And Speaking of Sample Size Problems…

And Speaking of Sample Size Problems… June 26, 2012

Remember that study contrasting outcomes for children of gay parents with children in other kinds of families?  We discussed a couple methodological concerns here already, but I want to give them credit where it’s due.  The New Family Structures Survey put together a very nice interactive visualization for their data.  And, even more credit, their sample sizes and demographic breakdowns are available right on the first page of the visualization.

People have complained about how few children in the survey were in long-term stable gay families a la Dan Savage’s, but no one I’ve seen has broken down the numbers, even though NFSS gave us the tools to do it.  NFSS counted a child as raised in a gay household if either the mother or the father had ever been in a same-sex relationship while the child was a child.  Here are the subgroups they broke those relationships into:

  • Lived with the queer parent while the parent was in a same-sex relationship
  • Lived with the queer parent while parent was with a same-sex partner of more than four months
  • Lived with the queer parent while parent was with a same-sex partner of more than three years

If we’re talking about the impact of gay marriage, we’re most interested in that third category.  Let’s go to the table!

The number of respondents in each category are not whole numbers because, presumably, NFSS rounded the percentages

So we’ve got, at most, two kids raised by a long-term male-male couple, and up to 41 raised by two women who have stuck it out together.  These data say pretty much nothing about gay marriage for men, and anything about gay marriage for women is probably overshadowed by the 77% of the queer women sample who weren’t in >3 year relationships.  (Forty one people is probably too few to contrast this subgroup directly with long-term straight couples).

I can anticipate one question already: “What if there just aren’t many gay couple who stay together?  Isn’t it ok if the data reflects that?”

No, not really.  You’re really talking about two different studies.  If you want to give a demographic snapshot, it’s fine that some groups have really small showings — that’s what you’re trying to quantify.  If you want to contrast two groups, you have to oversample the rarer group so you have enough people to make a good comparison.  The NFSS people didn’t get enough two-parent, same-sex households to compare them to opposite-sex, not-separated families.  Next time round (and I do hope there will be a next time) they need to change their sampling frame.

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  • bendi

    To be fair, it doesn’t seem like they ever claim to be comparing stable, two-parent same-sex households to opposite-sex, not-separated families. But I catch you point of course- correlation doesn’t prove causality. If most of the same-sex families sampled here were really single parent families, then the negative outcomes we see for their children could simply be due to the challenges associated with being a single-parent, rather than the fact that the parent was homosexual.

    Would you agree, though, that comparing the same-sex parents to the single-parent families in this study should be a fair comparison? Because clicking through results it does seem that gay parents do surprisingly “worse” than single parents most of the time. Whether its by statistically significant amounts, though would require a refactoring of the data I haven’t done, though- so take that observation with a grain of salt.

  • Mark

    Two concerns: 1) Is it really possible to quantify the success of parents given all of the factors that go into creating a person’s life journey. Let alone that judging success or a person’s well-being is pretty subjective. 2) Is understanding differences of how children of same-sex couples and children of opposite-sex couples ‘turn out’ really important for understanding anything inherent about same-sex couples (this may not be what you’re getting at so if that’s the case, I understand).

    Side Note – haven’t there been studies in the past that show that children of same-sex female couples (again there was not enough data on same-sex male couples) have an equal success rate as opposite-sex couple parents?

    • leahlibresco

      Re side note: on those studies, people made the opposite objection. They thought the deck was stacked in favor of the lesbians since many adopted and you go through screening for that, whereas straights can have children without anyone’s approval. There still seems to be no consensus on who exactly should be the control group for gay families.

      • Maiki

        Depends on the purpose of your study. If your study seeks to see what couples are ideal for adoption candidates, the control should be adopted by two heterosexual parents, with stable gay parents and single (gay and straight) parents being other study groups. If your purpose is just to object to gay marriage legislation, a good control would be heterosexual parents through surrogacy or gamete donation vs. stably married homosexual parents having children through gamete donation or surrogacy, or alternatively the adoption study as a secondary study. If some other purpose (say legislating alternative reproduction methods), different controls would be used.

      • Mark

        After reviewing the study more thoroughly, I’m positive that I disagree with the framework they’ve chosen to use to identify what is good parenting. Is one meant to assume that because a child has received therapy, his/her parents’ were less successful? Because I view it the opposite way. Something like marijuana is AT WORST morally neutral. And smoking? How do we know what made the child decide to smoke or not smoke.

    • deiseach

      I agree that it’s early days yet to be drawing any long-term conclusions and that the sample size is too small and too not-random enough.

      But Mark, the reason this kind of survey matters is because, when advocating for same-sex couples to adopt, there were lots of quotations of studies that showed children raised in same-sex couple households did not have any disadvantages compared to children raised in traditional households, so there was no reason not to let same-sex couples adopt.

      Problem was, the studies there were only a handful and the sample was very skewed – towards well-off, white lesbian couples, if I remember correctly. So really, it’s rather like the duelling studies about the effects on children of divorce – the early studies were used for the benefit of adults rather than children, by saying that kids are resilient and there are no long-term ill effects. That’s the same concern here – that the adults are being served rather than the children, by making the children participate in a social experiment.

      I have no idea how it will turn out – opposite-sex couples can be plenty terrible for their children, as we all have plenty and more than plenty of evidence to demonstrate. However, this is what occurs to me when the argument is made that the state should get out of the marriage business altogether and leave people make their own arrangements.

      That would be great, except that when relationships break down, people run to the courts and that’s the state legislating on marriage, cohabitation, adoption, and what have you by another route. Just taking a random example and not saying that any extrapolation to the wider question is intended, but there was recently a court case in England about custody and access of a two-year old boy. His father wants more access and a full parental role in the child’s life, his mother is denying this and says her partner is the other primary parent.

      The father is gay and partnered, the mother is lesbian and partnered, and they are all well-educated professionals who came to a civilised agreement before the child was conceived by sperm donation. Nice and modern and adult and the new paradigm, and the state had no reason to get involved – until the parents started fighting and went to the courts for their conflicting rights. It sounds great to say the solution to the marriage equality question is to take the state out of the role of legitimising private and personal decisions, but human nature being what it is – people will still want some kind of official, enforceable decision on their side when conflict occcurs.

      • Maiki

        Just because the state is not issuing or deciding what goes into marriage contracts, doesn’t mean the state wouldn’t be there to arbitrate private contracts and custody disputes, regardless. E.g. The state (at least in the US) doesn’t issue pre-nups, but people still write them and they are eligible for arbitration of those contracts if a dispute arises. If marriage is no more than a boilerplate contract for 101 different sometimes conflicting scenarios, maybe what people need is a contract lawyer at a marriage, not a very vague law which assumes genetic children, sexual fidelity, and permanence?

      • Oregon Catholic

        I read about that case a while back. Talk about people making a mess of parenting. That poor little boy is unlikely to grow up having any normal role-modeling of what it means to be a man in that culture. I can’t imagine that triad seeing it as something to be sought out for him. If he is heterosexual, he will almost certainly be confused.

  • I believe Regnerus himself claimed it would cost too much to obtain a large enough random sample of people who were raised by same-sex parents for a significant length of time, rather than a convenience sample like previous studies, which he considers to be inadequate.

    “It would have cost untold millions of dollars, and still may not generate the number of cases needed for statistical analyses. If randomness wasn’t the key priority, then we could’ve done it. And we’d have had a nonrandom sample that was no better than anything before it. So, while critics are taking potshots, they should remember that there’s a (low) ceiling to what’s possible here.”

    • leahlibresco

      But if they couldn’t get the numbers, they might have been better off not doing the survey instead of collapsing categories to the point where the comparison doesn’t tell us anything.

      After all, over time, the numbers are going to be easier to get, as gay marriage access expands.

      • Yeah, they shouldn’t have done that. Some people have been guessing about other motives for doing this, such as the sources of the study’s funding and their possible ties to the National Organization for Marriage and its goals, but this seems firmly in the realm of speculation.

        • kenneth

          One needn’t “guess” about the other motives or funding sources at all. It’s a fairly easy straight line to draw between point A and B. None of the sponsoring orgs or inter-related ones have any history or stated interest in supporting basic science research for its own sake. These are groups which exist solely to defeat gay marriage and to advance the conservative Christian cultural and political agendas.

      • Ted Seeber

        But gay marriage has a natural 2% of the population limit (Kinsey’s studies were equally flawed towards selection bias). So I really doubt you’ll EVER be able to oversample gay parents enough to get a good study.

      • Tom

        But the studies are supposed to enlighten the process of deciding whether access to gay marriage ought to be expanded. If we can only get decent samples ex post facto, then what you seem to be saying is that quantitative social science doesn’t really have a role in deliberating the political question of gay marriage.

      • This study is counteracting prior even less reliable studies that were used as claims that the Science Was Settled. And it is very upfront about its limits and sources of error. Its not something one can seriously object to unless one knows a priori that gay marriage is good and therefore that anything tending to obstruct it is on the side of the devils.

        I was not able to find where Libresco got indignant about the flaws in the earlier studies and the dishonest ways they were used. But that’s probably because my sample size of Librescos is too small. If I had a thousand UnequallyYokeds, I would surely find a statistically significant number were not hypocritical.

        • Its not something one can seriously object to unless one knows a priori that gay marriage is good and therefore that anything tending to obstruct it is on the side of the devils.

          If by “It” you mean this study, then this is patently not true. One can and should always object to poor or sloppy science, regardless of whether the outcome supports or refutes one’s own beliefs, and regardless of whether one the conclusions turn out to be true or false. If I attempted to publish a study demonstrating E-mc2 or the existence of gravity using, say, Tarot cards, I’d be laughed off the stage. My conclusions might be right, but my methods would be laughable. One need not disagree with the results to spot flaws in the approach; contrariwise, if one agrees with the results that doesn’t give one the right to close one’s eyes to problems with the study. Not if you want real science.

          • Brings to mind one of TOF’s anecdotes:

            My late boss took stats at NYU and his professor, a chain smoker, reviewed studies of tobacco-cancer links for the tobacco companies. He always found errors in methodology, sampling, analysis, etc.

            Then one day he came to class and the students noticed he was not smoking. One of them finally asked: “Professor, why aren’t you smoking?” and he answered, “I finally was given a study that was valid.”

            Now, that’s a scientist.

          • Except the authors hung a lantern on their own problems and counteracted prior bad studies. Sounds like a win for science to me. But not for progressive politics.

          • kenneth

            So some prior inadequate studies were “counteracted” by an ideologically biased study which produced no valid data for the underlying question, and that sounds like a “win for science”? That level of scientific literacy is why India and China are eating our lunch.

          • Anonymous

            …spoken like someone who’s never reviewed a journal submission from China… or, rather, any journal submissions ever. Ignore Adam G’s statement about “counteracting”. The important part is, “hung a lantern on their own problems.”

          • kenneth

            What you call “hanging a lantern on their own problems” is hardly some heroic act of intellectual honesty. Disclosing one’s conflict of interest and acknowledging limitations of one’s own data is the bare minimum requirement of any serious journal. It also does not cure the underlying problems. It does not change a shabby piece of ideologically driven work into a “win for science.”

            It’s also important to understand how the culture war think tank/propaganda engine works. Guys like Regnerus give the enterprise the credibility of a PhD and the trappings of science. He makes the requisite disclaimers in small type, but the real purpose is not to advance science, but to give fresh ammo to the blogosphere partisans of the Religious Right. They don’t trouble with the subtleties of methodological limitations or bother to mention the hinky funding arrangement. They just splash the big headlines all over saying that “real science shows gay parenting is bad for kids.” It’s a smart, if cynical strategy. They know that Americans have next to no scientific literacy and the attention span of a gnat. The big media splash gets made, the buzz gets created, and by the time people do a serious autopsy on the thing, the news cycle is 15 celebrity scandals down the road.

          • Anonymous

            Nobody is here claiming that it’s the most perfect awesome science ever. On the contrary, you’re here claiming that it is not science. That is patently false. Frankly, most scientists are looking for media buzz, no matter what they work on. Why? Because funding agencies (the ones you would consider legitimate) make decisions based on things like “broader impacts”, which very often boils down to “willing to go produce buzz”. If they state their assumptions and methods, don’t falsify data, and identify shortcomings or reasons why its applicability may be restricted, it is science… whether you like who funds it or not.

            Frankly, all scientific work has limitations and issues. Every single one. We academics make our living pointing out limitations and issues, so we see them everywhere. This particular area of study is particularly limited, even more than just being a soft science. Thus, do what you can. Point out your problems. But you also don’t have to go hide your results under a rock in order to be considered science. You got that label by doing the first couple things.

            Besides, when the media does come running (which they do… even for the hard science that I do), it simply doesn’t work to start listing off the assumptions, flaws, and technical details. They’re not going to understand it anyway. They just want to see “ohh, that looks cool!” You put all the details in your serious publications. (I mean, come on… take an example from one of the funding sources I’ve worked with: the Air Force. In our technical publications, we point out all the issues. Do you think the Air Force points out those issues when they’re bragging to the media about the results they’ve gotten from all the nice research they’ve funded?!? Does that suddenly make my work not science?! Should I quit my day job?)

      • DavidM

        So your premise is, as gay-marriage access expands, homosexual couples will become more stable (and thus more sampleable), presumably because their past instability was a result of lack of state/social recognition of their unions? Any data supporting that premise?

        “What if there just aren’t many gay couple who stay together? Isn’t it ok if the data reflects that?” – Sample size worries aside, doesn’t the data actually SHOW that gay couples are – very much, it seems – more unstable?

      • Dell

        Leah, I think the real question here is whether the study authors really wanted to do a good study/ survey or just needed some numbers to throw around to support their view? As others on this thread point out, the other issue–at least as important as sample size–is confounding by other factors that may be unequally associated with a parent being in either a heterosexual or homosexual relationship and may also be associated with parenting “success” (e.g., parental education levels). It is actually fairly easy and financially efficient to design case-control studies that adjust for “known”/ measurable confounders, with propensity score methodology probably being one of the better options for this task. Confounders that are unrecognized or that are unmeasurable (or lack a measurable proxy) are still threats to validity. But we really should never take too seriously “evidence” provided by entities with both an axe to grind and who lack commitment to methodological rigor.

        For the record, I have no strong feelings on the issue of gay marriage. I believe that the historical purpose of marriage was to provide a reliable mechanism to produce biological children and successfully get them to adulthood, not to provide social/ psychological bonding for the adults. If one sticks to this description, then “gay marriage” is an oxymoron. But whether or not this currently is or should continue to be the purpose of marriage is a legitimate topic for debate.

      • Oregon Catholic

        The obvious problem with waiting for higher numbers is the possibility of harm to children in the meantime and the establishing of precedent which leads to that harm that becomes difficult to undo.
        We are great at leaping ahead into social and biological engineering before the ethics have been thoroughly examined and discussed as a society. No one wants to discuss slippery slopes when personal lifestyles or buckets of money to be made are at stake. We have scientists looking for the fountain of youth but we have no social system in place which can deal with large numbers of people living well into their second century.

    • kenneth

      Regnerus pleading poverty is hilarious. The coalition of people and organizations that bought this study HAVE “untold millions of dollars.” Just in the handful of years that things like Prop 8 and other state initiatives have been going on, these outfits collectively have raised and spent many, many tens of millions of dollars, probably $100 million plus, just on this one issue.

      If we look at the larger Religious Right culture war budget, it’s essentially limitless. The vast evangelical industry, the Catholic Church, Mormons and various conservative gazillionaires have plenty of cash, much of it tax free. When the fight is important enough or they think they’re positioned to win an important victory, they find the money. These people have the juice to start their own space program, and they would do so in a heartbeat if that’s what they thought was needed. If they thought a real apples-to-apples random sampling would definitively discredit gay parenting and marriage, they’d give Regnerus a blank check.

  • MumbleMumble

    The main problem with that was the author of the study, Dr. Regnerus, who directly compared the respondents with lesbian mothers and gay fathers to the intact, biological families (where the parents of the respondent had remained married and together for 18 years). Obviously these groups aren’t comparable with one another, but the conclusions of the study were that the intact, biological family is the best environment. Dr. Regnerus also claimed that his study was superior to all previous studies that had compared stable, same-sex households to stable, heterosexual households, because of the methodology that he employed. As it turned out, only 2 respondents total were from a household with two homosexual parents (lesbian, in both cases) and had lived that way for their entire childhood (from birth to age 18).
    The website you link to, it seems to me, continues to perpetuate this false comparison. You click on the outcome on the left, and lo and behold, the intact family is better than the gay or lesbian family. It continues to compare groups that have no business being compared to each other.

    • Kristen inDallas

      Why can’t they be compared again? I get that it would be totally wrong to suggest somehow that based on this study, stable SS partnerships are worse for kids than stable OS marriages. And some bloggers and pundits have wrongly sugested this, but the study itself doesn’t say that at all. All itsays, without implying causality is that across the board, children raised by a gay parent (most of whom are not in stable relationships) tend to score lower in many categories than children raised in a stable household that includes biological mother nd father. I actually don’t see what’s wrong with comparing apples and oranges if your point is to determine which one makes the best apple pie.

      If you look at the study closer, you’ll see that these biological mom and biological dad families also do better than single parent, divorced parents, and remarried parent families in most of those same categories. There is no way a rational court could use this study to make same sex adoption illegal, without also making single parent or remarried parent adoption illegal. The study is useful however, in determining that there may be a “gold standard” when it comes to a childs upbringing, and it may have some role in allowing private adoption agencies who adhere to that standard of placing children with a stable mother AND father, to continue to do so.

      • MumbleMumble

        Well, the short answer is that you’re right. Just because two groups are different from each other on multiple levels certainly doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) compare them to each other. I probably shouldn’t have said that.
        The longer answer is that of course I’m right! I’m always right! I’m posting on a website! (that was a joke, by the way) Unfortunately, however, Dr. Regnerus has claimed that this study refutes previous studies that compared stable same-sex couples to stable heterosexual couples. He concluded, based on this study, that the intact, biological family was the best family structure to raise a child, and that those previous studies were wrong. Without outright stating that he was comparing stable same-sex couples to stable heterosexual ones, he strongly implied it with these claims.
        The problem with comparing the groups that Regnerus used, is that it actually doesn’t tell you anything at all about same-sex parents. The same-sex groups mash together way too many different types of household for any really meaningful conclusions to be generated. All Regnerus can say is that intact, biological families do better (on the variables he measured) compared to children who had at least one parent have a same-sex encounter at some point in their lives. That can’t tell anybody anything about how children turn out in same-sex households.
        Basically, the study is important in showing the value of stability, but it can’t say anything about same-sex parenting.

  • Ryan

    Might I add to your notes,
    it looks like 349.1 out of 2988 respondants had a homosexual parent. This means 11.68% were in any homosexual category at all. As you noted, the samples in a comparison should be matched. I would judge almost 12% to be nowhere near the 50% or so you would want for a true comparitive study. So, not only is there a problem regarding the number in the subgroup you discuss(kids raised by long term gay couples), but there is a problem regarding the number of individuals raised by gay couples at all.

    • MumbleMumble

      Exactly, and that’s not even taking into consideration their definition of a gay or lesbian couple. A single same-sex encounter by a parent equals a gay or lesbian household.

    • DavidM

      Sorry, but you really don’t understand statistical analysis, like even a little bit – and I guess that goes for MumbleMumble too. The notion that you can’t properly compare outcomes in two groups unless there are equal numbers sampled from each group is staggeringly silly.

        • DavidM

          Certainly not – I never kid (just kidding). Why would you suggest such a thing (and provide me with those three irrelevant links)?

      • MumbleMumble

        It’s certainly helpful if they’re even. Yes, you can compare groups with unequal sample sizes, but you need slightly more advanced statistical techniques – more advanced than simply throwing up numbers and comparing them.

  • Carley

    My question is what are we quantifying? Which kids do better? Okay, how are we quantifying that? What is the “best” thing for a person to be and what if that’s not what the parent thought was best? I think the best measure of how well someone is doing would be how happy they are (which has it’s own gigantic problems to measure). Someone else might think it’s how much money they make as adults. Someone else might think it’s their school and criminal records, or something else entirely, or all of the above, but the more factors you factor in the more complicated your resulting number gets. But if you gave a higher weight to how much money a person makes than that person’s parents did, is it a fair comparison? If the couple turned out a child who was exactly how they intended them to turn out, doesn’t that make them great parents? Why is it reasonable to hold them to an outside and possibly arbitrary standard?

    And then consider outside factors. Say, for the sake of argument, the children of gay parents didn’t do as well. Okay, why? Is it because gay people make worse parents, or is it because society has shamed and ridiculed and minimized them? I don’t have solid answers to all the questions I’m asking, but I think they’re questions worth considering and I have a lot of feelings about these types of studies.

    • leahlibresco

      If you click through to the graphic, you can see the outcomes the study tracked.

  • Anonymous

    I think this somewhat misses the point here. Among other reasons to criticize same-sex parenting, there is the fact that same-sex couples are inherently more unstable, and tend to split apart more. This holds true even for the married ones (please see study about divorce among same-sex marriages

    Any sociologist will agree that children of divorced parents are more prone to a variety of negative traits (teen pregnancy, drug use, failure in school, etc.). Among same-sex couples, you will find even higher numbers of splits, and therefore heightened numbers of children experiencing the effects of schism within the family.

    Again, this is not the only argument against same-sex parenting, but it is certainly relevant to the statistics above.

    • MumbleMumble

      Examinations of divorce rates vary; there are reports that show divorce rates are lower in same-sex couples:

      • Anonymous

        While the Williams study offers much different numbers, I do want to point out a critical difference between the two studies, which the Williams study itself acknowledges. The Gunnar study looks at Norwegian and Swedish couples, while the Williams one looks at American couples. Due to the federal nature of the US government, it is far more difficult for same-sex couples to get divorced in the US than it is for their peers in Scandinavia. For example, an Ohian couple could travel to Vermont for the weekend to get married, but to then get divorced, one of the partners would have to move to Vermont and get residency. That the annual divorce rate among same sex couples is as high as 1% (only half that of opposite sex couples) in light of this significant obstacle is fairly astonishing.

        • Matthais777

          1% is bad? Compaired to heterosexual 50% give or take a few depending on the year? Geez, talk about your higher standard of expectations. “Your divorce rate is half of what we have, your obviously impossibly unfaithful”.

          • cjspartacus

            If you’re going to quote a study, you need to actually read the numbers that it states. You can’t compare the 50% divorce to the 1% divorce rate because they are two COMPLETELY different numbers. The 1% refers to an annual rate, whereas the 50% you quote refers to a group in the total number of marriages. The comparison is thus 1% vs. 2%, which is a less stark comparison. I agree, if you compared 50% to 1%, barriers to divorce in same-sex couples wouldn’t be enough to explain it. But 1% vs. 2% seems plausible to me.

            “In the states with available data, dissolution rates for same-sex couples are slightly lower on average than divorce rates of different-sex couples. The percentage of those same sex couples who end their legal relationship ranges from 0% to 1.8% annually, or 1.1% on average, whereas 2% of married different-sex couples divorce annually.”

        • MumbleMumble

          That’s certainly a valid critique. The Williams report isn’t the only study looking at divorce rates that shows little difference between same-sex and opposite-sex, but you’re right, anything looking at divorce in the US will have the same issue. But at the same time, can we say that same-sex couples in Scandinavia are representative of same-sex couples in America? Maybe the societal pressures are different in different parts of the world, which could impact divorce rates as well. Without actually having legalized marriage (and divorce) for same-sex couples across the whole US, it’s tough to know how the divorce rates would compare.

  • Ted Seeber

    It doesn’t say much about gay men (and how they parent) but it shines a huge light to me on the feminist movement. May I humbly suggest that perhaps this sample size differential between lesbian mothers and homosexual fathers *might* be due in part to the fact that our culture has been tearing down fathers in general for the last 50 years or so, and that *perhaps* it’s because in a heterosexual couple getting divorced because one parent has become gay, the courts choose the *mother* to raise the children, regardless of sexual orientation?

    • Agreed. Fathers are only able to get full custody of children in 10% of all divorces (see here) while

      In seven out of ten cases, child custody rights are awarded primarily to the mother of the children.(ibid.)


      It does not seem that the creators of the study are representing this fact properly in their presentation/conclusions.

  • Mark Ferris

    As a parent, the ‘Forced Sex” statistic was a stunner.

    • Ted Seeber

      I would consider that expected. After all, we’re talking about a group that is already outside “objective” sexual morality norms. That they should want to introduce their children to their morality seems as natural as a IBF set of heterosexual parents wanting to model a family where love is common and divorce/fighting is rare.

      Oddly enough, while I’d never force sex on a child, I have been tempted to go against Catholic teaching on childhood innocence with my son for three reasons:
      1. He’s special needs and has enough trouble communicating without keeping him willfully ignorant.
      2. We live in the United States, which is clearly so much a fallen society that if I don’t discuss it early he *WILL* run into it on his own, and since he’s special needs, if we don’t talk about it he could get vastly wrong impressions, such as the women like to be raped impression common among heterosexual abusers of pornography.
      3. I don’t want to be a grandfather before I’m 65, so teaching chastity instead of abstinence or birth control makes sense to me- but once again, he’s special needs and in public schools so he WILL get attacked by Planned Parenthood and their poisonous “everybody needs to be perfect or we will abort them” mentality.

      • Mark Ferris

        While I don’t presuppose what you mean by going ‘against Catholic teaching’, all Catholic parents share your dilemma with regards to how to prepare our children for a world that does not respect our beliefs. We do not want our children to grow up to be victims. Going against the prevailing tide is both dangerous and exhausting. The statistics are seriously against our success, so do we hedge?

        • Ted Seeber

          Pope Pius IX claimed that we shouldn’t teach kids about sex too early because it harms their innocence, is what I’m talking about. But my point is the same as yours- their innocence is sure to be harmed and harmed early, giving the prevailing tide. My personal fight against it is to utilize the lessons of Theology of the Body, and attempt to put them into a language of sex as procreative and unitive that my son can understand.

          This is hampered by the fact that at age 9, he’s only got about a 2000 word vocabulary to begin with and does NOT know his alphabet or have the ability to read; so I keep having to define terms before I use them.

      • Corita

        Ted, can you clarify what you mean by “I have been tempted to go against Catholic teaching on childhood innocence with my son “? Your reasons that follow do not help me to understand whether you are talking about telling your son about sex, or contraception, or homosexuality, or what!

        • Corita

          ..or , of course, whether you are talking about something else entirely– I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt with the disturbing lead-in and all….

        • I think if you look at the reasons the natural interpretation is explaining the birds and the bees too early, not what you are thinking about.

        • Ted Seeber

          All of the above- since he’s GOING to be bombarded in public school special ed with alternative messages about contraception, homosexuality, and premarital sex.

          Standard Catholic teaching says keep the young as ignorant as possible- to preserve their child innocence as long as possible. But our culture is going to try to destroy that innocence at a very young age (in Oregon, Planned Parenthood is already working on a mandatory curriculum for preschoolers) so I do not dare take that approach.

      • Ted, I’m not sure what you’ve been reading, but Planned Parenthood assuredly does not have an “everybody needs to be perfect or we will abort them” mentality.

        • Ted Seeber

          Then why are 90% of Downs Syndrome children aborted in the womb?

          Why does Project Negro exist?

          Why do they support poor women aborting rather than figuring out how to support them in their pregnancy so that children in poverty can be born and live?

          The entire philosophical basis of Planned Parenthood is that certain types of people are unfit and shouldn’t breed. To ignore this, is to ignore the truth.

          • Unless you have evidence that PP is out there lassoing people and forcing them to terminate their pregnancies, or running ads saying “Have an abortion, they’re great!” then you have no basis for your claim. The fact that people choose to avail themselves of one small part of PP’s services does not mean that PP is out there advocating that everyone should do so. (In fact, PP advocates and provides low-cost or free birth control so that people are not forced to make such a painful choice.) If you want to see what REAL forced abortion looks like, check out stories like this one from China.

  • Doragoon

    Some very rough numbers (like the SETI equation, feel free to put in your own numbers): There are 100,000,000 housholds in the US. Same sex couples make up only about 1% of all households in the US (according to the census which counted same sex households), or about 1,000,000 households. Assume 50% of them are men (it will be less than 50%), or 500,000. What percentage of them have children? And only 1% of THOSE are together for more than 3 years? That’s at most 5000 households?

    There might only be a few hundred children growing up with two gay dads in the entire country. How are you going to get a large enough sample size from that?

    • Slan21

      Nobody’s saying it’d be easy to get, but the point is if you can’t you shouldn’t brag with meaningless data.

    • kenneth

      Anyone who believes that they really did the best science that money and demographics permitted; I’ve got a benchtop room temperature fusion device to sell you. I’ll need the money up front, naturally. This study was designed and executed around an agenda. The conclusion to this report was written before they even started casting around for scientists to do it.

      They want people to believe that it just wasn’t humanly possible to do a real “apples to apples” comparison. The reality is that they had zero interest in doing so or in doing any sort of study that ran the slightest risk of a contradictory or equivocal results. They did a study that showed absolutely nothing in the way of causation and demonstrated an apparent correlation between family chaos and negative outcomes (which has been known, for, oh, forever…) In small print disclaimers, the scientists admit they proved nothing about anything, but the “save marriage” propaganda machine goes into full swing, proclaiming that we now have definitive proof that gay marriage is “bad for kids, like we’ve always said.”

      • DavidM

        Wow, conspiracy theory. Unless you want to claim they’re just falsifying data, a low sample size does not in the least guarantee any particular agenda-driven outcome – I really hope that is bloody obvious to most people. It just creates problems with statistical significance.

        • kenneth

          They didn’t need to falsify data. They simply needed to design the study in a way that was virtually guaranteed to make gays look like bad parents, and that’s exactly what they did. They selected the gay group so as to include lots of people with chaotic family situations and then compared them to “Ozzy and Harriet” stable straight families.

          • DavidM

            I agree the study wasn’t perfect, but did you look at the study results? Leah provided the links. The fact is that the data were broken down into seven comparison groups, not two as your comment would suggest, and the two homosexual groups were pretty consistently the WORST of all SEVEN (including broken heterosexual homes), not just WORSE than Ozzy and Harriet (who were consistently the best). As the authors point out, this doesn’t prove a causal relation, but surely it’s still pretty interesting data?

      • Oregon Catholic

        All science has an agenda anymore unfortunately. To get funding you have to be able to attract the attention of the funding sources and they all have an agenda. And that’s before you even get started. What gets published is arguably even more political. But sometimes what the study doesn’t answer is every bit as important as what it does. And some people are fond of saying things like – there is no evidence that x causes z – without telling you that whether x causes z has never been studied.

    • Ryan

      If you can’t get a sample size large enough for statistical validity, you ought not do the study, as it won’t be valid anyway.

  • Nate

    Leah, I know you want to know about gay marriage, but why not look at all gay relationships (even those which were less than 4 months) to get a larger sample size? You are much better with these statistics than I am, but why not just compare all children raised with a parent involved in a gay relationship for any length of time with all those who were not. Am I missing something here, or do I have a decent idea?

    I understand that this will not tell you specifically about gay marriage, but then again the survey did not ask whether the gays and lesbians were legally married or in civil unions, domestic partnerships, or no legal relationship at all. Really having now decided to enter the Catholic Church, the larger picture you are exploring whether the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is in accord with the natural law.

    And to address the comment you made earlier about the study being flawed by the fact that gays faced discrimination in the past (and maybe in the present too), why not only look at the metrics like child abuse which is determined by the parent’s sins, not the child’s. And even if the parents where discriminated against, I can see the parents might become depressed or have suicidal thoughts, but discrimination does not seem to make one likely to abuse their child.

    • Michelle

      Nate, you are missing something. If you compare children of intact biological families to children whose parents had same-sex relationships that lasted for short amounts of time, you aren’t making a meaningful comparison. We already know that kids who come from “broken” (for lack of a better word) families fare worse than their counterparts, so counting short relationships introduces a confounding factor – the instability of the family. To make a meaningful comparison, you’d have to compare kids from intact biological families to kids from families where their same-sex parents had a long-term and stable relationship (and I would argue that 3 years isn’t nearly enough to be considered stable). Otherwise, you can’t know whether the poor outcomes are due to the sexual orientation of the parents or to the instability of the home.

      Does that help?

      • DavidM

        But of course the problem is that sexual orientation and relationship instability seem to be causally linked, so there is no reason to treat them independently if you’re addressing the question that most people are interested in: in general, is promotion of homosexual parenting a good, innocuous idea?

      • Nate

        Michelle, I must not have been clear enough.

        I meant combine all the intact biological families, plus all the divorced heterosexual families, plus the single parent heterosexual families, plus the adopted heterosexual families, etc., into a broader heterosexual grouping. This way we have unstable heterosexual families in addition to stable long term heterosexual families. The comparison should be apples to apples then and we can look at all the gay and lesbian outcomes, whether they were stable or unstable, giving a larger sample size.

        • Michelle

          Nate, thanks for the clarification; I did misunderstand you, my apologies. I think that’s not necessarily a bad idea, and it’s probably somewhat better than what this study did. You’d have to make sure that there were equal proportions of stable vs. unstable families in each group, and you’d have to control for degree of instability (divorced-and-remarried families are, I’m sure, not equivalent in instability to families where different parental figures constantly come in and out of the picture). Might be tricky, but controlling for all the right variables, I think it would come closer to giving us relevant information.

  • ThomasW

    Thank you for some reasoned comments on this study. I came to much the same conclusions after reading it. This contrasts to the rants that some “pro same sex marriage” bloggers have put out about the study. While the study has its problems, I concluded the primary reason for the rants is that the study gets the “wrong” answer (e.g. doesn’t say gay parents are just as good as hetero parents).

    The study which is needed, and very hard to do given all of the problems mentioned in the comments (small sample sizes, biased groups, etc) is between stable households. There’s good evidence an unstable household is more likely to be detrimental to children, but without a large sample size of gay parents who have been married (or even in a committed relationship) for 20+ years (to compare with married couples) its hard to determine to what extent parental sexual orientation matters.

    • “The study which is needed, and very hard to do given all of the problems mentioned in the comments (small sample sizes, biased groups, etc) is between stable households.”

      Yes, exactly.

    • cjspartacus

      I see your reasoning. However, I think it’s more complex than that. The question needs to include the possibility that sexual orientation influences the stability of the relationship. And yes, there are divorce statistics (see prior comments), but it seems that all you have to do is name a statistic and then find the paper when you’re discussing this matter. Because gay “marriage” is still in its infancy, I think it’s too early to make a legitimate comparison among married couples. Additionally, traditional marriage has centuries to review, and the question should be raised as to whether the current near 50% divorce rate is representative of traditional marriage at its best.

      To summarize, sexual orientation may significantly effect relationship stability, but it seems to early to tell. It’s possible that sexual orientation may directly effect the child, but that itself seems unknown empirically.

      Here’s a closing thought (I promise, it’s not non sequitur). Remember when gas prices were $1.00/gallon? At one point we were paying $4.00/gallon. Should we be arguing over whether American suppliers or Middle Eastern suppliers provide gas at $3.50/gallon vs. $4.00/gallon, or should we really be wondering why we’re not paying $1.00/gallon in either case. Similarly, should we be arguing over whether traditional marriage or same-sex marriage produce divorce just below 50%, or should we be wondering why divorce rates are so high to begin with? I think the high rate of divorce in either case is unacceptable and should warrant concern for the well-being of adopted children.

      • “The question needs to include the possibility that sexual orientation influences the stability of the relationship.” But you can’t do this unless same-sex and heterosex couples are provide the same options to ensure and encourage stability. As long as gay couple can’t marry, they are de facto denied one of the best markers of stability and commitment. This is not to say, of course, that one can’t be in a long-term committed relationship without marriage, but marriage does offer that extra impetus to work through one’s problems rather than splitting up. In addition, if one is in a socially approved relationship (such as heterosex marriage) one has all sort of support and resources encouraging one to stay in it. If one is in a different sort of relationship, there are often many pressures from those who are uncomfortable with it (including family members) to break it off. In addition, children of a socially-not-approved relationship may suffer stigma, harassment, teasing and other negative pressures which can lead to some of the problems that this study attributes to the parental relationship.

        So a truly comparative study would be really difficult to do without a social environment that supports both kinds of relationships equally.

        • cjspartacus

          Practically speaking, it will be impossible to ever have a social environment that supports both kinds of relationships equally because they are fundamentally different. Lesbian and gay couples are incapable of producing offspring without science and another person. A heterosexual couple can produce children without any help (barring disease and fertility problems). Adoption has been around for years and, while it is completely accepted and good, life seems to statistically not be as easy for adopted children. I can only assume that same-sex “parents” will fair, at best, the same as other adopting parents.

          Fundamentally, we probably disagree. But I think as a society we ought to really focus on the children and not on the right of a couple to have children (which also carried major consequences). We should be creating a society that removes the necessity of adoption because every child is born into a loving family.

          Anyways, alac and alas, conversations such as this are really difficult in comm boxes. There’s so much to say and so little time to actually flesh it all out. I agree with your comments that there is a stigma attached. I agree that a truly comparative study would be impossible, for the reasons I listed. So, points taken. But in an age where we’re trying to be as organic and natural as possible, why are we attempting to raise children in unions that are quite blatantly not representative of the natural environment of a child (ie. a mother and a father)?

          Last thought, because I didn’t know where else to work it in: having a child is not a right. Were this a right, then it is possible that men could be forced into sperm donation so that this right might be exercises. It might also allow for forced adoptions.

  • kenneth

    The whole study was an exercise in partisan pseudoscience. It was hackery and “science for pay” from the get go. The funding sources are part of a coalition of institutes and think tanks which exist for no other reason than to push anti-gay (or as they favor, “pro family”) public policies. This coalition of interconnected groups includes the Witherspoon Institute, NOM, Opus Dei.

    Groups like this don’t pay people to do science. They pay people to help dress up their political positions in the credibility of science. They would not, in this or any other universe, shell out three quarters of a million dollars to any project which ran a real risk of undercutting their position.

    The effort has the baseline credibility of national sampling, but great care was taken to avoid apples-to-apples comparisons and populations. Instead, the methodology puts up a set of offspring of parents who had any or all forms of same sex involvement against a population of very traditional hetero family structures. The pretension is made that we are looking at matched sets separated by only the sexuality of the parents involved. It is nothing of the kind. It is a set of gay parent households which intentionally includes a large proportion of family instability matched against a population of stable households which happened to be headed by straight parents.

    This study warrants as much serious consideration as the “research” put out by the tobacco industry.

  • Brandon Biagioli

    Dear Leah,

    I was initially hoping that there would be a simple “email me” or “send me a message” button, because that’s really what this amounts to, but I gave up looking for one, and all that means is that this message is here instead, out of place and only attached to this post by coincidence.

    I heard a story this week. It was a story on the internet, so you know how these things go: it popped up on Google news, and on my Catholic friends’ Facebook pages. It danced like a butterfly, flitting through the pages I visited for other reasons, though honestly it was interesting the first time, I was just busy, so I guess I’m glad for the reminders. I followed the butterfly to an interview of a girl who converted, and smiled because another soul was saved, and I turned back to my own life. Then the butterfly came back (one more Facebook link), and I actually went to your blog, and I learned why angels rejoice, and the Father comes running with open arms when his children come home.

    You’re beautiful. I don’t mean the smiling picture with the headphones and fuzzy microphone (well, I mean your smiling face too, but that’s not the point). I mean, “Christ in three-space, Christ in tiny rolled up dimensions where gravity lives.” I can’t explain why it’s so beautiful, but right now I prefer it to a thousand perfect sonnets. Your pursuit of truth is beautiful; your vulnerability to truth is even better. I barely see who you are, but as I page through what you’ve written I see the flashes of a radiant mind, not merely smart, but also joyful and alive, dancing a jig that surprises, and forging a path that challenges.

    I’m heavily biased, of course, being also partial to Jesus and Pratchett and Lewis and medieval armor and counting in base two, but I’ve always found joy in others’ faith, because they are very much not me. I am not merely less alone; I get to revel in these other marvels that God has made. As it happens, I could say that any human is a masterpiece, but that’s because God is a perfect craftsman. I am astonished to see these few sparkles from the jewels that adorn your soul.

    In Christ,

  • colorao

    Yes, Brandon, she’s quite a victory for the Kingdom! Leah, didn’t know where best to mention this, and I don’t mean to devalue this post, but I wanted to mention that I’m very eager to hear more of your thoughts as you go through RCIA. I am sure your posts will benefit many inquirers and catechumens (and, indeed, the whole Church). I am particularly interested I your reception of and reflections on the Church’s teachings related to sexual morality.

    • colorao

      And, I should say, thank you for blogging your quest for Truth and Goodness. Also, what an awesome, and awesomely humbling, honor it must be to be your catechist!

  • “Differences exist between children of parents who have had same-sex relationships and those with married parents.” But if parents in same-sex relationships can’t marry, then you’re comparing TWO variables, not just one (married vs unmarried, and same-sex vs heterosex). That calls all their conclusions into question.

  • DavidM

    “If you want to contrast two groups, you have to oversample the rarer group so you have enough people to make a good comparison.” – Isn’t it clear that they did oversample the rarer groups? But there’s only so much oversampling you can do from an original pool of 15 000 (leading to 2988 interviews).

  • John

    It seems to me that since gay parenting is so new – with relatively few total numbers, that neither side can claim “science” as in “statistically probable conclusions based on well constructed studies” to back up their moral conclusions.

    Gays certainly can’t point to SCIENCE in their favor – but neither can heterosexuals, if by science we need apples to apples studies of an entire lifetime from conception to adulthood, all other differences besides the gender of parents being the same (so, same socio-economic status, race, geography, social support, health, etc.)

    Both sides thus are basing their presumptions about the predictive effects on children of a same-sex couple on all the other studies we have on childhood development and heterosexual marriages or couples (as many non-married co-habitating couples have raised children to adulthood despite social stigma against their ‘shacking up’).

    Indeed, given the social stigma angle, the apples to apples comparison might be “un-married co-habitating heterosexual couples who experience trauma and social stigma for their union and family life vs. gay couples with similar social/emotional trauma/need to justify and prove themselves to a hostile world….

    Absent studies what else do we hang our hats on as we argue for social approval/go-ahead to adopt children into a completely novel parenting arrangement?

    Would we accept a “there is no evidence that this will work, but let’s try it anyway” approach in other areas of life impacting children?

    • leahlibresco

      If we’d prohibited a practice on the grounds that evidence was lacking (thus ruling out evidence existing in the future) we’d never have integrated the military (either time).

      • kenneth

        For that matter, we wouldn’t have freed the slaves or granted women the vote. We shouldn’t have attempted the American Revolution or democracy, for sure. That was considered a reckless experiment with an unproven concept. In fact, the evidence at the time suggested it would be an unmitigated disaster, a mob rule scene more akin to the French Revolution than freedom. The premise of studies like the one we’re talking about is to try to show that gay marriage should be prohibited unless and until gay parents can meet some gold standard of child-rearing (and they have to do it in advance, somehow). If marriage and parental rights are only to be bestowed on couples with proven optimum outcomes for kids, we’re on the road to eugenics, pure and simple. We know, for example, that poverty puts kids at a higher risk of bad outcomes in life. MUCH higher risks. The same is true for people who come from backgrounds of alcoholism or hemophilia or mental illness of any kind. If the fight against gay marriage really is just all about “do what’s best for the kids”, they’ll have to advocate for marriage or breeding limitations on these other categories of people too.

      • Oregon Catholic

        Leah, I think the jury is still out on whether women in the military is a good thing for the men, the women, the families, or the military. It’s definitely too soon to tell about open homosexuality. Common sense tells me it will be a disaster.

        Kenneth, we can always default to the gold standard that has existed since the beginning of civilization rather than start messing around in what we don’t know and can’t prove until it might be too late. Just because heterosexuals have made a mockery of the gold standard doesn’t mean we should add to it with legal sanctioning of new varieties of mockery.

        • leahlibresco

          Both have worked out ok for Israel. Do you think there’s a big cultural difference between Israel and the US, or do you think they’re also in the pre-disaster calm before the storm?

          • Oregon Catholic

            I don’t know enough about Israeli society both in and out of the military to comment on if it’s worked out OK for them. Their being a much younger country, their mandatory military service, and their urgent and ongoing need for military protection of their country from their neighbors (vs fighting foreign wars like the US) all make them very different from us. Not sure a fair comparison could be made.
            I do know that in our country there are problems of sexual abuse of women in our military, children of single women in the military suffer when the mother is on active duty, too many women are getting pregnant while on active duty, and marriages suffer from infidelity caused by close living quarters and stresses of war. These are just off the top of my head.

        • kenneth

          That’s the funny thing about the conservative view of gay marriage. The line for government to crack the whip on enforcement of virtues always gets drawn just past where you’re standing….

          • Oregon Catholic

            and the whining about being on the wrong side of the line is always personal, regardless of what may be best for society and in this case children.

          • kenneth

            That’s the ironic thing. I’m on the “right” side of the line. As a hetero, I’m able to get married and have in fact done so. I’m able to do so even though I don’t live my life in any way by the “gold standard” of Christianity. This “save marriage” movement, a movement of hypocrites, does not have the moral or political backbone to even attempt to enforce on me or “our kind” the sorts of restrictions on civil marriage and child raising that they propose for gays.

            My privileges are safe. I speak out against bigotry of all sorts that does not affect me personally, because it deserves to be fought for what it is. It is repugnant and unworthy of what this country was founded upon. The anti-gay movement is no different in word or deed or reasoning, at all, from any other movement of bigotry that preceded it. All of them, in their time, insisted that it was not about hate, just concern for the “natural order of things” and of course, it was always all about the children.

            All of them also played the same game of insisting that doing the right thing was just too risky, but that they might be persuaded by some moving target of proof that they knew was impossible to attain, and and which never would have satisfied them. They all believed in a double standard of governance. A libertarian “live and let live” standard for themselves. A Soviet nanny state for “them.”

        • “I think the jury is still out on whether women in the military is a good thing for the men, the women, the families, or the military. ” I’m curious what do you base this statement on? The thousands of women who served in or near the front lines in World War I, World War II, Korea, etc.? Or maybe you mean “in combat” — but again, what do you base that on? The 741 women who have received Purple Hearts in Afghanistan? And if war and combat are bad for women, are they not equally bad for men? Think of the suicide rate in the military, the PTSD. The reason there are problems with sexual abuse and pregnancy in the military is not that women there (that’s awfully close to to saying “It’s their fault for putting themselves in that situation”), it’s that the perpetrators aren’t being prosecuted. As for infidelity, that applies equally to men and women, so isn’t really relevant to a gender-specific argument.

  • PJ

    “Dawn was born in Toronto. Her father became an active homosexual at an early age. He was a successful businessman. Desiring children, he married, and the relationship produced Dawn and two brothers, one her twin. After Dawn and her brother were conceived, their father ended sexual relations with his wife, and pursued homosexual relationships at well-known gay meeting places in Canada and the United States. Dawn was often brought along to many of these locations, even as a child. Her father had numerous gay lovers, and brought them into the home. At age 51, in 1991, he died of AIDS.

    Today, Dawn lives in Ontario, Canada. She is a licensed accountant, a Christian, a public advocate of children being reared in homes with opposite-sex, married couples, and a vocal defender of traditional marriage. She has been married to a man for 28 years, and has two teenaged children. In 2007, she published Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, a book about her experiences growing up in the GLBT world. On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the release of her book, she spoke with Catholic World Report…”

    • There are many people who had unhappy childhoods and irresponsible parents. If a child was abused by Christian parents, or Mormon or atheist or Buddhist or Zoroastrian, for that matter, that doesn’t validate condemning the entire religion (unless the religion includes an explicit commandment like “Thou shalt damage thy children”). This woman’s father sounds like he was a jerk. No study has thus far correlated asshole-ness with sexual orientation.

  • Smarter Than You

    Just found out who you were. At the exact same time, I realized you’re an insecure fool.

  • John

    Innovation is fine – so long as you are aware of all the risks. To deny any risks, downsides, dangers, by blind assertion that “history of our common human experience be damned, this time it’ll be different because I’m involved” is a position just begging for Murphy’s Law.

    The American revolutionaries had a grasp of the history of governmental systems – and they already had lived generations with frontier experience of self-rule, democratic assemblies, etc. so going from semi-autonomous colonies to self-governing colonies to a confederation of independent states to a United States wasn’t a complete innovation/shot in the dark.

    Ditto with emancipated blacks and women voting – there had been notable occasions of either before it became generally accepted – and it was accepted via moral persuasion of the reigning majority not via heavy-handed government coercion thanks to a flanking manuever in the federal courts.

    But with respect to both emancipation and womens sufferage, we were dealing for the most part with adults. Gay parents are dealing with children and step-children when conducting their social experimental innovations.

    To just discount all previous human experience with the blind assertion that ‘it’s just gotta work out and there can’t possibly be a down side since we’re the good guys” strikes me as a position agnostics and atheists wouldn’t take – as it is largely a faith-based approach, is it not?

    • “Ditto with emancipated blacks and women voting – there had been notable occasions of either before it became generally accepted – and it was accepted via moral persuasion of the reigning majority not via heavy-handed government coercion thanks to a flanking manuever in the federal courts.”

      You are aware that surveys and studies over the past decade show a consistent trend of increased support for same-sex marriage, yes? That sounds like we are well on the way to “moral persuasion of the reigning majority.”

    • kenneth

      The very act of living, and the human enterprise as a whole, is an “act of faith.” Faith that these few extra ounces of forebrain gives us the tools to come up with creative and workable (if not perfect) solutions to evolving situations.

      Our whole species is defined by our ability to solve problem and to adapt. We literally don’t have a damn thing else to trade on. We cannot, in our natural state, outrun or out-fight any predator or prey. We can’t fly. Our swimming is fairly pathetic. We can’t tolerate any temperature extremes. Our young take an impossibly long time, by mammalian standards, to mature. By all rights we shouldn’t be here. We should have been a short and tragic dead-end story in the fossil record, and would have been, except for this curious ability we have to conceptualize problems and solve them (thumbs helped too).

      In a very short evolutionary time span, we’ve been able to solve every fundamental problem of shelter, transportation, feeding ourselves and became the undisputed top of the food chain. We came up with nuclear weapons and yet managed to survive their presence for going on 70 years. We’ve solved enormously difficult technical problems of medicine, engineering, materials science. We can read and edit and even do a bit of free-form haiku in the source code of life itself. All that, and we’re being told that allowing homosexual people, who have been with us from day one, to simply live as they are presents us with a scary, unsolvable problem and perhaps even an existential threat. THAT represents a staggering lack of faith. By that paradigm, humanity never should have harnessed fire or developed any tool more complex than a broken stick for dining at termite mounds, because, you just never know what that could lead to…

  • Oregon Catholic

    I couldn’t get to the interactive summary – I think their server is down or overloaded – but I don’t think this was addressed.
    There are attitudes that I don’t hear discussed much that I think also influence these family dynamics being studied. I can’t cite studies to back up my opinion but I think it matters whether parents are both biological parents or both adoptive parents on their attitudes toward their children and their own relationship as parents. When one parent is biological and the other is adoptive, there is an unequal parental playing field from the get go no matter how much the 2 parents might want to ignore it. It has effects big and small and cumulative on the parental relationship as well as the relationship of the adoptive parent and child IMO. I think it is easier for parents to leave an adoptive child than a biological one, maybe especially for women, making the breakup of these marriages easier. I think the same dynamic can have an effect on lowering the inhibition against physical, emotional, and sexual abuse when a child is not biological.

    Same sex couples where one parent is biological and one is adoptive are probably going to face this parental inequality on top of other problems and this is the only relationship model they have except if both are adoptive. I would suggest teasing out the adoptive/biological and adoptive/adoptive parental relationships for comparison between SS and OS couples. It would certainly bring population sizes closer together too.

    • Mark Ferris

      Try the site again later. All the issues you mention were addressed.

      • Mark Ferris

        3% of children reported adoptive parents touched them sexually. 23% of children reported the same in Lesbian households.

        • Oregon Catholic

          Do you know if those 23% were sexually touched by adoptive parents or just a partner with no legal relationship?

          • Mark Ferris

            Well, I had to go back and see. The exact wording was “Parent or other adult”. In fairness to your point, ‘Forced to have sex against their will’ was similar between Adoptive and Male Homosexual though Female Homosexual was significantly worse, hence my earlier comment. Female Homosexual was better sampled than the other two catagories. Not sure what ‘legal relationships’ might have to do with illegal child molestation. Adoptive and single parent (presumably including those with non-legal relationships) were similar.

          • Oregon Catholic

            I still can’t get in – weird.
            I think legal relationships matter, both marriage and adoption, because they show some attempt at long term commitment and stability and I think that is correlated with less abuse. You only have to read the paper to know that the children of women in shack-up, revolving door relationships are the most likely to suffer serious abuse of all kinds from both the mother and her transient partners.

  • Theophilus

    There is a lot of confusion in the debate over marriage and homosexuality due to the fact that many people are operating solely on an emotional level and have abandoned simple reason. It is only reasonable to say that two individuals (gay or straight) who have lived together over a period of years should have certain rights afforded them under the law regarding health care decisions, retirement, and inheritance. Tragically, though, many have mistakenly come to misconstrue marriage as a right, a matter of “fairness.” If we set aside emotion for a moment, however, and think rationally about this, we come to see that male-female complementarity is the building block of all life on earth. Even the plants and flowers know it. Thus, marriage has an undeniable procreative aspect to it. Does this mean, then, that infertile couples cannot be married? No, because even though they themselves may be unable to produce offspring the male-female complementarity is not denied, the procreative aspect of marriage is alluded to. But there is far more to it than this. While as human beings we belong to the animal kingdom, at the same time we are far more than animals. We are animals with the ability to reason, as Aristotle famously concluded. For us, then, procreation is not simply a matter of perpetuating the species; the marital act is invested with a deep spiritual significance. A spiritual union between man and woman takes place in marriage that is expressed outwardly through the body. Individuals of the same sex can certainly experience companionship; but marriage is a form of union that exceeds mere companionship. The marital embrace involves the spouses’ complete gift of self, body and soul, to one another that is simply not possible in a same-sex partnership. It is not unloving to draw this conclusion, nor does it belittle people who experience same-sex attraction. It is simply a recognition of the essential complementary aspect of marriage.

    • Caravelle

      @Theophilus : Even the plants and flowers know it.
      Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight… You know most plants are hermaphrodites, right ? And a significant number reproduce asexually or vegetatively ? That they don’t even discriminate much between species, which is why hybridization is so common in plants ?

      If you go to the natural world to get your standards on gender, sexuality and behaviour the main thing you’ll notice is the huge variability there is out there. Including various kinds of homosexual behaviour.

      If that’s what you call “using simple reason” and “thinking rationally” you’re doing it wrong.

      While as human beings we belong to the animal kingdom, at the same time we are far more than animals. We are animals with the ability to reason, as Aristotle famously concluded. For us, then, procreation is not simply a matter of perpetuating the species; the marital act is invested with a deep spiritual significance. A spiritual union between man and woman takes place in marriage that is expressed outwardly through the body.
      Yeah, I can see you’re being thoroughly rational and evidence-based about this… *rolls eyes*

      The marital embrace involves the spouses’ complete gift of self, body and soul, to one another that is simply not possible in a same-sex partnership. It is not unloving to draw this conclusion, nor does it belittle people who experience same-sex attraction.
      Yes it does. You’ve near-literally said that gays and lesbians cannot love as deeply or as nobly as straight people can. If that’s what you believe fair enough, but don’t hide from the implications of your beliefs.