Testimony of

Warren Throckmorton, PhD

Director of College Counseling

Associate Professor of Psychology

Grove City College

Grove City, PA 16127

(724) 458-3787

ewthrockmorton@gcc.edu

 

Concerning House Bill 272

 

“To amend section 3101.01 of the Revised Code to specifically declare that same-sex marriages are against the strong public policy of the state, to declare that the recognition or extension of the specific statutory benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships is against the public policy of the state, and to make other declarations regarding same-sex marriages.”

 

 

Testimony given before the Juvenile and Family Law Committee

of the Ohio House of Representatives

 

 

November 12, 2003

 

 

Testimony of Warren Throckmorton, PhD

Director of College Counseling

Associate Professor of Psychology

Grove City College (PA)

 

 

Honorable Chair and Honorable members of the committee:

 

            I am pleased to offer remarks and written testimony on this crucial legislation before the committee today. Coming to Columbus is like coming home to me. I was born and raised in Portsmouth and spent many weekends in Columbus with my parents growing up. I have lived in Ohio more years in total than anywhere else and have my doctorate from Ohio University and my BA degree from Cedarville College, near Dayton. I still think of myself as a Buckeye and love the great state of Ohio.

 

            I have worked extensively with gay and lesbian individuals in counseling and maintain an active schedule of research and writing in the area of sexual orientation, having been published in journals of the American Psychological Association and the American Mental Health Counselors Association.[1] So it is with real pride that I am here today to offer information to the committee relevant to HB 272.  This bill is really quite simple in the midst of a contentious and complicated cultural debate. HB 272 would bar the recognition of any marriage that does not involve the bond of a male and female. No matter what other countries or states do, Ohio would preserve the state interest in recognizing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

 

            My comments will be organized around reasons that I believe HB 272 is in the best interest of the families of the state of Ohio. The format of my remarks will be to cite a reason and then cite supporting research.

 

            First of all, I want to address research that relates to how psychologists regard differences between homosexual partners and heterosexual marriages.

 

            It may come as a surprise to you that if given a hypothetical choice, a majority of psychologists would place a child with a heterosexual couple over a homosexual couple in an adoption proceeding. You will probably be told repeatedly that various mental health organizations are in favor of the marriage of gay identified people. You may be told that psychological research shows no differences between heterosexual parenting and homosexual parenting.  However, these pronouncements obscure the fact that research published in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) journal Professional Psychology show that a majority of psychologists surveyed were more likely to recommend child custody to straight parents over gay parents.[2]

 

            A little more information about this study will show how startling these results are. Survey respondents were 388 APA member psychologists. These psychologists were not particularly religious, nor did they believe homosexuality was a chosen behavior or identity. The vast majority of these psychologists had PhDs (88%) and had gays or lesbians or both as friends. So this group of mental health professionals was not religious, homophobic, neither were they believers in the environmental view of homosexuality and yet they still preferred a heterosexual couple when placing an adoptive child. This is remarkable given the general trend in the mental health professions to favor gay rights issues.

 

So what did these psychologists know about homosexual couples that we all need to know? While the reasons for the survey results were not given in the study, I can provide reasons why it seems to me that mental health professionals would question the equivalence of gay and straight couples.

 

Homosexuality partnering and heterosexual marriage not equivalent

 

            Fidelity is a hallmark of marital adjustment for heterosexual couples. However, sexual faithfulness does not seem to characterize gay relationships. For instance, the authors of the article, “Male couples' dyadic adjustment and the use of safer sex within and outside of primary relationships” in the Journal of Family Psychology had this to say about gay and straight couples:

 

“the practice of sexual nonmonogamy among some gay couples is one variable that differentiates gay and heterosexual couples.”[3]

 

The differences in fidelity are striking. The Journal of Family Psychology report found that only 38% of gay couples denied extramarital affairs.[4] However, according to the Kinsey Institute, 80% of women and 65-85% of men are monogamous in marriage.[5]

 

Research has suggested that extramarital sex is a risk factor for relationship dissolution in heterosexual couples.[6] However, some researchers have reported that male couples' openness to sex outside of the couple constitutes a condition of male couples' adjustment. That is to say, male couples may actually enter “marriage” with the expectation that infidelity is going to be a part of the bargain.

 

The implications are profound. The state has a compelling reason to promote marriage for a variety of reasons but one is to support the development of kinship bonds based on trust. The entire mind set or culture of homosexual relationships is antithetical to this basic building block of relationships. Perhaps this awareness on the part of a majority of psychologists is an aspect of why they would prefer a child be placed with a straight couple over a gay couple. Where is a child most likely to see trust and fidelity in action? As a matter of public policy, what law can provide the best foundation for a culture and society where pairing actually means bonding? I submit to you, honorable legislators that the public good is best served by laws that recognize what nature does: male and female bonding is the most likely foundation for family life and resultant social stability.

 

Another profound concern about such infidelity is the issue of sexually transmitted disease. We know that homosexuals, especially gay males, are at greater risk for a number of health and mental health related concerns.[7] One factor in this relationship between gay identity and health status is promiscuity even within the bounds of a “primary relationship.”

 

Marriage and child rearing

 

            If there is any finding from social science that seems beyond dispute, it is that children do better in families where a mother and father are married, in the home and providing input into child rearing. Now we all know that such a family constellation is not sufficient to avoid all difficulties but it is the family structure that has been foundational.

 

            While this hearing is not directly about child rearing and the issue of gay parenting, there is a relationship between the issues of gay parenting and gay marriage. At present, a minority of adoption agencies will allow gay individuals to adopt children. However, these adoptions are subject to scrutiny on a case-by-case basis. This seems proper.  However, if same sex marriages were recognized, the freedom to secure children could be a right of each couple with little or no checks and balances.

 

            Family has been a compelling state issue for eons because the creation and maintenance of healthy families contributes to overall social stability of communities. Kinship is established in families and observation bears out that parents most often want their children to inculcate their values and maintain the kinship rituals.  How would this work in families headed by gay couples? Many supporters of gay marriage say that gay parents prefer their children become heterosexual.[8] This would mean that gay parents would be at odds with their straight counterparts. Actively modeling a way of living that you do not want your children to adopt seems antithetical to the formation of long term kinship bonds and is at odds with one compelling state interest for the regulation of marriage.

 

             In fact, the best-designed study of children reared by homosexual parents suggests that the children are more likely to try out a homosexual relationship and much more likely to consider living in a same sex relationship themselves.[9] This raises the distinct possibility, although certainly unproven at this point, that environment really does have a considerable impact on the sexual identity of children and that encouraging gay parenting would actually encourage the increase of same sex orientation in the culture.

 

Summary and conclusions

 

            Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I thank you for giving me time to support this worthy legislation. For the well-being of children, the maintenance of kinship and social bonds and the value of fidelity, I believe the evidence supports the enactment of HB 272 into law. 

 

I am attaching to my written remarks an editorial I authored that speaks to the issues of gay marriage and the flexibility of sexual orientation. Again thank you for your work and I would be happy to address any questions from the committee.

 

 

 

 


 

References

 

Crawford, I., McLeod, A., Zamboni, B.D., Jordan, M.B. (1999). Psychologists' attitudes

            toward gay and lesbian parenting. Professional Psychology: Research & Practice,

            (30), 394-401.

 

Diggs, J. (2003). "30 Years After the Sexual Revolution: STD's and Epidemics." Audio

            tape

 

Golombok, S & Tasker, F. (1996). Do parents influence the sexual orientation of their

             children? Findings from a longitudinal study of lesbian families. Developmental

             Psychology, 32, 3-11.

 

Interview with Rosie O’Donnell:

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/primetime/ABCNEWSSpecials/primetime_020313_rosiegayadoption_feature.html

 

Julien, D., Chartrand, E. & Begin, J. (1996). Male couples' dyadic adjustment and the use

            of safer sex within and outside of primary relationships. Journal of Family

             Psychology, 10, 89-96.

 

Spanier, L. & Thompson, L. (1984). Parting: The aftermath of separation and divorce.

            Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

 

Throckmorton, W. (1998). Efforts to modify sexual orientation: A review of outcome

             literature and ethical issues. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 20, 283-304.

 

Throckmorton, W. (2002). Initial empirical and clinical findings concerning the change

process for ex-gays, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33, 216-236. 

 

 


 

What Goes Around Comes Around: The Invention of a Sexual Minority

Warren Throckmorton, PhD

 

Karl Ulrichs and Karl Kertbeny would approve.  The Supreme Court’s decision (Lawrence vs. Texas) overturning the nation’s laws against sodomy closes the loop on the quest for decriminalizing homosexuality that these men started a continent away and over a century ago.

 Who are they?  Kertbeny and Ulrichs popularized the invention of a fixed, inborn homosexual trait in the mid 1800s in Germany.  In fact, the word “homosexual” was first used in 1869 in the campaign against the proposed enactment of sodomy laws in Germany. Kertbeny was a writer who invented the word homosexual as a preferred term to the common pejorative term “pederast.” He wrote that Germany’s paragraph 175 was unfair to those he labeled homosexuals because the cause of their behavior was inborn.  While Kertbeny’s effort did not prevail, his prolific writings, along with those of Ulrichs, came to the attention of the German psychiatric community. Psychiatry then furthered the invention of homosexuals as a group but saw them as deviant and in need of treatment.

And so the term invented to describe people who prefer same sex relations is barely over 100 years old.  Prior to this time, many people viewed homosexual acts as occurring for a variety of reasons including a lack of opposite sex availability and moral corruption. Even in Greek times, homosexual behavior was common but ordinarily existed side by side with marriage.  It is hard to imagine but true that at one time there was no such thing as the concept of a gay identity.  It was the 1860s and political activity by Ulrichs and Kertbeny to remove criminal stigma from such behavior that was the impetus for the invention of the homosexual. 

Now comes the Supreme Court ruling concerning sodomy moving very close to validating the Kertbeny and Ulrichs invention: homosexuals as a minority group. While the ruling to strike the Texas law was widely expected, the Court’s basis for rejection seems based in viewing homosexuals as a group distinct from heterosexuals.  In her concurring opinion Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote, “While it is true that the (Texas) law applies only to conduct, the conduct targeted by this law is conduct that is closely correlated with being homosexual. Under such circumstances, Texas' sodomy law is targeted at more than conduct. It is instead directed toward gay persons as a class.”   

So again opposing sodomy regulation leads to the validation of a sexual minority that now has a liberty rooted in the Constitution.  Could this case impact the regulation of marriage? Dissenting Justice Scalia thinks so. He noted in his dissent that there is now no rational basis for the court to uphold laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman.  Currently marriage is organized around gender, a biological given and unchangeable, save through the most extreme of medical procedures. Organizing marriage primarily around a shared preference for certain sexual behaviors has the unfortunate potential of making marriage much more transient than it is now.  

Are these inventions valid?  Despite the dogmatic proclamations of gay and lesbian political groups, the science of sexual orientation is really quite unclear.  Although advanced as a theory over 100 years ago, we are no closer to finding a plausible pathway from genetics to same sex behavior now than Kertbeny and Ulrichs were.  It is quite clear however that sexuality is fluid for many people with changes in sexual attractions occurring throughout the life span.  In a June, 2002 paper published in the APA journal Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, I reported a study by K. Schaeffer and colleagues that found nearly 95% of a sample of participants in Exodus International affiliates were either in the process of changing or already believed their sexual orientation had changed.  Repeatedly in surveys of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals, researchers find that the sexual preferences of many research participants change over time. As a counselor, I see this kind of change frequently in my practice and research. 

 

How then can activists invent minority status surrounding such a fluid trait? 

 

Perhaps, we shall have to wait for the next legal development to find out. With the Congress considering a Constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman, no doubt other inventions will be made in the name of homosexuality. 

 

Kertbeny and Ulrichs would be proud.

 

 



[1] Throckmorton, W. (1998). Efforts to modify sexual orientation: A review of outcome literature and ethical issues. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 20, 283-304.

Throckmorton, W. (2002). Initial empirical and clinical findings concerning the change process for ex-gays, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 33, 216-236.

[2] Crawford, I., McLeod, A., Zamboni, B.D., Jordan, M.B. (1999). Psychologists' attitudes toward gay and lesbian parenting. Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, (30), 394-401.

[3] Julien, D., Chartrand, E. & Begin, J. (1996). Male couples' dyadic adjustment and the use of safer sex within and outside of primary relationships. Journal of Family Psychology, 10, 89-96. 

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mendelsohn, J. (2003, November). What we know about sex. USA Weekend, 6-8.

[6] Spanier, L. & Thompson, L. (1984). Parting: The aftermath of separation and divorce. (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage)

[7] Diggs, J. (2003). "30 Years After the Sexual Revolution: STD's and Epidemics." Audio tape.

[8] Interview with Rosie O’Donnell: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/primetime/ABCNEWSSpecials/primetime_020313_rosiegayadoption_feature.html

[9] Golombok, S & Tasker, F. (1996). Do parents influence the sexual orientation of their children?
Findings from a longitudinal study of lesbian families. Developmental Psychology, 32, 3-11.