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Brandon Booker Psychology Same Sex Relationships: Constructive or Destructive?

President Bush ascertains that, “Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society.” This statement is in reference to Bush’s and others’ opinion that same sex couples lack the capability of sustaining the welfare of children and same sex marriages do not contribute to the stability of society. According to Bush’s belief regarding heterosexual couples, same sex couples’ relationships at the least have no positive or negative bearing on maintaining the strength of society and at the other end same sex marriages show a direct relationship with the instability of society. Same sex couples for years have sought to posses the same legal and social rights afforded to their heterosexual counterparts with the two most important rights being the right to equal marriage and the right to raise/adopt children. Some states have passed laws legalizing same sex unions which afford these couples with the same legal standing as their heterosexual counterparts. Other states have gone the polar opposite route approving Defense of Marriage Acts in 38 states which terminates the legality of same sex unions in each one of these states. The answer to the question of whether same sex couples should be allowed the same rights legally and socially as heterosexual couples is not clear cut
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although psychologists have conducted countless experiments to find this aforementioned answer. Here six psychological journal articles will be presented to argue both sides of the gay marriage debate, which will prove that this topic does not have one proven theory to enlighten the world on finite answer concerning the conviction of President Bush and everyone who shares the same sentiment about homosexuality and the ability to equally participate in child rearing and social institutions such as marriage. Should same sex couples be afforded the right to legal marriage by the US government? Psychology professor Lawrence A. Kurdek theorizes that via comparing same sex couples without children with heterosexual couples with and without children empirical evidence can be derived confirming his hypothesis that same sex couples are no more maladjusted to the same relationship stress factors present in their heterosexual counterparts. The only evidence against same sex couples inferred through Kurdek’s study in possessing equivalent strength in maintaining healthy relationships was an apparent lack in social support. Kurdek derived his premise on the assumption that since same sex couples are barred from the institution of marriage, there must be drastic differences in how same sex relationships work when contrasted to heterosexual couples. In order to gather fair and empirically sound data from same sex couples and heterosexual couples the pool of participants who were same sex couples were analyzed solely on individual and joint attributes where as the sample of heterosexual couples included couples without children and couples with children. According to the
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2000 Census it is estimated that only 33% of female same sex couples and 22% of male same sex couples cohabitated with their children, and to boot, same sex couples who are fighting for the right to marry are for the largest part childless. This means that the sentiment that same sex couples should not be allowed to legally wed on the basis of being unsound parents is logically incorrect, and for all intents and purposes invalidates one of the largest arguments against allowing same sex couples the right to marriage. Kurdek’s study analyzed the relationships of newlywed couples, and through surveys which participants mailed in over a year’s span, Kurdek assembled statistical data regarding heterosexual couples who were childless based. The same sex couples who were studied did not have this criterion, but rather the empirical data taken from gay and lesbian couples came from many diverse same sex couples at different stages in their relationships. For the final group Kurdek used married couples who had children younger than 18 living in the home as the control for this experiment. Setting married heterosexual couples with children in the home and newlywed heterosexual couples who are cohabitating without children as control groups in comparison to the one variable group, same sex couples collectively sampled over different lengths of time in each individual couples relationship with sole experimental design criterion being these couples were cohabitating without children; allows several different inferences to be taken from the data of Kurdek’s experiment. First, comparing the samples taken from same sex couples side by side with those of newlywed heterosexual couples generates
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empirical evidence concerning any drastic differences between heterosexual couples and same sex couples. On the other hand comparing the data from married male/female couples with children next to same sex couples without children can be used to draw similarities or differences between both sets of relationships. Kurdek’s data illustrates many similarities and very few differences between same sex couples relationships and newlywed heterosexual couples and the same results are derived when comparing the data from same sex couples and married heterosexual couples living with their children. The American Psychological Association also agrees with Professor Kurdek’s theory regarding homosexual couple’s capacity to raise children. The APA closely examined the main reasons opponents of homosexual couples use to “prove” homosexual couples are unfit parents. The motive behind this examination into the lack of child rearing rights afforded to homosexual couples comes from the APA’s desire to support policy and legislation that promotes safe, secure and nurturing environments for all children. Recalling President Bush’s quote about the current government’s sentiments and beliefs about gay and lesbian couples being ill-suited parents, (for the reason a man and a woman in a committed relationship is the only way the welfare of children can be guaranteed), the APA studied the fears and concerns Bush and his supporters believe make homosexual couples unfit for the God given right of child raising (Issue: Adoption) and the legal benefits bestowed upon heterosexual couples. Some of the
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concerns the APA addresses include: the belief gay men and lesbian women are mentally ill, the belief lesbian women are less maternal than their heterosexual counterparts, and lastly the belief gay men and lesbians are so involved with their own relationship they have little time for a relationship with a child. The APA sites the decision put forth in their annual meeting in 1975 that homosexuality is not a psychological disorder, and explains homosexuals may have mental illness (acute distress) but this is brought on usually by exposure to prejudice and discrimination. When the APA evaluates the belief that lesbian mothers lack the same maternal instinct heterosexual mothers lacks empirical basis. Instead of any psychological testing to defend these beliefs against the aptitude of homosexual couples to be good parents the APA finds very little difference in child rearing habits in homosexual households when weighed against habits found in a heterosexual family’s home. The APA when looking for evidence to answer the hot topic issue of same sex couples capability to responsibly raise children some studies pointed to the fact homosexual couples may provide better parenting skill to the skills of matched heterosexual couples. With the APA not able to find any true evidence behind the many “reasons” same sex couples today are not allowed to adopt and in some cases take a true parent roll in the life of their own children, a resolution was put forth. The APA’s resolution addresses the fact that discrimination against homosexual parents “deprives their children of benefits, rights, and privileges enjoyed by children of heterosexual married couples” (170), the resolution also mentions the
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certain legal institutions prohibit same sex couples from adopting children even though an overwhelming need for adoptive parents is painstakingly obvious. The APA’s resolution further goes onto “oppose any discrimination based on sexual orientation in matters of adoption, child custody, visitation [rights], foster care, and reproductive health services.” (170). In the two previous paragraphs psychologists offer empirical evidence (or the lack of such evidence) to disprove through the scientific discipline of psychology the erroneous beliefs legally bar same sex couples from social rights, in these cases being marriage and child rearing. On the other end of this sociopolitical debate Peter Sprigg, the director of the Center for Marriage and Family Studies, at the Family Research Council believes homosexual couples should not be allowed to marry legally. Sprigg rests this belief first on the fact that homosexuals do not meet the basic criteria needed for a marriage to be real, secondly Sprigg considers homosexual to be dangerous. Sprigg puts for the definition of a marriage only exists between a man and a woman. Sprigg further breaks down what marriage essentially is: Marriage is not a creation of the law. Marriage is a fundamental human institution that predates the law and the Constitution. At its heart, it’s an anthropological and sociological reality, not a legal one. Laws relating to marriage merely recognize and regulate an institution that already existed. (158)
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Sprigg ascertains the right to marry rests with every individual in society including homosexuals, but certain legal restrictions exist including not being able to marry a minor, a close blood relative, or someone of the same sex. Sprigg finishes this argument by explaining that discrimination does not exist in the case of marriage because the legal restrictions in place or applied uniformly and equally to every citizen. Sprigg then breaks down one of the largest arguments stakes supporters of same sex marriage are after, the legal benefits that are provided for married couples. Some of the legal benefits same sex couples are seeking include hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights Sprigg explains legal proceedings are available to in the case of hospital visitation same sex couples can give each other power of attorney and health care proxy and in the case of inheritance rights individuals are able to name someone executor of their assets after they are deceased. These two legal rights which do come with marriage are also granted to any individual capable of hiring a lawyer, but Sprigg goes onto address financial benefits married couples receive. Instead of having and equally alternative solution he reasons that “legal and financial benefits of marriage are not an entitlement to be distributed equally to all” (161). He explains a widowed heterosexual person receives social security benefits because social security was designed to ensure a woman would not become destitute if her husband died. In the case of the many other legal and financial benefits Sprigg accredits heterosexual couples sustaining the human species as justification to receive these benefits. The second half of
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Peter Sprigg’s argument is the danger homosexuals relationships create. Sprigg points out in homosexual men and women have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS as well as having higher rates of mental health problems including alcohol abuse, drug abuse, nicotine dependence, depression, and suicide. Timothy J. Dailey, a senior research fellow at the Center for Marriage and Family Studies, reports on the current laws some states in the US have either allowing or banning same sex couples from adopting children and Dailey presents studies which suggest children do much better in family settings with a mother and father as well as pointing out sexual behaviors prevalent in homosexual relationships in order to prove a linkage between homosexual parents being “inappropriate role models” for a parent. In his article State of the States: Update on Homosexual Adoption in the U.S. three states currently have laws specifically prohibiting same sex couples from adopting children while seven states strictly permit adoption by same sex couples. Based on research taken from the U.S. Census Bureau compared to similar data taken by gay activist group Human Right Campaign, Dailey claims to find an over reported figure of how many same sex couples are living as couples in a single home. According to Human Right Campaign’s census 30% of the roughly 10.5 million homosexuals living in the U.S. are in a committed relationship sharing a single residence, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau only 8.6 percent of same sex couple share a residence. Dailey interprets this data and derives that the vast majority of same sex
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couples choose not to share single home need to create stable family environment for adopted children. Dailey also examines purpose statements of gay activists who through fighting to legitimatize gay marriage and adoption also are trying to change the way society views marriage and relationships, “Being queer is more than setting up house sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so… Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family and in this process transforming the very fabric of society.” (175). Timothy Dailey believes these open “non-monogamous” homosexual relationships cannot be a healthy environment in which to raise children. After analyzing the validity of same sex couples claim on possessing equal standing with the rest of society several observations can be made about both sets of arguments presented. By far Professor Kurdek’s scientific study comparing similarities and dissimilarities between same sex and heterosexual couples provides the most unbiased truth. Compared side by side to anti-gay marriage article by Peter Sprigg who’s greatest empirical point (although valid) is the danger homosexuals posses to society because of the high percentage of diseases prevalent in the gay community, this should not be a strong enough reason to withhold rights and privileges from American citizens.. The article concerning same sex adoptions from the American Psychological Association dissolves certain myths about same sex couples and their ability to be good parents where as the counter argued in Timothy Dailey’ s article takes the opposite route and plays upon the fears of
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homosexuals being sexual gluttons who according to the Dailey are not only on a mission for the right to vote and the right to adopt children, but to completely change the social fabric which we are fighting so hard to exclude them from. A final analysis of the theory derived from the opening quote from President Bush illustrates no genuine differences between same sex couples relationships and heterosexual couples relationships. To accept that society and children can only edified through the marriage of a man and a women as truth creates a perilous parallel to America’s past ignorance and discrimination that we do not need to return to in the year 2007.

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