Think About the Children
February 5th, 2013
Self-described Catholic blogger Brandon Vogt recently published Rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriage. He tries to disprove 10 common same-sex-marriage arguments, but merely highlights the most common mistakes of his own camp. I’m addressing each of his 10 points in separate posts as a kind of back-to-basics review of our opposition.
In his quest to rebut “our” arguments, Vogt now goes where our opponents always go: to the children.
7. Children will not be affected since there is no difference between same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents.
This argument was most famously stated in 2005 when the American Psychological Association (APA) wrote that “not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”
However, several recent studies have put that claim to rest. In June, LSU scholar Loren Marks published a peer-reviewed paper in Social Science Research. It examined the 59 studies that the APA relied on for its briefing. Marks discovered that not one of the studies used a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children.
Over and over again, we’ve seen Vogt’s anti-gay eagerness overwhelm his dispassionate reason. It’s happening again. Compare these statements:
- The APA says that “not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.”
- Vogt claims studies that studies showing positive outcomes for same-sex parenting are flawed.
Do you see the problem? #2 does not contradict #1. Vogt’s #2 simply claims we have no good studies favoring same-sex parenting. But that doesn’t invalidate the APA statement that there are no studies damning same-sex parenting.
Linger on this a moment. Our opponents would love to claim that same-sex parenting is bad, but they haven’t been able to, despite their long and sustained effort. They’ve been limited to throwing stone at same-sex-positive studies. And that’s all.
Let me be clear: Vogt might invalidate every study the APA looked at in favor of same-sex parenting. That still doesn’t invalidate the APA’s statement that “not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged” — a statement which remains true even if the number of valid studies (for either viewpoint) is zero. There’s a clear logical distinction here. And Vogt, for some reason, is unable to see it.
The only way Vogt can save himself is to give us a study showing the harms of same-sex parenting. He tries, and in doing so, wrecks his own argument.
Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus released a comprehensive study titled “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?” His research used a large, random and national sample and its scope was unprecedented among prior work in this field. Contrary to the APA, Regnerus found that for a majority of outcomes, children raised by parents with same-sex relationships drastically underperformed children raised in a household with married, biological parents.
He quickly noted that his study didn’t necessarily show that same-sex couples are bad parents, but that it did definitively put to rest the claim that there are “no differences” among parenting combinations.
Anyone who damns same-sex parenting by invoking the Regnerus study has simply damned their own argument, because Regnerus simply did not report outcomes for the cohort of kids raised by same-sex parents. Here’s what actually happened:
- Regnerus reported negative outcomes for 175 children with at least parent who had a same-sex relationship, whether it lasted for years or was a brief one-time deal, labeling these parents “gay dads” and “lesbian moms.”*
- Nearly all of these 175 kids came from broken heterosexual homes.
- Of those 175 children, only 30 lived with same-sex parents at least 3 years (a meager 3 years!).**
- Regnerus did not report outcomes for this group of 30 kids, and even if he had, he tells us in his own study that a number this small does not allow for solid conclusions.
Vogt would have us believe that Regnerus “definitively put to rest the claim that there are ‘no differences’ among parenting combinations.” He doesn’t seem to realize Regnerus’ study didn’t tell us anything about the same-sex parenting combination.
Not that Vogt is necessarily lying to us. It’s at least as likely that he’s blind to the flaws of any study supporting his anti-gay agenda (as ever, I wish we had a word to describe this kind of irrational blindness when it comes to all things gay).
By now, some of you may have noticed a strategic mistake on my part. I’ve been entirely on the defensive, ripping apart Vogt’s arguments that harm will come to children. Really, though, our best argument is not Children will not be affected by same-sex marriage. No. Our best argument in this area is that Children will benefit.
Gay and lesbian couples have been raising kids for decades. Whether it comes about through previous marriages, surrogacy, IVF, rescuing kids from unparented poverty, or pulling them out of foster care, same-sex couples will continue making sacrifices to raise children whether same-sex marriage is legal or not. Given that fact, that indisputable truth, it’s a hideous moral breach to deny these children the stability and protection they would get from allowing their parents to marry. Our opponents desperately need to take their own words to heart: They must realize that when they say, Think about the children!, they truly need to think about the children.
Tomorrow: Is opposition to same-sex marriage based on bigotry, homophobia and religious hatred?
* In college I had sex with two women whom I dated. Does this make me “straight” or even bi? (The answer is no.)
** This number is uncertain due to oddities in the data. For instance, a number of kids (now grown) reported having lived with their biological mother’s girlfriend long than with their biological mother. Whether that’s true or a problem with the data collection I cannot say.