I am an advocate for social justice. I support laws that allow every person an equal chance to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the opportunity to reach his or her full potential within society. Social justice is closely linked with the concept of equality. Most people assume that those in favor of social justice also support same-sex marriage. That is not the case for me.
I support marriage between one man and one woman because I believe in social justice. How is that possible? Would changing the definition of marriage and allowing gays and lesbians the right to marry promote justice and equal rights? The answer to this question depends on an understanding of whose rights such a change would advance.
The people who will ultimately pay for such a new public policy would be the rising generation: The children, born and unborn, who will reap the consequences of current political choices. Decades of scientific research show that children need both a mother and a father. Each provide something unique to a child’s development.
One study, by Stanford professor Eleanor Maccoby in 1998, found that mothers are more sensitive to the cries, words and gestures of children of all ages. Other studies have showed that fathers are better at providing discipline and challenging their children to confront life’s difficulties – even because of differences as subtle as the pitch and inflection of their voices.
Mothering and fathering are not gender-neutral roles that can be fulfilled by any person society chooses to plug into a family.
Since no-fault divorce became a reality several decades ago, family experts have observed that the emotional, educational and psychological outcomes of children raised in divorced homes are, on average, lower than children raised in intact, biological families. Children of same-sex parents, once grown, have significantly poorer physical and mental health and lower educational outcomes than children from intact biological families.
While it may look like same-sex marriage brings “social justice” to the lesbians and gays, it does not advance social justice for the children that will be created and raised by these unions. Legalizing gay marriage implicitly requires the government, public schools and the media to perpetuate the narrative that homosexual couples provide the same benefits to children that a married mother and father provide to biological children. This is simply not the case.
Same-sex couples pay thousands of dollars to have children with donors so they can fulfill their dream of being parents. These children are separated from at least one of their biological parents in order to help someone else live their dream.
But isn’t adoption a good thing? Traditional adoption makes the best of an unfortunate situation for a child. But when same-sex couples create children through artificial reproductive technology, they create a separation between the child and his or her parents. Rather than promoting social justice, such a practice creates a new, underprivileged minority — children raised without the benefit of a father and a mother. This allows adults to deprive children of their most foundational relationships without any consent from the children. That is the opposite of social justice.
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If we care about social justice, we will strengthen marriage as it is now defined — a mother and a father committed to each other and raising their own children with all of the benefits that accompany that arrangement. I’m not claiming that heterosexual households are perfect. Since we know that intact, biological families provide the best chance for kids to reach their full potential, we should work on perfecting these families instead of creating a new quasi-parental structure that cannot take the place of a child being raised by his or her own parents.
Yes, I am an advocate for social justice. And I am an advocate for man-woman marriage.
David Hunsaker is a marriage advocate and Ph.D student at the University of Utah.