March 21st, 2013
The National Organization for Marriage has been spreading a host of falsehoods about research into same-sex parenting. Every so I often I lob a tweet about this to Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director. He never replies, which is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to know what he’d say when confronted with these blatant…inaccuracies.
And now I know. [Spoiler alert: He doesn’t say, “Oh, we’re awful, and I’ll fix it right away!’]
It began this morning when reader/warrior StraightGrandmother directed me to Maggie Gallagher in the National Review:
There are at least four reviews or studies in peer-reviewed literature that contest the claim that children do equally well with same-sex parents. (Regnerus, Marks, Sirota, Allen). None of which are mentioned by the American Academy of Pediatricians in their endorsement of gay marriage. They cannot cite a single scientific study in a peer-reviewed journal showing children with gay parents are better off if their parents are considered legally married. None of this matters. How serious are we about children’s well-being in this country?
Then I found this new press release on NOM’s website:
One recent large-scale random sample study that has been produced by University of Texas researchers found that those raised in a same-sex household fared worse than those raised in intact heterosexual families on two-thirds of outcomes measured. Nowhere in the AAP statement do they address the confounding scientific evidence by Regnerus, Marks, Sirota and Allen — all published in peer-reviewed journals. The AAP simply ignores them.
I know a bit about Regnerus and Sirota. Their studies tell us nothing about same-sex parenting. I called the phone number on the press release and spoke to a very nice press rep. She told me I should talk to Thomas Peters and gave me the number to his office. And I was all, Goody!
Well, Thomas was reluctant from the start: I’m not a journalist, he doesn’t do impromptu interviews, and I should direct my questions to their press reps. I said a press rep had directed me to him. He hesitantly agreed to a conversation and asked whether I were recording it (no) and whether I were okay with him recording it (of course!).
I referred him to the press release quote above and asked if he were aware that the Sirota study did not look at same-sex parents. He slowly said no (I believe him) and asked what it did look at. I told him Sirota compared kids raised by straight dads with those raised by gay dads, but in both cases the dads were married to the mothers, so the study was really about opposite-sex parenting.
He told me he didn’t write the press release.
When I told him Regnerus hadn’t specified any results for kids raised by same-sex parents, he quickly agreed (that’s why I believed him about Sirota) and accurately characterized the study as looking at kids with a parent who’d had a same-sex relationship. I told him that NOM’s Rhode Island branch wasn’t describing it that way — they were falsely attributing these results to kids raised by lesbian couples.
At this point NOM’s Communications Officer told me if I had a problem with what NOM Rhode Island was saying I should talk to NOM Rhode Island.
(This was actually a screw-up on my part: I didn’t need to bring up NOM-RI. This falsehood was promulgated in the press release above!)
I pressed Thomas on the content of these studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s broader point that the AAP had simply ignored other research when they issued their politically-motivated endorsement. That sent me back into the details of studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s other broader point that there isn’t a lot of good research on the topic at all and I wondered whether that meant he was saying these studies supposedly against same-sex marriage weren’t good, either, and he said this was turning into more of a lecture than an interview, on which point he was probably correct, and he firmly and emphatically but not impolitely ended the call.
So now I know what Thomas Peters will do when confronted with NOM’s falsehoods: He’ll act like facts don’t matter.
He won’t dispute the facts. He won’t admit NOM has the facts wrong. He won’t take responsibility for how the facts are communicated. Instead he’ll evade. He’ll change the subject. He’ll strategically retreat to discussing NOM’s broader points in order to avoid getting mired in the tiny points. Like facts.
Now, remember, I didn’t record the call, so I’m recounting this from memory. And I’m editorializing (just a bit?). But that, of course, is why Thomas records this sort of call. And if Thomas would like to release the entire, unedited audio of the conversation, I hereby grant him permission.
Somebody please let me know if he does.
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Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
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