“The Supreme Court overturned DOMA? I’m finally free to dump this lady and get on Grindr!,” Said no man ever.
Marriage equality opponents are getting desperate, desperate enough to use the “your spouse is going to abandon you!” tactic to try to turn people against same sex marriage. No, seriously, NOM and the Heritage Foundation are trying to argue that allowing same-sex couples to marry will somehow produce more single mothers.
But how can we say that fathers are essential, if policy redefines marriage to make fathers optional?
“[R]edefining marriage further distances marriage from the needs of children and denies the importance of mothers and fathers. Redefining marriage rejects as a matter of policy the ideal that children need a mother and a father,” explains Heritage’s Ryan T. Anderson. “Redefining marriage diminishes the social pressures for husbands to remain with their wives and children, and for men and women to marry before having children,” he continues.
The entire thing is quite a remarkable attempt at trying to baffle people with bullshit. They have a chart that shows that your chances of living in poverty are a lot higher if you’re a single parent, as if that really has anything to do with married gay couples, who by definition are two separate individuals together and not single.
I’ve long not completely understood why the religious right thinks bringing up the specter of unmarried mothers will somehow convince people that the solution is to ban marriage for the small percent of unmarried mothers who are in same-sex partnerships. The argument has always been some convoluted Martian logic, which you can see reproduced up there, which is that somehow the existence of same-sex marriage will cause people to think that you don’t have to be in a heterosexual marriage to have kids and so they’ll go buck wild, spreading children all over the place without taking care of them or whatever. Never mind that people already figured that out, and that the rise of single motherhood dates to back before most people had even heard of the concept of gay marriage. I truly did not get it.
But Zack Ford zeroes in specifically on the claim that marriage equality “diminishes the social pressures for husbands to remain with their wives and children”, and suggests that there’s an argument that’s being hinted at but not stated directly: That your husband is going to use you for making children and then go off and marry a man. He notes that there’s a long trend in the anti-gay community of trying to conflate single mothers with lesbian-headed households, and this is just an extension of that.
It’s amazing how conservatives just assume everyone shares their shockingly misogynist worldview, particularly their assumption that no man would ever openly choose to be with a woman unless he had no other choice. (And vice versa, with the fear that same-sex marriage is giving women “permission” not to be married at all.) These kinds of arguments, no matter how much they try to confuse you by being obtuse and arguing everything through insinuation, never work unless you buy the premise that men and women will not be with each other unless they’re forced to. You really do start to wonder if they think that most currently straight people are going to turn gay now that gay marriage is an option.
In the real world, of course, the growing social acceptance of gay people actually reduces the number of straight marriages that are blown up by one spouse choosing to live as gay. It’s homophobia that causes people to get married, have kids, and struggle for years before the pressure of living a lie causes them to come out, divorce their spouse, and live as a gay person. Nowadays, you can come out in your teens—often earlier!—long before there’s pressure to start dating, much less marry a person of the opposite sex.
This isn’t just conjecture, but is backed up by the statistics. In red states, where there’s more overt homophobia, there are a lot more same-sex couples raising children. That’s because, despite gay couples adopting or having kids together, most gay parents still got their kids during a closeted period in their life.
For instance, “a big chunk of them are people who had children young, with opposite-sex partners, before they came out,” Gates said. After coming out, they raised those children with a partner of the same sex, he explained.
That may be one reason that in some more conservative places not known for celebrating gays and lesbians, a striking percentage of same-sex couples are rearing children, Gates said. Among states, Mississippi has the highest percentage of gay or lesbian couples raising children — 26% — his analysis of census data found.
Though Salt Lake City has a high percentage of gay couples raising children, the actual number is still much smaller than in coastal hubs such as New York or Los Angeles, the data show.
The only way you could possibly think that legalizing gay marriage will make this more prevalent is if you think that huge percentages of currently straight couples will break up and go into same-sex marriages the second they get a chance. It’s not uncommon for the religious right to raise the specter, particularly to women, that no one will want to be married to them if X happens. Threatening women with male infidelity or with the fear that men will reject marriage if there’s other options available is a long-standing argument against women’s sexual liberation, so it’s not surprising that the anti-gay arguments are basically an extremely strained attempt to do the same thing.