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Linda Harvey’s “Studies”

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2006

Reader Scott passed this recent posting from Focus in the Family on to me:

Linda Harvey, president of Mission America, said even though the gay community brags about its buying power, the bravado is often more myth than muscle.

“The vast majority of people involved in homosexuality are projected by many studies to be people that are employed sporadically, because of their lifestyle,” she said. “They are more unstable.”

Unstable. Really?

Let’s see. I’ve been employed by the same employer ever since I graduated from college in 1984. Just last evening, I had dinner with a very nice gay couple who have been together for more than twenty-five years. They are enjoying a nice retirement after more than a quarter-century with their respective employers. Another good friend of mine retires later this year after more than thirty years working for the city.

Unstable. Really? I wonder what un-named “studies” Linda Harvey could be referring to?

It couldn’t have been Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class. He demonstrated that the most economically successful high-tech communities are also ones that are more welcoming and attractive to gays and lesbians. Surely these folks aren’t adversely affecting these communities by their “instability”.

And it couldn’t have been Dan Black, et al.’s “Demographics of the Gay and Lesbian Population in the United States”, which appeared in the May, 2000 issue of Demographics (vol 37, no. 2 pp. 139-154). This study found that gays and lesbians were better educated on average — even though unstable people generally find it difficult to finish college. The study did find that gay men generally earn less than other men, but that lesbians generally earn more than other women. They attribute this lower earnings of men not to “instability”, but to differences in specialization in households, discrimination, and the particular labor markets where these men work.

And the possibility of discrimination was reinforced by another study by Michelle R. Hebl, et al.’s “Formal and Interpersonal Discrimination: A Field Study of Bias Toward Homosexual Applicants” in the June 2002 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (vol 28, no. 6, pp. 815-825). This study found that while there was little evidence of formal discrimination among gay job applicants, there was very strong evidence of interpersonal discrimination — the type of discomfort that could lead employers to give these applicants less lucrative job assignments. Maybe it’s not gay folks who are unstable — maybe it’s their employers.

So, Linda. What studies are you referring to that says gays make for more “unstable” employees? I’d really love to know so I can check them out, but I can’t seem to find them. Could you help me, please? Perhaps you can begin by responding to the e-mail I sent you.

It’s not good enough to claim that a study supposedly supports what you’re saying, especially when you don’t give any details about which study you’re talking about. Linda Harvey basically performed a drive-by assault on ordinary hard-working gay and lesbian Americans. If she’s going to do that, she really should share where she got her data like I just did, don’t you think?

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