Monday, February 01, 2010

Maggie Gallagher commits 'sin of omission' to make case against marriage equality

Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage seems to always be the first to complain that her organization's zeal to stop same-sex marriage is mislabeled and she is unfairly targeted as  a "bigot" or  a "liar."

However, how she distorts a recent study of abused children does make the case that Gallagher and NOM  tends to play loose with facts.

 The study reported findings from the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS–4), which was conducted by Westat, Inc., with the assistance of its subcontractor Walter R. McDonald and Associates, Inc. (WRMA).

Gallagher, however, uses the study to attack the concept of same sex parenting and gay marriage.

In a recent piece on the National Organization for Marriage blog, she cited it in an effort to criticize the ongoing Proposition 8 trial and the lawyers speaking against the Proposition 8 - Ted Olson and David Boise :

Here’s my question for Ted and David as they strive to prove that Science Says same-sex unions are just like opposite-sex ones, when it comes to children.

Perhaps you are right. Perhaps alone of all the family structures science has ever studied, children living with same-sex couples do just as well as children in intact married families. (Perhaps that is true even though your own expert witness admits there is no research on gay male families and child outcomes, and there is no nationally representative study that follows children raised from birth to adulthood by same-sex outcomes and compares how they do to children in other family forms ).


But does this study, which is one of hundreds with similar results favoring the natural family give Ted Olson and David Boies pause late at night as they assert the scientific irrationality of respect for the natural family at all I wonder? Ted and David, I’m wondering: not even a little bit?

Here is the thing that Gallagher is intentionally overlooking - the study NEVER LOOKED specifically at same-sex households. Same sex households wasn't even a category.

Gallagher even admits this when talking about the study:

All the other family structures studied (which does not include same-sex parent families probably because these are such a small part of the population), but does include solo parents, other married parents (remarried primarily), single parents living with a partner, cohabiting parents, and no parents.

Through her distorted usage of the child abuse study, Gallagher is exploiting a common religious right talking point which goes like this: "same-sex marriage/same-sex parenting is not a good idea because studies show that the best place to raise a child is in a home with a mother and a father."

However when the religious right groups and talking heads (such as Gallagher) make this point, they always seem to commit an egregious "sin of omission" by not revealing that:
Also strangely (or maybe not so strangely) when these two facts are brought to their attention, they never want to address them.  On several occasions, I posted a variation of the question - how can a study which never even looked at same sex marriage or parenting be used to criticize these concepts - on the NOM blog. I have yet to see my question appear.
    However, Gallagher gets points for audacity. Her acknowledging the fact that the study she cited never even looked at same-sex households (and by extension, marriage equality) while at the same time using it to decry both concepts shows that she has a lot of chutzpah.

    Too bad chutzpah in this case isn't the same as accuracy or respect for truth.

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    Bill S said...

    It is not in the least bit "unfair" to label Mags a bigot. Other than bigotry, what other motive does she have for being so consistantly dishonest?
    I also have difficulty understanding her line of reasoning, which seems to go like this:
    Heterosexual parents are superior to gay parents, therefore we should deny couples from getting married...whether they have kids or not?
    Wait, that doesn't make sense.
    Or is she saying:
    the only people who should be allowed to get married are couples with kids, and therefore all childless couples shouldn't be allowed to get married?
    No, wait, THAT can't be right.
    Let me try again:
    We can accurately predict whether a couple plans to have kids before they mar...
    No, that doesn't make sense either..
    We should require a fertility test for all couples before they get...
    No, we've never had that before, and mandating it would fall into the category of "redefining marriage", which she's so terrified of.
    Okay, maybe it's this:
    "Marriage is about children, but ONLY in those instances when we decide it matters."
    Is that about right?

    Rob T said...

    On top of that, the study makes a ANOTHER terrible methodological mistake: It lumps families with adoptive parents and families with step-parents in the same category. There's a well-documented difference in risk of abuse between these two groups, so grouping them together unfairly stigmatizes adoptive parents.

    Still, if slandering adoptive parents is what Maggie has to do to keep gays in their place, that's what she'll do.

    Buffy said...

    The bigots lying and distorting studies to push their anti-gay agenda is certainly nothing new.