March 18, 2013
(Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)
(Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

George Will argues that there is not enough evidence that gay marriages are stable and healthy enough for the Supreme Court to accept any social science arguments in favor of overturning the California law banning such unions in its upcoming deliberations. Will says a more legitimate argument in favor of striking down the state law is that it violates the constitution’s equal-protection clause.

What I find so wrong about Will’s argument is not his legal rationale: Who knows what this bitterly divided court will view as most legally persuasive? What I find slightly ridiculous is Will’s failure to acknowledge the social data that is in: heterosexual marriage and child-rearing. While it may be true that years of closeted behavior has made it difficult for social scientists to have enough information to determine the likelihood of gay marriages to succeed and to gauge the parenting skills of gay couples or single gay parents, there is more than enough on their heterosexual brothers and sisters. Divorce remains rampant, child neglect, abuse and abandonment are on the rise, and increasing numbers of heterosexual women are choosing to raise children alone.

All this would seem ironic given Will’s concern that gay marriage should not be supported because there is not enough evidence of its solidity. How much worse could it be than straight marriage? Perhaps we should ban heterosexual marriage while we await more evidence on gay marriage!

My guess is the love of gays is no more or less lasting than that of straights, no more or less selfish, no more or less able to adjust to the new realities of parenthood.

Will says we should consider with deep reservation some social scientists who have filed briefs in favor of overturning the California law. Social scientists, according to Will, are notoriously liberal.

This strikes me as strange, too. Social scientists have argued any number of repugnant things, such as blacks shouldn’t marry whites or that blacks are less intelligent than whites and should be sterilized. But different social scientists have been instrumental in advancing our society, helping us understand, in an example dear to Will, that welcoming and mainstreaming the disabled into our schools, businesses and culture is not only good for them, but also really good for the rest of us.

Perhaps it won’t matter what rationale the court uses to overturn California’s discriminatory law as long as it not only strikes the law down but also affirms with its imprimatur the cultural and political shift that has already occurred in this country. But the implication of Will’s argument should not stand: Gay marriage should not be delayed because of a lack of evidence about its implication.