On The Right Side Of History, But On The Wrong Side Of Science – Part 1

Martin Luther King Photo

It was the famous African American Pastor and Civil Rights Activist, the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr., who once said: ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice‘.

In Dr King’s view, history is inevitably moving in the direction of justice, civil rights, and human rights: and whoever opposes these things is, effectively, on the wrong side of history.

How To Be On The Right Side of History.

Many who are pushing to redefine marriage argue that gay marriage is a civil rights/equality issue, and that history will show that this movement is no different from the Black civil rights movement that Dr King spearheaded. Or to put it another way, gay marriage is on the right side of the arc of history.

Speaking of American history, the policy.mic website has this to say:

Those who oppose [gay marriage] today, for whatever reason, will be looked back on as, at best, wrong and misguided, and at worst, they will be looked back on as bigots…In America’s past, the arc of history is clear. America trends towards more civil freedoms. 

Where is The Arc Of History Headed? To The Abolition of Marriage.

Masha Gessen is a Russian born (and US based journalist), and an outspoken LGBT activist.

In a panel discussion at the 2012 Sydney Writers Festival, Gessen made the following comments about marriage:

‘“I agree that we should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it is a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist

…Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we’re going to do with marriage when we get there, because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change, and again, I don’t think it should exist.”

As a leading LGBT campaigner, who was honoured in 2014 by no less than the US State Department, she has publicly called for the abolition of marriage, as a legal, and indeed cultural institution. In an ideal society, no one would take part in marriage, because it would not even exist: that is what Gessen (and other activists) are working towards.

Gessen’s view, in effect, is that abolishing marriage is ‘the right side of history’.

On The Wrong Side of Science? The Negative Impact of Abolishing Marriage.

Now what does (social) science have to say about the institution of marriage? What would be the impact of abolishing marriage altogether?

Well firstly, the obvious thing to say is that if we abolish marriage (i.e. the husband-wife marriage), then we wouldn’t have traditional married mother-father families: children would be raised outside of the traditional family, by default.

And what would be the impact of that? What difference does it make for children to be raised outside of the traditional family?

As it turns out,  science clearly tells us what difference it makes for children to be raised in a traditional married mother-father home.

Respected Mexican sociologist Fernando Pliego, from the Autonomous National University of Mexico, recently undertook a massive research project, looking at 351 academic studies in 13 countries on 5 continents.

According to one summary of Pliego’s research,

  • “Nearly all demonstrate that where a father and mother are living together with their natural or adopted children there are tremendous benefits:
  • The members of … traditional families enjoy better physical health, less mental illness, higher incomes, and steadier employment.
  • They and their children live in better housing, enjoy more loving and cooperative relationships, and report less physical or sexual violence.”

It goes on:

  • “Moreover, when the bonds between parents and children are more positive, drug, alcohol and tobacco use is lower, children are better socialized and cooperative, they commit fewer crimes, and they perform better in school.”
  • “Professor Pliego, found that 89.4 percent of the studies concluded that intact families produced a higher level of well-being than other family types.
  • Only one in ten claimed that all family structures produced similar outcomes.
  • And only a negligible fraction of the studies—around 1 percent—claimed that other ‘family’ structures produced a better outcome.”

It would seem that science is fairly conclusive when it comes to the positive outcomes of traditional families, as well as the negative outcomes of non-traditional families: all things being equal, children do a lot better in traditional families, compared to non-traditional families. 

On the ‘Right’ Side of History, But On The Wrong Side Of Science.

So what does all this mean? In my next post, I’ll share some of my reflections about this issue of marriage redefinition: an issue that politically speaking is seen to be on the right side of history by many: but scientifically speaking, is very much on the wrong side of science.

Leave a Reply

7 thoughts on “On The Right Side Of History, But On The Wrong Side Of Science – Part 1

  1. i agree that the absolute best we can give kids is a loving mother and father. No question that’s the best case scenario although it’s not always possible due to divorce, abuse etc. I pray for a world in which mums and dads are supported to provide this best case scenario, rather than creating alternatives. Having 2 boys, there’s no question in my mind that they need their dad. He gives a completely different set of life skills and nurturing than what I can provide and I would never undermine his contribution by suggesting my kids would be better off without his unique influence. I think this is the most divisive issue facing society in the 21st century and I salute you for your courage in tackling it in a public forum.

  2. Hi Akos,

    Thanks for pointing out this research.

    However, how does this relate to the definition of marriage?

    It seems to me that this research supports the idea that governments should consider making IVF and surrogacy options more readily available to heterosexual couples over and above same sex couples. This is a different issue to the question of how marriage is defined in the legislation.


  3. Hi T!

    Thanks for your comment.

    ‘However, how does this relate to the definition of marriage?’

    The argument I’ve put forward above is as follows:

    1) Children do best in a mother-father traditional family.

    2) Marriage redefinition will lead to the weakening of the mother-father traditional family.

    Conclusion: Therefore, we shouldn’t redefine marriage.

    Does that make sense?