Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Marriage Matters

Finally, an article in the Deseret News that I can agree with. Remove a couple of words and sentences, like “Traditional Marriage” and “National Organization for Marriage” and "especially those of us who believe marriage is and should remain in America the union of one man with one woman" and you have the perfect set of arguments for why gay marriage should be legal. Why those who write this stuff can’t see it is beyond me. They are so stuck in traditional interpretations of the bible, like the misunderstood story of Sodom and Gomorrah, that they refuse to look around at families with gay couples at the head of them that fit this article perfectly, families like Utah Cog.

Anyway, here it is! (

"Why Marriage Matters": Marriage leads to better overall health, scholar Linda Waite says

By Sara Israelsen-Hartley
Deseret News
Published: Monday, Feb. 15, 2010 10:02 p.m. MST

PROVO — There's a lot to be said for saying "I do."

And it goes beyond the romantic notions of happily ever after.

How about healthily, wealthily ever after?

Married people have higher levels of physical, emotional and cognitive health, along with greater earning potential, a sociologist told a group at BYU last week.

Linda Waite, a professor of sociology from the University of Chicago, provided hard data for the often emotionally fueled arguments in favor of traditional marriage at the sixth annual Marjorie Pay Hinckley Lecture.

"What I argue, and in my view, the research evidence supports, is that marriage itself changes people's choices," Waite said.

When their choices change, their behavior changes, which results in greater health.

"(Using the) most basic fundamental health indicator, it's very clear that married people are advantaged," she said, showing a graph with life-expectancy lines for men and women that were higher for married individuals than their single, widowed or divorced counterparts.

And this refers to traditional marriages, she said, not cohabitation, marriage-like arrangements or alternatives to marriage.

But being married doesn't just help you live longer. Other graphs showed higher levels of mental health and cognitive function for married couples than for single people living alone, with other adults or with their own children.

"It's clear that for both men and women, marriage improves mental health," Waite said. "And it declines when they lose a marriage."

In fact, divorce or widowhood is so stressful that "being divorced or widowed leaves a mark on physical health even years later," she said.

Although remarrying improves mental health, it can't make up for the damaging periods of poor sleep, nutrition and exercise during a stressful time, Waite said.

Marriage also benefits the parties financially, as women have someone to provide for them and their children, and men earn more money than they did when they were single, because of an improved work ethic.

Those findings are nothing new to BYU professors, who study social trends of marriage and family through the LDS lens.

"Obviously at BYU, there's a religious motivation behind the importance of marriage," said Renata Forste, a sociology professor who studied in Chicago, where she met Waite. "But there's also empirical evidence that shows that married people do better."

Lectures like Waite's build on the legacy of Sister Hinckley and her focus on the family through research and education, said Stephen Bahr, a professor of sociology at BYU who is on the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Advisory Committee responsible for arranging the lectures.

"Rather than simply advocating a position is to focus on the research," Bahr said. "As students learn to do good research, the research will speak for itself, as hers did."

And the more people who understand the scientifically proven benefits of marriage, not only for them, but for society in general, the more attitudes will hopefully shift to being protective and supportive of traditional marriage, Waite said.

"The most important thing is to speak up, in love, for the truth about marriage," said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage and co-author with Waite on the book, "The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially."

"Right now, it's less about which arguments are more or less effective than it is about the attempt to intimidate or embarrass marriage supporters into silence," Gallagher told the Deseret News, "especially those of us who believe marriage is and should remain in America the union of one man with one woman."

Gallagher said it's important to talk to children, siblings, friends and family members about why marriage matters so much.

"We tend to raise kids to be good workers and students," she said. "We need to raise them as well to be and to value being good husbands and wives, because children need moms and dads they can count on."

"Why Marriage Matters"

In 2002, a group of family scholars, including Linda Waite, produced a report, "Why Marriage Matters," sponsored by the Institute for American Values.

In the report, they summarized three fundamental conclusions about marriage:

Marriage is an important social good.

Marriage is an important public good.

The benefits of marriage extend to poor and minority communities.

To read more, visit or

This past weekend I received an email from parent at my school because after a few communications with her regarding her child and my student, I somehow got on her “read this cool story!” email list. :) Sometimes it is annoying, but after skimming this particular email, some statements toward the end intrigued me, and my mind has since put them together with the above article.

I have heard politicians and political groups use the arguments that special groups should not receive special freedoms just for them, specifically referring to the gay community. But the response I have heard from the other side is accurate: they are not looking for special treatment, just equal treatment. Then there is the response to that, that a gay man has just as much right to marry a woman as a straight man does. They really have no idea how far that is from being an equal freedom, which is so sad. They also say that as long as people are quiet about being gay, then there is no issue with job or housing security. They really have no idea what it is like to be in the closet.

Back to a small quote from this email, (I have no idea how true it is, but I like it) that comes from a Judge, William Young, who presided over the case involving Richard Reid, a man who got on a plane with a bomb built into his shoe.

He supposedly says to the terrorist (among a lot of other things):

“It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose…”

What I liked best, however, was the commentary after the Judge’s quote, from whomever got this email going in the first place:

“We need more judges like Judge Young.”

“But we are losing America and the Freedoms that Judge Young was speaking about because too many "Special Interest Groups" are exploiting the "ME" and forgetting about the "US" in America. Unless we stand together, it won’t take too much longer before they pull us part with the very ideals of Freedom that we hold so dear. I don't care if they pit Caucasian against Latinos, Straights against Gays, or Catholics against Protestant. They are succeeding in dividing us from "One Nation Under One Flag". Our forefathers built us as a nation "Under God", but God made us all brothers and sisters. Different, but Special. These special interest groups are using that difference against us to divide us and it’s working.”

“AND THEY KNOW IT. They are using our very Freedoms against us. Because we won’t stand up to them and they know it. We better fight these guys or be prepared to crawl when they destroy what our constitution was really intended to do.”

“It has been said over and over again that America will destroy itself from within and it looks like we are.”

Now, I am not sure which side this email-author is on when it comes to gay-rights issues, but I agree that our country has a problem. I’ve said this before, that there are people on both sides of the issue that are doing more harm than good. I know some people see the gay community as a “special interest group” that is causing problems. But I think it is much more the other way around. Basic freedoms are at stake, basic freedoms of employment and housing and hospital visitations and marrying who you love, of creating a family with those you are most connected to. The rights of parents to control what their kids do and don’t learn in school about the families of other children pales in comparison, in my opinion, to the rights of this minority group. And even more than that, I think children OUGHT to have the opportunity to learn about and embrace other family structures, thus fully accepting their peers and their individual situations.

Again, I am so glad that we have taught our children to love. Two weeks ago,  (the first week I officially stayed home from church) the 3 older children chose to go to their classes, but the youngest wanted to stay home with me. So he and I had our own primary lesson, the next one from his manual, and the topic was on family. I was talking to my son, following this instruction in the lesson itself: - Support Materials Chapter - We Have Special Families

“Explain that all families are different. Some families have two parents, and some families have only one. Some families have lots of children, and some families have only a few children or one child. Some families have children, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all living together. Some children live with adults who aren’t related to them but who still love them and care for them. Families do different things together and show love in different ways. The important thing about families is that the family members love and care for each other. Everyone needs to be part of a family.”

My son immediately jumped down from the couch and picked up a picture book that we have on a shelf under our coffee table, and insisted that I read it with him. Scott looked up from his personal reading/study time and smiled. We purchased the book a year or so ago, and it has a page that says “some families have 2 moms or two dads.” He and I read through the book together. We have read it many times, and he had his own commentary to go with it. To him it is all normal, that all families are different; he is going to grow up with that idea, and I love it!

After the book, we continued with the lesson. I did not teach him anything contrary to the lesson. It is true that some families have two moms or two dads, and there is no reason to hide the fact that they exist and love their children just as much as any other parents.

I agree wholeheartedly that “Marriage Matters”, freedom is most precious, and the best way to hold our country together is to support and strengthen marriage and families, all families, no matter what they look like.

From the proclamation on the family: ( - Family Chapter Detail - The Family:A Proclamation to the World)

“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live..."

"We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."

"We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

AMEN! Let’s legalize gay marriage, promote family, and strive to love and serve each other!


Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Seems like a great article ~ with the provisions for rational thought that you outlined. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but I don't understand it--marriage is wonderful and beneficial, therefore we must exclude?! As you said, this data presents a strong argument *for* marriage equality, not against it!

BigRedHammer said...

I agree with your analysis whole-heartedly. They speak of special interest groups with "special rights". Isn't that exactly what marriage is? A special interest group wanting to maintain special rights? They saying "We're a group and we don't want you to be part of it."

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Original Mohomie said...

Thanks for the article, and I have to say I agree that these points of empirical evidence do not bolster the argument against legalizing same-sex marriage at all in my mind. Did they even check the data on committed same-sex couples and their mental health compared to single gay people? Have such studies been done? And the logic takes some leaps: do they not see that increased "work ethic" is not some magical outgrowth of a magical institution but a very understandable psychological byproduct of carrying permanent financial responsibility for others? ...sounds really thoughtless and biased the way it was phrased in that article.

darkdrearywilderness said...

Primary is awesome...if only the grownups believed what the kids learn there :)