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Tue Feb 17, 2015, 01:27 PM

5 Things to Know About the New ‘Gay Parents are Bad for Kids’ Study

5 Things to Know About the New ‘Gay Parents are Bad for Kids’ Study
Steve Williams
Feb 16, 2015

Anti-gay groups and religious conservatives are publicizing a new study that claims to show kids do worse when they are raised by same-sex parents, but as with previous studies authored by the right, it appears this research is flawed. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Who Authored the Study and What are They Investigating? 
Called the ”Emotional Problems among Children with Same-Sex Parents: Difference by Definition,” (ECLS), http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2500537 the study is authored by Catholic priest and sociology professor Donald Paul Sullins, who may also be familiar to readers as a key member of the anti-gay Family Research Council‘s Marriage and Religion Research Institute. http://www.marri.us/ For many in the LGBT community, this might already be a red flag, but researchers obviously can have these kinds of affiliations and still do good work — they just need to be as rigorous as possible in data collection, analysis and interpretation. Let’s see if that is the case here.

2. How Was Data Gathered for the Study?

The study culls information from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) that was collected between 1997-2013. In total, the research analyzed 207,007 children, 512 of whom were identified as having at least one biological parent now in a same-sex relationship (more on that shortly).

This is where our first objection to the study comes into play. If we are studying same-sex parents and comparing them to opposite-sex parents, it logically follows that, given marriage offers a raft of benefits that support child-rearing, we should control for whether the same-sex parents were married like (presumably) most of the heterosexuals in this study were, or at least inquire as to the marriage status of all involved. This is not controlled for in the study.

Secondly, we would also take into account one key fact: if the same-sex attracted parents had a child as the result of a previous heterosexual relationship, this obviously will have a bearing on the child’s emotional well being because they will most probably have had to endure a break-up and divorce. The study does not adequately account for this fact either.

Third, the study should also have controlled for whether the same-sex parents were in stable longterm relationships that specifically included the cohabiting partners each taking on a parenting role. By the study’s own admission, same-sex parents were classed only as “those persons whose reported spouse or cohabiting partner was of the same sex as themselves.” Again, there appears to be no adjustment for this meaningful variable.

3. Sullins’ Framework Produces Unfavorable Results for Same-Sex Parents

In terms of same-sex parents, Sullins found that the children of what he classed as same-sex parents were emotionally worse off than children from heterosexual biological parents. In short, child distress was elevated by psychological distress of parents, and was elevated by family instability, among other factors that Sullins identified.


Of course it depends on how Sullins frames his conclusions as to whether we believe this study has an overt bias or simply a flawed methodology.

4. Sullins Makes Assertions About Same-Sex Parenting and Marriage the Study Clearly Doesn’t Support

Sullins then plays an ontological game. He claims that because same-sex parents by definition cannot both be biological parents to a child, they cannot possibly offer children the same level of care as heterosexual parents:


Sullins has also made the following comment on his research (h/t Thinkprogress):

“The reduced risk of child emotional problems with opposite-sex married parents compared to same-sex parents,” Sullins concluded, “is explained almost entirely by the fact that married opposite-sex parents tend to raise their own joint biological offspring, while same-sex parents never do this. The primary benefit of marriage for children, therefore, may not be that it tends to present them with improved parents (more stable, financially affluent, etc., although it does do this), but that it presents them with their own parents.”

Sullins goes on to say that his study’s results “justifies social and policy concerns about differences between family structures, including between opposite-sex and same-sex families.” In other words, he is implying that there is reason to bar same-sex couples from marriage: namely that they cannot provide children the same level of care and emotional adjustment as heterosexual couples.

There are two major problems here. Firstly, Sullins is making a claim that his study did not even investigate. ...

Second of all, and perhaps even more glaring, is the entirely baffling use of “biology” and “biological parentage.” ...

5. Eye on the Supreme Court?

So why bother authoring a study that is very obviously flawed? Well, we need only look at the rush of praise from those opposed to marriage equality to see its worth.

Another Gay Parenting Study Finds Children Do Best With Mom and Dad; Will the Supreme Court Care?” asks the Christian Post (also referring to the heavily flawed Regnerus study), http://www.care2.com/causes/did-the-religious-right-create-bogus-study-to-sway-the-scotus.html and the Post is joined by a number of organizations on the Right ...

The previous Regnerus study came out just in time for the Windsor case, indeed it was rushed specifically so that the Right could have some kind of study against same-sex parenting to oppose the mounting evidence that same-sex parents are just as good as heterosexual parents despite having been severely disadvantaged by anti-LGBT laws. http://www.care2.com/causes/what-the-australian-study-really-tells-us-about-gay-parenting.html ...

Full article


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Reply 5 Things to Know About the New ‘Gay Parents are Bad for Kids’ Study (Original post)
Panich52 Feb 2015 OP
TexasProgresive Feb 2015 #1
SheilaT Feb 2015 #2

Response to Panich52 (Original post)

Tue Feb 17, 2015, 01:41 PM

1. Bad parents are bad for kids.

That's what I know. Loving parents are good for kids.

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Response to TexasProgresive (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 17, 2015, 02:00 PM

2. Yes.


What kids need more than anything else is one, maybe two parents who live them unconditionally and who have enough financial security to provide them with what they need.

If all straight couples never divorced, and none of their kids were ever screwed up, then maybe, just maybe a "non-traditional" family unit would be less than optimum. But that's not the real world. What matters is that the parents love each other, love their kids, and do their best for them.

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