Thursday, September 18, 2014

Family Research Council's marriage equality 'study' = more smoke, mirrors, and deception

Editor's note - In the past, the Family Research Council used to publish "studies" which demonized the lgbt community. Those "studies" were bad pieces utilizing either junk or cherry-picked science.  While the organization seems to not be publishing new "studies," it continues to spotlight past ones. Case in point - Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same-Sex Marriage:

 Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same Sex Marriage which, FRC claims is "trending on its site, supposedly speaks against gay marriage. Like every other "study" published by FRC, this one is filled with errors.

In the piece, Family Research Council is basing the argument against gay marriage on the claim that "children need both a mother and a father."

FRC makes the claim that lesbians household "raising children without a father" is wrong because according to them:


Among other things, we know that fathers excel in reducing antisocial behavior and delinquency in boys and sexual activity in girls.

And gay households "raising children without a mother" is wrong because:

fathers exercise a unique social and biological influence on their children. For instance, a recent study of father absence on girls found that girls who grew up apart from their biological father were much more likely to experience early puberty and a teen pregnancy than girls who spent their entire childhood in an intact family.

However, very little (if any at all) of the literature/studies FRC cites to make these conclusions have anything to do with same-sex households.

When the organization does address the studies involving same-sex households, it throws out an insulting addendum:

A number of leading professional associations have asserted that there are "no differences" between children raised by homosexuals and those raised by heterosexuals. But the research in this area is quite preliminary; most of the studies are done by advocates and most suffer from serious methodological problems. Sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia, who is agnostic on the issue of same-sex civil marriage, offered this review of the literature on gay parenting as an expert witness for a Canadian court considering legalization of same-sex civil marriage:

Through this analysis I draw my conclusions that 1) all of the articles I reviewed contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution; and 2) not a single one of those studies was conducted according to general accepted standards of scientific research.

This is not exactly the kind of social scientific evidence you would want to launch a major family experiment.

There is a huge problem with FRC citing Nock's testimony. He gave it in 2001. Since that time, there have been numerous other studies , as well as personal stories from children in same-sex households which back up the conclusion that same-sex households are a perfectly fine place to raise children.

But keep in mind the phrase by FRC when criticizing studies involving same-sex households -  most of the studies are done by advocates and most suffer from serious methodological problems.

If these studies is biased and have no credibility, then why do FRC have no problem citing them when attacking same-sex households:

Judith Stacey-- a sociologist and an advocate for same-sex civil marriage--reviewed the literature on child outcomes and found the following: "lesbian parenting may free daughters and sons from a broad but uneven range of traditional gender prescriptions." Her conclusion here is based on studies that show that sons of lesbians are less masculine and that daughters of lesbians are more masculine.

She also found that a "significantly greater proportion of young adult children raised by lesbian mothers than those raised by heterosexual mothers ... reported having a homoerotic relationship." Stacey also observes that children of lesbians are more likely to report homoerotic attractions.

Her review must be viewed judiciously, given the methodological flaws detailed by Professor Nock in the literature as a whole. Nevertheless, theses studies give some credence to conservative concerns about the effects of homosexual parenting.

FRC's audacity is incredible here. The organization is saying "Stacey is biased for same-sex marriage, so we cannot totally believe what she says. However, we will believe the part which puts gay marriage in a negative light."

The gymnastics behind this logic is astounding, especially when one takes into account that this is a distortion of Stacey's study. She has gone on record on more than one occasion complaining about how organizations like FRC cherry-pick her work.  

And on that same note, FRC also cited the work of Yale Child Study Center psychiatrist Kyle Pruett to make the case against gay marriage in the piece, even though Pruett has also complained  about how his work was being "cherry picked"  by religious right groups and spokespeople.

FRC is equally dishonest when it makes the claim that gay men will not be faithful in marriages.

One recent study of civil unions and marriages in Vermont suggests this is a very real concern. More than 79 percent of heterosexual married men and women, along with lesbians in civil unions, reported that they strongly valued sexual fidelity. Only about 50 percent of gay men in civil unions valued sexual fidelity.

According to its footnotes, FRC received this information from two sources. One was:

Esther Rothblum and Sondra Solomon, Civil Unions in the State of Vermont: A Report on the First Year. University of Vermont Department of Psychology, 2003.

Of course this leads one to ask if this study looked at civil unions in Vermont during the first year, then are the more recent updates.

The second source is more intriguing:

David McWhirter and Andrew Mattison, The Male Couple (Prentice Hall, 1984) 252.

Gay marriage wasn't legal in 1984.

It's nonsense like that which has led to the lgbt community containing victory after victory in the courts. It's easy to sway folks with "studies" filled with footnotes even if the citations are inaccurate. Pity that they don't have the guts to bring that junk in the courts.

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