The stabilizing impact of traditional marriage

The stabilizing impact of traditional marriage
by Joe Glover

To understand why gay “marriage” should be opposed, one must first understand why civilized societies have always rewarded and protected real marriage. There are three primary reasons why marriage historically has been, and should continue to be defined as a committed, lifelong, monogamous relationship between a man and a woman.

The first reason is the stabilizing impact on society. Heterosexual couples with lifelong relationships are far more likely to stay put and invest in their communities than any other couples.

Only one other behavior is nearly as significant in stabilizing communities. That’s home ownership, which also enjoys benefits granted by the government. People who purchase a home in a community are far less likely to move out in six or twelve months. They’re much more likely to invest in their communities, involve themselves in a local congregation and local charities, and to establish long-term friendships and business agreements.

Just like homeownership, marriage encourages couples to establish themselves vocationally and geographically, especially with the addition of children. As the children grow, families naturally become affiliated and connected with communities through schools, churches, sports leagues, dance academies, etc. The economic impact of growing, normal families is unmistakable.

Returning to the parallel illustration of home ownership, imagine if apartment dwellers claimed that their civil rights were being violated because they weren’t receiving the rewards associated with home ownership. But government cannot reward everyone, because its aim is to foster good for the whole of society.

Singles don’t enjoy the benefits of marriage, but you don’t see a movement to confer the privileges of marriage on singlehood.

The primary aim of providing legal recognition for marriage, then, is to encourage relationships that have the most stabilizing impact on society at large.

The second reason for protecting real marriage is that it provides the best environment for raising children. Children need a mother and a father. Rosie O’Donnell confided to Diane Sawyer in a nationally televised interview that her 6-year-old son Parker told her, “I want to have a daddy.” Rosie’s self-satisfying response was, “If you were to have a daddy, you wouldn’t have me as a mommy because I’m the kind of a mommy who wants another mommy.” But even little Parker knows intuitively he needs the kind of love and guidance from a father as well as from a mother.

Almost any therapist will tell you that greatest cause of emotional trauma in adults is the absence or indifference of one or both parents. When government encourages fatherless or motherless households by design, it is harming children.

The third reason that societies reward marriage is to channel as much sexual activity as possible into the healthiest context. It’s not a stretch to say that “gay” and “straight” sexual promiscuity is at an all-time high today in America. And along with it has come a litany of serious physical and emotional health consequences. Yet, very few, if any of these problems result from healthy sexual relationships within the bounds of traditional marriage.

If society as a whole understands these issues, and yet legislatures or judges impose legal recognition of homosexual relationships, is it fair public policy to place the resulting societal, emotional, and health care burdens that result on those who have chosen to abstain from such conduct?

Is it fair to place that burden at the feet of people who have recognized the dangers, who want people and communities to thrive, who are interested in what’s best for children, and who strive to make their lives and the lives of others as healthy as possible?

Joe Glover is the President of Family Policy Network. This opinion piece was printed in the October, 2004 issue of Richmond Magazine.