A Religious Right Leader May Have Accidentally Lent His Support to Gay Marriage

At the Illinois Family Institute’s website, Micah Clark (of the American Family Association of Indiana) has written a brief article about a recent U.S. Department of Justice report (PDF) that “examines patterns in serious violent crime and simple assault” against youth.

Clark highlights one of the report’s main findings:

Perhaps even more interesting was the finding that youth were 380 percent more likely to become the victim of a serious violent crime if the teen lived in a home where the head of the household was unmarried than if he or she lived with his married parents. In 2010, 7.4 out of every 1,000 youth living with married parents became the victims of a serious violent crime. That year 27.8 out of every 1,000 living with an unmarried householder became the victims of a serious violent crime.

In short — and for any number of reasons — there appears to be a strong correlation between living with an unmarried head of household and being the victim of a violent crime.

Clark’s point is that the stability provided by marriage is good for society: “Married moms and dads mean safer homes for kids,” he writes.

Well, he threw the “moms and dads” in there out of nowhere because the report doesn’t say the married couple has to be straight. In fact, it suggests that kids living in a stable household are better off, period, without specifying whether the households have to be gay or straight.

How hypocritical do you have to be to promote a study like this while, at the same time, opposing any form of gay marriage that would lead to more safety and stability for children?

If anything, Clark’s article is just support for why we ought to legalize gay marriage as soon as possible.

So… um… thanks!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    In short — and for any number of reasons — there appears to be a strong correlation between living with an unmarried head of household and being the victim of a violent crime.

    Well, no kidding. Poverty-stricken areas have more single parents due to incarceration, drugs, and other socio-economic factors. Most violent crimes tend to take place in those neighborhoods. It has nothing to do with marriage. A teenager in the inner city who lives with his mother and father isn’t protected from drive-by shootings, muggings, or school violence just because his parents are married.

    • Michael

      I was trying to express the same thing when you posted this message. Yes, I’m sure the deciding factor is money. The average single parent has less money than the average married couple with children.

    • Raising_Rlyeh

      That is exactly what I was thinking as well. The area that typically have higher single parent households are also areas that typically have more violent crimes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bernard.rieux.33 Bernard Rieux

      I’m a little shocked that there’s no suggestion of controlling for income level. It’s a flagrantly obvious confounding variable.

    • Grant Gordon

      Pretty much exactly what was on my mind reading this. It’s absurd to suggest that marriage == stability. There are so many factors to consider in a study like this.

    • Kengi

      There is likely no single factor as a cause. Two parents also have (on average) twice the time. There are a variety of reasons why a two parent household can provide more support for children, which is not only an argument for promotion of two parent families, but an argument for providing more support services for one parent families.

      It could also suggest studies looking at families with more than two parents (or parental figures) to see if this effect increases and how.

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        Well, even if there are two parents, being the victim of violent crime (rather than the perpetrator) would rarely have anything to do with parents not having enough time. Youth ages 12-17, whether from single or two-parent homes, are old enough to go to school, the mall, and other places on their own. It seems to me that being the victim of violent crime is more directly linked to living in a dangerous area. Teenagers in wealthy suburbs are highly unlikely to be beaten up, robbed, or shot, regardless of whether or not their parents are married.

        There are certainly studies showing that single parents have it a lot harder than coupled parents, but I would imagine that is almost entirely due to socio-economic factors. Single parents have to support their children on one income, and thus are overall less likely to be able to afford tutors, nannies, extracurricular activities, private schools, and other benefits associated with a middle-class or upper middle-class lifestyle. Of course, there are wealthy single parents who are able to afford those things, and I’ve never seen any evidence indicating that their children are disadvantaged.

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  • Kimpatsu

    To be fair, as when Barney Frank confronted the fundi who had taken a similar report and précised it to mean “heterosexual” when it merely mentioned “couples vs. single parents”, I suspect that when the loons read “family”, they mentally translate it to mean “one man, one woman”. The idea of a loving, stable, monogamous, and committed gay relationship just does not occur to them.
    But then, I am the person Christopher Hitchens’s bigoted brother Peter called “stupid” yesterday…


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