Perkins: Gay Marriage Will Increase Prison Population

Perkins: Gay Marriage Will Increase Prison Population July 13, 2015

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.


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