American Sociological Association on Same-Sex Parenting and Child Outcomes

03.01.2013, 3:20 PM

via Religion Dispatches.

The American Sociological Association has filed an amicus brief in the Proposition 8 case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court strongly supporting marriage equality as a positive step for child well-being. They also offer an extensive critique of the Regnerus study used in other amicus briefs as support for upholding the ban on same-sex marriage.

You can read the entire 32-page brief here (PDF) and Peter Montgomery at Religion Dispatches, above, discusses the critique of the Regnerus study specifically, with lengthy excerpts.

Here, I thought I would share the succinct conclusion from the brief itself:

The social science consensus is both conclusive and clear: children fare just as well when they are raised by same-sex parents as when they are raised by opposite sex parents. This consensus holds true across a wide range of child outcome indicators and is supported by numerous nationally representative studies. Accordingly, assuming that either DOMA or Proposition 8 has any effect on whether children are raised by opposite-sex or same-sex parents, there is no basis to prefer opposite-sex parents over same-sex parents and neither DOMA nor Proposition 8 is justified. The research supports the conclusion that extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples has the potential to improve child wellbeing insofar as the institution of marriage may provide social and legal support to families and enhances family stability, key drivers of positive child outcomes. The Regnerus study and other studies relied on by BLAG, the Proposition 8 Proponents, and their amici provide no basis for their arguments, because they do not directly examine the wellbeing of children raised by same-sex parents These studies therefore do not undermine the consensus from the social science research and do not establish a “common sense” basis for DOMA or Proposition 8.

While I would be the first to agree that just because something is said by a professional organization that doesn’t make it true (exhibit A: the classification of homosexuality as a pathological disorder), it is true that professional consensus backed up by a body of literature that consistently demonstrates a set of outcomes requires an equally strong body of evidence to refute. And the anti-equality spokespeople are not offering up that body of evidence.

I encourage those interested to at least skim through the ASA brief.


50 Responses to “American Sociological Association on Same-Sex Parenting and Child Outcomes”

  1. Terbreugghen says:

    In the tank for the next wave of social engineering. Pity the fool who goes against this grain. Look at how Regnerus has been treated. Investigated by his institution for having the temerity to publish results that do not fit the template

  2. David Hart says:

    If people read just one Amicus brief regarding Prop 8 and DOMA, this is the one that offers the most clarity. They take the time to disassemble Regnerus step by step in a very thorough fashion. DB’s Op-Ed is an attachment and Elizabeth Marquartd gets a mention..

  3. David Hart says:

    Terbreugghen:

    Regnerus was intellectually dishonest. He (and Witherspoon) still claim that his study is a study of gay parenting and that simply is untrue. His is a study of disfunctional families where one spouse is cheating on the other with a person of the same sex or the couple is divorced.

    Read ASA’s breakdown. Then come back and tell us what is factually incorrect in their analysis.

  4. Anna Cook says:

    Terbreugghen, Regnerus was critiqued not because he made an argument contrary to the consensus view, but rather because the evidence he claimed supported that argument was — upon close examination — unrelated to the conclusions he (and others) were using it to support. As David Hart points out, the brief gives a fairly detailed analysis of the evidence and why it does not support the claims Regnerus and others are making based on the study.

    Having read through the brief, I’d like to add that I really appreciate that they point out that same-sex parents have comparable outcomes, not “better” or “perfect” outcomes. To whit:

    According to a nationally representative study, adolescents raised by same-sex and opposite-sex parents report similar levels of self-esteem and depression.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    There is a lot of pressure on same-sex-headed families to perform “perfect” family life; the same-sex parents are usually targeted for their sexual orientation whenever anything less than optimal happens. Yet heterosexual parents struggle, and children of heterosexual parents struggle — through no fault of sexual orientation! So I appreciate that the ASA is not holding same-sex families to an artificially high standard of flawlessness.

  5. Kevin says:

    When Regnerus wrote the article that got him in so much hot water, he revealed his bias, probably inadvertently. But it’s there for all to see.

    He explained that his motivation for undertaking this research was because all previous studies found no difference between different-sex parents and same-sex parents. He stated, plainly, that he could not believe that to be the case.

    Yet equal outcomes for parenting is simply the “null” hypothesis in such a situation, the presumed equivalence of things, lacking any logical reason to consider them different. There is no reason to believe that gay couples somehow parent differently than straight couples, and in such a way that would lead to different (particularly, worse) outcomes for their children. Just as there’s no reason to believe that left-handed people parent differently than right-handed people.

    The parenting skills that result in positive outcomes for children are as readily available to same-sex couples as to different-sex couples: setting boundaries, giving your undivided attention at least on occasion, reading to your child, encouraging his or her interests, providing nutritious meals and health care, etc. I am unaware of any parenting skills that straight people come with that gay people don’t also possess.

    Parenting is not normally considered a sexual or romantic activity, so it’s curious that Regnerus and his defenders at Witherspoon believe sex and romance would have anything to do with parenting. I’m deeply concerned about their own parenting rituals, and urge local child protective services officials to consider an investigation.

  6. Anna Cook says:

    While the Regnerus study obviously figures in this brief (because it was submitted by the defendants and their supporters), I would be disappointed to see this thread devolve into personal attacks against Regnerus. [Edit: Or personal defenses of his character or intention. This is about what his study said and how it is being used, not about him as an individual.] I hope we can keep the conversation focused on the use of sociological evidence, good and bad, in the political struggle over marriage equality.

  7. fannie says:

    The narrative that Regnerus has been treated badly for publishing a study that makes some purportedly Non-PC “against the grain” Truth is a really tiresome aspect of the national conversation on same-sex marriage.

    It also distracts from the poor quality of his study. It’s as though if Regnerus can be painted as enough of a victim of PC Gone Awry, maybe people won’t focus on all of the genuine critiques that have been made of his study. Notice, indeed, how Terbreugghen addresses no substantive point the ASA makes, he/she just suggests that something totally unfair and sinister is going on.

    Regnerus’ study either stands or falls on its substantive merits. If he’s personally vilified, that’s unfortunate, but it has no bearing on whether his study is accurate or not.

    I wonder how many supporters of the Regnerus study can even adequately, accurately summarize the major points of contention that critics are making of the study.

    Pity the fool indeed.

  8. Kevin says:

    “This is about what his study said and how it is being used, not about him as an individual”

    I don’t think anyone knows him as an individual, in order to make informed comment. Many of us who have been following this since last June, when his article was first published, and was followed (within hours, in some cases) by the “I told you so!” articles of anti-gay organizations, know Mr. Regnerus as a researcher, based on his conclusions.

    I hope we’re allowed to distinguish between comments that disparage him as an individual (“he’s a jerk”) and that disparage him as a researcher, based on his work.

    There is considerable evidence that he was participating in an agenda that recognized, in part, that it would serve the anti-gay marriage movement handsomely if a study “proved” that same-sex couples are lousy parents, or at least created some doubt about the fitness of gay people as parents. While decent people would hesitate to accuse anyone, or any group, threats to the well-being of children, that is evidently not a bridge too far for key members of the anti-gay marriage movement.

    I guess it’s not enough to merely accuse gay people of being pedophiles. They’re also a danger to children when they parent them.

    The worst southern racists didn’t accuse black parents of harming their kids or of molesting kids generally, that I’m aware of. I think that’s an important insight.

    So forgive me if I err on the side of being a little harsh on Mr. Regnerus and his anti-gay allies. They have stooped to unheard of tactics in a country that knows more than its fair share of cultural and social animosity.

  9. Kevin says:

    @fannie

    “Regnerus’ study either stands or falls on its substantive merits.”

    That’s wishful thinking. This fraudulent study has been so widely cited by anti-gay groups that it has taken on a life of its own, despite the retractions that Mr. Regnerus has issued. Any criticism of it is cited as political correctness, in case you haven’t noticed.

    And really, who has time to verify the findings other than people close to this issue? The Supreme Court certainly doesn’t. The study achieves its purpose, whether it is accurate or not: imply that gay parents harm children, against a widespread backdrop that gay people are pedophiles. You do the math. If Karl Rove isn’t directly involved in this, someone who greatly admires his style, is.

    Mr. Regnerus was well placed to perpetrate this fraud: a tenured professor at a top 10 Sociology Department. For people who like credibility short cuts, this works pretty well. That alone will suffice for most folks, rather than the actual merits of the study.

  10. David Hart says:

    If I may stray from Regenerus, it is actually remarkable that the children of gay parents do as well as they do. Those kids are certainly recipients (even if indirectly) of anti-gay opprobrium – even in the most progressive of school districts.

    The children of gay parents provide one of the most compelling reasons that gay couples should be allowed to marry.

    16% of US citizens live in an equal marriage state.

    0% of US citizens can claim that their traditional marriage was affected by gay marriage.

  11. zztstenglish says:

    Here’s some interesting info regarding same-sex parenting:

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/thenextamerica/statistics/same-sex-parents-u-s-demographic-snapshot-20120618

    A quote: (“Children raised by same-sex couples are twice as likely to live in poverty than those raised by married heterosexual couples”)

  12. Kevin says:

    Thanks, ‘english, another great reason to extend marriage rights to gay people: fewer kids brought up in poverty, since married couples tend to be wealthier (amongst many other nice qualities). Nice work!

  13. David Hart says:

    Except that quote is not accurate. The actual quote from the paper was:

    “LGBT families are twice as likely to be living in poverty as married, opposite-sex parents with children.”

    http://www.lgbtmap.org/news/all-children-matter-release

  14. Anna Cook says:

    Kevin,

    I absolutely agree with you that it’s valid to criticize Regnerus’ words and actions continuing to support his study, despite its flaws. Here’s another post about the ASA brief that also talks at length about Regnerus’ own amicus brief in support of Proposition 8. I didn’t mean to imply he was beyond criticism — only that the issue is wider than this one study, and this one person, and I don’t think character assassination and/or a focus on Regnerus as a supposed victim (as fannie discusses above) is particularly useful.

    zztstenglish,

    As others have pointed out to you, it’s unclear what you’re trying to “prove” or argue by highlighting the number of LGBT families that struggle in poverty. The disproportionate economic vulnerability of the queer community is an issue that gay rights activists have been talking about for decades (see this issue brief from the Center for American Progress). Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks still lack legal protections from job discrimination, including being fired from their job for their sexual orientation. Many young people are kicked out of their childhood homes or otherwise estranged from their families when their sexual orientation becomes known.

    So if you’re trying to argue that because queer people are poor, we’re somehow less able parents then my question to you is what you’re willing to do to change these patterns of discrimination and marginalization that make our economic struggle that much more difficult.

  15. fannie says:

    zztstenglish,

    Yes….. and?

    Throwing out “interesting” quotes devoid of context and analysis doesn’t shed the most light on “same-sex parenting.”

  16. Kevin says:

    @Anna

    “it’s valid to criticize Regnerus’ words and actions continuing to support his study, despite its flaws….”

    I’m at risk of being a comment hog, which is unfair to others I realize. I apologize.

    I know you don’t want to talk about Regnerus but he is the reason that ASA and other medical organizations have to use up valuable resources submitting amicus briefs supporting gay people’s rights to be parents (as if same-sex marriage even has anything to do with whether gays and lesbians can be parents!). It used to be just a whisper campaign, something judges could ignore.

    Now, thanks to Regnerus, it’s an official finding, and has to be combatted or else it becomes an uncontested statement of fact; expert testimony if you will. I believe that’s what this study was designed to be, expert testimony for court cases deciding the merits of legalizing same-sex marriage. And it certainly is a rational government purpose to protect children, right? Interestingly, “protecting children” might actually be a strong enough reason to overcome even an equal protection “heightened scrutiny” status for gays and lesbians! See how the game is being played? These people will stop at nothing in their crusade to stop gay couples from getting married. Having lost in Judge Walker’s court and then again on appeal, why would these people risk going to the Supreme Court (and risk imposing same-sex marriage on all 50 states, which is a possiblity!) unless they thought they had, or could get, an ace up their sleeves?

    This is not a flawed study. That implies a basic soundness marred by oversights or something. It is a fraudulent study, a piece of propaganda, at least the published conclusions Regnerus made. This is a guy who said that the adult children of gay fathers are more likely to contemplate suicide, for God’s sake! What kind of a disgusting and insulting thing is that to say? And it’s not even true, according to his data! To say to someone “your kid wants to kill himself, he’s been so damaged by your parenting…” I just don’t even know what kind of monster is capable of making that kind of accusation, and a false one at that.

    Regnerus compared children from intact marriages to children from broken homes where one or both parents had an affair, and equated the latter to “having a gay parent”. Really? Are you kidding me?! Do we not already know that children from broken homes fare worse than children from intact homes? To add more toxin, Regnerus chose mixed orientation marriages, which I suspect were not especially strong to begin with.

    Maybe it’s because I was a researcher at a very prominent university that this kind of things offends me so much. To me it does nothing more than confirm my belief that homophobia is an insidious disease, robbing its victims of integrity and rational thinking. When infected homophobics use their religious beliefs to try to marginalize gay and lesbian people, we sort of can combat that, because we have a certain guardedness about people who claim to know what God wants, even if they’re career religionists. But to pretend to have conducted a genuine study, and claim that kids with gay fathers are suffering so much for it that they want to kill themselves, really this is beyond the pale. But homophobia is an awful disease and society needs to address curing it.

  17. Elusis says:

    How many queer families fall into poverty because one partner can’t cover the other and his/her children with their insurance via their employment, and a health crisis eats up their resources? (#1 cause of bankruptcies in America: health care costs.)

    How many queer families fall into poverty because they’ve spent excessive amounts of money in the legal system, setting up basic protections for partners and children, trying to get second-parent adoption, fighting spurious custody challenges from homophobic ex-partners or extended families, fighting job discrimination, fighting bullying and other issues at their kids’ schools?

    How many queer families fall into poverty because their extended families turn their back on them or say “you can move home but you can’t bring your ‘friend’ with you” when the family has an economic crisis, unlike their heterosexual siblings who get offered help?

    How many queer families fall into poverty because they’re excluded from “faith based” resources that opposite-sex married families can access?

  18. DR84 says:

    Trying to use sociological research to determine if not being raised by ones biological parents harms them or not misses the point entirely. No one in their right mind would suggest a child is not harmed if the hospital makes a mistake and sends them home with the wrong parents. Even if that child is loved and cared for well by them. Nor would anyone in their right mind suggest taking a (newborn) child from their biological parents and giving them to other to raise would not harm that child. Even if those others could provide even more to the child than the biological parents could.

    That all said, there is also simply no direct link at all between being in a same sex relationship and having and raising children. Two men may be close friends or brothers, but their relationship, itself, will simply never lead to children. Adding homosexuality to that relationship is not going to change this fact one bit. Same sex relationships of any kind, whether they involve homosexuality or not, cannot be equal alternatives for raising children to moms and dads. They cannot be because they are not even the type of relationship that lead to having the children that need to be raised in the first place. Relationships that have no inherent connection to having children and associated family life simply cannot be equated with the relationships that do. Its apples and oranges, they are categorically different things.

  19. JHW says:

    DR84: I’m in my “right mind” (I think!) and I appreciate your point that sociological studies may not be the whole story here, but I still am not sure I accept your apparent claim that it is intrinsically harmful to a child to be raised by people who are not his or her biological parents. I’m sympathetic to the claim that the child has a right to know his or her biological origins, but that’s really not the same claim. I don’t think I agree that children who are, say, adopted at birth are necessarily harmed by virtue of being raised by adoptive parents (which isn’t to deny that there are aspects of adoption that can be harmful). Your hospital example is unhelpful because the most obvious (to me) reason that such a mistake is a bad thing is that it harms the parents by severing the parental relationship they have with their child against their wishes.

    But that’s really beside the point in any case, because in the context of same-sex parenting, we are not talking about children who, but for the existence of same-sex parenting, would have been raised by their biological parents. Same-sex parents are not in the business of kidnapping children from the homes of their biological parents and taking them to raise.

    You tell us that there is “no direct link at all between being in a same sex relationship and having and raising children” because same-sex couples cannot procreate. I disagree. The linkage between an adult relationship and child-rearing is not reducible to the biological potential for that adult relationship to be procreative. Many different-sex couples, too, raise children that were not created by their sexual relationship. Instead, what is important about the adult relationship is that it is a foundation for family life, that the children raised in their household will have two parents who jointly raise them and who are intimately tied to each other as well as to their children. That is a possibility open to same-sex couples just as much as it is open to different-sex couples.

  20. mythago says:

    Nor would anyone in their right mind suggest taking a (newborn) child from their biological parents and giving them to other to raise would not harm that child.

    And yet we permit and even encourage this all the time. It’s called “adoption”. Nor would anyone in their right mind argue that we should leave a child (newborn or otherwise) with parents who beat and starve that child because biology trumps everything else.

    In any event, DR84, the idea that same-sex parents harm a child has not been shown in any study; that’s sort of the point of this post. Religious essentialism with a secular blanket thrown over it is not evidence.

  21. David Blankenhorn says:

    I agree, and have said many times in many places, that the Regnerus study is flawed. And I agree that, at least as far as I know, there is no serious body of social science evidence suggesting bad outcomes for children raised by same-sex couples. (Why this is so, may be complicated, but it IS so.) And I certainly agree (pace Anna Cook) that nearly every professional association in the country is happy to swear on a stack of Bibles that every single thing about these child-rearing arrangments — every jot and tittle, with no exception or even theoretical possibility of any exception of any kind — is wonderful in every way that a thing can be wonderful. I agree that all of these things are true. And I agree that they are true, as someone who supports gay marriage.

    But I also fear that, as Madeleine used to say, “something is not right.” For one thing, hardly anything is THAT true! And for another, I recall the early history of the divorce revolution. And I recall nearly everyone instising, with great certitude and with palpable impatience and even irritation with those who raised questions or seemed like laggards, that, when it came to the children of divorce, all was well. All was very well indeed. All was above average in every way. Things were going very very well! And eveyone, nearly, agreed that it was so, and that all our indicators agreed.

    Until Judith Wallerstein, who was harshly criticized at the time, began asking questions. And today, we as a society have a much more complex, and I would say, accurate, view of the actual lives of children of divorce.

    I think that, 30 years from now, we are going to have a much more complex, and accurate, view of the lives of children of same-sex couples. I don’t know exactly WHAT we will have concluded, but I don’t think it will be the same as what nearly everyone is saying today.

  22. mythago says:

    David, it is not merely “flawed”. It is fundamentally dishonest. The reluctance to admit this is part of the problem.

    As is, by the way, your sarcastic somewhat bitter insistence that professional organizations are ‘swearing on a stack of Bibles’ that same-sex marriages are ‘wonderful in every way that a thing can be wonderful’. You’re well aware, I’m sure, that what’s actually being said is that, having studied same-sex households to the degree the data is available, everything indicates that children raised in those households are just as well-off as if they were raised in opposite-sex households.

    Which is kind of the opposite of your dark hinting about Wallerstein. This is not a case where “everybody”, anecdotally, is pretending everything is bunnies and rainbows until Science comes along and shatters those illusions. Quite the opposite; thanks in part to the activism of (now-former) SSM opponents such as yourself, people in favor of marriage equality have had to offer data, over and over again, to show that no, allowing two men to raise a child is not the equivalent of throwing that child off a cliff. Of course we should continue to study these issues – but why the pretense and dark hinting that someday when the facts are in YOU’LL BE SORRY JUST LIKE YOU WERE ABOUT DIVORCE?!

  23. DR84 says:

    JHW

    It is not being raised by adoptive parents that is harmful. It is the loss of biological parents that is. No matter how that loss occurs. There is harm in being cutoff from ones family tree, losing part of one’s history and identity. That cannot be replaced.

    It is impossible for two people of the same sex to be equally intimately tied to children. Only one of the two can be the child’s parent after all. Like it or not, the biological connection *is* the big deal with an intimate connection between parent and child. It is not some incidental, happenstance thing. You can disagree and believe there is a direct link between homosexuality and children, but you are absolutely and totally wrong in this belief. Your belief is simply false, the reality of the world proves otherwise. I don’t normally tell people they are completely wrong, but you are completely and 100% wrong.

    mythago

    Adoption is for the purposes of providing a child with the best possible family in the cases when the (biological) parents are unable or unwilling to raise the child. No question that adoption is good, that adopted children can thrive. Also, no question that one who has been adopted suffered a genuine loss by not being raised by the man and woman who brought them into this world. Adoption simply highlights the point that I was making. That even when loved, cared for, and raised into a successful adult…not having your (biological) parents is a real loss, a real tragedy, a real harm.

    I do not believe it is possible to believe that this is not a harm without also believing that people could steal a baby from the hospital, and so long as they raise it well, not harm that child at all. Or, believing that government could step in and take a newborn baby from even clearly loving, fit parents and give that baby to others to raise…without harming that child at all. This is clearly absurd and abhorrent, as I said, no one in their right mind would believe this.

  24. mythago says:

    That even when loved, cared for, and raised into a successful adult…not having your (biological) parents is a real loss, a real tragedy, a real harm.

    And yet, we do not ban adoption because of this. We do not tell a male/female couple “because of this harm, we will not allow you to adopt this child.” We do not suggest that couple would be A-OK with going into a hospital and stealing somebody’s child. So your point is, what?

  25. JHW says:

    David Blankenhorn: There is a fundamental difference between the cases. A family separated by divorce is clearly structurally different in important ways from a family that is not. The only difference, on the other hand, between a same-sex couple family and a different-sex couple family is the gender of the parents. That is a difference. But there is no reason to believe that it is a difference anywhere near as significant as the difference made by divorce, especially because we generally recognize in most other contexts that it’s inappropriate to make categorical judgments about people’s capacities based on an essentialized view of gender differences. And so it seems to me that the picture presented by the overwhelming weight of the social science evidence coheres quite well with what we would theoretically expect.

    It’s certainly possible that new evidence will come up that will give us reason to refine our view of same-sex parenting. For one, while same-sex parenting has been around for some time, same-sex parenting in the context of same-sex marriage is not, and so it will eventually be possible, as it has not been in the past, to do “apples-to-apples” studies comparing intact married same-sex couple families to intact marred different-sex couple families. But I don’t see any reason to expect that there is some deep truth waiting in the wings for us to discover, that all the social science research so far has missed.

    Incidentally, I wonder if the “everything is fine” claims about children of divorce ever had the kind of social science support, either in the scholarly literature or from professional associations, that similar claims about same-sex parenting do. I confess that I don’t remember the early history of the divorce revolution, but there’s a difference between such claims being made by (say) politicians and pundits on the basis of anecdotes, and such claims being made by all the relevant social science and child welfare organizations on the basis of a wide array of studies.

  26. Manny says:

    And yet we permit and even encourage this all the time. It’s called “adoption”. Nor would anyone in their right mind argue that we should leave a child (newborn or otherwise) with parents who beat and starve that child because biology trumps everything else.

    Adoption is supposed to be a way to find homes for those kids, not find kids for people that want kids. That is morally repugnant, yet when we approve of same-sex couples acquiring kids, that’s what we approve of. I think it’s interesting with these briefs is we see the real demand of SSM is to be allowed to intentionally become parents, in spite of so often claiming that they’d be fine with a complete ban on 3PR that banned heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. That is clearly a lie, they know they are demanding the right to reproduce and acquire children with someone of the same sex, even as they say that married heterosexual couples do not have a right to reproduce, any more than same-sex couples or adulterous couples or even siblings do. There is no right to acquire or parent a child, and no right to create a child intentionally, just a right for everyone to marry and for married couples to have procreative sex.

    And note that the pool of heterosexual parents that is compared to same-sex families includes all of those parents that are barely qualified and barely fit to be parents, but are forced to be parents by biology and then deal with it, the ones that marriage is intended to support and prevent from being unprepared. If same-sex couples randomly were forced into being parents, their numbers would worsen considerably, as they wouldn’t be mainly self-selected biased parents anymore, who often become parents just to prove that lesbians and gay families can be great parents, and then eagerly participate in studies once they know they succeeded in raising a normal child.

  27. JHW says:

    DR84: Lots of parental relationships are not based on biology. Adoptive parents, for example, are parents even though neither parent is the child’s biological parent. Perhaps you think it is possible for different-sex adoptive parents to both be parents to the child they adopt, but not for same-sex adoptive parents; I see no way to make this view plausible, however.

  28. mythago says:

    Adoption is supposed to be a way to find homes for those kids, not find kids for people that want kids. That is morally repugnant, yet when we approve of same-sex couples acquiring kids, that’s what we approve of.

    Why is it “finding kids for people who want kids” only when the adopting couple is same-sex? Do you really believe that opposite-sex couples trying to adopt healthy white infants are only doing so out of an altruistic desire to provide a home to a child?

  29. zztstenglish says:

    @D84 – Yep. Not to mention gays are trying to delink marriage and kids to begin with. So, all this talk about same-sex parenting is secondary as far as I’m concerned.

    @Elusis – Whilst I agree with you on many of those things you mentioned are wrong, many of them can be addressed without changing the institution of marriage. Nor do homosexuals have a monopoly on discrimination. Many people (including myself) have faced discrimination one way or another. So, an ‘appeal to my emotions’ doesn’t work with me.

    I also noticed you (and others) blatantly ignored that it was also reported that they have an average income of $59,270 which is hardly below the poverty line. Yet, you still cry poverty? Why is that?

  30. Kevin says:

    @David Blankenhorn

    “But I also fear that, as Madeleine used to say, “something is not right.” For one thing, hardly anything is THAT true!”

    And,

    “I don’t know exactly WHAT we will have concluded, but I don’t think it will be the same as what nearly everyone is saying today.”

    David, I wonder if you might expand a little on your suspicions that gay people parent differently, and less capably, than straight people. Do you have any specific ideas on what the differences might be? Or is it that a same-sex couple’s love and commitment telegraphs something to their kids that leads to a bad outcome?

    I guess I’m wondering, is it that the couple is gay that causes the problems, or is it that they actually parenting differently?

  31. zztstenglish says:

    @David says “Regnerus was intellectually dishonest.”

    And yet, there are many researchers who defend him.

    http://www.baylorisr.org/2012/06/a-social-scientific-response-to-the-regnerus-controversy/

    So what does this mean? It means we have a stalemate even though you pretend same-sex parenting is a foregone conclusion. Stop trying to short-circuit research that is subject of an ongoing dispute. Not to mention there’s more data that challenges same-sex parenting.

  32. Diane M says:

    Well, here’s my perspective on it.

    1. Regnerus is not a fair study of gay parenting because he compares apples and oranges. He is really comparing divorced women who had an affair or affairs with a woman to children raised by their married parents. We already know that family stability is good for children, so the results don’t tell us much.

    2. We don’t actually have any big, long-term studies of gay parenting that are compared to a fair control group of same sex parents.

    So what we can fairly say is that we have no proof that same-sex parenting is bad for children, but we don’t know that it is not.

    On the other hand, the smaller studies of same sex couples who stayed together show that it is possible for children raised by same sex couples to do well.

  33. Chris says:

    zztstenglish,

    If you have a substantive rebuttal to the critiques of Regnerus’ study that have been detailed in this thread, please make it. As people have told you before, it is quite rude to simply link-dump to the arguments of others and announce victory (or even a “stalemate”) when others are taking the time to make their own arguments.

  34. David Hart says:

    David Blankenhorn:

    You are correct. As the sample size grows, the parenting by gay couples will be as flawed and imperfect as our heterosexual peers. Yet, this has little to do with marriage equality.

    My partner and I were part time parents to his twin nephews. that was enough for us — and them. I think that people are capable of recognizing their limitations and I seriously doubt that gay couples will view children as a fashion accessory. The upside is that there will be no unintended pregnancies to deal with.

    Much, if not most, of the research done around the world is paid for by people with a vested interest in the outcome. We all get the ties of Witherspoon to George to NOM. It seems that every amicus brief by marriage equality opponents has incorporated Regnerus – citing it as proof that gay marriage is problematic. That is probably because Regnerus misrepresented the study initially. NOM continues to misrepresent the findings. People who have never taken the time to even read the damned thing “know” what it says. More than just a legal brief, the ASA seems to want to set the record straight.

  35. Manny says:

    Why is it “finding kids for people who want kids” only when the adopting couple is same-sex?

    It’s not.

    Do you really believe that opposite-sex couples trying to adopt healthy white infants are only doing so out of an altruistic desire to provide a home to a child?

    No, I don’t. Maybe some times it’s altruistic, like when adopting a relative’s orphaned children, but in those cases, they usually preserve the child’s true birth certificate and history.

  36. David Blankenhorn says:

    JHW says:

    David Blankenhorn: There is a fundamental difference between the cases. A family separated by divorce is clearly structurally different in important ways from a family that is not. The only difference, on the other hand, between a same-sex couple family and a different-sex couple family is the gender of the parents.

    What you are saying here, it seems to me, is that it’s incorrect to compare the brokenness of divorce to the experiences of children in same-sex couple families. But you are wrong. In cases of divorce, when it comes to living arrangments, a child is separated from one of her two parents, usually the father. That’s the main thing that happens! And that is exactly, precisely what happens in the great majority of homes in which same sex couples are raising children. Think about it. How do these children get there in the first place? Most get there through divorce! The current most frequent pattern is: Mom and Dad divorce; I go to live with Mom and her new partner/wife. A smaller fraction get there through adoption, which is obviously different from divorce, but which also (there is a rich scholarly literature on this) is a case of separation from one’s biological parents. And another fraction of these children get there through sperm donation or surrogacy, which is yet another way (differences from other structures notwithstanding) in which the child typically grows up with one biolgical parent and one non-biological parent.

    Now, I’m not saying, right now, whether any or all of these ways of growing up are wonderful or terrible or in between. All I am insisiting on, for now, is that anyone who knows or cares a fig about family structure issues, and the social science literature surrounding family structure issues, will tell you that there most certainly ARE non-trivial differences (other than the gender of the parents) between the child growing up with her own two married biological parents and the child growing up with her two moms or her two dads.

    And please hear me when I say that saying all of this is not some plot to bame gay people or oppose gay marriage! I support gay marriage. To recognize the actual, meaningful qualities of a family structure is not the same as concluding that that structure is always good or bad, much less that it should be legal or illegal; it’s simply recognizing the actual real-life differences that exist, in terms of family structure, from the child’s point of view.

    And Kevin says:

    David, I wonder if you might expand a little on your suspicions that gay people parent differently, and less capably, than straight people. Do you have any specific ideas on what the differences might be? Or is it that a same-sex couple’s love and commitment telegraphs something to their kids that leads to a bad outcome? I guess I’m wondering, is it that the couple is gay that causes the problems, or is it that they actually parenting differently?

    Kevin, please hear me on this point: I have NO suspicions that gay people are less capable as parents than straight people. I have NO suspicions that the love between two men or two women “telegraphs” something bad to children or to anyone. I have NO reason to suspect or believe that gay couples, because of what you call the “gay,” are causing problems for their children, or for anyone. I say “please hear me” on this point because, if you don’t, or if you hear but don’t believe I’m being sincere, then nothing I say afterward is going to (nor should it) make the slightest difference to you.

    What is distinctive, in terms of family structure, is what I said above to JHW. In cases of same sex couples raising children, the closest analogies I can think of, using the traditional categories of (implicitly hetero) family structure studies, are stepfamilies and (for some) adoption. That does not mean that stepfamilies gay or straight are “bad” or that adoption is “bad” — I am NOT engaging here in some kind of sneak attack on issues of gay marriage or gay rights! — but it does mean that these family structures are different from the family structure of two married biological parents under one roof jointly raising their children.

    Part of what is happening, in my view, is that as gay families become fully a part of the mainstream and have (are fighting successfully to win) the same rights as everyone else, studying outcomes of children in gay families is going to become pretty much like … studying outcomes of children in any or all families. That is, it won’t be widely believed to be necessary to insist that absolutely nothing is problematic or that nothing, not a single thing, except gender, is different.

    I didn’t get into the business, nearly 25 years ago now, of studying family structure so that I could spend my declining years engaging in some camp fire sing-along about how “a family is a family is a family.” I got into this field to try to understand, as carefully as possible, what is happening to children in the United States; and I don’t intend to throw away that aspiration now, just because the parents in question are gay. I say this, among other things, as a form of respect.

  37. JHW says:

    David Blankenhorn: If that’s what you’re saying, then the positions here (mine, yours, the ASA’s) may not be very far apart.

    I read the ASA brief to be saying that there is a strong social science consensus behind the view that same-sex parenting, per se, is not worse for children than different-sex parenting. But of course this doesn’t mean that children raised by same-sex parents, where the route to their so being raised involved family instability, will have the same outcomes as children who have been raised from birth in an intact biological family. That is part of the issue (as you know) with the Regnerus study, and also has come up with respect to Michael Rosenfeld’s Demography article on childhood progress through school, and his exchange with Douglas Allen about it (see p. 8 n. 6 of the brief). The ASA brief’s point is just that, insofar as such children have poorer outcomes, the outcomes are probably attributable to instability, not to same-sex parenting itself. It is repeatedly explicit, throughout the brief, that stability matters to children, and it makes no suggestion that this holds any less true when children are at some point being raised by two people of the same sex.

    To this, you add reference to issues surrounding adoption, sperm donation, and surrogacy. The ASA brief downplays concerns about the two of those it discusses explicitly (p. 27, “there is no basis for the assertion that adoption or assisted reproduction leads to negative child outcomes”). The broader point, however, is that the same thing is true here that was true before of instability: same-sex couple adoptive families may be different from different-sex couple biological families, but those differences are likely to be pretty similar to the differences between different-sex couple adoptive families and different-sex couple biological families.

    What the ASA brief (and most of the scholarship it reviews) is responding to, and what I interpreted your earlier comment to be raising, is a different kind of argument: not that some routes to parentage often relevant to same-sex couples may have significant impacts to children, but rather that the mere fact (in itself) that a child’s parents are of the same sex is important to child welfare, above and beyond the issues raised by divorce, adoption, or various forms of assisted reproduction. The usual way this argument is made is that fathers and mothers (biological or otherwise) make unique contributions based on their gender, and therefore same-sex parents necessarily deprive their children of the unique contribution made either by a father or by a mother. The fact that studies using appropriate comparison groups repeatedly find no significant difference between children raised by same-sex couples and children raised by different-sex couples undermines that view, and as I said in my earlier comment, I don’t see any good reason to think that we should expect (major) future surprises on that point.

  38. David Blankenhorn says:

    JHW:

    Thank you for your good comments. I agree with most of what you say.

    However, I think to some degree we are still talking past one another, since we seem to have different goals. It seems to me that your goal is to defend the legal right to marry for same-sex couples, and therefore you (and the sociologists whose brief we are discussing) offer all kinds of academic arguments persuant to that objective. But as I’ve said all along in this thread, I suport gay marriage, and so you and I are not arguing here about gay marriage!; we all (you, me, the ASA) favor it.

    What concerns me is the (I believe, wrong-headed) insistance that, when it comes to child outcomes in the various family structures we are discussing, there are no grounds for thinking that anything, other than gender, might be different. As I’ve tried to say at some length in this thread, there are very strong and obvious reasons for believing that some things are, in fact, likely to be different.

    Therefore, due to the differences in what the two of us want to argue — you want to argue for gay marriage, I want to argue for more care in the discussion of child outcomes in diverse family structures — some of what each of us is saying doesn’t seem to be of much interest to the other. For example, you cite the fact that the ASA people assert that, once we control for this and that, via the use of control groups, we see that there is nothing per se deficient in gay parenting. But I’ve seen a thousand studies that do such things, and, while I can see and in some ways agree with the point in this particular case, stated in this narrow way, it really doen’t mean much to me, because it’s not answering (in fact it is specifically ducking) the very questions that interests me in the first place. I’m not trying to figure out if gay people per se are deficient (I already know what I think about that question); I AM trying to figure out child outcomes in different family structures.

    Let me give you an example of what I mean. For years I studied the isse of fatherhood — the issues of whether, and in what ways, fathers matter for children. And for years I would see studies that “found” that fathers per se don’t really matter as regards the well-being of children, since if we “control” for various factors (such as income and stability and trust and access to male role models) it’s possible to make the case that fathers per se don’t matter any, or at least matter very little, when it comes to child outcomes.

    But these studies were intentionally “controlling” for the very factors that I wanted to look at! So when the ASA says that all the data show that everything is above average for children being raised by same-sex couples, and that there can be no valid reason for thinking otherwise, since there is no evidence to the contrary (once things like “how did the child get into the home?” are properly “controlled” for) — well, let’s just, I been there before.

    None of which is me saying that what you say is wrong. But it is me saying that what you say (mainly) does not address the topic that interests me.

  39. JayJay says:

    It has been repeatedly observed that heterosexual couples are not subject to the requirement that they be perfect parents in order to get married. In fact, people who are clearly not good parents are repeated urged by some here to marry their opposite-sex partners for the same of their children or to stay in marriages that are clearly unhealthy for the same of their children. Yet opponents of same-sex marriage are mounting an argument, that David Blankenhorn previously contributed to, that gay people, most of whom do not even plan to parent children, should be deprived the right to marry because the family structure of some is thought by some people to be less than ideal. This is illogical and unfair.

  40. JayJay says:

    David Blankenhorn writes: “you cite the fact that the ASA people assert that, once we control for this and that, via the use of control groups, we see that there is nothing per se deficient in gay parenting. But I’ve seen a thousand studies that do such things, and, while I can see and in some ways agree with the point in this particular case, stated in this narrow way, it really doen’t mean much to me, because it’s not answering (in fact it is specifically ducking) the very questions that interests me in the first place. I’m not trying to figure out if gay people per se are deficient (I already know what I think about that question); I AM trying to figure out child outcomes in different family structures.”

    Yes, but you are among the people who–in your scare-mongering testimony and writings warning about the “deinstitutionalization” of marriage if gay people are allowed to marry, and in your article about “protecting the children” by not permitting gay people to marry–who have made this kind of parsing by the ASA necessary. Even more egregious, of course, is the downright misrepresentation and fraudulence of Regnerus.

    Questions about same-sex parenting and family structures are interesting and important in their own right. I agree with David Blankenhorn that they need to be studied, and studied in a non-ideological way.

    But such questions have nothing to do with whether gay people should enjoy equal rights under the law, including the right to marry the person they love.

  41. annajcook says:

    Whew, lots of discussion while I was away from the computer today judging National History Day projects at the local high school :)

    After reading through the new comments, I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts:

    1) I agree with you, David, that nothing is gained by arguing that LGBT families and their particular needs or dynamics should somehow be off-limits for study, and/or that they are exactly the same as families headed by hetero couples or single parents who identify as straight. However, I don’t hear anyone making this argument. I don’t think the ASA would argue that professional consensus should equal dropping this thread of inquiry — in for no other reason that many sociologists would be out of work or suddenly have no audience for their studies re: LGBT families! This is a vibrant field that likely needs more, not less attention. However,,,

    2) Much of the discussion in this thread appears to be revolving around the legitimacy or ethics of same-sex-headed households with children. I’d like to invite people to step back from the spectre of baby-napping and re-direct your attention to the fact that this is a red herring when it comes to child well-being. It seems to me self-evident that queer people are already parents — either through biological reproduction, adoption, or ART. They’re single parents and partnered parents, married, civil unioned, or completely unprotected by formal legal recognition. These parents face particular challenges, and their children ALSO then bear particular burdens (as well as joys) due to the anti-gay prejudice they face in school, in their neighborhood, etc. They also face the pressure (self- or other-imposed) of performing perfect family life so as not to bring further danger into their parents’ lives.

    Researchers and LGBT activists know a great deal about what challenges these families face and what we could do as a society to better support them. Queer parents’ rights and needs have been part of the “gay liberation” movement since the mid-20th century. So I’d like to submit to the folks engaging on this thread that it might be the most effective approach, in regards to child well-being, to focus our attentions on supporting the parents and children in all families. In this regard, we needn’t start from scratch — we can listen to what the insiders already know.

    3) I’d like to add my voice to those who have already reminded the thread that parenting and marriage rights are distinct and while often found together are not co-dependent: one can become a parent outside of marriage and be married without parenting. So while the same-sex parenting discussion is inextricably tied to the Proposition 8 case because the “think of the children!” fear-mongering was a major part of the Prop 8 campaign, our fitness as parents should not make or break our right to marriage — any more than it does for straight people.

  42. zztstenglish says:

    @JayJay says “gay people should enjoy equal rights under the law, including the right to marry the person they love”

    Except the state does not regulate love. Homosexuals can love their partner all they want without state recognition. Feel free to have a private ceremony to exchange your vows.

    To the contrary, see Standhardt v Arizona(“opposite sex couples have a fundamental right to marry, Loving 388 US at 12, excluding such [gay] couples from marriage could only be justified by a COMPELLING STATE INTEREST”)

    Furthermore, you wrote “most of [gay people] do not even plan to parent children…” Correct, which is why subsidizing gay marriage is a misallocation of tax money. They want all the benefits without raising children. In other words, they want something for nothing.

  43. Diane M says:

    @David Blankenhorn – “Therefore, due to the differences in what the two of us want to argue — you want to argue for gay marriage, I want to argue for more care in the discussion of child outcomes in diverse family structures — some of what each of us is saying doesn’t seem to be of much interest to the other.”

    But these issues are being used in legal briefs to decide whether or not same sex marriage should be legal.

    I would like to think it is possible to discuss the scholarly questions without taking that into consideration, but it has to be very, very difficult.

  44. Kevin says:

    @David B.

    “…..anyone who knows or cares a fig about family structure issues……there most certainly ARE non-trivial differences (other than the gender of the parents) between the child growing up with her own two married biological parents and the child growing up with her two moms or her two dads.”

    Really? What would they be?

    When I asked you earlier about what you thought would be the differences between gay parents and straight parents, you seemed to get somewhat defensive and I think that’s unfortunate, because I’m not trying to corner you or pose a trick or “gotcha” question.

    It seems to me that a premise that gay people parent differently from straight people rests on an assumption that gay people are different from straight people. That is true but it seems to me to be true with regard to sex and romance, two things that are not a part of parenting. I don’t know what other features distinguish gay people from straight people. From what I know, the thing that makes straight people different from gay people is something that is not related to parenting. If there are other differences, I want to know what they are.

    I think a crucial problem, one that may not describe you but I strongly believe describes others, is that there is quite a bit of projection going on. By that I mean, adults discussing this issue seem to think that the children raised by same-sex parents are somehow aware that their parents are “different”, in a meaningful way. Or worse, that the children are homophobic, and at some early age develop an aversion to their caregivers. I don’t believe this to be the case.

    I don’t think children, at least young ones, are aware of concepts of human sexuality or of biology. I don’t think they understand the concept of biological and non-biological parents until they understand what sex is. By the time they learn about the birds and the bees, in a meaningful way, they are well formed enough in their personalities and have bonded with their parents, whomever they might be. That’s what kids do: bond with the adults that show the most interest in them, and with whom they spend the most time. Kind of like pets!

    Parenting isn’t about who you are but what you do and I don’t see how gay people are in any way limited in reading Dr. Spock (that dates me!) or other child-rearing books to see what works and what doesn’t work. And then apply what they learned.

    “To recognize the actual, meaningful qualities of a family structure….”

    But again, what makes sexual orientation worthy of consideration as a family structure? Doesn’t that start with questionable assumptions about differences between straight and gay people? Maybe it would help if I knew what other family structures there are. Is a biracial different-sex couple a family structure? Is the same-faith couple different from the inter-faith couple, as a structure (as opposed to potential differing outcomes based on differing religious beliefs)? What defines a family structure?

    “I am NOT engaging here in some kind of sneak attack on issues of gay marriage or gay rights! — but it does mean that these family structures are different from the family structure of two married biological parents under one roof jointly raising their children.”

    I was hoping you might consider me a little more sophisticated than someone here to nip creeping anti-gay marriage sentiments or sneak attacks in the bud. Perhaps that’s how I come off sometimes.

    Maybe because I don’t know what a family structure is, I can’t understand how gay parents and straight parents create two of them. I can see where two biological parents and one biological parent and a step-parent are distinct, but as far as parenting goes, that encompasses a step-parent who may or may not want to parent at all (we all know what the Baroness wanted to with Captain Von Trapp’s kids: boarding school!), and kids whose loyalty to the absent parent remains intact. In other words, conflict may define the bio/step-parent family, where the bio/bio family is untainted.

    Assigning distinguishing characteristics to people must proceed with caution. That’s how we got into this mess, with gay people being marginalized, or worse, in the first place: they had the misfortune of being “othered.”

  45. annajcook says:

    DR84,

    I’m going to push back against your characterization of my wife and I as “no more of a family structure … than are the Baltimore Ravens.” This month marks the fifth year anniversary of our active courtship and the six-month anniversary of our marriage. We are our parents’ daughters-in-laws, welcomed into the extended kinship network on both sides of the family. We run a household, share material resources, are one anothers’ beneficiaries, will file (at the state level) a joint tax return this year. We are sexually intimate, exclusively so. These are not things you do with colleagues, unless you are choosing to move beyond the realm of a workplace relationship.

    Please keep in mind when you are talking about these issues that you are talking not about abstract, theoretical differences but real families that exist in the world with all the messiness of love and anger, health and dysfunction that human beings are capable of in family life.

    It seems, to me, that when people talk as if we aren’t families, or aren’t married when we’re actually living, breathing, and doing these things is a very profound sort of disrespect and erasure of being. Perhaps you believe we are doing these things wrongly — but I don’t think it’s possible, at this point, to categorically deny that we are, in fact, doing them. We’re romantic and sexually active, we’re forming committed relationships, we’re raising children, and we’re getting married where it’s possible for us to get married. All of these things are activities that fall within the realm of family life in our cultural concept of what families are for.

  46. JHW says:

    DR84: Are a man and a woman in a committed romantic relationship, who are raising a child they jointly adopted, a family in your sense? That’s a child they raised, but not one they had, if by “having” children you specifically mean being their biological progenitors.

    If the answer is yes, why aren’t two men or two women in a committed romantic relationship, who are raising a child they jointly adopted, a family in your sense? What’s the difference?

    Is it simply procreative capacity? Is it enough that the man and the woman could in principle have biological children, even if the actual child they actually are raising isn’t their biological child? That seems a really weird and extremely counterintuitive view of what a “family” is to me. It doesn’t help your view that some different-sex couples raising adopted children can’t in fact have biological children; are they then not families either? I don’t want to assign you claims you haven’t made, but to get around that problem, most people who articulate views like yours go on to say that it’s not actually procreative capacity that matters, but just being a couple of the type that generally is capable of procreation. But this, if anything, just makes the view even more weird and counterintuitive! (If you’re right that the ability to procreate is so important for constituting a family, shouldn’t we be concerned with its actual presence, not its theoretical presence?) And it raises the suspicion that the reference to the ability to procreate is just a way of smuggling in a double standard between different-sex couples (regardless of procreative capacity) and same-sex couples.

    You talk about the Baltimore Ravens. With all due respect, this is a ridiculous comparison. Two men or two women raising an adopted child generally function in every relevant respect like a man and a woman raising an adopted child. This would not be the case for a child being raised by a sports team.

  47. Kevin says:

    DR84 I think you’re part of a very small minority who doesn’t consider a same-sex couple, particularly one with children, a family. I’d be interested to know why you exclude same-sex couple households as families, but only mildly so, so don’t feel obligated to respond.

    “what if NFL organizations also starting raising children and sociological studies ‘proved’ they turned out just fine, would you accept NFL teams as equal and valid ‘family structures’ for children?”

    Maybe. I wouldn’t automatically rule them out, just because they aren’t a heterosexual male/female construct raising their own, and exclusively their own, biological children. But I’d rather get more definitional background on what a family structure is, and what its elements are, from David Blankenhorn.

  48. maggie gallagher says:

    The biggest problem from an intellectual standpoint is not the criticism of Regnerus, but the profession’s lack of interest in the rather large and obvious shortcomings of the existing body of literature (Especially compared to the intense focus on the shortcomings of Regnerus’s study.)

    All social science studies have shortcomings. But the ones which find that lesbian parents are superior or equal get trumpeted uncritically and the ones that find like Regnerus’ some problems are either savaged or ignored or explained away. (with attacks on the scholars’ motivation to boot!)

    Not being based on a probability sample (or like Rosenfield excluding everybody in your study who had moved in the last 5 years from your sample) are much bigger problems from a scientific standpoint. When Prof. Allen reanalyzed Rosenfield’s Census study including all children in a same-sex couple household he also found, these children were faring worse on average.

    Another study in 2012 by Daniel Potter “Same-Sex Parent Families and Children’s Academic Achievement.”
    (Once transitions were “controlled for” the deficit was no longer statistically significant).

    Regnerus’ study was subjected to the peer-review process in a major journal and was published. In an unusual move, after intense public criticism, that review process was reviewed, and the reviewer acknowledged the process was done in the normal academic way and that the academic standing and quality of the peer reviewers was high. (even though he personally stated he wouldn’t have published the study).

    The “consensus” the APA refers to is based on a very small body of research very little of which is based on a probability (random) sample, and virtually none of which studies outcomes motherless children raised by one or two gay men. (at least as of 2011. I haven’t looked at new additions lately).

    What interests me in this is the way the standards of science are so easily shifted. To support something that sounds vaguely “traditional” you need an indisputable mountain of evidence amounting to “proof” (something social science rarely attains). To support a claim as indisputable that is music to progressive elites you need very little evidence at all of not particularly high quality.

    I have no doubts that gay people can be and are good parents. I do not know, nor does anyone commenting know from scientific evidence, how the average or typical child raised by one or two gay parents fares, compared to children in other situations.

    Perhaps, down the road people will be interested enough to find out.

    I hope the Regnerus study prompts social scientists to do their jobs as scientists. Not only studies which find unfavorable outcomes, studies that find favorable outcomes ought to be subjected to scrutiny.

  49. Hi, Anna. You say:

    I agree with you, David, that nothing is gained by arguing that LGBT families and their particular needs or dynamics should somehow be off-limits for study, and/or that they are exactly the same as families headed by hetero couples or single parents who identify as straight. However, I don’t hear anyone making this argument.

    I don’t think we agree on this. The ASA says:

    The social science consensus is both conclusive and clear: children fare just as well when they are raised by same-sex parents as when they are raised by opposite sex parents.

    This is what I’m calling the camp fire sing-along. And if all that we were singing, in this sing-along, is that gay marriage is good and that gay parents are just as good as straight ones, I’d be happpy to sing along loudly! But this brief, and many others just like it, are making specific scholarly claims about child outcomes in diverse family structures that, in my view, cannot be supported by social science evidence, unless (and this is in fact what they do) they “control” for all of the factors that would otherwise get in the way of them making this claim.

    I want to say again that I am not arguing against gay parenting or gay marriage! I am arguing about the presentation and interpretation of social science evidence on child outcomes, which is the ONLY thing I’ve been commenting on, in this thread.

    Hi, Kevin. You say:

    It seems to me that a premise that gay people parent differently from straight people rests on an assumption that gay people are different from straight people.

    And you seem to be implying that that is my argument. But I have said over and over again in this thread, with great emphasis, that this is NOT my argument.

    And on the likely differences in child outcomes, you say:

    “Really? What would they be?”

    Like I somehow haven’t explained myself on this point. Well, with respect, I want to point out that I’ve answered this question several times in this thread, at considerable length. I honestly cannot think of how I might express myself on this point any clearly than I already have.

    And you write:

    But again, what makes sexual orientation worthy of consideration as a family structure? Doesn’t that start with questionable assumptions about differences between straight and gay people?

    And I must say again, no, no, and no. That is NOT my argument. That is NOT what I am saying. That is NOT my criticism of the ASA studies. That is NOT the topic that I am seeking to engage here. I honestly don’t know to say this any more clearly or emphatically. What I care about is the impact of family structure on children, entirely separate from whether the parents in question are gay or straight.

    JayJay:

    I’m going to overlook the personal attacks, though I certainly don’t appreciate them. You seem to think that you are arguing with me about gay marriage. But you aren’t, since we have the same position on that issue.

    DR84:

    Your comment about the Ravens violates our civility policy and has been deleted. Please read the policy and do your best to comply with it.

  50. JayJay says:

    David Blankenhorn, I do not mean my comments above as a personal attack on you. I am delighted that you have changed your position on gay marriage. But, with all due respect, our discussion of the Regnerus study and the ASA rebuttal to it, is rooted in the Proposition 8 campaign and trial in which you took part, central to which was the argument that Proposition 8 should be passed in order to “protect the children” (your words) and, in defense of the Proposition that passed, that the government had a rational reason to prohibit the marriage of gay people because allowing gay people to marry would deinstitutionalize marriage. My point is a simple one: we are discussing the suitability of gay parenting because the opponents of ssm have made it the centerpiece of their opposition. The ASA is rebutting the claims of Regnerus et al. within that context. Certainly, more (reputable) studies are needed. Once the question of gay marriage has been settled (favorably), then they can proceed in the same spirit that studies of other family formations are conducted–in a spirit of inquiry rather than threat.