Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for March, 2013

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.

The American Academy of Pediatrics takes on fraudulent letter from bogus pediatrics group

Timothy Kincaid

April 13th, 2010

Yet again, Truth Wins Out has done what TWO does so well: getting professionals to refute the nonsense claimed by anti-gay activist masquerading as scientists. In response to the letter that the bogus American College of Pediatricians sent to principals, the real representative organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics has set the record straight:

On or around March 31, 2010, school superintendents may have received another letter from the American College of Pediatricians, which is in no way affiliated with the American Academy of Pediatrics. The letter promotes another campaign titled “Facts About Youth,” which professes to offer guidance to educators on “approaches to students experiencing sexual orientation and gender identity confusion.” Their campaign does not acknowledge the scientific and medical evidence regarding sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual health, or effective health education.

The AAP encourages school administrators and officials, teachers, parents, and youth to become familiar with and utilize the AAP developed and endorsed resources on this issue for reliable, sound, scientific, medical advice

Bogus “American College of Pediatricians” distributes deliberately fraudulent anti-gay propaganda to schools

Timothy Kincaid

April 5th, 2010

In 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics, an association of 60,000 pediatricians, voted to adopt a position in support of gay parents. Six pediatricians who opposed this policy on religious grounds rallied like-minded friends and, on October 19th, about 15 people founded the American College of Pediatricians. It would be accurate to describe this organization as a vehicle through which a small minority of anti-gay doctors advocate in opposition to gay rights, abortion rights, and euthanasia.

According to Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink, at the end of March, the ACP sent out a letter to school superintendents. They don’t say how many schools received the letter, but even one is too many.

Despite the name, ACP is not a institute of higher learning. Nor is it a professional organization for pediatricians. This is an advocacy group dedicated to political goals which is using an authoritative sounding name to fool the unaware.

Yes, their officers and their board are all pediatricians (usually older gentlemen in the South), but their “Pediatric Psychosocial Development Committee” reads like a members roster of the virulently anti-gay National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH).

The connections don’t stop at the committee level. One ACP board member, Quentin Van Meter, was a featured speaker at the 2009 NARTH Convention. And Michelle Cretella, a real nasty piece of work, sits on both boards. She is also listed as the “chair of the Sexuality Committee, American College of Pediatricians”.

With connections this deep to an organization whose primary function is to generate anti-gay propaganda masquerading as scientific research, it should not be too surprising that the American College of Pediatrics uses the same tactics. Their letter to the schools is rife with lies, misrepresentations, distortions and outright fraud. In fact, there is little there that has any distant relationship to truth.

The letter – and the website it directs the reader – makes a number of claims. And the ACP has adopted Paul Cameron’s tactic of lengthy footnotes. But, as with Cameron, the supporting documents do not support the claims. Let’s take a look at the first three.

Homosexuality is not a genetically-determined, unchangeable trait.

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the Genome Project, has stated that while homosexuality may be genetically influenced, it is “… not hardwired by DNA, and (that) whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predetermination[s].” He also states that “…the prominent role of individual free will choices have a profound effect on us.”

Well that’s not the first time that Byrd has twisted Collins’ work to support his own agenda. And Collins has refuted this misinterpretation. Twice.

The evidence we have at present strongly supports the proposition that there are hereditary factors in male homosexuality — the observation that an identical twin of a male homosexual has approximately a 20% likelihood of also being gay points to this conclusion, since that is 10 times the population incidence. But the fact that the answer is not 100% also suggests that other factors besides DNA must be involved. That certainly doesn’t imply, however, that those other undefined factors are inherently alterable.

Misquoting once is perhaps an error in judgment. Repeating the process after you have been refuted is fraud.

Next:

Homosexual attraction is determined by a combination of familial, environmental, social and biological influences. Inheritance of predisposing personality traits may play a role for some. Consequently, homosexual attraction is changeable.

Consequently? Oh please dear God don’t let our nation have school superintendents so stupid that they don’t immediately burst out laughing.

First, while we know that genetics plays a role for at least some gay men (there’s less study performed on women), we do not know whether the other contributing factors include family, environment (in utero, social, chemical, or other), or social. Interestingly, other than a book by a NARTH member, all other footnoted sources were support for the role that genetics plays.

But as for “changeable”, the evidence suggests quite the opposite. And to find that orientation has a number of contributing factors does not “consequently” support that claim.

This is simply bait and switch deception.

Third,

Most students (over 85%) with same-sex attractions will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged. Most questioning students are experiencing temporary sexual confusion or are involved in experimentation.

Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25. In one study, as many as 26% of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation, yet only 2-3% of adults actually identify themselves as homosexual. Therefore, the majority of sexually-questioning youth ultimately adopt a heterosexual identity.

Impressive, right?

Except that the source they use for the “26% of 12-year-olds” doesn’t quite say what they pretend.

From the article:

The percentage of students who were “unsure” about orientation steadily declined with age from 25.9% in 12-year-old persons to 5% in 18-year-old students.

But what does this “uncertainty” mean? Are these same-sex attracted kids?

The percentage of students reporting predominantly homosexual attractions steadily increased with age, while the proportion with bisexual or predominantly heterosexual attractions decreased.

In fact, only 2.2% of 12-year-olds reported predominantly homosexual attractions.

These kids were not “sexually-questioning youth”. And they were not “students with same-sex attractions”. Rather, these 12-year-olds were not yet “sure” about their sexual orientation. Frankly, they probably weren’t exactly sure what it all meant. But they did figure it out over time.

And were they “involved in experimentation”? Not according to this study.

Overall, 1% of respondents reported some homosexual experience; and 52%, some heterosexual experience… For males, but not females, the prevalence of reported homosexual experiences increased with age, from 0.4% at 12 years to a peak of 2.8% at 18.”

Everything that ACP claimed is refuted by going to the source they credit. This isn’t a “perspective” or a “way of reading the data”. This is a lie.

They go on with the usual litany of lies. You know, that homosexuality is a dangerous lifestyle wrought with physical and mental illness caused by sexual abuse. But therapy has proven to be effective in curing homosexuality (and behavior is a choice anyway) so you shouldn’t allow support groups on campus (they aren’t good for kids). It’s pretty evil stuff.

No school should rely on this bogus organization for truth. They have none to offer.

But what they have done goes beyond opinion. It goes beyond faith or values or religion. This was a deliberate attempt to deceive. It twisted the work of legitimate researchers and sought to establish positions in educational institutions that are the opposite of what their research found to be best for the kids. If school superintendents rely on this information, it could harm the lives of children.

The board of directors of this organization are licensed medical doctors. They are pediatricians. It is unconscionable what they have done.

Why Marriage Is Important To Children

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2006

Pawelski, James G.; Perrin, Ellen C.; Foy, Jane M., et al. “Effects of marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws on the health and well-being of children.”Pediatrics 118, no. 1 (July 2006): 349-364. Free full text available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/1/349.

The Board of Directors of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) commissioned a study last year on the challenges same-sex couples and their children face as a result of a public policy that excludes them from civil marriage and (in most states) second-parent adoption rights. That study appears in this month’s edition of the journal Pediatrics. It has also been made available for free to the general public via the journal’s web site. This report is highly readable, and provides an excellent rundown on all the reasons why marriage and civil unions are crucially important to the children of gays and lesbians.

Pediatricians have a very rich professional perspective on the importance of marriage in the family, and specifically, the special issues facing gays and lesbians. The authors note:

Because many pediatricians are fortunate to care for 2 or more generations of a family, we are likely to encounter and remain involved with our patients, regardless of sexual orientation, as they mature and mark the milestones of establishing a committed partnership with another adult, deciding to raise a family, and entrusting the health and well-being of their own children to us.

Data from the 2000 census shows that the highest concentration of same-sex couples raising children is found in the South, where 36% of lesbian couples and 24% of gay couples are raising children. The second highest percentage is in the Midwest. These regions represent the bedrock of what we often consider to be “family values,” where the data clearly shows gays and lesbians are living examples of those values despite the obstacles.

The State of the Union
The report begins with an excellent overview of the state of marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws across all fifty states and the District of Columbia, including descriptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the various definitions of civil union and domestic partnership that exists in many localities. Also included is a overview of the famous list of 1,136 federal provisions identified by the Government Accountability Office related to the rights, protections, benefits and obligations related to marriage.

The authors also note the obstacles to adoption and foster parenting placed against gays and lesbians. Coparent or second-parent adoptions are recognized only in nine states (California, Connecticut, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont; and the District of Columbia). Most children raised in same-sex households were originally born into a heterosexual relationship, before one or both parents came out of the closet. This means that later, when that parent enters into a relationship with a same-sex partner, that parent is the only one recognized as the child’s legal parent. The partner often has no parental rights available whatsoever.

When coupled with barriers to marriage rights, this situation places very serious and sometimes dangerous barriers between the non-biological parent and the child. For example:

  • That parent cannot consent to medical care or authorize emergency medical treatment for the child. This can be crucial if the legal parent isn’t available.
  • That parent cannot necessarily rely on visitation rights while the child is in the hospital.
  • That parent cannot exercise the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for the child.
  • That parent is not legally recognized as a parental authority in the child’s school.
  • That parent may not be able to continue to care for the child, or even assert visitation rights if the partnership is dissolved or the child’s biological or adoptive parent dies.
  • That parent cannot accompany the child while traveling abroad without special authorization from the child’s legal parent.
  • The child is not eligible for that parent’s Social Security survivorship benefit in the event of that parent’s death.

These are just a few of the many barriers that stand between parents and children in same-sex families. Others include ongoing acts of discrimination and hate crimes which serve to cast a pall on the atmosphere surrounding the child as he or she grows up in the world.

The article concludes with a rundown on the usual studies on the psychological well-being of the children of gay and lesbian parents, and summarizes the position statements of several organizations. Overall, it is an excellent, easy-to-read source for information on the the importance of marriage for the well-being of children.

The authors conclude:

Gays and lesbian people have been raising children for may years and will continue to do so in the future; the issue is whether these children will be raised by parents who have the rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage. …

Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.

Conservatives Are Right: Marriage Protects Children
Opponents to marriage equality for gays and lesbians often invoke the positive, supportive role marriage plays in families and children. The Heritage Foundation produced The Positive Effects of MArriage: A Book of Charts (PDF: 296KB/56 pages), which demonstrates the many ways in which marriage benefits are crucial to children’s well-being. So all of this begs the question: If marriage provides so many vital protections for children, how can conservatives continue to deny these very protections for the children of gay and lesbian couples? Are these children somehow less deserving?

Social conservatives are correct when they say that marriage protects children. It is time we offered all children that measure of protection.