Monday, April 25, 2011

Maggie Gallagher called out for giving misleading testimony at DOMA hearing

Religious right figures giving misleading testimony during Congressional hearings isn't a new occurrence, but this one needs to be shouted about from the rooftops.

According to Equality Matters, the witnesses speaking for DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) during the April 15 Congressional hearing gave incorrect testimony on several occasions. I invite everyone to take a look at the section, but the one which stands out for me is a statement made by the National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher.

She claimed that social science proves that the best place to raise children are in homes with biological, married parents as opposed to same-sex households:


GALLAGHER: From what we know from the social science evidence, marriage protects children to the extent that it increases the likelihood they are born to and raised by their own mother and father in a low-conflict, enduring relationship. We know this because, frankly, children do not do better under remarried parents than they do with solo mothers on average, which means that it is not simply a set of legal benefits that we can transform. It is the extent and way to which marriage as a legal and public institution helps to protect a particular kind of family that it helps to protect children or fails to protect children.

However, according to Equality Matters, in her written testimony, Gallagher cited a study on heterosexual single parents:

We know this from the social science evidence showing that children do no better, on average, in remarried families than they do living with single mothers. 1 Marriage protects children to the extent that it helps increase the likelihood that children will be raised by their mother and father.
1 See Sara McLanahan & Gary Sandefur, Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Harvard U. Press 1994) (“In general, compared with children living with both their parents, young people from disrupted families are more likely to drop out of high school, and young women from one-parent families are more likely to become teen mothers, irrespective of the conditions under which they began to live with single mothers and irrespective of whether their mothers remarry or experience subsequent disruptions.”). [Statement of Maggie Gallagher, Hearing on “Defending Marriage,” 4/15/11]

Equality Matters went on to use the words of Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology and Professor of Gender and Sexuality at New York University to call out Gallagher and others on the right who inaccurately use studies on the heterosexual family dynamic to demonize same-sex parenting, and by proxy, marriage equality:

According to the child protection discourse that Professor Wardle, Maggie Gallagher, and others deploy, social science research demonstrates that legalizing same-sex marriage poses dangers to children and families… In particular, claims that research establishes the superiority of the married heterosexual-couple family and that children need a mother and a father conflate and confuse research findings on four distinct variables - the sexual orientation, gender, number, and the marital status of parents… Unfortunately, opponents of same-sex marriage, like Maggie Gallagher and Professor Wardle, and even some advocates, draw selectively, indiscriminately, and inappropriately from research findings about all four variables to address questions the studies were not designed to, and are not able, to illuminate.
Opponents of same-sex marriage draw on a third body of literature in which researchers have achieved an unusual degree of consensus. Most family researchers agree that, all other things being equal (which, of course, is almost never the case), two parents are better than one. Research indicates that children raised in single-parent families are at greater risk of various negative outcomes (e.g., dropping out of school, delinquency, unwed teen pregnancy, substance abuse, etc.) than children raised in comparable two-parent families. All of this research, however, as Maggie Gallagher acknowledged, has been conducted on heterosexual-parent families. Moreover, this research generally compares children in married-couple and single-parent families, thereby confounding the effects of the number and the legal status of parents. None of the research cited to demonstrate the importance of fathers (or mothers) examines the adjustment of children raised by same-sex couples. Moreover, this research does not indicate that it is the gender or the sexual orientation of the absent parent that is responsible for the different outcomes of children raised in single versus two-parent families. Rather, most researchers conclude that the number and economic resources of parents as well as the disruptive effects that parental desertion or divorce can inflict on children's lives account for these differential risks. N12 [University School of Quinnipiac Law Review, via Lexis, emphasis added, 2004]

Gallagher has done this sort of thing before. In in January of last year, she distorted a study on child abuse to make the case that children in married biological homes do better to protect children from abuse than children in same-sex households.

The distortion comes because the study in question - the one she cited - didn't even look at children in same-sex households. We know this because Gallagher even admitted at the time that same-sex households wasn't a category in 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.

Please bear in mind that at that same April 15 Congressional hearing,  Gallagher said it was unfortunate that people misinterpret things she says as a condemnation of "gay people" and "their parenting skills."

If Gallagher wants people to not think that she is condemning "gay people" and "their parenting skills," then maybe she should stop being so deceptive in her testimony.

Bookmark and Share


Unknown said...

"She claimed that social science proves that the best place to raise children are in homes with biological, married parents as opposed to same-sex households"

I'm afraid to ask what this harpy thinks about adoption...

gay or single parent said...

It makes me quite mad when I read things like this, that there are people in pretty high-up positions who can say whatever they like and influence all sorts of legal issues, and yet they are often very biased towards one particular part of the population. And will twist and manipulate to get their way and to make others think the way that they do.

Mykelb said...

Where is the perjury charge, Representative Nadler?

Mykelb said...

This is the reason I sent Representative Nadler a copy of the SPLCs latest "Intellligence Report" to place into the Congressional Record with his notes on the hearng. I want Srivistav and NOM on the record as anti-gay bigots. I have yet to see a copy of the record for that date because it hasn't been published yet, but I will send you a copy when I get it.

Bernie Keefe said...

When she said that, I was praying to God that one of them would have the temerity to ask her for proof. Why doesn't anybody do that when these prevaricators get up and speak. For once, I'd like to see someone challenge them on national television, and say, "Show me where it says that."