Courtesy of Jeramy Townsley, Adjunct Faculty, Psychology, IUPUI and Univ of Indpls
Below are numerous factual errors from the anti-equal marriage rights advocates who are seeking to prevent equal marriage rights for gay people, with factual analysis and studies included illustrating the mistaken ideas in their arguments.
1) None of the studies they quote are peer reviewed
a) “gays die 10 years earlier than heterosexuals”
This is from research by Paul Cameron, a former Psychologist in Nebraska. He was kicked out of the Nebraska Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association as well as having been censured by the American Sociological Association for falsifying data and misrepresenting data.
b) “studies show that children raised in homes with a man and a women do better than children raised in homes with same-gender parents”
See below for an abbreviated bibliography. I haven’t kept up on the research, but below are the peer-reviewed studies published between 1980-2001. These studies have been replicated numerous times, which is why social work agencies and mental health workers support gay adoption.
Link to bibliography to “gay/lesbian parents report no greater stress than heterosexuals, and children are not adversely affected by being raised by homosexual families”
c) Brad Grammar, from Hope and Life Ministries, claiming that gays can change sexual orientation
Peer reviewed studies (the gold standard for scientific literature) do not support this claim. Their own research, as published on the New Directions Ministries Web site (Rob Goetze, Canada) show that there have only been 45 people, of the many thousands of people who have gone through such ministries, reparative therapies, or other gruesome types of aversion therapies, who have been scientifically shown to have “converted” from gay to straight. Due to the lack of evidence of change, and the converse evidence of psychological damage from such therapies, the APA has condemned such techniques. Contrary to the implication of these ministries that “anybody can change”, science has not shown that such sexual orientation conversions are likely to occur in any individual.
2) Legal errors (as pointed out by Sheila Kennedy and elaborated by me)
a) James Madison never wanted to rest the government on the 10 commandments. The founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, primary author of the Declaration of Independence, were deists, who stripped the Bible of its spirituality, leaving only the philosophical morality that coincided with humanism. Jefferson had a great affiliation with the Unitarians, while, I do not believe, he ever was convicted enough to actually become a Unitarian.
Further, it would seem abhorrent to most Americans to follow the 10 commandments anyway. Who, even among the most strict Christians, would require that ALL Americans 1) Keep the Sabbath Holy, 2) Worship NO other God other than Yahweh, and 3) the honoring of parents. Each of these, in a metaphorical sense, aren’t that unreasonable. But what is the Old Testament punishment for breaking any of these commandments? Death by stoning. Reconstructionists, the radical branch of conservative, political Christians who want to convert the American government into an Old Testament Theocracy, do advocate for many of these things. Do they realize this is what they were asking for today on the House floor?
b) Churches could be sued for not hiring or marrying gays and lesbians. Or other stories I’ve heard–pastors would be imprisoned for preaching against homosexuality, as Canadian pastors already have.
This is a confabulation between multiple stories, and poorly at that. A pastor in Sweden, Ake Green, was sentenced to a month in prison for preaching against homosexuality. A higher court reversed this charge, clarifying freedom of expression when it comes to religious speech. The Canadian hate crimes law has a specific exception for religious speech, or speech honestly believed to be true and having no malicious intent. As Dr. Kennedy well said today, our own laws and traditions are certainly strong enough to provide more than enough protection for such religious speech and freedoms here in the U.S.
3) Choice vs. Biological–the American Psychiatric Association Web site reference by John Mescow (sp?)
Here is the full quote from the APA Web site: ” Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.”
From my background in medical neurobiology (IU Medical School), I know that most (if not all) credible neurobiologists will claim that sexual orientation has a primarily biological grounding and that sexual orientation is fixed very early in life. Most psychologists and psychiatrists will make the same claim (as evidenced from a perusal of even the several Introductory Psychology and Physiological Psychology textbooks from which I have recently taught). We know that sexual orientation is not rooted in childhood pathology (for the most part, though there is some association with childhood sexual trauma and excess promiscuity, or gender identity confusion, issues commonly found in those people who pursue the “ex-gay” path, like Brad Grammar, mentioned above).
While the speaker was correct, the science has not yet been proven, but the convergence of the data is all pointing to the same picture, with little contradictory evidence–most people’s sexual orientation is not a choice. (Again, I haven’t kept up on the literature, but here is some work I did on this topic as of 2001. )
4) “Marriage has always existed this way and we are only protecting an institution that we have had for the past 6,000 years”
Some studies estimate that over 85% of cultures in history have approved of polygamy. Marriage has traditionally been the selling of the daughter to the husband. Marriage was an economic transaction. The production of children was the result of this purchase, though the woman was little more than chattel and nanny. It is only in the past several centuries in Western civilization that we have come to see marriage as a freely chosen endeavor based out of romantic feelings.
In the Judeo-Christian Bible, we see most of the cultural methods of gaining a bride-through selling of the daughter, by rape (Dt 22.28-29), marriage as prize to the victor (Josh 15.16-1), marriage by barter (Gen 29.26-30), marriage to one’s slave (Ex 21.4-6; Gen 16.1-4), marriage by kidnapping of one’s enemies’ women (Judges 21.20-23), requirement of marriage to a brother’s widow (Dt 25.5-10), and stoning of one’s new wife if she is suspected to not be a virgin (Dt 22.13-21).
“The Church” didn’t even officially the sanctification of marriage until the 4th Lateran Council in 1215 (Boswell, 1994), and it wasn’t until a series of decretals by Pope Alexander III (1159-89 AD) that the church started to officially endorse the concept of marriage as we understand it, the free choice of the husband and wife (Rosemary O’Day, 1994, The Family and Family Relationships). Plus there is a (still tentative) history of gay marriage within the church and other cultures.
Boswell attempts to make this case in Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (1994). And there are several examples of Christian cemeteries in the 1st and 2nd centuries where males were buried together with another male and females were buried together with another female, in plots designated for “married couples”. (“Women Partners in the New Testament”, Mary Rose D’angelo. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion Spring 1990, 6.1: 65-86; “Burials in Greek Macedonia: Possible Evidence for Same-Sex Committed Relationships in Early Christianity”, Valerie Abrahamsen. Journal of Higher Criticism fall 1997, 4.2: 33-56).
Nero, emperor of Rome in 54-68 CE had a very public marriage ceremony to another man (Boswell, 1994). The “institution of marriage that has always been” is a fiction created by those who seek to consolidate their power and oppress those who oppose them.