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11/14/2007

Marriage: Just too wonderful to be chanced on the gays

by Jeremy Hooper

MarraigefigureEarlier this week, we showed you a piece posted on Focus on the Family's website, wherein an anti-gay activist was glowingly speaking about all of the wonderful benefits of marriage. And considering that both Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (the organization with whom the activist was affiliated) work day and night to keep gays from entering into the custom, we found it absolutely galling that they'd brag about all of the wonderful health and wealth benefits stemming from the unions that they're denying to the homo set. In fact, it came across as quite cruel.

Well today, Focus has upped the brazen and stone-hearted marriage ante by posting the following rhapsodic portrait of nuptial stability on their CitizenLink site:

Marriage Brings Stability, Economic Well-Being
Heritage Foundation research shows benefits of traditional families.

Married couples, when compared to their single or divorced counterparts, are more likely to own homes and stocks, and attain affluence, according to researchers at the Heritage Foundation. They also discovered married households earn $12,000 more annually than cohabiting couples and are less likely to default on bills. Spokeswoman Christine Kim said that's because married couples work for the future.

“Married people are planning ahead and thinking about having children, and that may impact home ownership," she told Family News in Focus. "There are a lot of things going on that would suggest that marriage would have an impact on economic well-being.”

Jenny Tyree, associate marriage analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said marriage brings stability to both husband and wife.

“Married men tend to make more money than single men," she said. "That affects not only them, but their children, who are much less likely to experience poverty. In contrast, a cohabiting couple does not have a marriage commitment and are less likely to be fully invested in each other's lives. Consequently, they have less of a reason to plan a future together.”

So once again we have an organization that funds and fosters anti-gay marriage efforts all across the nation (and even globally) saying that marriage is just SO TERRIFIC that it can't possibly be entrusted in the hands of those unsavory queers. It's all made even more offensive when you consider that the primary rationale on which they publicly base their anti-gay campaigns is that same-sex marriage would supposedly destroy the hetero-version of the institution. So even if there were a degree of truth to that flawed line of reasoning (which there isn't), what would they be saying when using such tactics -- that gay people should be shafted so that the poor heteros won't be left out of the financial stabilizing, health-providiving, happiness-granted institution?! WHAT ABOUT THE POOR GAY PEOPLE?!!? Why are they largely allowed to get away with putting a couple on a higher plane of deservedness simply because one has an innie and the other has an outtie?!

When they use lines like this, they sort of come across like segregationists in the 1950's who are opposing integration on the basis that the "whites-only" schools are just so wonderful and well-financed. That's not to make a direct comparison between the plight of racism in America and the fight for marriage equality -- clearly there are differences there. But in terms of the way they are fighting this "fight," they are using the same sorts of lines, the likes of which are deeply offensive to the group that's being targeted. It is never okay to justify your discrimination by touting the virtues of the access that you currently enjoy. What gives YOU the right to enjoy this access simply on the basis of your internal or external characteristics?! And what gives YOU the right to deny this access to others on the basis of their own?!

NOTHING, that's what!

And just like everyone else throughout time who has used such biased outlooks to justify their socio-political short-sightedenss, the good name of the "pro-marriage" crowd will inevitably crumble under the weight of historical remembrance.

Marriage Brings Stability, Economic Well-Being [CitizenLink]

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Your thoughts

Actually, everything Focus said in that article can apply to gay and straight alike... just read it without the gender specific references. It's really just a testament to what a committed relationship can provide to the two people involved. Sure, Focus will dwell only on the straight aspects, but their skewed version will dissolve when people realize how well that applies to gay couples as well. I think little research projects like this will ultimitely cause the reverse effect of what they intended.

Posted by: | Nov 14, 2007 12:50:33 PM

Well yes, of course they COULD apply to both. But the point is that Focus is all about placing marriage on this pedestal, but also working to deny access to gay couples. So it's not just that they are failing to "focus" on the gays -- it's that they are actively hostile to them.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 14, 2007 12:54:17 PM

Hm...yes, I'd have to say my life improved dramatically when I got married; they're right about that.

Too bad for them it was to another chick. I love Massachusetts.

Posted by: Liat | Nov 14, 2007 5:17:51 PM

Conservative sociologists/demographers have been touting the benefits of marriage for many years now, and these same folks have consistently been against same-sex marriage. See for example the leading book taking this point of view:

Waite, Linda, & Gallagher, Maggie (2000). The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially. NY: Doubleday (also available in paperback from Broadway Publishers).

Maggie Gallagher also has a whole organization dedicated to just these kinds of debates ("The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy") in favor of marriage but excluding lesbian/gay people (visit www.imapp.org). A core argument they try to make is that the institution of marriage is apparently so fragile at this time--so much in decline in the Western world--that we can't afford to "experiment" with same-sex marriage. They don't seem to deny that marriage might be good for lesbian/gay people, but you see it's not lesbian/gay people they are concerned about. They claim a bigger concern--about the decline of Western civilization itself or some such specious line of reasoning.

A very nice counterpoint to these conservative writings is presented in the book by my colleague Stephanie Coontz:

Coontz, Stephanie (2005). Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. NY: Viking Press.

It's a remarkable book and gives the really long-term perspective of marriage as an organizer of economic, gender, and social relations throughout history.

Robert-Jay Green, Executive Director
Rockway Institute: A National Center for LGBT Research & Public Policy
www.RockwayInstitute.org

Posted by: Robert-Jay Green | Nov 15, 2007 2:14:15 AM

I love marriage and would really like to get one BUT....

Focus is making huge assumption by implying that GETTING married is what makes people more stable and successful. It isn't at least as likely, (if not more likely,) that stable and successful people will get married.

Marriage takes money, commitment, the ability to keep a stable relationship, etc. It makes sense that fewer of the people who can't or don't get married would have these traits. Those less stable/succesful single (and "cohabitating") people are going to drag down the averages for all the very successful singles.

Posted by: GayMormonBoy | Nov 15, 2007 5:35:47 PM

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