Thursday, April 02, 2015
An article claiming "married men do better in life" makes one wonder if this applies to gay men in same-sex unions
Michelle Singletary tweeted a rather brazen op-ed by W. Bradford Wilcox from the Washington Post, “Don’t be a bachelor; why married men work harder, smarter, and make more money, by W. Bradford Wilcox, for the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, link here.
Of course, the obvious question for me is, would this piece be anti-gay? Or does it apply the same way to gay men?
I think this is just as important to ponder as the recent debate over the RFRA in Indiana and Arkansas.
Until the past ten years, when gay marriage became culturally and legally credible (starting with Massachusetts, then amazingly quickly), bachelorhood and male homosexuality were seen as somewhat interchangeable. The arguments in this piece go back to books by George Gilder, like “Sexual Suicide” (1973) and “Men and Marriage” (1986) (see Books, April 12, 2006).
Homosexuality was regarded as a character defect or failure, an unwillingness or disinclination to channel sexual interests and particularly physical performance in ways needed by “society”. That was certainly true of me, and still is. Gilder made “upward affiliation” a bad word.
It is true that in general married men make more money and even live longer. It’s pretty obvious you’ll compete harder (like in sales) if you have more mouths to feed. And it’s pretty clear that if you have a life partner, you have more support in case of hardship. That’s not just disease (like recovering from disfiguring cancer surgery). It’s intimate support if one is maimed in war or by violence from others. I personally find contemplating using sexuality that way repelling, but it was exactly that attitude of mine (like when I was a patient at NIH in 1962) that others found so disturbing.
The comment that employers prefer married men with children hurts. It was truer when I started working (in 1970) than it is now (for example, this anecdote on Wordpress, link ).
There’s also a real question, as to whether people should wait until they are financially set before having (or adopting) children, something libertarians argue. But Wilcox turns that into a chicken-and-egg problem.
The recent course of the soap “Days of our Lives” have carried Will’s jealous behavior with the matter of Paul and Sonny to ridiculous extremes. But maybe jealousy is a necessary thing. It is something I have never experienced. Had gay marriage been possible when I was coming of age, could I really have "used it", as Jonathan Rauch would have asked?