Kevin J. Burns, Intern
Conservatives are often condemned for basing their political beliefs on their theological principles. In contrast, science is held up as the temple of positivism and acceptance of newly-forming social norms. Science, unlike religion, is not based on “values”; rather, it is based on hard, indisputable facts. It cuts through prejudice and tradition and gets to the truth of the matter. I make no contentions against science. Science, in its purest form, is indeed the quest for truth. But scientists, like all members of the human species, can be biased and have their judgment clouded. This has been the case when considering social science studies on homosexual families – until two recent peer-reviewed social science studies came to light.
Dr. Loren Marks of LSU recently published a review of the current research on homosexual families in Social Science Research. His study finds evidence in opposition to the American Psychological Association’s 2005 statement arguing that there is no difference for the children of heterosexual or gay households. Marks finds fault with the currently available social science studies, pointing out that none of the currently available studies compares a large nationally-representative sample of gay and heterosexual parents and children to each other. Instead, he finds that most of his colleagues have considered small samples that do not represent the nation and that the studies do not hold up to the rigors of scientific peer review. Additionally, many of these studies focus on the gay parents, not on their children. Thus, the current research considers only one aspect of the family – the parents – while failing to consider the longest-term results of the relationship, as the children of gay parents mature and move into the world.
Dr. Mark Regnerus of UT Austin seeks to remedy this failing with his own study, also published in Social Science Research. Regnerus uses a large population sample and studies 2,988 children over 21 years, from ages 18 to 39. Among other things, Regnerus found that children of gay parents are far more likely to have received public assistance at some point during their lives, are less likely to be employed, less likely to vote regularly, and more likely to have been sexually abused and have suffered from sexually transmitted infections. It is important to note that this study considers only correlation; it does not look to causation. Regnerus does not argue that gay parents are bad parents. His research merely points out that, on average, the children of gay parents are far more likely to suffer certain social ills. Regnerus does not deal with social values or theology, but with statistics.
Every child deserves the most stable family structure possible. Family structure is obviously critical to the health and well-being of the children of that family, as MARRI showed in its Annual Report on Family Trends. Equality is a beautiful and important thing, engrained in the character of the American republic. However, it is logically impossible to argue for equality for gay couples while ignoring the inequality of outcomes evident among their children.