Full text of my Colorado Senate committee testimony on civil unions

Daniel Gonzales

March 7th, 2011

Senator Pat Steadman, the bill's sponsor is seated next to me.

The Colorado Senate is holding committee hearings on the civil unions bill today and I will be testifying.  I’ve noticed that Focus has been coming at the issue in the media from the angle of “the body of scientific research proves that children do best with a mom and a dad.”  Not one to let their abuse of research slide I have written a testimony that takes Focus head on.  Full text after the jump.

My name is Daniel Gonzales, I am a former evangelical Christian and now write for the website Box Turtle Bulletin which monitors and analyzes
anti-gay rhetoric and junk science from across the country.

Focus on the Family has kept us busy over the years since they regularly mis-use scientific research to back up their religious beliefs.

In regards to the civil unions bill, this week Focus staffer Jenny Tyree has been telling the Colorado media that “Colorado children do best with a mom and a dad,” unfortunately Focus has to misrepresent research in order to support that claim.

In a 2007 amicus brief the American Psychological Association declared that these studies Focus likes to cite in-fact only address the issue of two parent households being preferable to one-parent and that “all else being equal – children do better with two parenting figures rather than just one.”

In other words, the studies that Focus uses to back up their claim found only that two parents are preferable to one, NOT that straight people make better parents than gay people.

Continuing the quote “The specific research studies typically cited in this regard do not address parents’ sexual orientation.”

According to the APA’s 2005 pamphlet titled “lesbian and gay parenting” Systematic research on children in gay families didn’t even appear in major professional journals until the late 1970s. So most of these older studies Focus cites did not even include gay and lesbian families or couldn’t obtain a representative sample.

The APA states that only in recent years has what it deems a “considerable body of research” finally become available on gay families.

And of course that research has shown that gay people are just as fit to be parents as straight people. The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Psychiatric Association have also issuing statements to this effect.

Focus has such a track record of distorting and misusing scientific research that the website RespectMyResearch.org has been created to give scientists a platform to address mis-use of their research by Focus. Scientists from Columbia University, Yale University School of Medicine, New York University, and the University of British Columbia, have all spoken out publicly against Focus’ mis-use of their research.

Also I’d like to remind everyone here that almost 40 years ago homosexuality stopped being considered a mental illness, yet to this day Focus still tells gay people they should enter “straight conversion programs” and “pray the gay away.”

In fact, all the evidence points in the opposite direction, that gays can not go straight and that gay people raise children just as well as straight people do.

With the wealth of new research on gay families it’s unfortunate Focus hasn’t used this science to inform their religious beliefs. Instead they’re continuing their long history of attempting to twist science to match their particular interpretation of the bible.

We all know that Focus views gay families as inferior to straight families but they like to pretend that enacting civil unions here in Colorado will somehow magically create gay and lesbian families raising kids.

Newsflash, gay and lesbian families already exist here and will continue to exist regardless of this bill. The only question here is, will you the legislature pass this bill giving us the protections our families and our children need.


March 7th, 2011

Bravo!! ^5!


March 7th, 2011

Hear, hear!

Very well-put.

Ben in Oakland

March 7th, 2011

Daniel– I think what you said is great. You seem to have missed an opportunity to remind the legislature that:

1) the issue of “children do best” is at best peripheral to the issue of civil unions, which is not about children but about adults and the legal formation of family, the building block of society.

As you rightly noted however…

2) Gay people have children, and more will, and those children require the same kind of legal protection that having legally recognized parents provides them.

Moreover, gay people are frequently adopting the unwanted, castoff products of irresponsible heterosexual reproduction, though you don’t want to put it that way because heterosexuals do NOT like wallowing in their own hypocrisy, I mean, being reminded of their shortcomings. The issue is not between two gay parents and two straight parents, but between two parents of whatever gender and NO PARENTS.


March 8th, 2011

“I am a former evangelical Christian”
“Focus hasn’t used this science to inform their religious beliefs.”

Once again, it all comes down to
religious hubris. Maybe it takes a god to make second class citizens.

Christopher Eberz

March 8th, 2011

Knocked it out of the Park Daniel, Bravo :-)

I have this fantasy of mine where all who speak in defense of gay rights, from LGBT to allies, be it on cable news or in front of committees, speak with the breadth of knowledge that is seen from you guys here on BTB.

Keep up the fantastic work, and may it *spread*.


March 8th, 2011

Very well stated. I thought that Daniel was correct to focus on the children issue because he was explicitly answering FoF’s disinformation.

Priya Lynn

March 8th, 2011

Way to go Daniel.


March 8th, 2011

Was the Committee provided with all of the actual (true/authentic) research cited, or would the Committee have to seek this out on their own?

Daniel Gonzales

March 8th, 2011


The two documents I cited are each 80 pages so yes I presented one set to the bill’s sponsor Pat Steadman.

Rachel H

March 8th, 2011

Fantastic work. Thank you.


March 8th, 2011


Focus didn’t put a single expert witness on the stand during the Prop8 trial…

“all else being equal – children do better with a mom and a dad.”
I’ve been trying to come up with good ways to express/explain that this formulation (especially compelling to at least one judge at the D9 appeals court) is

a) not a good way of thinking about the underlying moral issue
b) an impermissible rank-ordering, either ordinal or fractional

On (a), we do not have “rival goods”, necessarily to weigh in this way, even if we could

On (b), all else is not equal. Children of gay parents are by definition wanted. What’s more, there are no gay abortions.


March 8th, 2011

Thank you Daniel. The info you shared was very valuable. Hopefully it makes a difference in Co.

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