Evidence

Brueghel Jan - Heilige Familie in einem Blumen und FrüchtekranzThe American Medical Association has declared that

the conclusions by the leading associations of experts in this area reflect a consensus that children raised by lesbian or gay parents do not differ in any important respects from those raised by heterosexual parents.

I found that here. Debate over. Thank God, we can be left in peace, and possibly even permitted to marry like normal folks. However, here is a claim that “a study reveals that kids fare worse in same-sex households”, here is a claim that “a study suggests that traditional marriage promotes child welfare” and here is an assertion that the AMA’s claim “cannot be supported scientifically”, based on this article by Loren Marks. Oh, and here is a woman who has gay friends, but who when she wants to pluck from the air an example of sin, just happens to pick on homosexuality.

What should be compared? A straight couple who stay together throughout their child’s adolescence may produce better outcomes for the child than a gay couple adopting a child, but the true comparison is a straight couple adopting a child. And a gay woman having a child and having a partner should be compared to a lone parent who finds a new partner. So Loren Marks’ criticism of comparing with lone parent families is unjustified. They are the proper comparator. The “Marriage-based intact family” is increasingly rare.

Possibly a marriage-based intact family is the best environment for a child. This does not mean that public shaming should be used against other groups, or that parents who “stay together for the sake of the children” do not screw up their kids worse than loving gay couples. And my AMA quote does not refer to marriage based intact families, only to “heterosexual parents”.

Then, studies before 2000 generally used educated, high-earning lesbian couples as the homosexual parents. This is because they were the gay couples who could parent children. Also, there are no longitudinal studies of children brought up by gay parents, compared to equivalent straight couples, dealing with adolescent issues, educational attainment and salary at age 30. That is because it has been extremely difficult to live in a loving gay relationship in the 1970s, let alone bring up a child: 1% of couples in the 2000 US census were gay. As Loren Marks states, Southern California is not typical of the US. Well, go find a sample from rural Alabama, then. She criticises the small sample sizes. Qualitative research generally has small samples.

Then she describes a study by Sarantakos, from 1996 where children were assessed by teachers. 54 children of married couples, 54 of cohabiting couples, and 54 of gay couples were assessed, and the gay couples’ children came bottom in eight of nine categories. The APA has reasons to discount this study, and I am not aware of all of the reasons. Sarantakos published a book in 2000 on Same Sex Couples, stating:

children of homosexual parents report deviance in higher proportions than children of (married or cohabiting) heterosexual couples.

Brueghel Jan - Der GesichtsinnI would be interested to know the incidence of bullying of those children. This is my fall-back position: how would the children of gay couples fare in a society without prejudice? We cannot know.

Loren Marks refers to childrearing outcomes of concern to society:

intergenerational poverty, collegiate education and/or labor force contribution, serious criminality, incarceration, early childbearing, drug/alcohol abuse, or suicide

whereas the studies of gay couples’ children have considered such matters as emotional functioning, which generally affects these outcomes, or sexual orientation, necessary to refute a Scare story of the oppressors.

Her main criticism is that the studies are not large enough positively to support the statement that there is certainly no difference, rather than the much weaker statement that no difference has actually been found. Loren Marks gives a counsel of perfection. Yes, a larger longitudinal study considering outcomes would be of value. However, it would be difficult to find a representative sample, and costly. She asks:

 Did any published same-sex parenting study cited by the 2005 APA Brief (pp. 23–45) track the societally significant long-term outcomes into adulthood? No. Is it possible that “the major impact” of same-sex parenting might “not occur during childhood or adolescence…[but that it will rise] in adulthood?

This is mere scaremongering. It is no argument for the societal prejudice against gay couples, and their legal restrictions, which are the problem and not the solution.

Here is Loren Marks’ conclusion:

Are we witnessing the emergence of a new family form that provides a context for children that is equivalent to the traditional marriage-based family? Even after an extensive reading of the same-sex parenting literature, the author cannot offer a high confidence, data-based “yes” or “no” response to this question.

She does not know. And so where that Catholic priest claims the APA statement has been “debunked”, Loren Marks’ article does not support his claim.

Of course I have an interest here. We do not know how children would fare, brought up by gay couples in a land without prejudice. That is an argument for eliminating prejudice, not for restricting child-rearing.

Being no more qualified than that priest to read scientific literature, and not having the time to read the studies themselves, I am reduced to the argument from authority. However, I think the support of the AMA and two APAs make a very strong argument from authority.

File:Pieter Bruegel d. Ä. 041b.jpg

4 thoughts on “Evidence

  1. This says it all: “how would the children of gay couples fare in a society without prejudice? We cannot know.” The same could be said of those with darker skin color or those who are born in the projects.

    I’m currently in a discussion (mostly in my head heheh) with a “friend” who, with her husband, owns a business; she is furious at any suggestion (reference Obama’s recent speech) that she and her husband did not create and build that business purely on their own merit/smarts/hard work. Sigh… I think I do understand her pride, but do not understand how she cannot see that, for example, her husband, as a white male, has much easier access to borrow capital than a black woman.

    But I tangent. My point is that your one line above speaks to me. It is simple, clear. It says it all.

    (And I *love* the painting you’ve chosen at the end — the inner mess of community in all its vibrant life and insanity… have we all gone mad? When will, I wonder, the debate end?)

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    • Her own merits? LOL. Where would she be without the rule of law, so that her contracts may be enforced, so that she may have credit from suppliers and extend credit to her customers? Or the transport system? Or criminal law enforcement? The most reactionary Republican should realise that these are public goods, which need to be provided by government. I would extend that: a more equal society is a happier society, where people feel more able to take those chances, and the prosperity of all means more customers for each.

      A society reducing its prejudice is a society increasing its freedom, which Republicans would say would increase its prosperity. Though I am playing with words in that sentence.

      Yes, Bruegel is Wonderful. One of his paintings moved me and spoke to me and was part of my education in seeing that paintings could do that.

      How would anyone live in a society without prejudice? Better.

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  2. Yes. Better! Love it.

    Can I quote your whole first paragraph there in this dialogue I’m having with this conservative “friend” (if it moves outside my head?)

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