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same-sex parenting studies

same-sex parenting studies

Prejudice, or Unstable Partnerships? What Same-Sex Households Offer Children

cohabitation, marriage, prejudice, same-sex parenting studies No comments

Sharon Barrett, Intern

Mark Regnerus’s June 2012 New Family Structures Study (NFSS) came under fire as soon as it was published. Even after a private consultant confirmed Regnerus’s methodology was acceptable, critics continue to hurl accusations.  
One such accusation is aimed not so much at Regnerus as at the rest of us. Some critics argue the NFSS found negative outcomes among children raised by parents in same-sex relationships because social prejudice against these couples affects their children. If we allow gay couples to marry – so the argument runs – they will raise children with positive outcomes.
Here’s the problem: if a relationship is unstable, recognizing it with a civil or religious ceremony is not going to make it more stable.
The small, non-representative sample groups in previous same-sex parenting studies contained same-sex couples whose profile predicted child success: educated, relatively well-off, non-minority, and – most important –  a long-term monogamous couple. By contrast, the NFSS’s random sample of a broad population found that many same-sex households are among minorities and poor families, who are less likely to marry and more likely to divorce.
In fact, most households where a child has lived for some period of time with a parent and the parent’s same-sex partner were created after the breakup of a heterosexual relationship. Like heterosexual cohabiting households created in the aftermath of a divorce, extramarital affair, or previous relationship, such households are inherently unstable, as Peter Sprigg of FRC notes:
The fact that only two of over two hundred children [in the NFSS] with a parent who had a same-sex relationship lived with that parent and his or her partner from birth to age 18 shows how extraordinarily rare “stable gay relationships” really are.
Regnerus’s study, as even his critics acknowledge, pinpoints a crucial factor in child success: household stability. Now, even a heterosexual household can’t guarantee stability. So why should we continue to define marriage using the man-woman model?
Here’s one reason (among many). Man-woman marriage is built on a peculiar other-centeredness; it demands that two people who are polar opposites learn to live together. Paradoxically, this tension helps create stability. By nature, a same-sex relationship lacks this tension, which may explain why researchers in Sweden found male same-sex couples 35% more likely to divorce than heterosexual couples – and lesbian couples up to 200% more likely!
Instability, not prejudice, is to blame for the negative outcomes experienced by NFSS respondents. Unfortunately, the average same-sex household is unlikely to provide the stability children need – even when all other factors are equal.

Social Science Confirms Social Values on Gay Families

MARRI, same-sex parenting studies No comments

Kevin J. Burns, Intern
Conservatives are often condemned for basing their political beliefs on their theological principles.  In contrast, science is held up as the temple of positivism and acceptance of newly-forming social norms.  Science, unlike religion, is not based on “values”; rather, it is based on hard, indisputable facts. It cuts through prejudice and tradition and gets to the truth of the matter.  I make no contentions against science.  Science, in its purest form, is indeed the quest for truth. But scientists, like all members of the human species, can be biased and have their judgment clouded.  This has been the case when considering social science studies on homosexual families – until two recent peer-reviewed social science studies came to light.
Dr. Loren Marks of LSU recently published a review of the current research on homosexual families in Social Science Research.  His study finds evidence in opposition to the American Psychological Association’s 2005 statement arguing that there is no difference for the children of heterosexual or gay households.  Marks finds fault with the currently available social science studies, pointing out that none of the currently available studies compares a large nationally-representative sample of gay and heterosexual parents and children to each other. Instead, he finds that most of his colleagues have considered small samples that do not represent the nation and that the studies do not hold up to the rigors of scientific peer review.  Additionally, many of these studies focus on the gay parents, not on their children. Thus, the current research considers only one aspect of the family – the parents – while failing to consider the longest-term results of the relationship, as the children of gay parents mature and move into the world.
Dr. Mark Regnerus of UT Austin seeks to remedy this failing with his own study, also published in Social Science Research. Regnerus uses a large population sample and studies 2,988 children over 21 years, from ages 18 to 39. Among other things, Regnerus found that children of gay parents are far more likely to have received public assistance at some point during their lives, are less likely to be employed, less likely to vote regularly, and more likely to have been sexually abused and have suffered from sexually transmitted infections. It is important to note that this study considers only correlation; it does not look to causation. Regnerus does not argue that gay parents are bad parents.  His research merely points out that, on average, the children of gay parents are far more likely to suffer certain social ills. Regnerus does not deal with social values or theology, but with statistics.
Every child deserves the most stable family structure possible.  Family structure is obviously critical to the health and well-being of the children of that family, as MARRI showed in its Annual Report on Family Trends.  Equality is a beautiful and important thing, engrained in the character of the American republic.  However, it is logically impossible to argue for equality for gay couples while ignoring the inequality of outcomes evident among their children.