organizations and churches are similarly opposed — but the FRC's "demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities."

So, no surprise that the FRC would oppose same-sex marriages in any state, including Maryland. If you think gays and lesbians should be locked up, you certainly can't approve of issuing them marriage licenses.

Still, call it macabre curiosity, but I wanted to see exactly what Mr. Sprigg and the FRC had to say about same-sex marriage, and why they're opposed to it.

Among other consequences, they see same-sex marriage leading to a lower birth rate for the nation. Of course, gay and lesbian couples have found ways of having babies (artificial insemination, surrogate mothers) just as straight couples have, and many have adopted children from other countries.

So, let's move to Mr. Sprigg's next point: If we legalized same-sex marriage, "fewer children would be raised by a married mother and father."

Said Mr. Sprigg: "While not every child has the benefit of being raised by his or her married biological mother and father from birth to adulthood, legalization of same-sex 'marriage' would mean that, for the first time in history, society would be placing its highest stamp of official government approval on the deliberate creation of permanently motherless or fatherless households for children."

News flash: In Maryland, thousands of homosexual couples already are raising kids. The last census showed about 17,000 same-sex households in the state.

While that's an impressive number, same-sex couples are still a minority here. There are plenty of heterosexuals making babies, and many are raising them out of wedlock — by choice, or after divorce — resulting in more single-parent households and fewer households that meet Mr. Sprigg's ideal. This has been going on for a while, Mr. Sprigg.

More people have been putting off marriage into their late 20s and 30s. More women have the means to raise kids on their own and are choosing to do so. And here's a shock: There are now 47,000 single-father households in the state, according to the 2010 census; the growth in the number of dads raising kids on their own outpaced the rise in single-mother families over the last decade, the first time that has happened in 40 years of government tracking.

The census also showed that, statewide, under 25 percent of all households are made up of married couples and their children — a percentage that would only increase, it seems to me, if we legalize same-sex marriage.

Says Mr. Sprigg: "More children would grow up fatherless. Same-sex 'marriage' would result in an increase in the number of children who suffer the specific negative consequences of fatherlessness."

I assume Mr. Sprigg believes that children raised by lesbian couples won't have a "father." I assume that's how Mr. Sprigg does his math to get to a net loss of fathers. But what about gay male couples? Their kids will have twice as many "fathers" as everyone else, won't they? (Sorry. A little joke. I'm fighting absurd with absurd here.)

I agree that two parents raising kids is probably better than one — but only as long as the environment they create together is healthy and loving. But that goes for everyone, straight or gay.

Dan Rodricks' column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Follow him on Twitter at DanRodricks and on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/dan.rodricks.

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