The bogus “couples study” is back… and this time doing more harm than ever
July 15th, 2010
Remember back in February when the news was all atwitter about how gay couples aren’t monogamous? Oh, gosh, it was a study, you know, in which half of the gay marriages were open!
Well, it’s back. And the reporting on Colleen Hoff’s work is no more accurate this time than it was last time. The San Francisco Chronicle – which calls non-monogamous relations “San Francisco relationships” – breathlessly declares:
In her study of gay couples, 47 percent reported open relationships. Forty-five percent were monogamous, and the remaining 8 percent disagreed about what they were.
We analyzed the claim – thoroughly – and it DID NOT support the claims. In fact, the sample was just about as far from representative of the gay community as you could get. As I said at the time:
In short, those reporting on this study got it wrong. If there is any story here, it would be that a study of San Francisco bay area gay male couples, a sample which was highly skewed to include many participants who are less likely to value monogamy and which defined “couples” to include those who have been dating as little as three months, still found that half of them set monogamy as the agreement for their relationship.
But based on the pattern of the stories and my communication with the authors, I have a new conclusion: When the news repeatedly and consistently reports conclusions that cannot possibly be determined from your data, it’s not because you’re trying to correct them. Hoff has, in all occasions I’ve seen, made broad generalizations about the nature of gay relationships – not just those in her study – that lead me to wonder if her research is little more than an attempt to provide talking points to support her presumptions.
And Hoff’s study – which does, at least, seem to have structure – now leads to press reports about a “study” which has almost no validity whatsoever.
Lanz Lowen and Blake Spears, two men in an open relationship, set out to find others who shared their values. And – surprise of all surprises – they did. They asked their buddies to participate and recruited where they socialized and, by golly, they found 86 non-monogamous, long-term (8+ years), gay male couples and (ok, here’s the shocker) the vast majority of those folks who were non-monogamous reported that they liked being non-monogamous. I suppose their next project will be to prove that those in line at Baskin Robbins like ice-cream.
And why do we know all about this non-study? Because Colleen Hoff was right there supporting them all the way:
“The ground-breaking work Lanz Lowen and Blake Spears are doing is providing important information and modeling about gay couples. The findings from their study will end up supporting gay couples for generations.”
Now I have never run across good statistics on monogamy in gay relationships. And I would not be surprised to find that statistically non-monogamy is higher; maybe it is. But I also would not be surprised by good research that its no higher at all than heterosexuals.
In fact, I have no idea whether some, many, most, or very few gay relationships are open. And neither does Colleen Hoff, Lanz Lowen or Blake Spears. Nor do any of you. It’s all just speculation based on the experiences we each have and those of the people we spend our time with.
I don’t know anything about the frequency of occurance of monogamy and non-monogamy among gay couples. But I do know someone beating an agenda when I see it. And that’s what is going on here.
And it isn’t admirable. It isn’t an honest contribution when conservative loons like Paul Cameron cook the data to get the conclusions they want. And it isn’t an honest contribution when liberals do the same thing.
Hoff, Lowen and Spears want to believe that gay men are non-monogamous. It fits their preconceptions. But they didn’t study that.
Hoff did not conduct a study of gay men to see who is monogamous; she studied how HIV-positive men negotiate communication and agreements. And Lowen and Spears did not conduct a study of gay men to see who is monogamous; they sampled non-monogamous couples to see if they liked it.
But are they reporting it that way? Hell, no! They are too busy trying to preach the joys of non-monogamy to bother to tell the truth.
And even more frustrating is that this selfish declaration of “how many gay couples are” (ignoring lesbians entirely) can do tremendous damage to our hard-fought effort to win rights and determine our own destinies. Freely speaking for all of us – with absolutely NOTHING to back it up – the Chronicle article ends with this:
Having an open partnership is not incompatible with same-sex marriage, said Spears, 59.
At least half those interviewed were married, having taken their vows during one of the two brief times when it was legally sanctioned in the city or the state.
“It’s a redefinition of marriage,” Spears said. “The emotional commitment, the closeness, all of it is there.”
Have you ever heard the claim that the “homosexual agenda” is to redefine marriage? Ever hear how “gay couples aren’t monogamous, anyway?
Anyone want to guess how long it will take for that completely fake “study” to make its way into an anti-gay commercial? Or be presented in court as evidence of why we should not be allowed to have relationships at all? Or be used by some bigoted judge to take some lesbian’s children away from her?