It’s time to flip the marriage equality debate on its head, with straight-up facts that put right wing ideology in its place.
I care about families. Kids. Our culture.
I’m passionate about my cause—eliminating ignorance about healthy family life.
And I’m “all in” for marriage equality.
There have been many legal arguments laid out to support marriage equality. But no experts in the field of family studies have stepped up to challenge the misleading family values rhetoric propagated by the religious right–not my fellow marriage and family therapists, and not fellow specialists in human development and family relations.
It’s time. It affects you. It affects me. It affects all of us. Same-sex couples deserve the right to express their love through marriage, and we all need to know the truth about family life and what it really takes to create happy homes, healthy souls and well-adjusted children.
Instead, we’ve been fed fervent ideology weak on facts:
“Family values advocates” argue that gay marriage will weaken the institution of marriage, ultimately harming families, children and society.
This is their trump card.
Nobody wants families, children and society harmed.
And, this is what’s tricky.
You see, it’s true: Families are crucial for a sound society.
Families do critically influence the emotional, social and moral development of children.
But these ideologically driven, “family values advocates,” have it all wrong.
It’s time to take the trump out of their card.
The rhetoric we’ve been fed by this politically powerful group (i.e. “Marriage is under attack by homosexual activists”) distorts fundamental truths about family life, and is more devastating to the health of marriages than any gay lovebird will ever be.
The simple fact is this: the enemy lies within.
Hostility, defensiveness, distance and dishonesty are the types of deadly ammunition bringing marriages down, one at a time. It’s a problem of the most personal sort, the kind that lies deep in the soul, at the core of one’s character and the heart of one’s home.
Any message to the contrary is not only deceptive, but turns people into helpless victims of irrelevant circumstance.
We have to ask: Isn’t it a bit ironic that the so-called “pro-family” camp, who tout the moral high ground, have forgotten that the responsibility for a sound family life lies squarely in the lap of the married?
In fact, substantial findings from non-partisan research institutions over the last twenty years suggest “good marriages”— ones that are both satisfying and stable (i.e., “attack proof”) — reflect the psychological makeup of the partners involved.
Well known studies on marriage and divorce conducted by John Gottman at the University of Washington have provided a marital assessment model that can predict with 94% accuracy (!) which couples will end up divorced. He discovered toxic qualities within a marriage that dramatically increase the likelihood of divorce, and refers to them as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” They are 1) criticism; 2) contempt; 3) defensiveness; 4) stonewalling (emotional withdrawal.) No surprise, gay marriage has nothing to do with it.
And when it comes to child development, decades of research suggests that a secure quality of attachment between parent and child is crucial for sound psychological development.
Current brain neuroscience research supports this, finding that the emotional quality of early relationships affects the hardwiring of the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortext. This area of the brain is where the ability to control impulses, manage emotions, use judgement, experience empathy and function well socially–all fundamental to character formation–reside.
What does this mean?
An emotionally attuned, nurturing relationship between parent and child is the necessary ingredient for raising stable kids with sound character and personal integrity–the kind of children who grow up to become upstanding citizens.
Not heterosexual parents.
Not patriarchal parenting roles.
Not traditional, authoritarian parenting styles.
As for marriage equality affecting the welfare of society, one of my favorite examples of overblown, rhetorical nonsense came from then House Majority Leader, Tom Delay, who declared on the House floor:
“If you destroy marriage as the definition of one man and one woman, children will not learn traditional values and this country will go down.” (New York Times, Oct. 1, 2004)
Huh? I never heard of a definition destroying anything, let alone an entire society. With views as ridiculous as this, no wonder our problems have persisted for way too long.
Family Values of Real Value Trump Right Wing Ideology
We’ve been fed deceptive rhetoric dressed as fact, based on patriarchal ideology that declares how the role-based family structure should appear.
These are simplistic notions coming from self-ordained experts in matters of family life. The truth that is never spoken by these so-called “family values advocates” is this: What they are really advocating for is their religious values to be forced onto society through legislation.
Nothing more. Nothing less. Not facts, nor sound advice.
It’s time to put this absurdity in its place by injecting into the argument what experts in my field have known for over forty years:
The family is not a static role-based institution, but a dynamic emotional system whose function is critical for survival. And like all living systems, families must evolve (i.e., adapt to their larger context, in this case a democracy that values equality and freedom) if they are to thrive.
In western culture today, the family’s purpose is to provide for the optimal development of its members. How well a family functions to achieve this purpose determines the value, health, or “goodness” of families, regardless of form, including sexual orientation.
What does this mean in the fight for marriage equality?
What you knew all along…
Your Gay Family is Just as Valuable as My Straight Family
What does this mean for same-sex marriages?
Your love does not diminish or in any way threaten the “institution of marriage.”
And, what does this mean for same-sex parents?
Your potential to raise “good kids” (or not) is just as strong as the next.
Most supporters of marriage equality know it’s “right” either by experience, intuition or plain old common sense. It’s my pleasure to lay out the reasoning that supports marriage equality, and provide a new perspective on what it really takes to create happy homes, healthy souls and well-adjusted children.
Get the fresh take here, at Rethinking Family Values, as we uncover what these ‘values of value’ really are.
Family Values – Identifying Values of Real Value
Politics – Family Values Rhetoric and the Duping of America
The Culture War – An Ineffective, Un-American Crusade