Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Effect of Legalized Same-Sex Unions on Divorce, Marriage and STI Risk Behaviors
December 23, 2010 12:13 AM   Subscribe

A new working paper entitled "The Effects of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Public Health and Welfare" by economists Hugo Mialon, Andrew Francis and Handie Peng at Emory University finds that same-sex marriage bans reduced tolerance for gays and increased the MSM syphilis rate, perhaps by making monogamy less common. The authors also find that same-sex marriage bans tended to reduce tolerance for cohabiting sex, as well as reduced abortion and teen pregnancy, although these effects on teen pregnancy appeared to be very short-lived. They ultimately find no consistent evidence that same-sex marriage bans had any effect on marriage or divorce. A link to the paper can be found here, and a link to their legal appendix here.

Off subject, here is Mialon presenting his signaling theory of rational lovemaking and faking orgasms at an economics conference. The paper can be found here. Here is Mialon's other papers, as well as Andrew Francis's papers.

For those who are interested in these authors' work, here is a link to their paper on homosexual tolerance and HIV transmission published at the Journal of Health Economics, as well as their model of the optimal penalty for transmitting HIV published at the American Law and Economics Review (which was awarded the Distinguished Article Prize of 2009). Here is Francis's Journal of Health Economics publication on the economics of sexuality in which he suggests that the mid-80s and early-90s spike in AIDS mortality caused homosexual and heterosexuals to shift from high to low risk sexual behaviors, including shifting out of their own sexual orientation temporarily.
posted by scunning (38 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
In a sense, I find the very existence of this study offensive. Gay marriage shouldn't be legalised because of the tangential effects it has on society - gay marriage should be legalised because it is wrong to discriminate based on sexuality. If you consider this an argument for gay marriage, would you have considered the same study with inconclusive or opposite results an argument against it?
posted by Dysk at 3:18 AM on December 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


I find the very existence of this study offensive

That kind of attitude can only increase the syphilis rate.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:23 AM on December 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


Gay marriage should be legalized because it is wrong to discriminate, but in a pragmatic sense, any valid argument that moves society toward that end, including the tangential effects on society, is a good argument and should be used. If the study had the opposite conclusion, bigots would surely use it.
posted by tommyD at 3:25 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a sense, I find the very existence of this study offensive.

Science shouldn't shy away from performing certain studies just because the results might be offensive. For example, despite a belief that race does not matter in society, scientifically it kind of does. Not in a "superiority" way, but in a "people of this ethnic background are more likely to have this problem" and "this medicine has a potential side effect that's unforeseen if the clinical study only included white people." This is, of course, not "race" as colloquially known, but expression of particular genes. However, expression of these particular genes is correlated with ethnicity, and of course, race.
posted by explosion at 3:37 AM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Akerlof, Yellen, and Katz (1996) posit that the legalization of abortion and availability of contraception reduced norms of paternal involvement in child-rearing and raised out-of-wedlock births. By the same token, permitting same-sex marriage, particularly allowing two women to marry and raise children, may weaken the notion that children require both a mother and a father, which may further erode the norm that men should take responsibility in child-rearing. Therefore, same-sex marriage bans may raise marriage and reduce divorce, abortion, and teen pregnancy.

So, this scientific (cue clown parade and audience laughter) research has determined that same sex marriage increases heterosexual divorce, abortion, and teen pregnancy. Riiiiiiight.
posted by taz at 4:03 AM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


same-sex marriage bans reduced tolerance for gays

This phrase is like a written Ouroboros.
posted by Tavern at 4:08 AM on December 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


Riiiiiiight

Your scorn is causing a spike in the gonorrhea frequency. How do you live with yourself, you monster?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:08 AM on December 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Huh, given the quality of its reporting, I would have assumed the mainstream media was already thoroughly riddled with syphilis.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:29 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, do you know who is reporting on this? Nobody.

Nobody. Only this mention on Metafilter is being reproduced for all google results except for maybe one or two hits for the home page of one of the authors. I'm curious how the poster even found out about this.
posted by taz at 5:03 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, this scientific (cue clown parade and audience laughter) research has determined that same sex marriage increases heterosexual divorce, abortion, and teen pregnancy. Riiiiiiight.

I took that to be the "some people say that...so you might think that..." bit you get at the beginning of scientific papers before they discuss actual evidence.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 5:03 AM on December 23, 2010


Yes, looking to the conclusions, they've decided that banning same sex marriage doesn't slow down heterosexual marriage, and found little evidence that banning same sex marriage increases heterosexual divorce.

So as long as we keeping banning same sex marriage, traditional marriage will endure! And only a few extra people will divorce!

Here's what gets me:
we found evidence consistent with the view that same-sex marriage bans raised the social benefits of heterosexual marriage as well as the social costs of non-marital sex by codifying traditional family norms and signaling the prevalence of traditional family values.

Our estimates suggest that bans may have lowered the abortion rate and may have decreased the teen pregnancy rate, although the latter effect may have only been temporary.
Same sex marriage will increase abortions and teen pregnancy? They suggest? It doesn't make any sense at all (even beyond the totally not making sense part) because they say banning same sex marriage may have lowered the abortion rate, blah blah. Since when? Since that time before, when same sex marriage was legal? Then, after the big nonlegalization of same sex marriage, abortion rates decreased? buh.
posted by taz at 5:33 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, we better not let the same-sex marriage bans lapse then, because they're the only thing stopping same-sex relationships and keeping us all from total ruin.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:35 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's with the URL shorteners in the first two links (which both lead to the same thing), and a lack of notification that both go to .pdfs? URL shorteners are unnecessary here, and a warning about links opening pdfs is traditional politeness.

Now, back to being gay married and reading the links. In between causing divorces and abortions, of course.
posted by rtha at 5:51 AM on December 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, at least I guess one thing to be happy about is that the ultimate conclusions are that discrimination is bad?

I wonder who these people are funded by? Can't find any funding acknowledgement in the first pdf.
posted by gaspode at 6:13 AM on December 23, 2010


I didn't like this paper by the time I'd read the FPP title, and I can't pretend that I read it with an open mind, but: good grief. It's been a few years since I read economics papers regularly, but this seems to me to be a varying grab bag of estimation methods and some hand waving interpretation at the end. It all seems so suggestive. Syphillis rates are going up but not gonorrhea and tuberculosis == marriage ban sex effect. (Maybe? Is the population otherwise unchanged?) The jump to a calculation of the value of marriage is pretty goofy.

(And if you're going to posit some specific structral mechanisms, shouldn't you put your money where your mouth is and do a proper structural econometric model?)
posted by ~ at 6:25 AM on December 23, 2010


[Swapped out the bit.ly links for plain links to the PDF. Shorteners are worse than useless in a mefi context, please don't use them.]
posted by cortex at 6:29 AM on December 23, 2010


Just to be clear, the authors did not estimate the nominal value of marriage. They just posited some change to the perceived social benefits of heterosexual marriage. But again, why go half way? Why not estimate the reduction in the dollar-value of the institution of heterosexual marriage caused by gay marriage and perform a cost benefit analysis while you're at it if you're serious about all this?
posted by ~ at 6:29 AM on December 23, 2010


Why not estimate the reduction in the dollar-value of the institution of heterosexual marriage caused by gay marriage and perform a cost benefit analysis while you're at it if you're serious about all this?
posted by ~ at 9:29 AM on December 23


THIS!

am more interested in the economic impact of same-sex households on education, health, real estate, quality of life, etc. this looks to me --what with the "economics of fake orgasm-- as stuntonomics: the kind of pseudo-sciency economics studies of social practices that seems improbable and even shocking but that border on parody.

just stick to the financials and forget about the pseudo-science. but then, it wouldn't be economics, would it?
posted by liza at 6:51 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


tommyD: If the study had the opposite conclusion, bigots would surely use it.

Exactly. And if I want to be able to dismiss any studies with the opposite conclusion that the bigots trot out as irrelevant, I cannot in good faith argue that this study is anything other than irrelevant as well.
posted by Dysk at 7:03 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think what Dysk is getting at is that cheering because, yay, science is on our side could be a trifle hypocritical had the study turned out the other way. Would you be prepared to just, you know, scrap that whole gay marriage thing? Or would you try to nitpick the study in the classic "I don't like the results so the method must be flawed" fashion?

Supposing we trudge along and find that there's a consistent correlation between, oh, eating chocolate and the crime of arson. Would you ban chocolate? Or would you decide that a little bit of arson never hurt anyone? And, even it if did, that big Christmas Hershey's Kiss? You'd better give it to me anyways, dear.

As long as we ask questions, science will tell us, over and over (and in the coming decades, more and more), strange things about humanity we might rather not hear. We can either play pick-n-choose with the results or we can engage honestly. Buckle up, kiddies.
posted by adipocere at 7:21 AM on December 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, do you know who is reporting on this? Nobody. Nobody. Only this mention on Metafilter is being reproduced for all google results except for maybe one or two hits for the home page of one of the authors. I'm curious how the poster even found out about this.

I found the paper because I was on Mialon's website and noticed he had uploaded it. Mialon does some interesting work on both economic theories of sexual behavior and empirical estimation in that area. I figured MeFi might be interested both because the question seems like something people at MeFi might find interesting - what is the effect of samesex union laws on these various outcomes - and because Mialon and Francis do interesting work on material that might be interesting to non-economists (like sex).
posted by scunning at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


tommyD: If the study had the opposite conclusion, bigots would surely use it.

Exactly. And if I want to be able to dismiss any studies with the opposite conclusion that the bigots trot out as irrelevant, I cannot in good faith argue that this study is anything other than irrelevant as well.


There's two differences when thinking about legislation. There's "what effect will this legislation have?" and there's "what should we do?" That is, the positive, or descriptive/scientific, and the normative, or ethical. This paper is the former - they are purely interested in asking what happens if you legalize samesex union. I suspect some people in the thread are focused on the latter most of the time when they are interacting with anyone over samesex union laws. Caring about the normative more than the positive does not mean that the positive questions aren't important, and it definitely does not mean that you should judge the positive answers to those questions using the same criteria as how you'd evaluate some ethical argument. Regardless of what your private beliefs are, the positive questions and their answers should be the same. If your answer to any scientific questions depends on one's private beliefs (eg religious or political), then it's fraudulent scientific work. One should attempt to answer any question honestly using the best, most appropriate methods available to do so.

Having said that, I think the same goes for consumers of science too. A lot of people cherry pick results that suit their prior beliefs. I'm not sure if that is the "danger" of scientific work or what, but it does come with the territory of being involved in these kinds of "positive" questions, versus the purely normative. You really don't know what you'll find, and you can't control what people will do with what you do find.

I liked this study, and posted it, because I've some acquaintances who made the very claims that Francis, Mialon and Peng are trying to estimate to determine just how relevant they are. Like, for instance, that samesex union legislation would have damage heterosexual marriage. As a first go at the data, the authors try to see if there's evidence for this using a panel methodology with this recent wave of law changes for identification. They ultimately do not find any shortrun effect on marriage or divorce. If nothing else, it's valuable because it's an improvement in my mind since there isn't this large literature on the empirical impact of these laws yet.
posted by scunning at 8:03 AM on December 23, 2010


Hello! I am posting from the beleaguered state of Massachusetts, where years of legal recognition of same-sex marriage have resulted in riots in the streets and marauding gangs composed of renegade preachers and single gay people who attack unsuspecting straight people and force them to marry. BEWARE! DO NOT TRAVEL ALONE!
posted by rmd1023 at 9:06 AM on December 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


adipocere says: As long as we ask questions, science will tell us, over and over (and in the coming decades, more and more), strange things about humanity we might rather not hear. We can either play pick-n-choose with the results or we can engage honestly.

scunning says: Caring about the normative more than the positive does not mean that [...] you should judge the positive answers to those questions using the same criteria [you'd use for] some ethical argument. [...] You really don't know what you'll find, and you can't control what people will do with what you do find.

Thanks, you guys. These are vitally important points, no matter what anyone thinks about this particular study. It isn't okay to hamstring science for the sake of ideology, even if the good guys are doing it.
posted by tangerine at 10:10 AM on December 23, 2010


And also: Canada where same sex marriage is settled law and accompanied by... surprisingly little... no, actually, no rioting. No adverse effects that I can detect, except a 0.03% increase in smugness.
posted by ~ at 10:17 AM on December 23, 2010


same-sex marriage bans reduced tolerance for gays and [...] cohabiting sex

For same-sex marriage opponents, this is a feature, not a bug.
posted by Zozo at 10:18 AM on December 23, 2010


These are vitally important points, no matter what anyone thinks about this particular study. It isn't okay to hamstring science for the sake of ideology, even if the good guys are doing it.

This is an awfully low bar for science.
posted by ~ at 10:20 AM on December 23, 2010


I had a co-worker call me a bigot on account of my strong disagreement with his anti-gay-marriage views.

Go figure.
posted by Danf at 10:22 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Danf, why are you so intolerant of intolerance?
posted by Zozo at 10:36 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"rational lovemaking"

"0 ... 0 ... 0 ... 1 ... 0 .... 1 ... ooooyes 1 0 1! 11111!!"
posted by Twang at 11:19 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


These are vitally important points, no matter what anyone thinks about this particular study. It isn't okay to hamstring science for the sake of ideology, even if the good guys are doing it.

This is an awfully low bar for science.


Please don't hear me say that a scientific finding is "correct" or "right" if the scientist has integrity (ie, honest, objective, transparent, etc.). Scientific integrity is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for science. Just because the scientist refuses to let his priors influence the study does not mean that the scientist did good work. But if his priors influenced the study, then regardless of whatever else, it fails.

To criticize this study requires reading it with an open but critical mind noting where the works falls short of some ideal. It may be that there are better ways to estimate the causal effect of samesex union laws on heterosexual marriage outcomes than what they do here. They mainly estimate "difference in difference" models (which is the bread and butter of program evaluation. What's a better way specifically? Is the problem the data, the laws are not exogenous, what?
posted by scunning at 12:02 PM on December 23, 2010


To criticize this study requires reading it with an open but critical mind noting where the works falls short of some ideal. ... They mainly estimate "difference in difference"models (which is the bread and butter of program evaluation. What's a better way specifically?

It's not the technique I'm quibbling with, it's the research program. It's a hard enough thing to evaluate a narrow program with simple outcomes (say educational grants and outcomes for a specific group), but if a researcher is at the point of blithely dropping in a concept like diminishing the value of heterosexual marriage without a heck of a lot more explanation and evidence, they're not engaging in science.

Frankly, it's stunt research, isn't it? A vaguely titillating drive-by result that probably doesn't mean all that much? It piques my ire because economists have a history of producing this sort of "interesting" result that isn't particularly well-fastened to the reality of the subject matter. How many psychiatrists use Becker's theory of rational addiction to treat addicts?

I certainly don't think science should be informed by ideology, but I do find it morally lazy to practice "light" science in such a sensitive domain.
posted by ~ at 1:37 PM on December 23, 2010


It's not the technique I'm quibbling with, it's the research program. It's a hard enough thing to evaluate a narrow program with simple outcomes (say educational grants and outcomes for a specific group), but if a researcher is at the point of blithely dropping in a concept like diminishing the value of heterosexual marriage without a heck of a lot more explanation and evidence, they're not engaging in science.

If that was the purpose of the study, I'd agree, but it's not. They are not arguing for that mechanism - at least that is not my reading of it. The authors cite three publications with regards to the notion of "diminishing the value of heterosexual marriage". My interpretation of that part of the paper is they are testing someone else's claims about the impact of these laws on heterosexual marriages. Seems like a good idea to me to at least test, using the best methods and data we have, try and see if there's any evidence for that.

Whether those original writings are "light" and whether this is "light" are not the same question. It may be that the three publications they cite are bad - I have not read them myself - but regardless of their quality, it's very common to hear a critic claim that legalization of homosexual marriage will harm heterosexual marriage by "devaluing the institution of marriage" or something involving external damages that heterosexuals incur as a consequence. I think it's win-win to have some actual evidence either way, for if someone's entire stated reason for supporting bans like these is that the counterfactual is harmful to society, then it'd be helpful to at least have some evidence using these recent legislative and judicial reforms as natural experiments. That's done all the time in program evaluation, so why does it suddenly become inappropriate here?

It sounds like you are saying that if the authors are going to test for this, they first have to prove it exists in theory. There are those three publications, none of which are peer reviewed I suspect, and I think it is true that these arguments are common among critics. So the question maybe is how often do these theoretical claims have to be made before scientists are obligated to test them? I feel like the fact that no one has studied this is why this study has value - because there is no test of the theoretical claims, critics can feel justified in just holding those beliefs and pretending they are established scientific fact. This paper treats the theories seriously, tests them, and ultimately fails to find evidence for them. How is that not valuable?

Frankly, it's stunt research, isn't it? A vaguely titillating drive-by result that probably doesn't mean all that much?

Economists have been studying marriage for decades, at least as far back as the mid-70s when Becker was at Columbia and wrote his first papers on the economics of marriage. It's a huge area in economics now, and a research program that many people may spend their entire careers working on. I don't think anyone who has really studied that literature can say we have not learned a lot about marriage and the family from it, either. That is not the same as saying that all I need to know about marriage is from Becker's models, or even the most important things.

As for this particular paper's value. There is a literature, which these authors have contributed towards, that studies the role of markets in the determination of risky sexual behavior. Thomas Dee, for instance, finds that same sex union laws lower STI rates, and Francis and Mialon have a similar paper finding that rising toleration for homosexuality is associated with falling STI rates. Insofar as different techniques, different data, different settings, different researchers can look at something and a pattern forms, I don't see that as "vaguely titillating drive-by result that probably doesn't mean all that much" - especially when we are talking about something like homosexual marriage legislation where so much resources have been devoted to getting these laws passed/opposed.

It piques my ire because economists have a history of producing this sort of "interesting" result that isn't particularly well-fastened to the reality of the subject matter. How many psychiatrists use Becker's theory of rational addiction to treat addicts?

I have no idea how many psychiatrists use it either. But so what if the answer is none? That proves what exactly? All of the social sciences complement each other; none of them are substitutes for each other. Psychiatry and economics are two different, complementary fields which are useful for helping us understand humans and society. IF I want to treat someone with mental health disorders, I obviously don't go to an economist for help. But if I'm wanting to design markets to improve the labor markets for doctors, I ask an economist and not a doctor.

People love to pick on Becker, Grossman and Murphy's model of rational addiction, and I'm not interested in defending it here as its off subject. I will just say that all theories are "wrong", even whichever ones you cherish as being more "well-fastened to the reality of the subject matter". "All models are wrong but some are useful" is not just something economists say to make themselves feel better about working with highly stylized theories. Every theory, not matter how detailed you make it, makes some simplifications along the way that when taken together ultimately makes the only correspondence to itself.

The fact is, no field has the monopoly on badly done research. Everybody's work should be fairly but critically evaluated - not just dismissed in hand because the critic claims (without warrant in this case) that because they are X they cannot be qualified to study Y. Economists have, as I said, been studying marriage markets for at least 40 years, if not considerably longer. It's a very large part of the field of labor economics, and if you want to count this year's Nobel Prize winners, has quite a nice pedigree. The way in which they go about studying this particular problem using panel methods seems at least to me the basic way you go about this. Is it the last word? No of course not. But it's nice to at least have finally the first word.
posted by scunning at 5:33 PM on December 23, 2010


If that was the purpose of the study, I'd agree, but it's not. They are not arguing for that mechanism - at least that is not my reading of it. The authors cite three publications with regards to the notion of "diminishing the value of heterosexual marriage". My interpretation of that part of the paper is they are testing someone else's claims about the impact of these laws on heterosexual marriages. Seems like a good idea to me to at least test, using the best methods and data we have, try and see if there's any evidence for that.

I agree this certainly was a secondary focus of the paper. But they do claim:
We find some evidence consistent with the view that same-sex marriage bans raised the social benefits of heterosexual marriage as well as the social costs of non-marital sex by codifying traditional family norms and signaling the prevalence of traditional family values.
I suppose the argument I'm making is simply that I don't see how they've done any such thing. The fault may certainly be mine for misapprehending the paper (which I still haven't read carefully). But if the evidence is an effect in syphilis and abortion rates, it strikes me as a lot of specificity in a very, very poorly understood area to hang on that result.

I really don't think it matters whether or not it's the central point of the paper. For example, I found it off-putting in the theory section that the authors easily conflate the effects of a smoking band and a gay marriage ban. Doesn't there need to be an argument explaining why being LGBT is like being a smoker?

It sounds like you are saying that if the authors are going to test for this, they first have to prove it exists in theory. There are those three publications, none of which are peer reviewed I suspect, and I think it is true that these arguments are common among critics. So the question maybe is how often do these theoretical claims have to be made before scientists are obligated to test them? I feel like the fact that no one has studied this is why this study has value - because there is no test of the theoretical claims, critics can feel justified in just holding those beliefs and pretending they are established scientific fact. This paper treats the theories seriously, tests them, and ultimately fails to find evidence for them. How is that not valuable?

I would love to eat my hat. If you could explain the authors' justification for their claim at the top of page 5, even just clarifying what predictions they're falsifying, I'd be very grateful. While I don't exactly mean that there needs to be an existence proof and axiomatic basis before you can do any estimation, if this is just an exercise in finding a result that's inconsistent with a poorly formed model, not much is being accomplished is it?

I have no idea how many psychiatrists use it either. But so what if the answer is none? That proves what exactly? All of the social sciences complement each other; none of them are substitutes for each other.

It's not a good sign, though, is it? There seem to be some areas in economics that have been more or less embraced by neighbouring professions. You're right, it might mean nothing, but it seems to me that an economist should care if their work isn't saying anything interesting to a researcher with more domain-specific experience than themselves.

People love to pick on Becker, Grossman and Murphy's model of rational addiction, and I'm not interested in defending it here as its off subject. I will just say that all theories are "wrong", even whichever ones you cherish as being more "well-fastened to the reality of the subject matter". "All models are wrong but some are useful" is not just something economists say to make themselves feel better about working with highly stylized theories. Every theory, not matter how detailed you make it, makes some simplifications along the way that when taken together ultimately makes the only correspondence to itself.

Sure, and yet researchers have to make decisions about which assumptions are good, and which models are interesting. And I'd hope "the reality of the subject" informs those decisions.

Frankly, I'm tired and probably not making the best case I can here, but it seems to me these models have a political context (why so many results where the optimal tax rate on capital is zero?) and have an influence of their own (I can't imagine any economics student has ever purchased a used car without thinking about Akerlof). So it makes sense to me to tread thoughtfully in an area as politicized as this.
posted by ~ at 1:53 AM on December 24, 2010


I've been struggling to parse this study fairly for a day or so now. And will be the first to admit that I'm probably not trained in how to read papers like this. However...

The language of this paper seems to be couched in a lot of safety language. All throughout, the authors never actually say that they actually draw any of their conclusions. The word "may" appears 80 times in the document, and "might" another 13 times. A quick scan of the use of these two words shows that they are both used as weasel words, creating suggestions of conclusions where none can actually be reached.

Furthermore, words which would suggest actual findings being reached appear much less frequently throughout the document. "Do" only appears a handful of times, as does "does". "Conclusion" only appears twice, and one of those appearances is as a section heading.

Curious to me is their willingness to draw causality out of correlation. It looks to me like they went through a mountain of data, all generated by others, looking for specific trends, and then were more than happy to keep digging until they found what they wanted.

The point at which I personally throw my hands up and declare this supposed research to be a lark happens on page 10, when the researchers cite the Family Research Council as a source for a study about how same-sex marriage bans uphold traditional marriage. After seeing that, everything else in the study was thrown in suspect light. I'm not going to go through their list of sources at the end, but I bet that a good percentage of them have equally slanted origins.
posted by hippybear at 9:18 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


hippybear and I are apparently sharing a brain today, because upon a re-read I was also struck by this:
Lastly, same-sex marriage bans may uphold the concept of marriage as an institution committed to procreation, child-rearing, and sexual fidelity (Family Research Council, 2010a, 2010b; George and Elshtain, 2006; Witherspoon Institute, 2008). Disallowing same-sex marriage may reinforce the norm of sexual fidelity in marriage. If men who have sex with men tend to have sexual partnerships of shorter duration than men who have sex with women, and if they tend to have greater propensity for infidelity, then permitting same-sex couples to marry might substantially weaken expectations of marital fidelity generally, thereby increasing extra-marital sex, divorce, and the spread of STIs.
That is a whole lot of ifs right there. Given that surveys I've seen estimate that anywhere from 1 in 10 to 1 in 5 married heterosexual people cheat on their spouses - and these go back long before gay marriage was more than a twinkle in any homo's eye - I have to wonder about the assumption that "traditional" marriage enforces monogamy.

If anyone is curious about the FRC "data" they reference above: 2010a "Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same-Sex 'Marriage'"* and 2010b, which includes the completely hilarious hamburger statement ...it would reinforce many of the negative changes described above. As an example, marriage will open wide the door to homosexual adoption, which will simply lead to more children suffering the negative consequences of growing up without both a mother and a father.

*This should be called "10 Arguments We Cherry-Picked From..."

And I noticed, in skimming through their tables, that one of the measures they use "to estimate the effect of same-sex marriage bans on health and welfare" is reported AIDS cases. But they admit "However, we do not have sufficient data on HIV. Most states did not start reporting HIV until the late 1990s, and many of the large states, including California, New York, and Illinois, did not begin to report HIV until 2001 or later (CDC, 1982-2008). Moreover, the AIDS Public Information Dataset only contains information on AIDS cases until 2002."

So the dataset is incomplete, but they use it anyway. And they use reported AIDS cases, which is weird, because (as I assume we all know), HIV can lie dormant for years - that is, it could have been acquired long before gay marriage was a remote reality.

I'm all for thoughtful hypothesizing and asking questions, but the more I look at this paper, the less I see.
posted by rtha at 12:00 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


~, apologies for letting this die down. After Xmas, we traveled out of state and I'm just now getting time to look into this conversation. By now, it may be dead though, which disappoints me. I will reply to your comment asap.
posted by scunning at 8:13 PM on December 27, 2010


rtha - Actually, that is not what they do. Read it again. They do not look at AIDS.
posted by scunning at 8:13 PM on December 27, 2010


« Older Crew from NASA's International Space Station send ...  |  "Snowball Cam has no visible m... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments