Comprehensive survey of all the research (pro and con) on gay marriage

Ari and Mathetes sent me this amazing evaluation of all of the research on same-sex marriage.

Excerpt: (links removed)

The most detailed effort yet to open the hood and see what is actually inside these studies was performed by Loren Marks of the LSU School of Human Ecology, who published a paper in Social Science Research in 2012 examining the 59 published studies behind the APA’s breezy assertion of a scientific consensus. (Marks did not examine the other 8 studies cited by the APA, which were “unpublished dissertations.”) Marks opened his paper by comparing the research on same-sex families to the by-now bulletproof research showing the advantages of traditional married parents over “cohabiting, divorced, step, and single-parent families,” noting that those studies used “large, representative samples” such as “four nationally representative longitudinal studies with more than 20,000 total participants.” By contrast, Marks found:

-“[M]ore than three-fourths (77%) of the studies cited by the APA brief are based on small, nonrepresentative, convenience samples of fewer than 100 participants. Many of the non-representative samples contain far fewer than 100 participants, including one study with five participants”

-The samples were “racially homogenous,” none of them focusing on African-American, Hispanic or Asian-American families. Of course, social science studies of the family commonly find large racial disparities – picking an all-white sample is an extremely easy way to bias your results.

-More broadly, he cited a “continuing tendency of same-sex parenting researchers to select privileged lesbian samples…’Much of the research [still] involved small samples that are predominantly White, well-educated [and] middle-class.'”

-“[C]omparison studies on children of gay fathers are almost non-existent in the 2005 Brief.”

-“[I]n selecting heterosexual comparison groups for their studies, many same-sex parenting researchers have not used marriage-based, intact families as heterosexual representatives, but have instead used single mothers…[one pair of researchers] used 90.9 percent single-father samples in two other studies.”

-The APA, while ignoring these flaws in the studies it relied on, excluded one of the largest studies available, which had found significant differences in educational outcomes on the theory that assessments by teachers (i.e., tests and progress reports) were “subjective assessments.” Note the contrast between this and the APA’s eager acceptance of self-reporting by parents.

-Most of the studies ignored “societal concerns of intergenerational poverty, collegiate education and/or labor force contribution, serious criminality, incarceration, early childbearing, drug/alcohol abuse, or suicide that are frequently the foci of national studies on children, adolescents, and young adults,” and again the APA simply ignored one “book-length empirical study” that had used a more diverse sample and had concluded that “If we perceive deviance in a general sense, to include excessive drinking, drug use, truancy, sexual deviance, and criminal offenses, and if we rely on the statements made by adult children (over 18 years of age)…[then] children of homosexual parents report deviance in higher proportions than children of (married or cohabiting) heterosexual couples.”

-“[V]irtually none of the peer-reviewed, same-sex parenting comparison studies” looked at adults raised in same-sex parent homes, but only at children and adolescents, thus excluding from consideration social and emotional problems that are commonly observed only in adulthood. Research on children of divorce, for example, has found a number of problems that do not surface until adulthood.

Nobody who has not already made their mind up would find research of this nature conclusive of anything.

And regarding the new Regnerus large-scale study of gay parenting: (links removed)

One recent study that attempted to fix the problems Marks identified was published in the same edition of the same journal by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus. Regnerus’ study had – as he freely admitted – limitations of its own, discussed below. But the reaction to Regnerus’ work – in contrast to how the badly flawed studies examined by Marks were swallowed uncritically – vividly illustrates why credible, unbiased research on this topic is so hard to come by.

Regnerus set out to do a truly randomly selected study over a large population sample, and to remove the problem of biased parental reporting by interviewing adults about their childhood experiences. His sample covered 15,000 respondents, and despite the subsequent firestorm, no problem was ever identified with his methods or the data he gathered. Unlike most of the prior research, the respondents with a “gay father” or “lesbian mother” (more on which below) were, respectively, 48% and 43% black or Hispanic. His findings were dramatic across numerous types of outcomes, detailing greatly elevated incidence of parental rape, parental pedophilia and suicidal tendencies; as he explained his findings,

Even after including controls for age, race, gender, and things like being bullied as a youth, or the gay-friendliness of the state in which they live, such respondents were more apt to report being unemployed, less healthy, more depressed, more likely to have cheated on a spouse or partner, smoke more pot, had trouble with the law, report more male and female sex partners, more sexual victimization, and were more likely to reflect negatively on their childhood family life, among other things.[…]Anyone familiar with how liberals respond to scientific findings they don’t like can predict what happened next: immediately upon the publication of his study, Regnerus was subjected to a campaign of vilification aimed at discrediting his work, destroying his professional reputation and deterring any other scholar from pursuing a similar line of inquiry. The University of Texas convened an audit of his study to deal with the pressure campaign, and the editor of the journal hired a prominent, vocal critic of Regnerus to audit the peer-review process that led to its publication. Andrew Ferguson and Matthew Franck detail the blow-by-blow of this campaign to destroy Regnerus.

And by and large, Regnerus passed the audits. The UT audit found “no falsification of data, plagiarism or other serious ethical breaches constituting scientific misconduct.”The journal audit grudgingly concluded the journal editor acted correctly, despite a lot of sniping by its hostile author at Regnerus and the peer reviewers. But the liberal blogs and newspapers continued to act as if Regnerus had been unmasked as a charlatan.

Twenty-seven scholars (including Marks) signed a joint letter defending Regnerus’ sample selection:

[T]he demographics of his sample of young-adult children of same-sex parents – in terms of race and ethnicity – come close to resembling the demographics of children from same-sex families in another large, random, and representative study of gay and lesbian families by sociologist Michael Rosenfeld that has been well received in the media and in the academy…We are disappointed that many media outlets have not done their due diligence in investigating the scientific validity of prior studies, and acknowledging the superiority of Regnerus’s sample to most previous research….We are also disappointed that many of our academic colleagues who have critiqued Regnerus have not publicly acknowledged the methodological limitations of previous research on same-sex parenting.

…Regnerus has been chided for comparing young adults from gay and lesbian families that experienced high levels of family instability to young adults from stable heterosexual married families. This is not an ideal comparison. (Indeed, Regnerus himself acknowledges this point in his article, and calls for additional research on a representative sample of planned gay and lesbian families; such families may be more stable but are very difficult to locate in the population at large.) But what his critics fail to appreciate is that Regnerus chose his categories on the basis of young adults’ characterizations of their own families growing up, and the young adults whose parents had same-sex romantic relationships also happened to have high levels of instability in their families of origin. This instability may well be an artifact of the social stigma and marginalization that often faced gay and lesbian couples during the time (extending back to the 1970s, in some cases) that many of these young adults came of age. It is also worth noting that Regnerus’s findings related to instability are consistent with recent studies of gay and lesbian couples based on large, random, representative samples from countries such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Sweden, which find similarly high patterns of instability among same-sex couples. Even Judith Stacey, a prominent critic of Regnerus’s study, elsewhere acknowledges that studies suggest that lesbian “relationships may prove less durable” than heterosexual marriages. Thus, Regnerus should not be faulted for drawing a random, representative sample of young-adult children of parents who have had same-sex romantic relationships and also happened to have experienced high levels of family instability growing up.

(Emphasis mine; footnotes omitted).

The vehemence of the attacks on Regnerus, by people who were happy to tout far less reliable studies, ought to be a gigantic red flag to anyone tempted to view the social science in this area as the work of disinterested professionals who care only to find the truth. And any tour of the work of Marks, Regnerus and their critics should disabuse anyone of the notion that we have ironclad-for-all-time scientific proof of equal outcomes that should be cast permanently into Constitutional law. Given the many common-sense reasons, grounded in experience, to think that both fatherhood and motherhood have unique value, the overwhelming scientific evidence that traditional marriage is superior to all the other family structures that have been studied, the relative recency and rarity of same-sex parent households and the current state of the science, the most logical answer is that both Congress and the voters of the State of California could rationally conclude that a family with a mother and a father is preferable to a family with two mothers and no father or two fathers and no mother.

I really urge all of my readers to click through and read this entire essay, and then please tweet or share it or send it to all your friends. We do NOT want a repeat of what happened when the liberal left rammed through no-fault-divorce, which was the first redefinition of marriage. We can’t afford another round of this. We already have a 42% out of wedlock birth rate, and it’s going up.

We’ve had the normalization of premarital sex put through by leftist public schools, taxpayer-funded contraception pushed through by the leftist Obama administration, and no-fault divorce pushed through by leftist feminists and leftist trial lawyers. We can’t keep taking shots at the institution of marriage. Marriage was designed from the start to protect and provide for innocent, vulnerable children. We are doing harm to children every time that we privilege the desires of adults over the needs of children. I find it disgusting that the people who are so influential at destroying marriage today are often the same ones who benefited from intact families and two loving parents yesterday.

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4 thoughts on “Comprehensive survey of all the research (pro and con) on gay marriage”

  1. This may be off-topic but I noticed you have been rather silent on the overall failure of “ex-gay” organizations like Exodus. Why is that? What do you think about this article?

    skeptoid.com/episodes/4265

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