NOM BLOG

Deseret News: Studies Challenge Widely Held Assumptions About Same-Sex Parenting

 

Lois Collins at Deseret News reports on the new studies by Prof. Regnerus at Prof. Marks:

The oft-cited assertion that there are "no differences" in outcomes between children of same-sex parent households and those of intact biological families may not be accurate, according to a new study published today in the journal Social Science Research.

Adult children of parents who have been in same-sex relationships are different than children raised in intact biological families on a number of social, emotional and relationship measures, according to research from the University of Texas at Austin.

Among other things, they reported lower income levels, poorer mental and physical health and more troubled current romantic relationships. The study found 25 differences across 40 measures.

The research does not address why the differences exist. It doesn't predict if changing attitudes that are more accepting of same-sex relationships will mean that children growing up today with same-sex parents will one day fare better in similar analysis. It doesn't address stigma or whether the difference is not the sexual preference of the parents but rather how stable the home life was, lead investigator Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at University of Texas Austin's Population Research Center, told the Deseret News.

"Nor does the study tell us that same-sex parents are necessarily bad parents," he said in a written statement. "Rather, family forms that are associated with instability or non-biological parents tend to pose risks for children as they age into adulthood."

His study does challenge long-held assertions that there are no outcome differences between children raised in intact biological families and those with same-sex parents.

The editorial board of Deseret has separately published a statement -- "In our opinion: Family structure counts".

51 Comments

  1. OvercameSSA
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    In other words, allowing children to be raised by same-sex caretakers is a social experiment in which the children are guinea pigs. But no worries, as long as the same-sex couple is happy, right?

  2. Randy E King
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    It is important to note that each of the 25 differences are classified as critical; while the remaining fifteen cover questions such as "where you eligible to vote and, if so, did you."

  3. Barb Chamberlan
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The children are also political pawns used by same-sex couples to try to prove to the world how great they are as caretakers. Get one "researcher" (Charlotte Patterson) with an agenda to interview her lesbian friends and the children in their possession. Write a bogus "study" and all of a sudden lesbians are far superior parents to anyone else.

    My personal observations of gay and lesbian frienimies serving as child caretakers have shown their "parenting" skills to be dubious at best. But, of course, I'm not a "scientist," nor am I attempting to publish my "studies" in scientific journals.

  4. Pete
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    "To increase the sample size of children who experienced a same-sex parent, Regnerus included respondents in either the LM or GF comparison groups if they reported that their parent ever had a same-sex relationship. Although this decision has a lot of merit, it makes comparisons across groups somewhat of a challenge. Because the LM group is comprised of young adults who experienced multiple family forms and transitions, it is impossible to isolate the effects of living with a lesbian mother from experiencing divorce, remarriage, or living with a single parent."

    "Importantly, one cannot clearly link having a lesbian mother (or gay father) with any of these outcomes. As stated earlier, the group is comprised of young adults who experienced multiple family structures, not only a same-sex parent household (indeed, some of the respondents never lived with the mother’s same-sex partner). It is quite possible, for example, that many or most of the negative outcomes result from the divorce of the young adult’s biological parents that preceded the mother’s same-sex relationship. …"
    — Cynthia Osborne, of the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs.

  5. Pete
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Nevertheless these data are far from ideal. A larger sample does not translate into a sufficiently large sample. Given some of the complexity of the family lives detailed above, a sample of 163 young adults who report a lesbian mother and 73 who report a gay father are frustratingly inadequate for doing anything but broad comparisons across family characteristics.

    -  David J. Eggebeen of Penn State’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies

  6. leviticus
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    SSM extremists out with their spin. The rock solid peer reviewed study clearly shows the harm done to children because of homosexual relationships.

  7. OvercameSSA
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Whoops - looks like we have them on the ropes, now. Gone is the argument that there is no research showing that same-sex couples are inferior; there is!

    And so, ssm-ers can no longer just post links to their lame studies as the only evidence of the well-being of children in the custody of same-sex couples; they will have to discuss the substance of their studies relative to the substance of the studies that draw opposite conclusions. I was only a matter of time that such counter studies would come to light. So take that!

  8. GZeus
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    And the Mormon-owned Deseret News wouldn't be biased in any way, right?

    http://www.deseretnews.com/about us/

    By the way, Mark Regnerus looks like a self-hating queen in denial.

    http://www.youthandreligion.org/research/team.html

  9. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Well, it's a great relief that we can now toss studies at each other.

    No study is required to discern that each and every child is the product of the union of exactly one man and exactly one woman.

    There are no legal recourses against this truth.

    Biology can not be served, nor can its tenure be withheld, nor can peer review prevent it from continuing to publish its findings on the matter.

    Same sex marriage is a form of terminal silliness on the part of people whose worldview has long since detached itself from reality.

    Our job is very easy, simply point out the emperor has not clothes.

    People have always known this anyway.

  10. OvercameSSA
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    GZ says: "By the way, Mark Regnerus looks like a self-hating queen in denial."

    Homosexuals do this strange thing where they attack someone who speaks against their perspective of the nature of homosexuality for appearing to be homosexual. That is, if you speak negatively about homosexuality, then you must be homosexual. The implication is that being homosexual is, in fact, not a good thing to be. It's an acknowledgement that people still do not accept homosexuality as normal; and accusing one of being homosexual would discourage him from speaking out against homosexuality for fear of being outed as one. Weird.

  11. Ash
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Very true, Pete. That's why the researcher, and even Maggie, said that this study is not an indictment of same-sex parents.

    Let me explain this in a way that everyone can understand, and I'll be as balanced as possible in my explanation.

    Here are the similarities between Regnerus's study and the previous same-sex parenting research:

    1) The samples are rather small, although Regnerus's sample is significantly larger than the samples of most of the same-sex parenting studies, which usually involve a few dozen kids or less.

    Dr. Loren Marks noted in her review that even samples similar in size to Regnerus's are too small to detect effects and make widespread generalizations. David Eggebeen (who Pete cited) confirms this.

    2) The lesbian families were comprised primarily of women who had children in a heterosexual relationship and then entered a lesbian one after the previous relationship dissolved (divorce, etc.). Meaning that in both Regnerus's study and the others, the children of lesbians experienced multiple family structures, and divorce. Cynthia Osborne (who Pete cited) discusses this.

    So Regnerus and the previous same-sex parenting researchers are studying the same population.

    But here are the differences between his study and the past literature, and the differences are what make Regnerus's study superior (as admitted by Paul Amato):

    1) As previously stated, his sample is small, but a lot larger than most of the same-sex parenting studies.

    2) His study involves a probability sample, which is a more accurate and representative depiction of the average same-sex household; whereas the previous studies used self-selected samples of wealthy, educated, politically motivated, White, lesbian mothers. This would explain why lesbian mothers do not look as glorious in his study, as they do in the others.

    3) Regnerus compares the children who were raised by same-sex couples to the gold-standard of all family structures: the married intact family. While the previous same-sex parenting research compared children living with lesbians to those living with single and divorced mothers and found "no differences" or even optimal performance of lesbian parents.

    This is important because, as noted in Dr. Marks's review of the research, single parent families don't do as well as the married biological one; and so for those researchers to compare the children of lesbians to the children of single mothers, it's not hard for them to get results which show that the children of lesbians did the same or better than the "heterosexual" comparison group (and this is before we factor in the methodological flaws).

    But when compared to children raised by a married biological family, the *average* child raised (for whatever period of time) by a same-sex couple does not do better, or even the same--they do worse.

    Basically, Regnerus studied the same population, eliminated many of the flaws of past research, and found that the married mother and father is best.

  12. OvercameSSA
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Ash. Another amazing comment.

  13. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    #9 and #10:

    Excellent comments. Superb.

  14. Pete
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Point 1, to increase the sample size, they lost a consistency that makes it an invalid comparison group

    Point 2, same thing

    As Jim Burrowsy points out:

    Problem #1: Identifying a Same-Sex Relationship Doesn’t Tell Us Anything About the Nature of the Relationship.
    But this is where we run into the first problem with this study. Identifying a parent who has had a same-sex relationship is not the same as identifying a parent who is gay, lesbian or bisexual in a functional relationship. Regnerus acknowledges this problem so quickly that it’s likely to be overlooked (p 578):

    In the results section, for maximal ease, I often make use of the acronyms IBF (child of a still-intact biological family), LM (child of a lesbian mother), and GF (child of a gay father). It is, however, very possible that the same-sex romantic relationships about which the respondents report were not framed by those respondents as indicating their own (or their parent’s own) understanding of their parent as gay or lesbian or bisexual in sexual orientation. Indeed, this is more a study of the children of parents who have had (and in some cases, are still in) same-sex relationships than it is one of children whose parents have self-identified or are ‘‘out’’ as gay or lesbian or bisexual. The particular parental relationships the respondents were queried about are, however, gay or lesbian in content.

  15. Pete
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Burrowsy continues:

    Problem #2: Arbitrary Decisions in Dealing with Overlaps Between Categories Make the LM and GF Categories Heterogeneous While the Other Categories Remain Relatively Homogeneous.
    Regnerus discusses how he dealt with the fact that these categories are not mutually exclusive (page 758):

    That is, a small minority of respondents might fit more than one group. I have, however, forced their mutual exclusivity here for analytic purposes. For example, a respondent whose mother had a same-sex relationship might also qualify in Group 5 or Group 7, but in this case my analytical interest is in maximizing the sample size of Groups 2 and 3 so the respondent would be placed in Group 2 (LMs). Since Group 3 (GFs) is the smallest and most difficult to locate randomly in the population, its composition trumped that of others, even LMs. (There were 12 cases of respondents who reported both a mother and a father having a same-sex relationship; all are analyzed here as GFs, after ancillary analyses revealed comparable exposure to both their mother and father).

  16. Pete
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    And:

    Problem #3: It Doesn’t Study Children Who Grew Up In Gay- or Lesbian-Led Households.
    Marriage equality opponents will trumpet this study as proof that children raised by loving, committed, married same-sex couples will have more problems than those who are raised by both biological parents in a heterosexual household. But the samples that Regnerus put together to compare to the ideal heterosexual household cannot make such a claim because it says almost nothing about committed same-sex couples who, together, decide to become parents via adoption, in-vitro fertilization or surrogacy (page 756):

    While gay and lesbian Americans typically become parents today in four ways — through one partner’s previous participation in a heterosexual union, through adoption, in-vitro fertilization, or by a surrogate—the NFSS is more likely to be comprised of respondents from the first two of these arrangements than from the last two. Today’s children of gay men and lesbian women are more apt to be ‘‘planned’’ (that is, by using adoption, IVF, or surrogacy) than as little as 15–20 years ago, when such children were more typically the products of heterosexual unions. The youngest NFSS respondents turned18 in 2011, while the oldest did so in 1990. Given that unintended pregnancy is impossible among gay men and a rarity among lesbian couples, it stands to reason that gay and lesbian parents today are far more selective about parenting than the heterosexual population, among whom unintended pregnancies remain very common, around 50% of total (Finer and Henshaw, 2006). The share of all same-sex parenting arrangements that is planned, however, remains unknown. Although the NFSS did not directly ask those respondents whose parent has had a same-sex romantic relationship about the manner of their own birth, a failed heterosexual union is clearly the modal method: just under half of such respondents reported that their biological parents were once married. This distinguishes the NFSS from numerous studies that have been entirely concerned with ‘‘planned’’ gay and lesbian families, like the NLLFS.

  17. Pete
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Of particular note:

    Anti-gay extremists are likely to latch onto the last two questions (Have you ever been touched sexually by a parent/adult? Have you ever been force to have sex against your will?) for evidence that children of gay and lesbian parents are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse at the hands of those parents. But notice the open-ended nature of the questions: they don’t ask who did the abuse, but only whether the abuse occurred. As Regnerus explains (page 763):

    It is entirely plausible, however, that sexual victimization could have been at the hands of the LM respondents’ biological father, prompting the mother to leave the union and—at some point in the future—commence a same-sex relationship. Ancillary (unweighted) analyses of the NFSS, which asked respondents how old they were when the first incident occurred (and can be compared to the household structure calendar, which documents who lived in their household each year up until age 18) reveal this possibility, up to a point: 33% of those LM respondents who said they had been sexually victimized by a parent or adult caregiver reported that they were also living with their biological father in the year that the first incident occurred. Another 29% of victimized LMs reported never having lived with their biological father at all. Just under 34% of LM respondents who said they had at some point lived with their mother’s same-sex partner reported a first-time incident at an age that was equal to or higher than when they first lived with their mother’s partner. Approximately 13% of victimized LMs reported living with a foster parent the year when the first incident occurred. In other words, there is no obvious trend to the timing of first victimization and when the respondent may have lived with their biological father or their mother’s same-sex partner, nor are we suggesting by whom the respondent was most likely victimized.

  18. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Just makes sense that if a man and a woman make the baby, they need to be there, together (as in married) to raise their baby. It's just common sense.

  19. Posted June 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see the opposition on defense, more and more lately.

    Things are going very well indeed.

  20. Randy E King
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Pete,

    A simple "Ya, but, no, but, ya, but, no, but..." would suffice.

  21. leviticus
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile it's the poor little children suffer. Always helpless children are victims when same-sex couples decide they want a pet.

  22. Teri Simpkins
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    What the bottom line to this entire study is, it's not an accurate study of same sex couples' parenting abilities because it's NOT a study of their abilities. But it will be touted as the best example yet as to why straight married families are the gold standard, which no one has ever disputed.

  23. fredb
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Ia this supposed to be a surprise? Of course kids are better off growing up with their mom and dad rather than in a house that is missing one of them.

  24. M. Jones
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    This study is what state legislators need to ban gay and lesbian adoptions. The study shows changing family structures or adoption into gay or lesbian households poses significant risk to child outcomes.

  25. John Noe
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    The oft-cited assertion that there are "no differences" in outcomes between children of same-sex parent households and those of intact biological families may not be accurate.

    The evidence, biology, and simple logic shows that it is not accurate.

    "Nor does the study tell us that same-sex parents are necessarily bad parents.

    The reason why same sex parents make bad parents is because they willfully denied their children a mom or a dad. Their is no such thing as two mommies or two daddies. This is nothing more than a pure lie. When same sex couples get their hands on children they are always putting their selfish sexual lustfull desires and lifestyle ahead of their own children.

    Only an idiot would believe that boys do not need fathers.

  26. John Noe
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Overcome, that 14th amendment guy does that to me all the time. Just calls me a closet sodomite.

  27. Posted June 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    The marriage corruption riffs are getting mighty stale indeed.

    But let 'em continue to play them.

    Works for us.

  28. Ash
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Pete, I've read the criticisms by the Burroway over at the Box Turtle Bulletin (from which you copied and pasted).

    Quintessentially, he doesn't believe that this study can be used to say that children raised by same-sex couples from birth (or for a good portion of their childhood in stable same-sex relationships) have inferior outcomes as compared to those raised married biological parents. Particularly because this study doesn't indicate how long the children lived in the same-sex families, and combines certain categories to increase statistical power.

    I agree. And the researcher, Maggie, and everyone else, confirmed that this study is not an indictment of same-sex parents (as I noted above).

    What this study shows is what all sound research shows: children do best in intact married families.

    As far as lesbian and gay parents are concerned, this study merely shows that lesbian motherhood is much more diverse than the non-representative convenience samples of previous research would have us to believe. And when a diverse pool of lesbian parents are studied--as opposed to self-selected, self-reporting, White, educated lesbians--the picture isn't so rosy.

    Burroway *seems* to be saying that the only research that matters in drawing conclusions about same sex parents is such that compares children of married intact families to stable, two parent, preferably planned, same-sex families.

    I agree. But there is NO study that does this, not even the ones that are favorable to lesbians.

    Thus we can conclude that children do best with a married mom and dad; and that same-sex families raising children together from birth is an untested family structure about which little is known, and from which NO conclusions can be drawn.

    No more yammering about how lesbians are superior parents, because we don't know. When compared to single heterosexual mothers who are not as well-off, and who are not as invested in the study, lesbian mothers show no differences, or seem to be better. When compared to intact married families in a methodologically sound study with random sampling, single lesbian parents are shown to be inferior.

    Could same-sex couples raising children from birth together be a contender? Maybe. We don't know, and we won't until good research comes along. Until then, it is best for children to grow up with a married mother and father.

    I just want to say, I love how the LGBT lobby is now a group of rocked-ribbed statisticians! They are tearing this study to shreds, responding mostly to what they think the Family Research Council will draw from it, and not to the actual study.

    But I can't wait to see how Burroway will respond to Dr. Marks' review of the same-sex parenting research--which he plans to do this week.

    Will he agree with the Dr.'s excellent analysis? Or will he attempt to justify the methodologies of the previous studies after raking this new one over the coals?

    We shall see :D

  29. Posted June 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    "No study is required to discern that each and every child is the product of the union of exactly one man and exactly one woman. There are no legal recourses against this truth."

    Rick, there IS a legal recourse, in that it is perfectly legal for a lab to try to make a child from the union of a same-sex couple using stem cell derived gametes. Even if it is not ever attempted or never becomes practical, as long as it is LEGAL, then same-sex couples are just like infertile couples that have a right to marry and be approved and allowed to make babies together.

    It is not enough that, so far, everyone has been the child of a man and a woman. It must also be preserved to be so in the future. We need to be calling for a law to preserve sexual reproduction and equality and human dignity.

  30. James H
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    @ Ash " I love how the LGBT lobby is now a group of rocked-ribbed statisticians" -

    There is nothing new here. LGBT people have ALWAYS relied on scientific research was well as reason an logic to counter the claims by those whose beliefs are based upon "faith" in an entity for which there is no proof.

  31. Posted June 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. Whether or not same-sex marriage is legal, there are going to be same-sex parents. NOM's aim of squashing marriage equality will do nothing to stop that. So, isn't this something of a side show?

  32. John N.
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    This is not a NOM side show. This organization is putting children first. There maybe always selfish same sex parents putting their sex lives above children but we do not need to reward this perverse behavior with the honor of marriage.

  33. Woody
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Of course none of this is relevant to same sex couples who want to marry but have no intent of bringing children into the union, right?

  34. Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    Woody:

    Same sex couples can marry, to exactly the same extent mathematicians can insist that two plus two equals five.

    That is to say, not at all.

  35. Albert C. Kliwer
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    John, NOM's existence has nothing to do with what's right for children. Whether or not gay or lesbian couples are allowed wed will not discourage existing and future gay and lesbian couples from adopting or bearing children through alternate means. NOM's existence is solely for the interruption of the gay rights movement. Why? Because straight parents don't want to explain to their children why two men or two women are holding hands walking down the street. It's a fear (phobia) of gay people (homo). Otherwise, this would be the National Organization of Children's Rights.

    And I have to say, I truly hope that none of the children of the "traditional marriage" supporters are gay... We don't want to hear about anymore teen suicides. Nevermind that, I know you're only doing what's right for your kids...

  36. OvercameSSA
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Albert -

    I'd wager to say that if there were a political movement to allow straight same-sex couples to get "married" NOM would be there defending marriage as the union of two people of the opposite sex. Sexual preference is irrelevant to the definition of marriage; always has been,

  37. Posted June 12, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    John:

    I agree with you.

    First things first.

  38. Posted June 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Albert:

    NOM's existence has everything to do with what's right for children, since what is right for children involves uniting them with their mother and father.

    Our victory over pseudo-marriage will not discourage us from pursuing laws protecting children from existing and future gay and lesbian couples adopting or bearing children through alternate means, but NOM's existence is solely for the protection of marriage.

  39. GZeus
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Really Rick? Then please link to all of the NOM petitions, referendums and voter initiatives for the banning of divorce, drive-thru chapels in Las Vegas, green-card sham marriages, etc that truly threaten marriage.

  40. Sav
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Taken from Mediamaters.org

    In reality, the study suffers from a number of serious methodological flaws, and the political motivations of its backers should raise concerns about the survey’s findings.

    1. The Study Doesn’t Compare Married Gay Parents To Married Heterosexual Parents. One of the most obvious flaws of Regnerus’s study is that it fails to compare married same-sex parents to married heterosexual parents. Instead, the study lumps together the children all family types that include a gay parent -- regardless of the family’s structure, history, marital status, etc. -- and attempts to compare them to children raised in a “still-intact biological family” (IBF). As Slate’s William Saletan wrote, this grouping method is extremely problematic:

    This loaded classification system produced predictable results. In his journal article, Regnerus says respondents who were labeled GF [child of a gay father] or LM [child of a lesbian mother] originated most commonly from a “failed heterosexual union.” As evidence, he observes that “just under half of such respondents reported that their biological parents were once married.” Most respondents classified as LM “reported that their biological mother exited the respondent’s household at some point during their youth.” Regnerus calculates that only one-sixth to one-quarter of kids in the LM sample—and less than 1 percent of kids in the GF sample—were planned and raised by an already-established gay parent or couple. In Slate, he writes that GF kids “seldom reported living with their father for very long, and never with his partner for more than three years.” Similarly, “less than 2 percent” of LM kids “reported living with their mother and her partner for all 18 years of their childhood.”

    In short, these people aren’t the products of same-sex households. They’re the products of broken homes. And the closer you look, the weirder the sample gets. Of the 73 respondents Regnerus classified as GF, 12—one of every six—“reported both a mother and a father having a same-sex relationship.” Were these mom-and-dad couples bisexual swingers? Were they closet cases who covered for each other? If their kids, 20 to 40 years later, are struggling, does that reflect poorly on gay parents? Or does it reflect poorly on the era of fake heterosexual marriages?

    What the study shows, then, is that kids from broken homes headed by gay people develop the same problems as kids from broken homes headed by straight people. [emphasis added]

    2. The Author Admits The Study Doesn’t Establish Causation Between Same-Sex Parenting And Negative Outcomes. Despite the right-wing media’s celebration of the study, even Regnerus admits that none of his findings actually establish causation between same-sex parenting and negative outcomes for children. In response to a number of commentaries that will be published alongside his study, Regnerus wrote:

    I recognize, with Paul and Cynthia, that organizations may utilize these findings to press a political program. And I concur with them that that is not what data come prepared to do. Paul offers wise words of caution against it, as did I in the body of the text. Implying causation here—to parental sexual orientation or anything else, for that matter—is a bridge too far. [emphasis added]

    3. The Study Arbitrarily Ignores Overlaps In Its Subpopulations. Another problem with Regnerus’ study is that it fails to distinguish between particular subpopulations of gay parents. In order to maximize the size of the group of gay and lesbian parents, Regnerus lumped together divorced families, step families, single parent families, and a number of other varying family structures into the LM and GF categories, while excluding them from the IBF comparison group. The result is an extremely heterogeneous sample of gay parents being compared to a relatively homogenous sample of heterosexual parents. As Box Turtle Bulletin’s Jim Burroway noted in a comprehensive takedown of the study:

    Regnerus’s decision to arbitrarily force his sample into non-overlapping categories results in a method is based solely on a desire to increase the size of the smaller group, a goal which has nothing to do with the study’s larger goal of comparing children of gay and lesbian parents to those of intact biological families. In fact, he makes choices which, by their very nature, run explicitly counter to that goal. With each transfer of a subject from the Divorced, Step Families, Single Parent or “All Others” categories into LM or GF, the less those LM and GF groups are designed to look like intact biological families. Especially if you consider some of the possibilities that might exist in the “All Others” category.

    4. The Study Doesn’t Accurately Define Gay And Lesbian Parents. The study not only fails in defining families headed by same-sex parents -- it also fails in accurately identifying what constitutes a gay parent in the first place. Regnerus labels any parent who has, at one point, been involved in a same-sex relationship as either a gay father or lesbian mother. Professor John Corvino pointed out the absurdity of this approach in a column for The New Republic:

    Question: What do the following all have in common?

    A heterosexually married female prostitute who on rare occasion services women

    A long-term gay couple who adopt special-needs children

    A never-married straight male prison inmate who sometimes seeks sexual release with other male inmates

    A woman who comes out of the closet, divorces her husband, and has a same-sex relationship at age 55, after her children are grown

    Ted Haggard, the disgraced evangelical pastor who was caught having drug fueled-trysts with a male prostitute over a period of several years

    A lesbian who conceives via donor insemination and raises several children with her long-term female partner

    Give up? The answer—assuming that they all have biological or adopted adult children between the ages of 18 and 39—is that they would all be counted as “Lesbian Mothers” or “Gay Fathers” in Mark Regnerus’s new study.

    Regnerus himself admitted that this approach to identifying alleged gay parents severely limits the study’s scope:

    In the results section, for maximal ease, I often make use of the acronyms IBF (child of a still-intact biological family), LM (child of a lesbian mother), and GF (child of a gay father). It is, however, very possible that the same-sex romantic relationships about which the respondents report were not framed by those respondents as indicating their own (or their parent’s own) understanding of their parent as gay or lesbian or bisexual in sexual orientation. Indeed, this is more a study of the children of parents who have had (and in some cases, are still in) same-sex relationships than it is one of children whose parents have self-identified or are ‘‘out’’ as gay or lesbian or bisexual. The particular parental relationships the respondents were queried about are, however, gay or lesbian in content. [emphasis added]

    5. The Study’s Author And Funders Have An Agenda. One final issue with Regnerus’ study -- though there are many more -- is that both its lead investigator and its funders are known for their conservative political leanings. Regnerus has a history of making right-leaning comments about marriage and sexuality. The study was primarily funded by the Witherspoon Institute, a right-wing think tank in New Jersey with close ties to a number of prominent anti-gay groups and activists. Although the study states that the Institute played no role in crafting the report, it’s worth noting that it was primarily sponsored by a group that would rather not see gay and lesbian couples raising children.

  41. Fitz
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    James L. Greenlee (writes)

    "Whether or not same-sex marriage is legal, there are going to be same-sex parents. NOM's aim of squashing marriage equality will do nothing to stop that. So, isn't this something of a side show?"

    Whether or not any number of things...drug use, adultery, polygamy, prostition, spitting on the sidewalk, public nudity, go ahead and name it - is legal their will always be a cohort of people who still engage in such behavior.

    As such...all laws are a "sideshow"

  42. Fitz
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    GZeus

    "Then please link to all of the NOM petitions, referendums and voter initiatives for the banning of divorce, drive-thru chapels in Las Vegas, green-card sham marriages, etc that truly threaten marriage."

    The board members of NOM and their advocates have spent their entire lives defending marriage from its many detractors... Maggie Gallagher herself has been on record for years as opposing easy divorce and the "no-fault" divorce regime. Green card sham marriages are already illegal.

    There is no lack of evidence to support the conclusion that the "family values" crowd actually values the intact married natural family.

    Having said that...only gay marriage threatens the very nature of the insititution. If applied nationmide for long enough it will make it impossible to even identify what real marriage is... i.e. - It will make efforts to rebuild are broken marriage culture more difficult if not impossible as a practical matter.

    ergo- the massive effort to prevent it.

  43. GZeus
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    If NOM were truly trying to protect "traditional" marriage, they would be addressing the 1 million "traditional "divorces in America last year. Not the measly 150,000 same sex marriages.

  44. Fitz
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    If gay "marriage" advocates truly trying cared about marriage, they would be addressing the 1 million divorces in America last year. Not their measly 150,000 same sex marriages.

  45. Posted June 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    ZJuice is right, just early.

  46. John N.
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Rick and Overcome.

  47. LEO
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    The NFSS appears to provide researchers a framework for that kind of sound rigorous social science with regard to the vital issue of family structure and child well-being.

    Undoubtedly its soundness and robustness will be challenged in coming months. But should they hold up, the Regnerus study points to what biology, sociology, custom and religion have long indicated: family structure counts and the intact married biological family is the healthiest structure for nurturing the next generation.

  48. Ash
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    @James H: “There is nothing new here. LGBT people have ALWAYS relied on scientific research was well as reason an logic to counter the claims by those whose beliefs are based upon ‘faith’ in an entity for which there is no proof.”

    Not true. The same-sex parenting studies cited by the LGBT lobby in courts, legislatures, and all over the internet are methodologically weak, especially when compared to the Regnerus study. LGBT people have inappropriately generalized them to populations not even included in the studies, and made claims unsupported by the studies themselves, as weak as they are.

    If you call that relying on scientific research, reason and logic, then…well…

    For years, marriage advocates have criticized the same-sex parenting studies for their methodological flaws, cautioning that not much can be drawn from them. But LGBT advocates have regularly brushed off such criticisms as mere “bigotry” and “animus,” though the critiques were based on widely accepted research principles. Some have even tried to explain why the methodological flaws should be overlooked, and don’t take away from the overall message of the studies.

    Now, these people are “rock-ribbed statisticians”! They’re all of a sudden concerned about methodology when it comes to a study that doesn’t paint lesbian and gay parenting in such a positive light.

    Take Sav, for instance (I don’t know Sav’s views on the body of same-sex parenting literature, but I’m just using his post as an example). In post #4, he cites Media Matters and a few other critics of the studies, some of whom were mentioned before on this thread.

    The examiners of this study consider it seriously flawed because it doesn’t compare children raised by established, long-term (or married) same-sex couples to those raised by married intact families.

    But where were these critics when media outlets were shooting articles throughout cyberspace claiming that lesbian parents (some even extended the courtesy to gay male parents) are superior to heterosexual parents? These grand claims were not made based on studies that examined children with married gay couples as parents, but those who resulted from a “failed heterosexual relationship,” usually divorce. And the comparison groups were single and divorced heterosexual mothers.

    So now LGBT supporters are admitting that a study is methodologically flawed and useless lest it compares children raised from birth by same-sex married couples to children raised from birth by a married mother and father?

    I’d agree that unless a study compares children in both situations, we can’t make real comparisons.

    But no study does this. Even Michael Lamb, expert witness against Prop 8, admitted that there is no such study. And this dearth of data did not stop the “lesbian parents are superior” crowd from making such claims.

    The author said that his study isn’t really a reflection on same-sex parenting. Maggie agrees, and so do I.

    But what Regnerus, Maggie, and I also agree on is that his study shows the diversity of lesbian and gay parenthood in this country. Unlike the previous research, we now know that lesbian mothers are not all rich, educated, White, and politically-motivated. We knew this before, but this has now been proven empirically based on a representative sample.

    The vast majority of children being raised by same-sex couples are not Zack Wahls. They resulted from a previous heterosexual relationship. We need to take this into consideration before we prop up such unrepresentative depictions of lesbian families.

    And we need to take into consideration the diversity of same-sex households by not generalizing to the overall population the results of studies that focused on self-selecting, self-reporting, White, affluent, educated, lesbian women who were being compared to single and divorced women who didn’t share the same SES, and who were compared on outcomes that did not even begin to reach the breadth of Regnerus’s study. (Most of the studies cited by LGBT advocates didn’t even measure for crime, welfare dependency, etc., but focused on gender identity, self-esteem, and the like. Indeed, they *couldn’t* focus too much on the meatier outcome measurements since they were not longitudinal and mostly studied children.)

    As far as Professor John Corvino’s criticisms (the Ted Haggard example, etc), Maggie has addressed them here:

    “In this, Professor Corvino is just plain wrong. Not a single one of these examples would be included in the lesbian mother or father category in Professor Regnerus’s new study. Adult children whose parents were not continuously married were asked if their mom or dad had a romantic relationship with a person of the same-sex. The study also allows us to determine whether and for how long the child lived with that same-sex romantic partner. None of Professor Corvino’s examples — prostitution, adultery, prison sex, and same-sex relationships that took place after the child was grown — would be in this pool.”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/302511/best-or-worst-all-possible-gay-parenting-studies-maggie-gallagher

    As far as the study’s sponsors and the researcher’s “right-wing leanings,” let’s just say that a similar criticism could be applied to the “positive” same-sex parenting researchers and funders.

    All of the criticisms of this study could be leveled at the research that was once cited to say that lesbians make superior parents. Perhaps, if nothing else, this study will grind those citations to a halt, because every time they criticize this study, they’ll have to justify the same flaws in the previous research, which isn’t as good as Regnerus’s methodologically.

    Regnerus merely succeeded in doing two things: 1) reaffirming that the married intact family is best for children (consistent with about forty years of scholarship); 2) showing the diversity of lesbian and gay households, and how the outcomes aren’t as rosy when the samples are representative and compared to the gold standard.

  49. Ash
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Correction, Sav's post is #41, not 4.

  50. GZeus
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Fitz: in other words. You couldn't find any links. Only anti-gay rhetoric here.

  51. Fitz
    Posted June 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    GZeus

    Why do I need to do your research for you? NOM's very inception was created to defend the traditional understanding of marriage in law & culture.. Not to role back no-fault divorce.

    Having said that it is a simple matter of fact that its board members and founders have spent decades defending marriage against divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, and the like.

    This is all a matter of public record and you should have no problem finding the writings of Maggie Gallagher and Robert George and the others when it comes to speaking publicly about marriage...all well before the very idea of gay "marriage" ever hit the public conciousness.