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Topics In the News
Yet Another Study Finds that Children of Gay Parents Prosper
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 06/05/13
Last updated on: 06/07/13
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A study from the University of Melbourne released on June 5, 2013 has reached the same conclusion that numerous other reputable studies have reached: the children of same-sex couples do as well as or better than the children of opposite-sex couples on a broad range of key health indicators. The new study comes on the heels of further revelations of the political corruption and deceptions that marked the discredited 2012 study by Mark Regnerus, which was funded by right-wing foundations and designed to defame same-sex parents.

The University of Melbourne study collected data on 500 Australian children. It is the largest study of the children of same-sex parents yet attempted. As Vince Chadwick in the Australian newspaper The Age reports, the initial findings of study are that there is no statistical differences between children of same-sex couples and the rest of the population on indicators such as self-esteem, emotional behavior, and the amount of time spent with parents, but that children of same-sex couples scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion, measuring how well the family members get along.

The Australian study verifies the previous studies summarized by the American Sociological Association in its brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in advance of its decision in the cases involving California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. The brief thoroughly reviewed the scholarship on same-sex parenting and concluded that "the evidence regarding children raised by same-sex parents overwhelmingly indicates that children raised by such families fare just as well as children raised by opposite-sex parents, and that children raised by same-sex parents are likely to benefit from the enhanced stability the institution of marriage would provide to their parents and families."

Similarly, a recent review of the sociological literature regarding same-sex parenting by the American Academy of Pediatrics reached similar conclusions. On March 21, 2013, in a policy statement entitled "Promoting the Well Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian," the Academy forcefully endorsed marriage equality, contending that a child's well-being is much more affected by the strength of relationships among family members and a family's social and economic resources than by the sexual orientation of the parents. "There is an emerging consensus, based on extensive review of the scientific literature, that children growing up in households headed by gay men or lesbians are not disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents," the AAP report declared.

Meanwhile additional documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act confirm long-held suspicions that the fraudulent "New Family Structures" study by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus was funded in order to impugn the parenting skills of same-sex couples in judicial proceedings. The documents reveal how the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, which funded it to the tune of almost $800,000, enlisted Regnerus to undertake the study in order to influence anticipated Supreme Court deliberations on same-sex marriage.

Regnerus's article entitled "How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-sex Relationships? Findings from the New Families Structure Study," published in June 2012 in Social Science Research, purported to prove that children of gay and lesbian parents have adverse outcomes. It claimed to find "numerous, consistent differences, especially between children of women who have had a lesbian relationship and those with still-married (heterosexual) biological parents."

Critics immediately pointed out that Regnerus does not compare "same-sex families" and "opposite-sex families." Rather, as John Corvino put it, he compares broken families to intact families and pretends that he has discovered something significant when he announces that children of intact families do better on a number of measures than children of broken families.

Regnerus asked adults between ages 18 and 39 whether their mothers or fathers had ever had a same-sex relationship, regardless of the duration of the relationship and "regardless of any other household transitions." Regnerus' "Lesbian Mother" and "Gay Father" categories (unlike the "Intact Biological Family" category) included children of adoptive parents, step-parents, single parents, and, notably, a large number of divorced parents.

The study, intentionally designed to compare apples and oranges, tells us nothing about the parenting skills of same-sex parents. Indeed, the huge majority of the children of parents who had a same-sex relationship at some time in their lives studied by Regnerus never actually lived in a same-sex headed household.

The article's publication set off a firestorm of criticism by scholars who became suspicious not only because of its funding sources but also because of its rushed publication in a journal of questionable scholarly integrity. In response to the outcry against the paper and its hurried publication, the journal appointed an auditor to evaluate the study and the review process it underwent.

The auditor appointed by Social Science Research, Dr. Darren E. Sherkat of Southern Illinois University, reported in July 2012 that he found disqualifying problems with the peer-review process used to evaluate Regnerus's paper. He found that "the peer-review process failed to identify significant, disqualifying problems" with the study. He also cited conflicts of interest among the reviewers, stated that "scholars who should have known better failed to recuse themselves from the review process," and criticized the author's use of scholarship to push a political agenda.

In an interview, Sherkat described the paper succinctly: "It's bullshit," he said.

Although Regnerus's study was immediately denounced by reputable sociologists and repudiated by the auditor of Social Science Research, it has nevertheless been embraced by the opponents of same-sex marriage and is prominently cited in legal briefs submitted to the Supreme Court by the defenders of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. It has repeatedly been cited by the National Organization of Marriage and Roman Catholic Bishops.

The released documents concerning the study also reveal that Regnerus has consistently lied about the participation of Witherspoon Institute officials in the study. Although Regnerus insisted that the funders had nothing to do with the design of the study or its outcome, the documents plainly indicate that he is a liar.

In his latest analysis of documents obtained through Public Information Act requests to the University of Texas at Austin, indefatigable activist Scott Rose demonstrates that Witherspoon Program Director Brad Wilcox recruited Regnerus to oversee the fraudulent project and collaborated closely with him on "the deliberately booby-trapped study design."

It is clear that Regnerus and his paymasters were less motivated by the search for truth than by a desire to disseminate propaganda.

Regnerus should be disciplined by the University of Texas for his unethical behavior. Social Science Research should retract the article and editor James Wright should resign or be fired.

In the video below, John Corvino explains the absurdity of the Regnerus study.

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