GOP Suggests Marriage Between Man and Woman Prevents Drug Addicts

By Kelly Fitzgerald Junco 09/23/16

The GOP's take on addiction takes a nose dive with the assertion that "natural marriage" prevents kids from being "drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.” 

GOP Suggests Marriage Between Man & Woman Prevents Drug Addicts
Straight marriage prevents drug addiction?

It’s election season, and hot-button issues have been flooding our television screens, social media, and even casual conversations. With the first of the presidential debates about to take place, it's important to note that the GOP's campaign has offered countless offensive comments and questionable claims. It’s safe to say that the two major political parties have become even further divided. One thing that proves this is the adoption of the 2016 GOP party platform. Hotly debated just before their convention in July, the platform leans noticeably further to the right than ever before.

To anyone that knows the GOP, you know this means they talk in-depth about religion, smaller government, marriage between one man and woman, and the sacred Second Amendment throughout their platform.

So, what does that have to with drug addiction?

I was surprised, to say the least, when I was watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert a few weeks back and heard him reference the 2016 GOP party platform. He said the platform up for adoption mentioned that “natural marriage between a man and a woman is most likely to result in offspring who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.” Yes, my jaw dropped, just like yours is probably doing right now. I had to look it up to make sure it was actually true that they included this in their platform. The language used in this one line is downright offensive, inaccurate, and rooted in lies. 

Not only is the GOP attempting to define what marriage looks like—despite a Supreme Court ruling last year that declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right—they’re also putting forth rhetoric that ties together heterosexual marriage and drug addiction. Let’s talk about why this is just crazy.

The first issue I have is with the language used by the GOP, specifically “drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.” There are thousands of us recovery advocates who are trying our hardest to break the stigma of addiction, including negative connotations or stereotypes like the one they used for the platform. The GOP believes people who are drug addicted are “damaged,” when in reality people who have the disease of addiction are not damaged, they are sick and they deserve help just like anyone else. Additionally, what kind of message are they sending about the value of a human life by calling people with addiction "damaged"? They are inherently degrading anyone who might suffer from addiction. How do you think this makes people with addiction and alcoholism feel? If they didn’t already have low self-esteem or self-worth because of their addiction and using, they might after hearing this type of language. Shaming them with this kind of language can also deter them from getting help. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? How can someone admit they have an alcohol or drug issue when doing so means they are automatically given the labels of damaged, not worthy, and morally corrupt? If a person wants to find recovery and get well, they must believe they are worth it.

Now, what about the outrageous claim that somehow marriage between a man and a woman breeds children who do not become addicted to drugs or alcohol (or any other type of “damaged”)? Here’s living proof that claim isn’t true: me. I am a child of a man and a woman who are still married, and I am a person in long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. But besides that, let’s take a look at what the facts say about who your parents are and your risk of addiction.

At the heart of the marriage equality debate is the GOP belief that children with same-sex couples as parents are somehow at a greater risk for mental health issues. According to Medical Daily, this myth was debunked by a study conducted at the University of Melbourne and published in the journal BMC Public Health. The study was a large investigation of 500 Australian children under the age of 18 with same-sex parents. The results showed that the children with same-sex parents had the same amount of self-esteem and spent just as much family time with their parents as children of heterosexual parents. Moreover, investigators found children of LGBTQ couples to be healthier and have a stronger family unit.

As far back as 2004, SAMSHA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has addressed the concept of the changing appearance of the family unit. They believe there is no single definition of family because cultures, beliefs, and definitions change over time. However, they did outline three board categories that encompass most families:

  • Traditional families, which include heterosexual couples (two parents and young children all living in one household), single parents, and families that include blood relatives, adoptive families, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster relationships, and stepfamilies.
  • Extended families, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives.
  • Elected families which are self-identified and are chosen. Examples, according to SAMSHA, include: godparents, non-biologically related people who have an emotional tie, and gay and lesbian couples.

Even this definition from 2004 excludes the families with same-sex parents, where at least one parent is biological, and the family unit isn’t “elected,” but is still a family unit nonetheless. 

No research demonstrates that same-sex couples provide an environment any more or less harmful to children than heterosexual couples. In 2013, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry declared, “Current research shows that children with gay and lesbian parents do not differ from children with heterosexual parents in their emotional development or in their relationships with peers and adults. It is important for parents to understand that it is the quality of the parent/child relationship and not the parent’s sexual orientation that has an effect on a child’s development.” Also in 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics gave a statement in support of same-sex marriage, as well as full adoption and foster care rights for all parents. The American Psychological Association (APA) published research findings that said stereotypes about same-sex parents are not supported by data. In fact, the APA said same-sex couples are remarkably similar to heterosexual couples.

Not once in my research did I come across a legitimate study that supported the GOP’s claim that somehow their idea of a “natural marriage” between one man and one woman leads to less drug addiction in children. The only thing that I believe might be true, according to the research, is that when children have stable home environments they are less likely to use drugs and alcohol as adolescents. But these home environments can be made up of any type of family.

To somehow create a distorted view of addiction by shaming the people who have this disease that has touched so many lives in the U.S. is insensitive and ineffective. It contributes to the very perpetuating stigma of the disease. This GOP party platform claim discredits the other small section they have included regarding drug abuse. Although they briefly mention heroin overdoses by name and CARA (the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act) the platform does not say one thing about the promotion of recovery or addiction treatment. There is no sense of urgency and no use of the word “epidemic.” 

Although some say that political party platforms don’t have a lot to do with the election itself and aren’t of much consequence, they are intensely debated because they’re considered to be the face of the party—the values upon which it stands. It’s good to know now where the GOP stands on addiction, same-sex marriage, and building walls between Mexico and the U.S. 

If you’re reading this and you are struggling with addiction or if you have ever been addicted to alcohol or other substances, just know that you’re not damaged and you’re not alone. Recovery is worth it and if I can have it, so can you. Help is available and recovery is possible. There are other political parties that recognize this. Choose wisely.

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