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Nation’s Largest Pediatrics Organization Supports Same-Sex Marriage, Criticizes Regnerus Study

Jim Burroway

March 21st, 2013

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement today putting the nation’s largest professional organization of pediatricians firmly in support of same-sex marriage.

In a policy statement issued today, the AAP says (PDF: 684KB/6 pages):

All children need support and nurturing from stable, healthy, and wellfunctioning adults to become resilient and effective adults. On the basis of a review of extensive scientific literature, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) affirms that “children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents.”

…Public policy related to marriage and family is largely a state function. Consequently, the laws across the country that regulate marriage, adoption, and foster parenting by gay men and lesbians are an inconsistent patchwork. Even civil marriage in a state that permits it does not ensure access to federal benefits. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (1996; Pub. L. No. 104-199) denies members of married samegender households access and benefits equivalent to those available to households headed by married parents of different genders, such as (1) Social Security and related programs, (2) housing and food stamps, (3) federal civilian and military service benefits, (4) employment benefits, (5) immigration and nationality status, (6) remedies and protections for crimes and family violence, and (7) certain loans and financial guarantees. For this reason, the AAP has joined with other national organizations in support of the position that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

A core mission of the AAP is to support the best interests of all children, regardless of their home or family structure, on the basis of the common principles of justice. If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so. If 2 parents are not available to the child, adoption or foster parenting remain acceptable options to provide a loving home for a child and should be available without regard to the sexual orientation of the parent(s).

Recommendations:
The AAP works to ensure that public policies help all parents, regardless of sexual orientation and other characteristics, to build and maintain strong, stable, and healthy families that are able to meet the needs of their children. In particular, the AAP supports:

1. Marriage equality for all capable and consenting couples, including those who are of the same gender, as a means of guaranteeing all federal and state rights and benefits, and long-term security for their children.

2. Adoption by single parents, coparents adopting together, or a second parent when 1 parent is already a legal parent by birth or adoption, without regard to the sexual orientation of the adoptive parent(s).

The policy statement was accompanied by a tachnical report by Drs. Ellen C. Perrin, Benjamin S. Siegel, and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. Titled “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents are Gay or Lesbian” (PDF: 736KB/12 pages), the report lists a whole range of legal disparities created by various state laws addressing the rights and responsibilities of parenthood, as well as legal disparities created by federal laws and regulations. The technical report also lists several disparities which directly imact the child’s health, including barriers which may prohibit one parent from making medical decisions for their children in emergency situations or accompanying their children in the hospital. Othe barriers stand in the way of a working parent obtaining employer-provided health insurance for his or her children.

The technical report also examines some thirty years of research on gay and lesbian parenting, including last year’s deeply flawed study by Mark Regnerus claiming to demonstrate negative outcomes for children of same-sex parents:

A recent publication was based on a large national sample of US adults who were asked whether their parents had ever had a relationship with a person of the same gender while they were growing up and whether they had ever lived with that parent while the parent was involved in such a relationship. Parents who were said to have had a same-gender relationship were categorized as lesbian or gay parents, although their sexual orientation was not directly determined. In comparison with those who did not report that a parent had had a same-gender relationship, a number of adverse outcomes were identified, including being on public assistance, being unemployed, and having poorer educational attainment. Extensive critique of this study has pointed out that:

  • It is well known that family instability, and in particular divorce, is a risk factor for children, and almost all of the respondents whose parent had had a same-gender relationship had also experienced the divorce of their parents.
  • These data reflect an era when stigmatization and discrimination toward same-gender couples and their children were strong and were likely to have contributed to less-than-optimal child-rearing environments.
  • Respondents were certainly not children “raised by” lesbian or gay parents, because only half were living with these parents, and the sexual orientation of the parents was not determined.
  • The great variability in the form and characteristics of both same-gender and heterosexual relationships, combined with the small number of those relationships, even in a large data set like this one, makes it impossible to sort out true evidence of causality.

The Regnerus Study, which was mostly paid for by some $700,000 in grants from the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, was released last year to great fanfare in the conservative press. BTB was the first to debunk the study on the same morning in which it was released to the public.

The technical report went on to review some thirty years’ worth of studies, and concluded:

On the basis of this comprehensive review of the literature regarding the development and adjustment of children whose parents are the same gender, as well as the existing evidence for the legal, social, and health benefits of marriage to children, the AAP concludes that it is in the best interests of children that they be able to partake in the security of permanent nurturing and care that comes with the civil marriage of their parents, without regard to their parents’ gender or sexual orientation.

The policy statement and technical report will appear in the April 2013 issue of the AAP’s journal Pediatrics.

Comments

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customartist
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Sadly the Religious-Right ignore science at will

StraightGrandmother
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Jim,
Did I miss it? I was looking for the link to the full article (Technical Report) which is
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/18/peds.2013-0377.full.pdf+html

Most people are only providing link to the abstract.I contacted the AAP to get the link to the full report.

Many thanks Jim!

Jim Burroway
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

You missed it, the link is there. But thanks for reiterating it. I find it annoying when people only link to the abstract also.

Charles
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Sadly the Religious-Right ignore science at will – customartist

We all know that fact. No one can reason with someone whose fallback position is, “Well, my god tells me otherwise”. Does anyone want to try reasoning with fundamentalist Muslims over any issue?

MattNYC
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

somewhat related, an excellent article on Sen. Portman’s change of heart. It’s a much better-written take on my accusations of his selfishness:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/03/rob-portman-gay-marriage-and-selfishness.html

Sandhorse
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Blah! Blah! Blah!

TomTallis
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Deeply flawed? The Regnerus “Study” is NOT “deeply flawed,” it’s deliberately dishonest. Regnerus reported on outcomes for a population that wasn’t even studied.

That leads to only one of two conclusions: A) Regnerus deliberately falsified his study; or B)Regnerus is so incompetent as to be unable to reason on the most basic levels.

Given what we now now about how this study was commissioned, and the control the commissioning organization had during the entire course of this bogus “study,” only ‘A’ is a tenable conclusion.

Sandhorse
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

“Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… IF INDEED THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… COME OUT ONLY TO THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW, AND WHO KNOW YOU. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.” ~ Harvey Milk (emphasis mine)

The whole rational for Milk’s call for gays to come out to people they know was to put a face to a cause. And not just any face, but the face of a loved one. Not the face of a stranger among crowds but a face at the dinner table. This was beyond doubt the hinging factor to truly changing lives and turning the tide. It forced people to grapple with reality because it was suddenly personal.

And people changed because now it was a family member, a friend.

To attribute all the change in hearts from the act of coming out to the selfishness of the heart changed is to dismiss all the efforts of those that have come out before us and to belittle the courage of those that come out now.

And it derides the effort and courage of the one who we should thank most for Sen. Portman change of heart, Will Portman.

Apparently we are no longer satisfied when people come to our side; they now MUST come to our side on OUR terms…

And apparently, if we perceive their change of heart to be less worthy of respect then others, we’ll be sure to let them know.

Cuz apparently, graciousness is not a gay trait.

chiMaxx
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

I’m tired of people mistaking frustration for lack of graciousness. It’s wonderful that Portman is now no longer against us and is now kinda sorta on our side (though unwilling to actually endorse legal changes to support his change of heart).

But how his mind was changed gives us no way forward. Surely his son is not the first out gay person Portman has met. If the only way to convince conservative Republican legislators to give even rhetorical support to gays and lesbians is to give them a gay child, how do we build on that?

chiMaxx
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Grrr. MattNYC and Sandhorse, I let you derail me. I came here to say:

Bravo BTB. This is the sort of story you do best.

Sandhorse
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Sorry to derail your train of thought, chiMaxx, but at the risk of putting jelly beans on your tracks again…

“I’m tired of people mistaking frustration for lack of graciousness.”

Then I guess I’ll be grateful our gay predecessors weren’t so easily frustrated.

“It’s wonderful that Portman is now no longer against us and is now kinda sorta on our side.”

Was that so hard? And I agree!

“(though unwilling to actually endorse legal changes to support his change of heart)”.

Yet…

But who knows what will happen in the future for Sen. Portman? He may, given time, decide to push for full federal recognition. Impossible you say? Until a few days ago, so was a staunch social conservative coming out for gay marriage.

“But how his mind was changed gives us no way forward. Surely his son is not the first out gay person Portman has met. If the only way to convince conservative Republican legislators to give even rhetorical support to gays and lesbians is to give them a gay child, how do we build on that?”

These aren’t unreasonable doubts and questions. Heck, a social conservative for gay marriage in our midst is very much like meeting in alien in our back yard.

But now we have some choices?

Do we lock him away to run tests on him until we can surmise his motivations?

Or,

Do we cautiously but graciously shake his hand, say ‘Welcome to Earth’ (or in Portman’s case, welcome to the 21st century), and see what kind of interaction we can have?

Priya Lynn
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Chimax said “I’m tired of people mistaking frustration for lack of graciousness.”.

I for one can’t conceive how one can be both frustrated and gracious. To me frustration necessarily means a lack of graciousness. To say otherwise is like saying “Don’t confuse my hate for you with me not loving you.”.

Jim Burroway
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Portman discussions are off topic to this thread. If you want to discuss Portman further, I encourage you to pick one the following:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2013/03/18/54659

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2013/03/15/54550

MattNYC
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Sorry. Didn’t want to dig up old threads… :P

Jim Burroway
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

I should also add that Daily Agendas are also open threads.

Brennin Statistician
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

I downloaded the article. The people who wrote it may very well be good doctors but they are worse than useless as statisticians. It doesn’t matter how high you pile manure; it is still manure and it still stinks.

Regnerus was spot on in his criticisms of the studies these docs (and the APA and the ASA*) cite in arguing for SSM. The Gartrell/NLLF study, with which I am most familiar, is essentially junk and a textbook example of how not to do statistics. (In fact, I may use it as an example the next time I teach statistics!) There is a lot of lousy research out there, and a lot of people who are incompetent in statistics, and these studies and the people behind them represent both.

Of course, the article will have the intended effect on the unlearned, such as those who are swayed by talk of being on the “right side of history,” who think that your nose holding up your glasses somehow refutes natural law arguments/appeals to teleology, who think that such arguments are limited to Roman Catholics (as if Aristotle were one), who think the Bible does proscribe homoerotic acts, etc.

*American Sociological Association, which is not to be confused with the far superior American Statistical Association.

Brennin Statistician
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

In my previous post the penultimate sentence should read “…who think the Bible does not proscribe homoerotic acts, etc.”

chiMaxx
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

I won’t be sucked back in to the general discussion here, Sandhorse. I said what I wanted to say better in one of those threads.

But to Priya Lynn, I will say: You clearly didn’t learn the same definition of graciousness that I did. It is easy to be nice to people when you like them and are in a good mood. Graciousness is all about making the effort to be equally nice to people when they are rude or you are frustrated or over-tired or angry or just don’t like them very much.

Jim Burroway
March 21st, 2013 | LINK

Brennin “Statistician”

If you believe Regnerus’s so-called study represents valid statistics, then you’re no statistician.

Or, if you do call yourself a statistician (by your name, I assume you do), then you would be a grossly incompetent one.

Brennin Statistician
March 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Mr. Burroway,

You lack the requisite background to judge my competency (although, I thought some of your criticisms of Regnerus’ article had merit and it is perhaps a little less of a stretch for you to judge a statistician than it is for Timothy Kincaid to proclaim Robert Gagnon a third rate scholar when Kincaid is a no rate scholar). But more importantly, and more to the point, I only endorsed Regnerus’ criticisms of the NLLFS and other same sex parenting studies. I did not endorse the entirety of his paper, his methods, his conclusions, etc. I actually have not read it past the beginning where he criticizes those studies. (I am a busy statistician).

Richard Rush
March 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Brennin,

“Of course, the article will have the intended effect on the unlearned, such as those . . . who think the Bible does not proscribe homoerotic acts, etc.”

Bingo! It’s revealing that “a busy statistician” would bring irrelevant mythology into the conversation. Since the dawn of the 21st century I can’t think of a single outspoken anti-gay warrior for whom religion is not the driving force or chief justification for their endeavors. Many try to keep it under wraps, but eventually they just can’t resist revealing their dirty little secret.

The facts that Regnerus identifies himself as a sociologist, and you identify yourself as a statistician are equally impressive.

chiMaxx
March 22nd, 2013 | LINK

As Brennin Statistician himself commented on an entirely different thread on a different site: “Sigh.”

No evidence or argument will change the minds of true believers in teleology and natural law. But it doesn’t matter.

As David Hart Bentley pointed out recently, however, the very thing that allows their ideas to be coherent separates those ideas from the world of evidence and public policy that everyone else lives in. “There is no logically coherent way to translate [the natural law proponents’] form of cosmic moral vision into the language of modern ‘practical reason’ or of public policy debate in a secular society.”

In other words, yes, no amount of evidence from nature observed can ever sway those deep in the rabbit hole of coherent natural “laws” that do not derive from and cannot be deduced from direct observation of nature. But it is equally true that when they emerge from those rabbit holes and try to convince those of us living in a post-Darwinian world of evidence and observation that their theory clearly shows that the sky is falling and that we must therefore shape our lives and our secular laws around the principles in their complex and coherent but hermetically-sealed-off-from-the-world theory in order to keep the sky afloat, we glance upward, politely shrug and go about the business of living our lives.

Priya Lynn
March 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Chimaxx said “You clearly didn’t learn the same definition of graciousness that I did. It is easy to be nice to people when you like them and are in a good mood. Graciousness is all about making the effort to be equally nice to people when they are rude or you are frustrated or over-tired or angry or just don’t like them very much.”.

I don’t dispute that one can be gracious when one is frustrated, over-tired, or angry, or just don’t like them very much. What I’m saying is that if people are seeing frustration from you instead of graciousness then I don’t think they’re “mistaking your graciousness for frustration”, instead you’re projecting frustration, not graciousness.

Priya Lynn
March 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I like how Brennin Statistician always leads his anti-gay arguments with the “argument from authority” logical fallacy – He emphasizes he’s a statistician and no one else is supposedly up to his level and strongly implies that means we should just unquestioningly accept that he’s right and we are wrong.

Well Brennin, you’re not much of a statistician and even if you were it wouldn’t matter, your arguments are still irrational and wrong.

Paul Mc
March 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Brennan, would love to hear your teleological arguments behind the conception of natural law used to deny equal rights to LBGT persons which to me, come down to a position that placing a penis into a vagina has a unique place amidst the profusion of life on earth. This a post-hoc rationalisation of what has arisen through random mutation.

The NLLF study never claimed to be applicable to the general population. It is only one of many studies in the area. The NFSS study claims statistical population validity and then stomps all over any semblance of it in the categorisation of respondents. It did NOT study children raised by lesbian and gay fathers. Period.

NancyP
March 25th, 2013 | LINK

Regnerus commits the most obvious sins of statistics, that of not defining and matching his subject and control sets precisely enough to test his hypothesis – and then over-interpreting his results.

Brennan is correct that there are no ideal studies available. That is true of much of sociology concerning generally stigmatized status or behaviors that can be concealed from the interviewer. However, the studies he criticizes at least attempt to define and match the subject and control sets to a greater extent, resulting in smaller numbers of study participants. The smaller studies are incapable of detecting subtle differences (lack of statistical power).

In real life, pediatricians, and everyone else, make decisions based on incomplete information. The AAP has stated that stability is good for children’s development, marriage contributes to stability of the household in the case of heterosexual parents, there is no reason to think that marriage will destabilize existing gay households with children, and that the preponderance of the evidence shows that two-parent households, whether straight or gay, have roughly similar outcomes. In other words, gay marriage is likely to help, not hurt, the children raised by gay parents.

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