Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: day eleven summary

Timothy Kincaid

January 26th, 2010

Thanks to Courage Campaign and FireDogLake

Today started with the continued cross-examination of Professor Ken Miller. Attorney David Boies further proved that Miller was ill informed and that his stated opinions did not seem to be consistent with the facts.

Boies provided exit polling that revealed that the third of Californians who attend church weekly voted 84% for Proposition 8 and in all other category of Californians the majority voted “no”. And while Miller had claimed that gay people have power due to union support, the exit polls show that union households supported the proposition. (which, I suppose, means that union households are disproportionately religious)

Boies provided a poll that showed that Americans were much less willing to vote for a presidential candidate that was gay (55%) than they were for a Catholic (95%), an African American (94%), or Hispanic candidate (85%).

He went on to illustrate that Miller had not familiarized himself with workplace discrimination, school bullying, or stereotypes about gays preying on children, or the extent to which such stereotypes impacted voters. (In short, the proponents’ expert witness isn’t very expert at all. But considering what he might have found had he bothered to look, ignorance may have been their best option.)

Miller admitted that some people voted for Proposition 8 based on stereotypes, but he could not say to what extent.

Then it got unpleasant for Miller. He has a new book that came out in 2009 in which he argues that initiatives that disadvantage minorities “can easily tap into an anti-minority sentiment”. He even gave examples including initiatives directed towards restricting the rights of homosexuals. One of Miller’s examples of initiatives that tapped into anti-minority sentiment and disadvantaged homosexuals was Proposition 22, the original ban on gay marriage that was overturned by the California Supreme Court.

Miller argued in his book that courts needed to strictly scrutinize initiatives and not be lenient because their role was to protect minorities from such initiatives. He had written in an article that “Once this majority puts its preference into the state constitution, the legislature and state courts can’t take it out. Only federal courts are the remedy.”.

A year later, Miller “no longer believes” his own book. In fact, he “did not believe all of it” when he wrote it. (Miller has just torpedoed his own career.)

Miller had earlier presented the support of the California Council of Churches as evidence of large religious support for gay rights. In cross-examination he reveals that he really doesn’t know what the CCC is or even if they were a group organized to oppose Proposition 8 (they trace their history back to 1913). His earlier position was that if a church belonged to the CCC then they supported gay marriage.

After all of Miller’s testimony about support from the Democrat Party, he was presented with an article in which he said that Democrats splintered along religious lines. Miller had already written that the issue, the primary determinant was religion: In order for gay people to have marriage rights, “They need to persuade those Christian voters that extending marriage rights to the gay community is consistent with their religious beliefs, not undermining them.” He had written that blacks and Latinos had been taught in church that sexual orientation was a matter of scripture and thus could vote for Barack Obama as a civil rights issue and for Prop 8 as a religious issue without conflict.

Boies got Miller to agree, as a social scientist, that “it is a general principle that it is undesirable for a religious majority to impose its views on a minority”. While Miller was babbling trying to find an out for the religious oppression of gay people, Boies announced that he had no more questions.

Thompson tried to recover in redirect. He had Miller reiterate that the Briggs initiative (to ban gay school teachers) and the LaRouche initiatives (to quarantine AIDS patients) did not pass.

Miller testified that he used to think that initiatives did not well serve democracy but since Massachusetts legalized marriage he changed his views and now sees them as a way for people to express their popular sovereignty. The exception he now sees is marriage. (In short, he found that his prejudices disagreed with his principles, so he made an exception. I can’t see how this will help either his credibility or his argument.)

In the afternoon, the defendants presented their second witness, David Blankenhorn. He is president of the Institute for American Values, a non-profit think tank that focuses on fatherhood, marriage, child rearing, child well being, and family structure.

He testified that to write his book, The Future of Marriage, he sought to learn about the anthropology of marriage across cultures.

In voir dire, Boise noted that none of Blankenhorn’s marriage writing was peer reviewed. Nor has he taught courses about marriage, fatherhood, family structure or anything else. Blankenhorn’s examinations of the results of same-sex marriage are limited to discussions with colleagues and reading articles. His only peer-reviewed work was on cabinet makers and black fathers. Judge Walker indicated that were this a jury trial Blankenhorn might not be qualified to testify as an expert but that he can testify.

Blankenhorn testified that marriage is the socially approved sexual relationship between a man and a woman which establishes the parenthood of the children. Marriage brings about the social, the legal, and the biological consequences of parenthood. “East, West North, South, 1000 years ago, it always does this thing.” As marriage changes, this aspect never does.

This is based on a broad consensus of scholars and anthropologists. For his “broad consensus”, Blankenhorn relies on a number of quite old books, the most recent of which is from 1985.

Blankenhorn read from some who say that marriage is an adult relationship but stated that he disagrees. Earnestly. He testified that he could not find any animus or hatefulness of gay people as the reason that people get married. (I dare say he’s correct. No one marries to spite gay people. And the original definitions were not designed to exclude but rather to allow society to know which man owns which woman and is responsible for her care. But the new definitions as applied by anti-gay amendments are absolutely intended to exclude gay people and to spite them.)

He testified that research shows that the ideal family relationship for a child is a biological mother and father in low-conflict marriage. (Again, he’s likely correct. And a principled argument could be made that these are the only family forms that society should reward with marriage. But it doesn’t. It rewards remarriage of widows and widowers, divorced people with children, the childless, the elderly, and indeed absolutely every other less-than-ideal coupling provided that they are opposite-sex. The question is not whether biological parents are a smidgen better than two mothers (a position that could probably be made), but why two mothers (who are better than, say, a mother and stepfather) are not provided with marriage.)

Blankenhorn testified that changing the rules of an institution results in weakening, what he calls deinstitutionalization. He notes that the deinstitutionalization has been the fault of heterosexuals: out of wedlock childbirth, divorce, assisted reproductive technology, and the very idea of same-sex marriage. He claims that “Scholars are telling us that process of weakening will be accelerated significantly by same sex marriage.” Transferring the institution from a child centered one to an adult-pleasure centered one would erase the institution.

It would become impossible to opine that a child needs a father. It could lead the public to consider polygamy. In short, Blankenhorn believes that allow same-sex couples to marry would remove the core purpose for marriage and leave it essentially meaningless and valueless. An institution that doesn’t define heterosexual couples tied to their biological children would have no purpose and would eventually die off.

Blankenhorn supports domestic partnerships and civil unions. He just wants to protect the privilege of marriage. (This is, in my thinking, the weakest argument. If one truly wants to “think of the children” then any structure that “denies a child their biological mother and father” would be equally disadvantageous. It matters little whether this deprived child’s same-sex parents are civilly unioned or civilly married.)

He co-authored an article supporting civil unions (and implies that Jonathan Rauch agrees with him that they are better – he does not). In reality the article supported a temporary compromise in which the federal government would recognize state marriages as civil unions provided that there were robust religious-conscience exceptions.

He argued that marriage is bigger than just the legal incidences of marriage (a point that our side has made repeatedly). Domestic partnerships are comparable but not the same as marriage. Then he said something perplexing: “It is discriminatory and morally wrong to call two things that are the same by different names.”

Boies then led cross-examination.

Boies showed that Blankenhorn’s institute treats biological and adoptive families the same. Blankenhorn testified that adoptive families are just as good. And he is not aware of any study that shows that children of gays and lesbians have different worse outcomes than straight.

If I understand the liveblogging correctly, Blankenhorn believes that the adoption of same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children. And he believes that America would be more just by allowing same-sex marriage. But he thinks it would lead to fewer marriage between heterosexuals.

(Odd, it never occurred to Blankenhorn that he would actually have to tie his opinions back to those who did research. I get the impression that he thought it would be similar to the polite debates in which everyone’s opinion is considered to be valid and that real research was treated as no more valuable than opinions based on “thinking about it for a long time” or writing a book.)

Boies gets Blankenhorn to admit that few (perhaps none) of his listed sources actually discuss either disinstitutionalization or same-sex marriage and that none make the two part linkage: same-sex marriage leads to deinstitutionalization which then leads to fewer heterosexual marriages. (This may be simply an extrapolation on the part of Blankenhorn, and he simply is not qualified to make such an extrapolation. He has not done research and it appears that he cannot back up his positions with the research of others. It’s difficult to understand why Cooper allowed two very unprepared witnesses to take the stand.)

That was it for today and cross-examination will continue tomorrow. The case is scheduled to end around noon, after which the judge will go ponder the evidence before the attorneys make their closing statements some time in February. Then Judge Vaughn Walker will make his decision.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0 | TRACKBACK URL

Richard W. Fitch
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

And while Miller had claimed that gay people have power due to union support, the exit polls show that union households supported the proposition. (which, I suppose, means that union households are disproportionately religious)

From the classic “Social Sources of Denominationalism” by Niebuhr, I would be inclined to say the cause/effect relation is the other way around. People of more literalistic religious sects are more often to be in the lines of work which tend toward unionization. Since there are far more unionized trade craftsmen than college professors, the poll would lean that direction.

Patrick
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

Anyone who wants to comment on a universal anthropological definition of marriage had better first read and understand “The Tiwi of North Australia”. The Tiwi believed that females must be married at all times. All times. In other words, from cradle to grave. Marriage to the Tiwi was absolutely not primarily focused on procreation, child-rearing, etc. It was primarily about economics, secondarily about politics and economics, and thirdly purpose about uniting families into economic relationships.

Ginger
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

This day in court was bizarre at least and convicting at most.

Amicus
January 26th, 2010 | LINK

I’m tied up today, with other things, so thanks for the briefs.

That marriage is/was anthropologically “pro child” will come as a great surprise to children throughout history, who have been greatly abused in ways too numerous to list. It’s “universality” will come as a surprise to the huge slave populations who did without.

His “form” of marriage one-man-one-woman is very compelling to some. One reason is that it is almost tautological, as he justifies it. In his book, he chides those who claim that marriage is a personal love story, broadly put (doesn’t chide those who make up their own marriage vows). Yet, his own reduction is equally unconvincing, just as incomplete. It doesn’t tell us anything about the moral character of marriage, it’s just a form. Commentators like Rauch have picked up on this, in their own style.

The anthropological truth may well be that marriage is, in fact, primarily an adult institution arranged by adults for adults. Basically, it’s one short answer that adults have come up with for themselves to the question, ‘What are we going to do about the kids’? But, it’s also a potential anthropological answer to questions about how are we adults going to protect ourselves from the passions of jealousy, rage, and sexual conquest that ruin a society, even one that has found non-paternal-linked ways to deal with the kids.

What’s more, he casually says that one-man-one-woman is consistent with polygyny. He leaves *completely unargued*, from an anthropological perspective, why that’s not something he supports. Instead, he draws on other arguments. To the extent that he does, I find it mean-spirited that he would blame gay and lesbians for raising the possibility that people might ask for polygyny.

One gets _infuriated_ that he would lay the problems of de-institutionalization as he sees them at the doorstep to gay marriage, on so many grounds. His rival goods argument allows him to say a lot of nice things about gay couples and even admit that he’d be okay with gay marriage, *if only*…

But, the bottom line is that equality at law is not a question of waiting for the divorce rate to reverse or for people to take their kids more responsibly. Put that in bold italics, because he uses italics to shout out that gay marriage isn’t a route to ending homophobia. Right back at you, I say.

Gays have their own pre-history and early history, that Blankenhorn misses in his expose. A priori, ‘gay as good’ is not a rival in any way to nongays having kids and raising them responsibly.

The social pact is not complete without marriage for gays and there is nothing about one, complete institution that prevents marriage advocates of his ilk from continuing to propound that marriage as it *ought* to be construed is good parents, good kids, and so forth.

Put another way, the *form* of marriage for nongays doesn’t change just because gays enter into the institution, I don’t care what Judith Stacey says! We can ALL take responsibility for seeing that is the case in how the institution is commonly understood – all of us, including David, who is all too quick to shift the whole burden of it to Rauch and call him unconvincing given the “liberal” marriage scholars arrayed against him. He can take responsibility for propagating the mores he wants, that back-up any social institution, if he truly believes in the goal.

It’s not too much to ask. Even fully ‘reinstitutionalized’ he would have to do the same, for nongay marriage. It’s not like these things are immutable, even if they aren’t quite as fragile, I think, as he makes them out to be when it suits.

Hunter
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

He testified that research shows that the ideal family relationship for a child is a biological mother and father in low-conflict marriage. (Again, he’s likely correct. And a principled argument could be made that these are the only family forms that society should reward with marriage. But it doesn’t. It rewards remarriage of widows and widowers, divorced people with children, the childless, the elderly, and indeed absolutely every other less-than-ideal coupling provided that they are opposite-sex. The question is not whether biological parents are a smidgen better than two mothers (a position that could probably be made), but why two mothers (who are better than, say, a mother and stepfather) are not provided with marriage.)

He’s made this claim before, but has never been able to produce any research to substantiate it. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any — even his tried-and-true UN Convention on the Rights of Children, which he claims states that children have a right to be raised by their biological parents (it doesn’t say that anywhere), stresses that children have a right to a loving, supportive and stable family and makes no reference that I can remember to the necessity that this be headed by biological parents. As an ideal, perhaps that’s OK — if the biological parents are loving and supportive.

And lest you give him too much leeway, I want to stress that the available research, which at this point is fairly voluminous, gives no indication that heterosexual parents offer any particular advantages to children over same-sex parents. There have been, in fact, some small indications that lesbians may in general be better at parenting than either gay men or heterosexual couples. So, no, he’s not likely correct at all. Quite the opposite.

So far, Blankenhorn’s testimony seems to be demonstrating conclusively that a) he has opinions; b) they are mostly unfounded; c) he doesn’t have the intellectual rigor to base his conclusions on actual evidence. I’m seeing a strong tendency here toward “faith-based science,” in which you formulate your conclusion and then look for evidence that supports it, as witness the fact that his “authorities” all date from the time before anyone knew anything about same-sex families or had even thought about them very much.

Alex
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

“If I understand the liveblogging correctly, Blankenhorn believes that the adoption of same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children. And he believes that America would be more just by allowing same-sex marriage. But he thinks it would lead to fewer marriage between heterosexuals.”

That last sentence is exactly the sort of speculative testimony I had hoped this trial would challenge. Rather than telling us that he THINKS same-sex marriage will lead to fewer marriages between heterosexuals, Blankenhorn should PROVE IT based on research about marriage trends in the states and nations where same-sex marriage is legal.

But of course he won’t, because then his claim would be proven false.

Ben in Oakland
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

The only thing Blankenhorn’s testimony “proves” is the scapegoat theory of heterosexual hegemony;

straight people behave badly, and it’s all the fualt of the gays. 50% of the child molesting perps are fathers, stepfathers, and father surrogates…

and it’s all the fualt of the gays.

Heteros divorce at a 40% rate, have out-of-wedlock children at a 40% rate, commit adultery at a 25%-30% rate…

and it’s all the fault of the gays.

Straight soldiers are so highly prejudiced that they can’t function if they “know” there’s a queer in the foxhole…

and it’s all the fualt of the gays.

and on.

and on.

and on.

Kelly
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

I am amazed that there hasn’t been more discussion and even media attention on his testimony that he believes that same-sex marriage would likely improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children. This is a man who has made a career of writing and speaking about how same-sex marriage is bad for children because it is best for children to be with their biological mother and father. If same-sex marriage would likely improve the well-being of the children in gay and lesbian households, then that begs the question: what children does same-sex children harm? It certainly isn’t preventing MY children from living with their biological mother and father.

Unless I’m missing some sort of evidence that children OUTSIDE gay and lesbian households are harmed by same-sex marriage, then his statement is mutually exclusive with the position upon which he has based his entire career. That seems rather an extraordinary revelation.

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “He testified that research shows that the ideal family relationship for a child is a biological mother and father in low-conflict marriage. (Again, he’s likely correct.

Why would you say that? A huge volume of studies has shown that children of same sex parents do just as well as children of opposite sex parents. You can’t be unfamiliar with this.

Timothy Kincaid
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

I do not believe that same-sex parents have been compared to “a biological mother and father in a low-conflict marriage”.

If anyone has knowledge of or access to such a study, please provide a link.

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Here you go Timothy. I haven’t read these, but if you’re going to try and make the argument that none of these involved biological mothers and fathers in a low conflict marriage I’d say you’re totall delusional.

“The Lesbian Mother,” by Bernice Goodman [American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,
Vol. 43 (1983), pp. 283-284]

Kirkpatrick, Martha et al; “Lesbian Mothers and Their Children: A Comparative
Study,” 51 American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 545 (1983) “Homosexual Parents,”
by Brenda Maddox [Psychology Today, February, 1982, pp.66-69]

Riddle, Dorothy I.; “Relating to Children: Gays as Role Models,” 34 Journal of
Social Issues, 38-58 (1978)

“The Avowed Lesbian Mother and Her Right to Child Custody,” by Marilyn Riley,
San Diego Law Review, Vol. 12 (1975), p. 799]

Susoeff, Steve; “Assessing Children’s Best Interests When a Parent is Gay or
Lesbian: Toward a Rational Custody Standard,” 32 UCLA Law Review 852, 896 (1985)

Gibbs, Elizabeth D.; “Psychosocial Development of Children Raised by Lesbian
Mothers: A Review of Research,” 8 Women & Therapy 65 (1988)

Green, Richard; “The Best Interests of the Child With a Lesbian Mother,” 10
Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry & Law 7 (1982)

Turner, Pauline et al; “Parenting in Gay and Lesbian Families,” 1 Journal of Gay
& Lesbian Psychotherapy 55, 57 (1990)

Golombok, Susan; “Children in Lesbian and Single-Parent Households: Psychosexual
and Psychiatric Appraisal,” 24 Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry 551
(1983)

Hoeffer, Beverly; “Children’s Acquisition of Sex-Role Behavior in Lesbian-Mother
Families,” 51 American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 536 (1981)

Green, Richard; “Sexual Identity of 37 Children Raised by Homosexual or
Transsexual Parents,” 135 American Journal of Psychiatry 692 (1978)

Green, Richard; “Lesbian Mothers and Their Children: A Comparison with Solo
Parent Heterosexual Mothers and their Children,” 15 Archives of Sexual Behavior
167 (1986)

Gottman, Julie Schwartz; “Children of Gay and Lesbian Parents,” 14 Marriage and
Family Review 177 (1989)

Rees, Richard; “A Comparison of Children of Lesbian and Single Heterosexual
Mothers on Three Measures of Socialization,” 40 Dissertation Abstracts
International 3418-B, 3419-B (1979)

Sterkel, Alisa; “Psychosocial Develpment of Children of Lesbian Mothers,” Gay &
Lesbian Parents 75, 81 (Frederick W. Bozett, ed., 1987)

Mucklow, Bonnie M., & Phelan, Gladys K.; “Lesbian and Traditional Mothers’
Responses to Adult Response to Child Behavior and Self-Concept,” 44
Psychological Report 880 (1979)

Whittlin, William A.; “Homosexuality and Child Custody: A Psychiatric
Viewpoint,” 21 Concilation Courts Review 77 (1983)

Herek, Gregory M.; “Myths About Sexual Orientation: A Lawyer’s Guide to Social
Science Research,” 1 Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian & Gay Legal Issues 133
(1991)

Cramer, David; “Gay Parents and Their Children: A Review of the Research and
Practical Implications,” 64 Journal of Counseling & Development 504 (1986)

Wismont, Judith M., & Reame, Nancy E.; “The Lesbian Childbearing Experience:
Assessing Developmental Tasks, 21 Journal of Nursing Scholarship 137 (1989)

Meyer, Cheryl L.; “Legal, Psychological, and Medical Considerations in Lesbian
Parenting,” 2 Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian & Gay Legal Issues 237 (1992)

“In the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ and the Lesbian Mother: A Proposal for
Legislative Change in New York,” 48 Albany Law Review 1021 (1984) Harris &
Turner, “Gay & Lesbian Parents,” 12 Journal of Homosexuality 101 (1985-1986)

Kleber, Howell & Tibbits-Kleber, “The Impact of Parental Homosexuality in Child
Custody Cases: A Review of the Literature,” 14 Bulletin of the American Academy
of Psychiatry & Law 81 (1986)

“The Avowed Lesbian Mother and Her Right to Child Custody: A Constitutional
Challenge That Can No Longer Be Denied,” 12 San Diego Law Review 799 (1975)

“Sexual Orientation and the Law” by the Editors of the Harvard Law Review
(Harvard University Press, 1989)

Green, G. Dorsey, & Bozett, Frederick W., “Lesbian Mothers and Gay Fathers,” in
Homosexuality: Research Implications for Public Policy, ed. by Gonsiorek &
Weinrich (Sage Publications, 1991)

Lewin, E., “Lesbianism and Motherhood: Implications for Child Custody,” 40 Human
Organization 6-14 (1981)

Ricketts, Wendell; “Lesbians and Gay Men as Foster Parents” (University of
Southern Maine, 1992)

You can find many additional citations in this bibliography:
“Lesbian Mothers and Their Children: Annotated Bibliography of Legal and
Psychological Materials,” by Donna J. Hitchens and Ann G. Thomas, editors [San
Francisco Lesbian Rights Project]

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy I tried to post dozens of studies but it wouldn’t display my post and when I tried again it said “It looks like you’ve already posted that.

In any event there are dozens and dozens of studies that compare same sex parents to opposite sex parents. If you’re going to try to make the argument that none of the studies involved biological mothers and fathers in low conflict marriages you’re utterly delusional.

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Here’s a link to a fraction of what I tried to post:

http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting-full.pdf

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Here’s the HTML version:

http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting.aspx

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

And while we’re requesting links, Timothy, where’s your link to back up your claim that Blankenhorn is “likely correct” that “the ideal family relationship for a child is a biological mother and father in low-conflict marriage”. As it stands that’s just baseless speculation on your part.

fannie
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

In his book, Blankenhorn brags that he’s a “marriage nut,” as though that means he’s some sort of expert on the topic and, therefore, Right About Everything. That’s why it’s f-ing classic that a federal judge has publicly said that Blankenhorn would not, actually, likely be admitted as an “expert” in a jury trial.

You know, unlike the real experts that the equality side presented.

Timothy (TRiG)
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus,

The form of marriage for nongays doesn’t change just because gays enter into the institution.

I’m not sure I agree.

TRiG.

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Trig, gays getting married won’t change any heterosexuals form of marriage. Although some people might see marriage differently, gays getting married won’t force anyone to change their opinion of what marriage is so I don’t buy this opinion piece you’ve posted.

Regan DuCasse
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

I remember how much controversy could be stirred up regarding children adopted by parents who didn’t share their children’s ethnicity.
A few decades ago, you had white parents, willing to adopt black children. For those who objected, especially white people who did: it didn’t seem to track in their minds that these white parents actually LOVED these children.

No, by their own way of expressing disdain or concern for such adoptions, you would have thought there couldn’t have been any more emotional tie than the family adopting a pet, it was such a novel idea.

Rarely is the reverse true, where a black family has the option of adopting a white child.
For example, about 25 years ago, a black foster care mother had a white little girl placed with her. The child was 2 days old at the time. There were no takers, until it was publicized. By then, the child was nearly three and the mother had put in permanent adoption application a year before.
Lo and behold, someone wanted to adopt the child right out of the arms of the only parent she’d known and that child was taken away from her mother.

The entire incident had racist spite written all over it.

Now, we routinely see mixed color families. There is sometimes concern that the parents should have a social network that includes people who share the child’s ethnicity, but the real unspoken subtext is: it’s the stability, loving support and commitment of the parents that matter, not color.

Now we have gay parents fighting to prove their mettle in court.
How outrageous.

And the same issue is brought up again about ‘biology trumping competence’ or biology being ideal.

What BS!
Because it’s obvious the competence to parent isn’t bestowed ON groups. It’s not even bestowed on one GENDER over another.
It’s an INDIVIDUAL trait that cannot be qualified BY gender OR cultural identity.

And considering the CPS agencies NATIONWIDE are bursting at the seams, foster care is overwhelmed and MILLIONS of children live in poverty, I’d say there IS no biological ideal to be found ANYWHERE.

Reality is, the matter of child rearing should go to who is best at it, period.
It can be argued that for a gay couple to have a child for any reason, it certainly requires more thought, expense and commitment, something that CAN’T be said for biological mothers and fathers.

Blankenhorn’s ‘research’ should require peer review and standards of study that have a comprehensive sampling.
For example: the importance of fathers in comparison to those incarcerated or children at risk, has nothing to do with a SAME sex, lesbian couple.
But the aspect of ABANDONMENT by a parent. Whether a father or mother.

His ideal, and that of religious groups assigns roles according to gender, NOT according to individual ability and characteristics. This requires unrealistic and rigid assumptions most people won’t live up to to begin with.

His ‘ideal’ so to speak is aspirational. Which is fine, aspiration to be good in marriage and child rearing isn’t something gay people are against. Nor will a gay couple being married damage the same for hetero couples.
It’s just that, one has nothing to do with the other, but again, it’s about the INDIVIDUALS involved and no amount of discrimination will create those ideals, nor support them.

Blankenhorn, the other witnesses defending 8 are not forced to admit what this is really about. Perhaps indirectly it’s showing, but it’s not exactly being brought as the inevitable reason why we’re all here.

That is, the supporters of Prop. 8 believe in hetero supremacy. They do not want anything to challenge the fiction that heterosexuality imbues people with superiority compared to gay people.
This is as much folly as the same assumption about white skin, or being male.
The ‘specialness’ regarding the man/woman model up and down each discussion carries the weight that marriage be reserved because heteros will no longer be legally sanctioned AS superior. Even though no such superiority exists, the same as no such white supremacy or gender supremacy does.

Maintaining gays and lesbians in an inferior social standing, is very different from actually BEING inferior.
Equal treatment and access, more than any other situation would REVEAL the superiority to be false and without merit.
Proving in court, that no hetero person IS superior or that gay people ARE equal is an unfair burden, obviously placed on the shoulders of gay people.

More than that, those supporting Prop. 8 had to use fear and exploit ignorance to pass a law that is unnecessary and ultimately spiteful.
Whatever gay people do, won’t make hetero people better or worse spouses or parents.
Nor will banning gay couples from marrying do the same.

Putting sexual orientation square in the bull’s eye of reality, that sexual orientation is morally neutral and that the potential to do good, is in each person regardless, IS the point.

You’d think that would be an easy one.
Well, it IS for those of us who are smarter and less fearful and in need of being validated at the expense of individual merit for it’s own sake.

What is true, is that people CAN be different YET equal.
People and society at large have benefitted from being treated equally and protected by equal standards in the law.
Defending supremacy in court, or that it has merit, is something that should be rejected on it’s face.

Well, here is history being repeated and made at the same time.
I really hope Judge Walker has the stones to see what has really been happening and he places himself on the right side of this historical (not hysterical) court precedent.

Pender
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

He testified that research shows that the ideal family relationship for a child is a biological mother and father in low-conflict marriage. (Again, he’s likely correct…. The question is not whether biological parents are a smidgen better than two mothers (a position that could probably be made)…

You know, I find this pretty distasteful frustrating. As far as I can tell, there is not a scrap of evidence in the world that same-sex parents are even “a smidgen” inferior to opposite-sex biological parents. If there were, it would have come out in the trial. It seems like such a damning/self-loathing thing to admit when there is, by all accounts, not a scrap of data to support it.

I understand the impulse when confronting an issue that is as fraught with emotion as this one to go out of one’s way to be reasonable, and that being reasonable requires us to accept the facts with maturity even when they’re against us. I appreciate the sort of intuitive heuristic that when an issue splits the population down the middle, there’s usually at least a reasonable case to be made for each side. But I think a commitment to the evidence suggests that this particular conflict is an exception. There is not a scrap of science to suggest, no matter how reasonable and open-minded one is, that same-sex parents are inferior. And to admit it when the science does not support it — even out of a big-hearted attempt to be conciliatory — is to slander millions of people.

Timothy Kincaid
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Pender,

Knowing that on average a child raised by his mother and his step-father are less advantaged than one raised by his mother and his biological father (I think this is a given), I am willing to accept that it is likely that a child raised by his mother and his step-mother (or second mother or whatever term is appropriate) may also be less advantaged than one raised by his mother and biological father.

Unless, of course, evidence is presented to the contrary. And so far I know of no evidence either way.

Timothy Kincaid
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

One thing to also consider is that from a sociological perspective – and in all of the studies referenced in this testimony – “biological” included adopted children. In this context it is assumed that “biological” means “with the kid from birth” as opposed to “has the parents’ DNA”.

In that context, I would assume that a child with same-sex parents from birth would have the same advantages as those having opposite-sex parents from birth, absent any evidence to the contrary.

Priya Lynn
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “Knowing that on average a child raised by his mother and his step-father are less advantaged than one raised by his mother and his biological father (I think this is a given)”.

What you think does not matter, it is research that matters. As of yet you’ve presented no such evidence to support what you “think”.

As I recall, and I’m open to proof to the contrary, there is an insignficant difference between the advantages to a child whether raised by biological parents versus one biological parent and a step parent.

There is overwhelming evidence that children of same sex parents do as well as children of opposite sex parents. I’ve presented that material and you’ve presented nothing to contradict it other than what you “think”.

Timothy Kincaid
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Here is an article which looks at quite a bit of the research.

You’ll notice that this article is far more nuanced than Blankenhorn.

Pender
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Knowing that on average a child raised by his mother and his step-father are less advantaged than one raised by his mother and his biological father (I think this is a given), I am willing to accept that it is likely that a child raised by his mother and his step-mother (or second mother or whatever term is appropriate) may also be less advantaged than one raised by his mother and biological father.

It’s nowhere near a valid comparison. Children not raised by both biological parents fall into one of several categories: the parents are divorced, one died, they cohabitate but never married or they never cohabitated. Of these, all except the death of one of the parents is going to skew the data substantially. They say something about the parents’ temperament (in the cases of divorce and never having married), and they imply a certain amount of childhood trauma (in the case of divorce or death) or necessary deprivation/neglect (when there is only one parent in the house). And unsurprisingly, according to your link, the category of death of a parent (which implies the least of all categories about the parents’ temperament) predicts the fewest ill effects for the children.

Then there is the issue that in 2003, when the article you cited was published, most children with same-sex parents were the product of a previous opposite-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, they fared approximately the same as divorced opposite-sex parents — because that is exactly what they are.

The only valid way to make the comparison we’re talking about, and the one that is crucially missing from that article you cited and from all of the research cited by Yes on 8, is between same-sex parents (legally married or not) who raised the child together since birth and opposite-sex couples who did the same with the same marital status. If that evidence is collected and determined to be against us, I will of course resign myself to it, because I am willing to take an evidence-based approach to the issue. However, until that research does come out, I think it’s bigotry for you to assume the worst about millions of people in this country: that their parenting is inferior and that they are less able to raise a healthy family than straight people. I know you have good intentions and I know you aren’t trying to take a prejudiced position, but by condemning a minority before the data exists to support your conclusion, that is literally what you are doing.

Timothy Kincaid
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

Yes, Pender, the data is limited. I’m going on what is there.

I think it likely that a bio-link may yield an advantage. New data may prove me wrong if studies are ever conducted comparing bio-parents to same-sex ‘from birth’ parents. Frankly, I hope it does.

In the meanwhile, does anyone have an opinion on the rest of my commentary? Ya know, the point how this is being applied inconsistently? About how this argument is illogical even if it had merit?

Anyone?

Hello?

Amicus
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

“Biological” is not a bad touchstone, in many peoples minds, to bind our ethics in a way that keeps us from ‘imagineering’ some horrible stuff.

But, not to put too fine a point on it, I wonder why no one focuses on the downside of biological parents, historically or otherwise.

Tribalism and clanship have created quite a lot of strife, yes?

Tim, as for applied inconsistently, I can’t reconstruct DB’s views on it for you, yet. I do believe that some ‘biological purists’ would deny gays and lesbians access to reproductive technology. Indeed, these views are aggressively promoted. Austria just gave civil union to gays, but withheld access to kids, either through adoption or reproductive technology.

Myself, I believe that the fears about the use of this technology are greatly overblown. Even for those who are worried, we do not need to draw such a bright line. In fact, one could argue that NO parents on earth are more willing, self-selected, and prepared than gay parents. No gay couple ever had an unwanted pregnancy or an accidental child….

Amicus
January 27th, 2010 | LINK

oh, to clarify, by “focus on the downside” I mean appeal to some downsides to call people back to their commonsense on the issue(s)…

Amicus
January 28th, 2010 | LINK

follow-up:

It’s incorrect of Blankenhorn to imagine that his marriage formulation/definition is associated with a just society.

Biological + arranged one-man, one-woman marriage tradition + caste system = deeply unjust society

Therefore, one-man, one-woman is not sufficient to a just order.

Therefore, marriage alone is not ‘the foundation’ of society.

Amicus
January 28th, 2010 | LINK

Tim,

I scanned the CLASP article.

Here’s a problem for the idealists, one that I’ve never thought of before.

It’s not “ideal” for gays to have kids, so the state has an interest in not letting them into marriage.

Have a look at the section on step-families.

It’s definitely not ideal for kids to get into a step-family. Yet, should we deny marriage to those with kids who want to remarry? After all, “… children in step-families are at
increased risk for experiencing physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.”

So, even if some group turns out to be somewhat less than ideal, I’m not sure that is what should be informing good public policy.

What if it turned out, on some analysis, that the people of Alabama were doing a really poor job on child outcomes. Should we withhold Federal marriage benefits, because there is something not ideal about Alabama?

It’s important to look after the kids and study what works best, but, … there seem to be limitations, policy limitations, that get lost in the war of words.

Amicus
January 28th, 2010 | LINK

er… “They say it’s not “ideal” for gays to have kids…”

Pender
January 28th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, yes, I thought the rest of your analysis was well done; sorry for not saying so at the outset.

Timothy Kincaid
January 28th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus,

Precisely. If we were basing on “ideals”, then the research on child abuse suggests that lesbian parents should be allowed to marry LONG BEFORE heterosexual step parents.

Pender,

thanks

Priya Lynn
January 28th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, the vast volume of research contradicts what your article suggests. Dozens upon dozens of studies, if not hundreds of studies have shown that children of same sex couples do just as well as children of opposite sex couples. It simply isn’t credible that these studies didn’t include primarily biological heterosexual parents (the vast majority of parents) in low conflict relationships unless you think most heterosexual relationships aren’t low conflict in which case there is little point in comparing the typical gay parent to the atypical heterosexual parent.

Priya Lynn
January 28th, 2010 | LINK

If you carefully read the section regarding same sex parents in Timothy’s article it is apparent that they did NOT compare actual same sex parents with biological heterosexual low conflict parents (an apples to oranges comparison in any case).

Note the line “Since many children raised by gay or lesbian parents haveundergone the divorce of their parents, researchers have considered the most appropriate comparison group to be children of heterosexual divorced parents.42″

This suggests this is merely an opinion, not a finding based upon any sort of evidence. The footnote refers to the research of Charlotte Patterson who plays promininately in the research I posted which says children of gay parents do just as well, if not better than children of heterosexual parents. Patterson makes no such claim that the outcomes for such children are equivalent to divorced heterosexual parents.

Futher note these lines: “Children of gay or lesbianparents do not look different from their counterparts raised in heterosexual divorced familiesregarding school performance, behavior problems, emotional problems, early pregnancy, ordifficulties finding employment.43 However, as previously indicated, children of divorce are athigher risk for many of these problems than children of married parents.”.

Once again, the second sentence makes it clear that the first is merely an opinion – the author is merely assuming the children of same sex couples have the same outcomes as the children of divorced heterosexual couples, no evidence to support that conclusion is presented.

Further, the claim that footnote 43 supports the idea that children of same sex couples are the same as children of divorced opposite sex couples is simply a lie. That study makes no such claim and in fact clearly says the opposite:

“Again,
as will be discussed, the evidence does not support the
claim that children raised by same-sex parents exhibit more
developmental problems than those raised in heterosexual
families.”.

“The vast majority of children in all the studies functioned
well intellectually, did not engage in self-destructive
behaviors or in behavior harmful to the community. In
these regards, as well as in general well-being, they did
not look different from their counterparts with heterosexual
parents.”

“The studies also find that children raised by gay male
and lesbian parents get along as well with their parents
and peers as children raised in heterosexual families. The
research finds no differences between these groups of
children in self-esteem or in characteristics such as leadership
ability, self-reliance, interpersonal flexibility, and
self-confidence. In a few studies, the children in same-sex
households even seemed to have higher levels of wellbeing
in some respects than the comparison group of
children from heterosexual families.

This comments on same sex couples made by this author are a matter of biased opinion and are directly contradicted by the footnotes he uses to allegedly support those opinions.

The vast majority of research shows that parents of same sex couples do as well or better than the children of heterosexuals. The idea that such research doesn’t deal primarily with biological heterosexual parents in low conflict marriages simply isn’t credible. Research has also shown that in many cases same sex relationships have less conflict than heterosexual relationships due to there not being an inherent power imbalance and gay couples sharing more equitably in the responsibilities of the relationship.

Amicus
January 29th, 2010 | LINK

FTR, from the final day of testimony:

Q. When Professor Glenn writes:
“Legalizing same-sex marriage would have
a small effect, at most, on the percentage of fatherless children and there is no precedent for prohibiting a family arrangement because it creates less than ideal conditions for children.”

Blankenhorn then goes on to suggest that polygamy might be one form that was prohibited, but says he is no expert on polygamy/polygyny, even though it’s been a *huge part* of the history of marriage of the understanding of ‘social institution’…

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.