In the Spring 2015 session of LDS General Conference, church leaders railed against “counterfeit and alternative lifestyles,” upholding marriage between a man and a woman as the one good recipe for raising a family.
This has led to backlash from individuals both inside and outside of the LGBT community and organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, who said that the comments were “disheartening and wrong, and remind us yet again that the journey to full inclusion for LGBT people — including our families and children — is not done.”
A Counterfeit Lifestyle?
But what exactly is a “counterfeit” family lifestyle? Counterfeit money is made to look like money and pass for legitimate cash. Yet it has no value and its introduction into the market can actually damage the monetary value of real money. So similarly, a counterfeit family lifestyle would be one that does more damage than good when weighed against the common parameters that designate a healthy family.
If that is the case though, then LGBT parenting fails to fit into the counterfeit category. Studies consistently show that LGBT parents raise their children just as well as straight parents. Even columns and studies that supposedly show the adverse effects of gay marriage or parenting can actually be seen as reasons why they are needed.
A real case of Fraud
So, if LGBT families aren’t counterfeit, what is? It may come as a shock to some conservative and religious people, but mixed-orientation marriages — and especially those who attempt to market them as a workable family unit — may be where the real cases of fraud lie.
Take, for instance, the TV show My Husband’s Not Gay. The show features mixed-orientation marriages that appear to be working. The husbands are supposedly attracted to men, yet making it work with straight women in an LDS marriage. Those in conservative and religious communities have been pointing to the show as proof that gay people can do fine in straight marriages.
However, the key thing missing from the show and much of the surrounding conversation is the fact that sexual orientation and sexuality are two different spectrums with very broad ranges and that these families featured are outliers — not the norm.
By the facts
In fact, the evidence suggests that mixed-orientation marriages are very likely to fail. Regardless of the study, the consensus is always this: Far more mixed-orientation marriages end in divorce and broken families than succeed.
Conversely, in addition to the fact that studies by and large continue to find no discernible difference between children raised by gay parents or straight parents, there appears to be no discernible difference in divorce rates either.
So while LDS leaders may call gay families “counterfeit” it doesn’t hold a lot of weight when looking at the numbers. And while the church hasn’t endorsed mixed-orientation marriages, they also haven’t discouraged them either. If the church truly wants to promote stable families and healthy upbringings for children they might do well to advocate for same-sex marriage and speak up on the possible danger mixed-orientation marriages can carry.