Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FRC's Peter Sprigg misrepresents studies in legislative testimony

FRC's Peter Sprigg again gives misleading testimony

Today, the Maryland legislature listened to testimony on a bill which would allow marriage equality in the state.

Of course, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council offered up testimony against the bill. A printed copy of his testimony is on FRC's webpage.

Basically Sprigg said that marriage equality would harm children based on the following points:

Fewer children would be raised by a married mother and father.

More children would grow up fatherless.

Birth rates would fall.

We would teach that adult desires, not the interests of society or the needs of children, should drive the drive the definition of marriage.

I won't refute Sprigg's testimony because he did it himself. Check out the endnotes - i.e. research he used to reach his points:

[1] Cynthia C. Harper and Sara S. McLanahan, "Father Absence and Youth Incarceration," Journal of Research on Adolescence 14(3), 2004, p. 388.

[2] Bruce J. Ellis, John E. Bates, Kenneth A. Dodge, David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, Gregory S. Pettit, Lianne Woodward, "Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?" Child Development Vol. 74, Issue 3, May 2003; abstract online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8624.00569/abstract.

[3] David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (New York: BasicBooks, 1995), p. 45.

[4] Joyce A. Martin, Brady E. Hamilton, Paul D. Sutton, Stephanie J. Ventura, T. J. Mathews, Sharon Kirmeyer, and Michell J. K. Osteman, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, "Births: Final Data for 2007," National Vital Statistics Reports Vol. 58, No. 24, August, 2010, Table 11. Rankings calculated by the author.

Have you figure it out yet? Hardly any of those studies have anything to do with marriage equality. Sprigg only uses one - the last study - the make the following claim:

There is already evidence of at least a correlation between low birth rates and the legalization of same-sex "marriage." Four of the first five states to permit same-sex "marriage" rank within the bottom eight out of all fifty states in both birth rate and fertility rate

But based on how he distorts the other three, there should be a serious lack of credibility in terms of if he is being accurate here.

In other words, Sprigg claims that marriage equality will have a negative effect on children by citing studies having nothing to do with marriage equality.

Misrepresenting research is not a new thing for Sprigg. In February of last year, he made the claim that same-sex households are inferior to two-parent heterosexual households by using studies which have nothing to do with same-sex households.

And FRC continues to push his pamphlet, The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality,which not only repeats discredited anti-lgbt accuracies but exposes a bit of trickery on Sprigg's part. He cites only part of pro-lgbt information which talks about diseases and negative behaviors but omits the information which talks about how homophobia plays a part in these diseases and negative behaviors.

It's almost depressing. As long as no one challenges Sprigg on his indiscretions, he will continue to be pushed as an "expert" and will continue to give misleading testimony at legislative hearings like he did today in Maryland.

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Anonymous said...

Considering such a huge percentage of births are from unplanned pregnancies, having lower birth rates isn't exactly a bad thing. Society already has a huge burden placing children who have been given up by their birth parents and paying the food and medical costs of low-income children. We're not reaching dangerously low population rates anytime soon. This guy really grasped at straws.

Greg Peterson said...

Here is the title for Table 11.

"Table 11. Number of births, birth rates, fertility rates, total fertility rates, and birth rates for teenagers aged 15–19, by age of mother: United States, each state and territory, 2007"

If one pretends that using just one year's data is valid for Sprigg's conclusion (Mass. birth rate was 15% lower than the national average in 2000, for starters), one interpretation of Table 11 would be that legalizing Gay marriage discourages teen pregnancy, which is usually considered to be a good thing, right? Maybe Mississippi should pass a marriage equality law.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? "low birth rates"...With thousands of children in the foster care system, he's worried about "low birth rates"? Does he have any idea about the world around him? Clearly no, and all he cares about is spreading anti-gay hate from self-loathing people. If these people put half the time into helping people, as they do hurting them the world would be a MUCH better place. -I know one of the reasons I DON'T want a child, is because of people like him. They are the cause of the "low birth rate"