Perkins: Gay Marriage Will Increase Prison Population

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council always seems to have a difficult time with the whole cause/effect thing. He seems to just decide on what horrible thing he wants to pretend will happen as a result of whatever he’s railing against at any given time and just declare that it will happen. To wit:

“Government has a vested interested in seeing those children grow up with a mother and a father,” Perkins said. “Now they’ve changed that policy, obviously, with this and we’re going to suffer the social consequences as a result.

“When you look at, for instance, our prison system today, and there’s a lot of effort, some of which I’m involved in, prison reform to try to scale back the prison population which is getting out of control, but 70 percent of most of the men in the prison have had little or no interaction with a father in their life. That’s why you saw about a decade and a half ago fatherhood initiatives. There is a direct correlation between increased social costs and the breakup of the family and this will only exacerbate that situation and take us further down this path.”

There’s that cause and effect problem again. In Perkins’ fevered imagination, allowing gay people to form legally recognized families leads to the breakup of families. It’s really quite bizarre. And if fatherhood is such a good thing, wouldn’t having two fathers be twice as good? Of course not! Because the two fathers would be gay! Such a compelling argument.

Earlier in the program, Perkins lamented that “logic, reason, history, social science, anthropology means nothing any more” to the Supreme Court justices who sided with marriage equality advocates last month. “If you read the majority opinion of the five judges, they discounted history, they discounted anthropology, they discounted the social sciences and reason to come to this decision.”

Yes, folks, that is a young earth creationist complaining about someone else ignoring anthropology. You can’t make this shit up. And as always, he’s completely distorting the social science research. The bigots love to cite studies that compare intact homes with broken homes, studies that consistently show, for obvious reasons, that children on average (that’s an important caveat) do better in homes with both parents than in single-parent homes (whether that single parent is the mother or the father).

But they do not compare children raised by two straight parents with children raised by two gay parents in an intact, stable home. There have been many such studies and they show that there is no significant different in the outcomes for children in those two types of households. Two-parent families headed by gay couples are pretty much indistinguishable from two-parent families headed by straight couples. Perkins and his ilk like to pretend those studies do not exist.

But as I’ve argued before, even if it were true that children on average were better of with two straight parents rather than two gay parents, this is not a basis for denying marriage rights to the gay couple. First, because it isn’t as if they’re just going to stop being parents if they can’t get married. Second, because we do not prevent people from getting married in situations where the social science data clearly shows worse results for one group than another.

Children of poor parents, on average, do worse than children of middle class or wealthy families, but we do not forbid poor people from marrying or having children. Same with parents who are uneducated, who have criminal records, who are one race rather than another, and so forth. As the federal judge in the Michigan case challenging the ban on same-sex marriage pointed out, if we were going to use such studies as a test for who can and can’t get married, the only people we would allow to get married would be wealthy, educated Asians.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
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  • Synfandel

    But as I’ve argued before, even if it were true that children on average were better of with two straight parents rather than two gay parents, this is not a basis for denying marriage rights to the gay couple. First, because it isn’t as if they’re just going to stop being parents if they can’t get married. Second, because we do not prevent people from getting married in situations where the social science data clearly shows worse results for one group than another.

    Third, people are allowed to get married and not have children. It happens every day.

  • wreck

    Didn’t some other wingnut claim that being in prison increased the gay population? Won’t this have a positive feedback affect and send the gay and prison populations spiraling out of control until the whole country is gay and in jail?

  • Larry

    I thought we were going to read yet another sad story about all those preachers and xtians being thrown in prison for speaking out against SSM.

  • dobby

    Do these people know they have lost? What is the point of all this? Perkins et. al. have already made all these arguments, do they think the Supreme Court is going to meet next week and reverse their decision?

  • RickR

    Now let’s see….where did Perky first go off the rails here….let’s scan the post OH HERE IT IS-

    Government has a vested interested in seeing those children grow up with a mother and a father

    Citation desperately needed.

  • zenlike

    and there’s a lot of effort, some of which I’m involved in, prison reform to try to scale back the prison population which is getting out of control

    This from the head of the organization who wants to throw consenting adults in jail for performing sexual acts in the privacy of their bedroom (see: Lawrence v. Texas, Uganda). You can’t make this shit up.

  • johnwoodford

    …but we do not forbid poor people from marrying or having children.

    To the contrary, it almost seems that we (for some values of “we”) encourage poor people to marry, and restrict the means they may use to keep from having children. It is, after all, a fine way to keep them poor.

  • matty1

    “The only people we would allow to get married would be wealthy, educated Asians”

    Congratulations – George Takei

  • scienceavenger

    This argument is like saying we can’t allow women to drive, because men deserve to be able to drag race.

  • scienceavenger

    “If you read the majority opinion of the five judges, they discounted … the social sciences…”

    That’s what they are supposed to do. Ask any Republican.

  • Mr Ed

    In the documentary Freakonomics they should a direct relation between abortion and crime. If Mr. Perkins really wanted to do something about crime and the family he would champion women’s reproductive healthcare. If women could reproduction they would have more stable families and be better able to care for their children. I suspect, as does everyone else here, that he really wants things to be like he always imagined they were.

  • ‘smee

    Mr Ed @ 11: I suspect, as does everyone else here, that he really wants things to be like he always imagined they were.

    QTFW! But honestly, I think this is at the core of almost every conservative position: It’s not a demand for things to remain the same. It’s a demand for things to return to some bucolic past that exists only in their collective unconscious.

  • hunter

    RickR @ 5: Perkins never provides citations for anything, except that pathetic “New Family Structures Study” by Mark Regnerus; he alludes to studies, never cites them, because he’s either distorting them or they’re irrelevant to the discussion at hand — his whole “children do best with a mother and father” argument, for example, is based on studies comparing children of intact families with children raised by single parents. (And that one he inherited from James Dobson, who was using the same argument 15 years ago.)

  • Synfandel

    @4 dpbby wrote:

    …do they think the Supreme Court is going to meet next week and reverse their decision?

    No, they think there are still some suckers to be bilked out of more money.

  • theguy

    @13: Dances-with-White-Supremacists Perkins can’t afford to give citations – the slightest bit of data and his bullshit blows away. It’s absurd for a religious fundamentalist to complain that other people are ignoring “logic, reason, history, social science, anthropology.”

    According to the American Anthropological Association, “The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.”

    Source: http://www.aaanet.org/issues/policy-advocacy/Statement-on-Marriage-and-the-Family.cfm

  • RickR

    Hunter @13- I was pointing out his unevidenced statement that “government has a vested interest in” seeing those children grow up with a mother and father.

    Unless single parents are having their children taken away from them and opposite sex couples are forced to adopt them, or divorce is made illegal (at least for couples with children), then his statement is just so much hot air.

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    Odd. Not that long ago Perkins thought straight black parents were the ones to blame for America’s high prison population.

  • Solomon Steltzer

    but 70 percent of most of the men in the prison have had little or no interaction with a father in their life. That’s why you saw about a decade and a half ago fatherhood initiatives.

    Woah woah woah. Based on the evidence you’re presenting, sir, I am inclined to conclude that if no fathers = bad, and one father = good, TWO fathers = best. So gay marriage can only improve things! Even in lesbian relationships (which I’m told don’t even exist), the absolute worst case scenario is on par with the status quo of ‘no fathers’. And even then, at least you have an extra mother to pick up the slack!