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Child Welfare Arguments Against Marriage Equality Not Supported by History, Social Science or Legal Considerations, Says Professor Carlos Ball

June 05, 2014 – 

In his new book, Same-Sex Marriage and Children: A Tale of History, Social Science, and Law, Professor Carlos A. Ball of Rutgers School of Law–Newark brings together for the first time historical, social science and legal research to refute claims that same-sex marriage bans promote responsible procreation and children’s welfare.  

The book, published this month by Oxford University Press, explores the parallels between the current marriage debates and arguments used in the past to defend interracial marriage bans, laws prohibiting marriage for disabled individuals, and discrepancies in the treatment of children born out of wedlock. “History shows,” he writes, “that disqualifying entire classes of individuals from marriage with the objective of promoting child welfare has been more about invidious discrimination than about protecting children.” 

Ball Children Book

In an engaging and accessible analysis of the social science studies relied on by same-sex marriage opponents, Ball reveals that they fail to support the contention that biological status and parental gender matter when it comes to parenting. At the same time, he cautions that courts should be careful not to rely on social scientists to prove the absence of harm before lesbians and gay men are afforded the right to marry. 

“If courts were to refuse to strike down the differential treatment of minority groups until equality advocates could show conclusively that no possible social harm will result from a change in the status quo,” he writes, “it would significantly impair the ability of the Constitution to provide equal protection under the law to all.”

Same-Sex Marriage and Children, in considering recent gay marriage cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, provides the first comprehensive look at the intersection of social science and the law in matters related to same-sex marriage and child welfare. Professor Ball explains why the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans cannot be defended on the basis that maintaining marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution helps to promote the best interests of children.  

“Arguments about the welfare of children have long been at the center of the same-sex marriage debate,” says Jane S. Schacter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Stanford University Law School. “In this important new book, Carlos Ball lucidly analyzes these arguments through the prisms of law, history and sociology”.

Professor Ball, Distinguished Professor of Law and Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar, has been a member of the Rutgers School of Law–Newark faculty since 2008. He is the author of several books, including The Right to Be Parents: LGBT Families and the Transformation of Parenthood, From the Closet to the Courtroom: Five LGBT Rights Cases That Have Changed Our Nation, and The Morality of Gay Rights: An Exploration in Political Philosophy, and is co-editor of one of the leading casebooks on sexuality and the law. 

A frequent speaker at conferences and symposia, he has delivered papers at the annual meetings of the Association of American Law Schools, Law and Society Association, American Philosophical Association, and American Political Science Association, and presented his scholarship at the Colorado, Columbia, Emory, Fordham, Harvard, Georgetown, Minnesota, NYU, UCLA, Virginia, and William & Mary law schools, among others.

Professor Ball received his B.A. from Tufts University, his J.D. from Columbia Law School, and his LL.M. from Cambridge University.