The National Organization for Marriage is continuing its ruse that there’s legitimate social science supporting their opposition to marriage equality. The latest example is a recent study about how husbands and wives value various activities around the house, which found that fathers who engage with their kids and help with household work tend to have better quality marriages. Thus, NOM claims, “dads who bond with kids help keep marriage strong,” a “timeless truth.”
It’s not surprising that wives like husbands who help around the house and are involved with their kids. In fact, by arriving at that conclusion through research, the study actually compromises NOM’s mission of obstructing marriage equality, because it shows that marriages are healthier when they do not conform to gender norms and “traditional” breakdowns of responsibility. Here’s a quote from the end of the article NOM picked up on its blog:
Rather than basing the choice of chores on traditional roles, Gerber recommends that tasks be divided based on both who cares most about getting the particular job done and who is best at it. “My husband doesn’t care if my kids have matching outfits on and I don’t care about getting the oil changed,” she said. Couples need to sit down and discuss who will be primarily responsible for what. “That stops fights and clears so much air.”
Conservative groups like NOM and Focus on the Family have a long history of citing studies about fathers and using them to draw claims about same-sex parenting — and thus marriage laws. Most are investigations of women who’ve been abandoned by the fathers of their children and left to raise them alone, which conservatives then use to claim that all “fatherless” children — including those with loving, committed lesbian parents — are worse off. This study, like the others, did not include any same-sex couples, so it largely has no conclusions to draw about marriage equality.
Still, it runs counter to NOM’s narrative, which claims that marriage should be exclusive to heterosexuals because “men and women are different and complementary.” It’s those differences — or acquiescence to stereotypical and “traditional” differences — that actually lower the quality of marriages, at least according to this study. Perhaps NOM could learn a lesson from same-sex families, who’ve been conveniently ignoring gender stereotypes around the house since they first started forming.