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Sometimes social science is like a snipe hunt, just stumbling through the dark with a sack in your hand yelling "Here, snipe!"

Is X a good idea?

First, you must state a hypothesis why it is or is not a good idea.  No points for an opinion that it's icky or that it's wonderful.

Then you have to hunt up a database that might test your hypothesis.  

Then you use multivariate analysis to attempt to eliminate confounding variables.  The broader the hypothesis, the more statistical noise.

It can take a long, long time to produce real evidence, but somebody ought to do it.  The snipe hunters below undertook to test hypotheses from both sides of the political debate over marriage equality.  Looks like they had about the same luck most snipe hunters have.

Note that this hunt for real effects has little to do with fairness.  Those of us who say bans on gay marriage are plain vanilla sex discrimination need nothing beyond a grasp of logic and an understanding of fairness no more sophisticated than found in kindergarten.

Sometimes fair policies have unfortunate collateral effects.

You open the professions to women without upgrading the pay and status of K-12 teachers and you get K-12 teachers who are simply not as smart as the women who were forced into K-12 teaching for lack of other opportunities.

You pass open housing laws and you get the black middle class bailing from the inner cities for the non-racist reason that underpins some "white flight."  If you can afford it, you want your kids raised with better schools and less crime.

You don't reinstate sex discrimination in employment or race discrimination in housing.

For similar reasons, I don't think you pine for the days of sex discrimination in marriage laws if the snipe hunters ever find a practical down side.  You find ways to deal with the down side in the interest of being fair.

The abstract below the fleur-de-kos was copped from an academic file sharing website.  The authors are economists at Emory University, where you could find them if you have a professional interest.

The Effects of Same-Sex Marriage Lawson Public Health and Welfare
Andrew M. Francis, Hugo M. Mialon, and Handie Peng

 This paper analyzes the relationships among same-sex marriage bans, social attitudes toward gays and non-marital sex, and measures of public health and welfare. We hypothesize that same-sex marriage bans may foster intolerance for gays and increase the social costs of same-sex partnerships, which may raise incentives for risky homosexual behavior. We also hypothesize that same-sex marriage bans may codify and signal traditional family values, which may raise the benefits of heterosexual marriage and reduce incentives for non-marital sex. Using micro-and state-level data, we find evidence that same-sex marriage bans reduced tolerance for gays and increased the syphilis rate, a rough proxy for risky homosexual behavior. However, we find no consistent evidence that same-sex marriage bans impacted risky heterosexual behavior,marriage, or divorce.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Economists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Shorter: Same-sex marriage bans: I got mine, now go away.

    No wonder they call economics the dismal science. It is, however, nice to know that bigotry does indeed beget even more bigotry.

  •  Academics are funny (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Around the time I did my Master's Thesis there was this thing called The Journal of Polymorphous Perversity (called back then - 1992 - a 'zine,' for, you know, before internet).  It was a satire of insipid and pompous academic writing by characters not unlike the British comic "Viz's"  "Student Grant."  Grant was a ponytailed pompous little asshole who was always getting beaten up by working class thugs in Thatcherite Fascist Britain.  I swear this thing looks like it came from either of those.  I guess that there must not be an unironic way to state the obvious.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Kangaroo on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 06:02:21 AM PST

  •  is this the results we want? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    I get the snipe hunt thing, but the summary seems to indicate that Marriage bans don't help straights (in measurable ways), but do harm gays (in measurable ways).  Isn't it result like this that we want to push to mainstream America?

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 07:25:08 AM PST

    •  Yes, if... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfbob, Dave in Northridge

      If the results on harm to gays were more robust and

      If we are sure that "mainstream America" cares about harm to gay people.

      The reason I say this is that gay people were verbalizing that they felt harmed the whole time, and it still took a long time to turn it around from a wedge issue against progressives to a potential wedge issue for progressives.

  •  The real point (as I see it) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, swrussel

    ...(and I think I see what you're doing here) is that the last, best argument against marriage equality is that "we don't know the long-term consequences of allowing gays to marry other gays so we shouldn't allow it."

    While it seems to me to be exceedingly unlikely that the long-term, unknown consequence of making marriage equality the law of the land will go beyond the possibility that those of us who are gay and in relationships will face some peer pressure to tie the knot, just as heterosexual couples always have. Believe me, that's already happening.

    As far as any adverse consequences for society as a whole, I can't fathom what those might be. I will grant that, in some limited cases, certain religious bodies might, to the extent that some of their activities also fall under the jurisdiction non-discrimination laws in hiring and providing "public accommodations," might be ever so slightly inconvenienced. My response to that would be "well, that's just too bad."

    However, even in the event that there might be some actual negatives similar to the ones you've outlined regarding gender equality and bans on racial discrimination related to housing...

    You find ways to deal with the down side in the interest of being fair.

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