Month Archives: August 2012

Young womens sexuality needs rescuing

by Betsy Huff

August 9, 2012

In an article entitled Have We Stopped Protecting Our Girls, Candi Finch describes how Western culture has lost its focus on protecting the purity and well-being of young women against an increasingly over sexualized culture. Finch stresses the importance of parents protecting the sexuality of their daughters by modeling what a loving and healthy marriage looks like, by setting standards for relationships, and by guarding them from the influences of a sexually saturated media.

Finche references a book Uncovered written by two OB/GYNs, Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush. The authors make professional and scientific observations about the harmful effects produced by a society that promotes (even encourages) unhindered and hedonistic sexuality with whomever, wherever, whenever. These negative consequences can be seen in unwed pregnancy rates, an increase in women having sexual intercourse at a younger age with multiple partners, increasing cohabitation rates, and decreasing marriage rates (see the Marriage and Religion Research Institutes Mapping America research on sexuality for more information.)

After taking a brief look at the first couple chapters of the book Uncovered, what struck me the most was the doctors emphasis on what young women, particularly high school girls, said they desired for their future. A strong majority reported that a happy and healthy family was a priority, they desired several children, and they wanted to be married to only one person for the rest of their lives. But as Mcllhaney and Bush point out, The new sexual norms for young people dont lead to the outcomes that young women consistently say they want, as measured by virtually any indicator of health and well-being.

Young girls are proclaiming what women really want— a life of emotional health, physical health, and thriving relationships that last. As a society, as parents, and as a church we should be helping them see the link between obeying the prescriptive calls of Scripture to a holy life and the fruit of that holiness, which is the expression of God-made and God-given sexuality in the sacred context of marriage. As Uncovered says, We want to sound the alarm, not in order to limit young womens sexual lives and futures, but in order to enhance them—indeed, to rescue them.

Saving Kids Means Saving Families

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 7, 2012

It is always encouraging when Christian leaders call for believing men and women to take a stand for their children and their culture. Jason Pankau and Michael Lee Stallard have done this graciously but forcefully in a recent Crosswalk article, “The Christian Calling to Rescue Cultures: Saving Our Kids. This moving article recounts how loneliness, excessive time online, and internet pornography have poisoned a generation of young men and women.

Pankau and Stallard are to be commended as Godly men whose passion for Americas youth reflects the love of Christ. Yet as we consider their moving call for Christians to help rescue a lost and lonely generation, its worth remembering that the crises of our countrys children, teens, and early-20s grow substantially out of family breakdown.

At FRC, we talk and write a lot about the centrality of family to personal fulfillment, social well-being, and economic prosperity. We do so because family matters so much: No ones needs, however grave, can be resolved in isolation. We need moms and dads, sisters and brothers, or at least surrogates in these critical roles, to thrive as our Creator intended.

The hard facts prove it: FRCs Marriage and Religion Research Institute provides well-documented and sometimes counterintuitive data vindicating the proposition that the biblical vision of the family remains essential to the life, liberty, and happiness of any culture. Our talented commentators and writers, including Tony Perkins, Ken Blackwell, and Bob Morrison, frequently share how the family unit which is so under attack is the yeast that leavens our countrys cultural bread.

Most importantly, the law written on the heart described by Paul the Apostle in Romans 2 confirms to our inner lives what we witness all around us: The love, security, and guidance of family are irreplaceable. Whatever social, religious, and political structures we develop to better the lives of our youth, lets never forget that.

Nearly 90,000 Orthodox Jews Celebrate Completion of Seven-Year Talmudic Study

by Chris Gacek

August 3, 2012

While much of America was focused on the statement of religious support for Chick-fil-A exercised by hundreds of thousands of Americans, that same day 90,000 Orthodox Jews were celebrating the completion of a 7 and 12 years course of study in the Talmud in New Jerseys MetLife Stadium. This excellent New York Times article by Sharon Otterman provides many fascinating details:

The more than $2 million celebration, whose cost was covered by ticket sales, was organized by Agudath Israel, an umbrella organization for Orthodox Jews in America. The organization has carried the Daf Yomi, the regimen of daily study, from the mind of a single Polish rabbi, Meir Shapiro, in 1923, through the trauma of the Holocaust to its current resurgence.

About 70,000 to 80,000 Jews worldwide now participate in the daily learning sessions, said Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger, the chairman of the Daf Yomi Commission, and septennial celebrations like the one here have grown bigger with each cycle.

If you would like to hear a short discussion of about the event, you can listen to the John Batchelor Show via WABC Radios podcast page (go here, and start listening at 10 min 30 seconds (of 39:48)).

Religious freedom is a beautiful thing.

The Homosexual Parent Study and The Weekly Standard, Part 2: Making Molehills out of Mountains

by Peter Sprigg

August 3, 2012

Recently, I posted a piece responding to last weeks Weekly Standard cover story describing the attacks upon sociologist Mark Regnerus. His recent article in the journal Social Science Research showed that children of homosexual parents (that is, young adults who reported that a parent had a same-sex romantic relationship while they were growing up) suffer disadvantages relative to children in a variety of other family situations.

The author of the Weekly Standard story, Andrew Ferguson, criticized a sentence containing FRCs summary of the studys findingsin part, because it failed to include awkward clarifications like that in parentheses above. In my earlier post, I argued that Ferguson had made mountains out of molehills by criticizing a single sentence for not containing all the qualifications and explanations that were contained in the 3,000-word paper which the sentence introduced (somethingFerguson never mentioned).

However, in his even longer (4,000 words) article,Fergusonhimself made mountains of error with misleading statements that may have seemed like molehills to him.

Here are some statements by Andrew Ferguson of The Weekly Standard that are far more questionable than the FRC statement he takes issue with:

1) For more than a decade now the unchallenged view among social scientists has been that there is no difference between children brought upI mean parentedby lesbian and gay couples and those brought up in households where Ma and Pa are married.

This is not an accurate description even of what the pro-homosexual research has asserted. For example, the statement by the American Psychological Association (APA) that was challenged by scholar Loren Marks (in the same issue with Regnerus’ article) said, Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.

What is the difference between this APA statement and what Ferguson said? The APA made no assertion about children raised by coupleseither homosexual or heterosexual. These studies have focused almost exclusively on the sexual orientation of the parentsnot the family structure. A large number of them compared children raised by lesbian single mothers with children raised by heterosexual single mothers.

Virtually none of the pro-homosexual parenting studies have compared children brought up by lesbian and gay couples and those brought up in households where Ma and Pa are married. (I am aware of only one previous study that limited its comparison to coupleshomosexual, cohabiting heterosexual, and married heterosexual. Published by researcher Sotirios Sarantakos in the journal Children Australia, it found that children of married heterosexual couples did the best, and the children of homosexual couples did the worst, on a majority of the outcomes measured. Marks discusses this study in his article.)

In the debates over the definition of marriage, FRC has focused our primary arguments not on the generic superiority of heterosexual parents over homosexual parents (although the Regnerus study offers support for that as well), but on the fact that children do best when raised by their own, married mother and father. There is no question that children raised by heterosexual single parents or divorced parents are also at a disadvantage relative to those raised by their married mom and dad. That is a principal finding of the Mapping America series produced by FRCs Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI).

2) Ferguson says:

It was also clear that the nature of gay parenting has changed quite a bit from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, when these young adults were children. Typically, Regnerus said, they were born from heterosexual unions that went bust; nowadays the children of homosexual couples are often plannedbrought into a family through adoption, in vitro fertilization, or surrogate motherhood.

Ferguson cites no scientific source, either pro-homosexual or pro-family, for the claim that nowadays the children of homosexual couples are often planned. My suspicion is that this is merely one of the pro-homosexual talking points (which Ferguson relies on too much in his article). Over the last forty years such planned homosexual families have probably gone from virtually non-existent to merely minuscule in number; there is no basis for saying such families are formed often. Chances are that even today, the vast majority of children being raised by gay parents (whether that is defined by self-identification or by behavior) were conceived in the context of a previous heterosexual relationship.

3) Ferguson says,

The differences between the GFs [children of gay fathers] and the IBFs [children of intact biological families] were smaller and less significantthere was no difference, for example, in reports of childhood sex abuse.

This illustrates a pet peeve of mine about how the media reports on statistical significance. While findings that are statistically significant are certainly more compelling (because we can have a higher level of confidence that they accurately represent the real world), that does not mean we should simply dismiss any findings that do not rise to the mathematical standard of statistical significance. In the case of the gay fathers in the Regnerus study, the main reason why fewer of the comparisons involving them were statistically significant is because the sample size was smallernot because the reported differences in outcomes were small.

It is flatly false, for example, to say there was no difference … in reports of childhood sex abuse between IBFs and GFs. In fact, only 2% of the children of married parents reported they were ever touched sexually by a parent or other adult, while 6% of the children of gay fathers said thisthree times as many. In addition, only 8% of the children of married parents said they were ever forced to have sex against their will (not just in childhood), vs. 25% of the children of gay fathers—again, three times as many. However, because of the small sample sizes (both of GFs and of those who experienced sexual abuse), these findings were not statistically significant. That hardly constitutes proof (or even evidence) that there was no difference. The evidence (but, in the absence of statistical significance, not proof) points in exactly the opposite direction.

4) Ferguson paraphrases Gary Gates, a pro-homosexual demographer, as saying that we cant tell from Regneruss data what role homosexualityas opposed to divorce, welfare, single-parenthoodplayed in the bad outcomes.

Unfortunately, Ferguson fails to even mention that Regnerus did include an analysis of his data using controls for several other factors that might influence the outcomes. Specifically, he included controls for respondent’s age, race/ethnicity, gender, mother’s education, and perceived family-of-origin income. If a finding is statistically significant with controls, it means that any apparent differences based on having a homosexual parent cannot be accounted for based on any of the factors for which he controlled.

Even more importantly, he also controlled for having been bullied and for respondents’ current state of residence … according to how expansive or restrictive its laws are concerning gay marriage and the legal rights of same-sex couples. These controls seriously undermine the pro-homosexual talking point (repeated by Ferguson in his critique of FRC’s statement), that the instability, and hence the bad outcomes, could be largely traced to trauma caused by the antihomosexual prejudice of an earlier time. A finding that is significant even after the controls would mean, for example, that even among those who were never bullied, and even in states where same-sex marriage is already legal, children do better when raised by their own mother and father.

Ferguson ignores the fact that Regnerus used controls; but perhaps even more glaringly, he ignores the fact that Regnerus compared the children of homosexual parents not just with parents of married mothers and fathers, but with five other heterosexual family structures as wellchildren adopted by strangers, children whose parents divorced late (that is, after they turned 18), children who lived in step-families, and children of single parents. This part of the study has not gotten as much attention (and it will be the focus of my next FRC Issue Brief on the Regnerus study).

On these comparisons, Regnerus reports that children of lesbian mothers display 57 [differences] that are [statistically significant] … . The majority of these differences are in suboptimal directions, meaning that LMs [children of lesbian mothers] display worse outcomes. Regnerus has dramatically understated his findings here. I went through his tables item by item, and found that the LMs were suboptimal on all 57 statistically significant comparisons.

Critics complain that Regnerus failed to compare stable gay households with stable heterosexual households (more on that later). But Regnerus did compare unstable gay households with unstable heterosexual householdsand the gay households were worse on every statistically significant comparison he reported (and most of the ones that were not statistically significant). This suggests that the problem with the homosexual parents was not merely their instabilitythe problem was their homosexuality. Virtually none of the media reports on the study have addressed this.

5) Ferguson says,

[Researcher Loren] Marks sums it up: In response … to any question regarding the long-term, adult outcomes of lesbian and gay parenting we have almost no empirical basis for responding.

And now, with the publication of Regneruss study … we still dont.

This is a ridiculous statementessentially discounting entirely the many ways in which Regnerus study is superior to any previous gay parenting study ever conducted. Marks was referring specifically to the 59 pro-homosexual parenting studies cited by the American Psychological Association in a 2005 report. Using a large, representative, population-based sample (which almost none of the APA studies did), Regnerus made numerous findings that are statistically significant, and almost all of them showed children of homosexual parents at a disadvantage. While it does not settle every possible question about homosexual parenting, it is false to suggest that the Regnerus study has not provided an empirical basis for responding to such questions. (And again, Regnerus data contains more information than what he published in this initial articleif other researchers want to use it.)

In saying we still don’t, Ferguson is accepting the effort of pro-homosexual activists to change the subject, and insist that the only meaningful findings would be ones that compare intact homosexual parents with intact biological families. At least he notes what Regnerus also points outthat the number of such [intact homosexual] parents in the general population is infinitesimal right now.

This is all somewhat comical, actually. Pro-homosexual activists who for years have said we have all the information we need (to conclude that children of homosexuals suffer no disadvantages) are so desperate to discredit the Regnerus study that they are suddenly insisting that we don’t really know anything about the subject yet.

In reality, thanks to Regnerus New Family Structures Study, we now know far more about the young adult children of parents who had same-sex relationships than we did from all the previous gay parenting studies combined.

The Social Conservative Review: August 2, 2012

by Krystle Gabele

August 2, 2012

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friends,

This week’s massive Indian blackout demonstrates again how reliant all of us are on an intricate and largely unseen web of hyrdo-electrical, electronic, and computer-related support systems.

A similar network, one seldom celebrated in media or academia, is composed of families, churches, synagogues, associations, charities, corporations and businesses. They form the undercarriage of our society and are equally critical to the well-being of us all.

As conservatives, it’s our job to strengthen this essential cultural power-grid. At the Family Research Council, our job is to help sustain and empower the institutions of marriage, church, and family so that the moral power failures we are experiencing don’t become overwhelming. With your God’s help and yours, we will continue doing just that.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. As this week marks the beginning of the Obama Administration’s contraception/abortifacient mandate on health insurance plans, be sure to visit FRC’s website to learn what we’re doing to support religious liberty and the rights of conscience.


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Homosexuality

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To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

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Check out Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s feature on Watchmen Pastors called “The Lost Episodes,” featuring how religion has had an impact on our Founding Fathers.

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Another Casualty of the War On Women

by Family Research Council

August 1, 2012

Pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood would like you to think they are fighting for women by opposing draconian measures promoted by republicans against womens health. In actuality, the cause for which they go to war is not womens health, but the expanse of abortion, and unfortunately women themselves are often the casualties in that war.

On July 20th, 2012, Tonya Reaves family joined a growing number of people grieving over the loss of a beloved daughter, mother, or sister to a failed abortion procedure. In reports on Tonya, who died from abortion complications in Chicago, Illinois, the number often promulgated regarding the percentage of abortions that result in the womans death is less than 0.3%. But as Tonyas family knows, she is so much more than a statistic, a less than one percent. And so are the other 450+ women who have died as a result of abortion since Roe v. Wade (Center for Disease Control and Prevention Report, pg 36).

It is to the families of those 0.3% that Planned Parenthood offers their condolences, while at the same time opposing state legislatures attempts to offer real solutions to the shocking lack of regulation of the abortion industry.

Few Americans realize how de-regulated abortion clinics are across the country. Prior to 2011, Missouri was the only state in the nation that regulated its abortion clinics as it regulated other outpatient surgical facilities, the intuitive definition of an abortion clinic. Fewer still realize that Illinois had a one-page bill in 2011 (HB3156) that would do just that: define abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical facilities and regulate them thereby. Unfortunately, this simple bill designed to protect women was aggressively opposed by Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion lobby, and it died in the Illinois House of Representatives by a close vote.

Just over a year later something else died in Illinois, but this time it was a mother and her child.

One cannot be certain that the increased oversight found in HB 3156 would have prevented Tonya Reavess death. But how many more women must die before we stand up to the abortion industry and demand their compliance with life-saving regulations rather than placidly accept their condolences for avoidable deaths?

While Planned Parenthood and the left loudly accuse pro-life conservatives of waging a war on women, they quietly pull the trigger on legislation designed expressly for womens safety.

Michigan is currently considering a bill (HB5711) which includes the same provision in Illinois bill defining abortion clinics that perform six or more abortions a month as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities for the purpose of health regulations. The Department of Health is given the authority to develop specific regulations. Michigans HB 5711 is not an attack on women. To the contrary, in addition to bringing abortion clinics up to the health standard of other outpatient facilities it establishes safe-guards to prevent coercion, requires the posting of domestic abuse and human trafficking hotlines, requires physicians to examine women in person outlawing skype abortions, and ensures womens rights in malpractice suits. This bill is overwhelmingly pro-women, yet Planned Parenthood opposes it.

They oppose it like they opposed a similar bill passed in Pennsylvania, and are opposing the clinic regulations currently moving through Virginia. They try to paint them as unnecessary and point to one ridiculous requirement that hallways be widened to accommodate emergency paramedics stretchers while ignoring the evidence that narrow hallways have contributed to at least one womans death. The grand jury report addressing the death of Karnamaya Mongar, who died in Kermit Gosnells abortion clinic in 2009, said it took paramedics 20 minutes to remove the patient from the clinic due to cluttered hallways.

Planned Parenthood opposes the Michigan bill like they opposed the one in Illinois. Lets hope Michigan legislators stand up to Planned Parenthood and defend women so that Michigan does not have to morn their own Tonya Reaves in the future. Its time to call the war on women what it really is, a war to advance abortion in which real women, not a faceless 0.3%, are the casualties.

What, Me Praising CBS News?

by Robert Morrison

August 1, 2012

I grew up with CBS News. I can remember the day my father got me up before dawn to hear the CBS World News Roundup on the radio. They were announcing the death of Stalin. And my father had actually been to the USSR in his ship before World War II. He explained to me—a little school boy—what the death of this brutal dictator meant.

It seems I checked out of CBS News around 1980. I do have fond memories of Dan Rather trying to do a folksy Texas commentary on Jimmy Carter’s disastrous election night that year. “He’s got his back to the wall and his shirttails are on fire.” In those long-ago days, network TV colored the Republican states in blue and Democratic states in red. I remember when New England and New York all went for Reagan that glorious night. When Massachusetts and Connecticut turned blue, Dan Rather’s face turned green.

I was long gone from that “Tiffany Network” when Dan Rather was finally tripped up. He tried to do a story—a big expose—on President George W. Bush. He showed a letter said to have been written by the younger George Bush’s commanding officer in the Texas Air National Guard. The letter suggested that young Bush had had political pull to get a slot that would keep him out of Vietnam. The only problem for Dan Rather: The letter had been typed in Microsoft WORD format. And word processing wasn’t invented by the time of the date on that bogus letter. The fellows at the Powerline Blog had caught him in the act. It made people wonder: How long has CBS News been pulling this stuff and getting away with it?

So, being an ex-CBS viewer, it’s a joy to find something to praise my formerly favorite network for. Here’s a short video from the CBS website on the forthcoming Revolutionary War Museum.

It’s truly a gem of reporting—and it’s all good news. Amazing. Two minutes thirty-six seconds of CBS reporting—and I applaud every word of it.

Chick-fil-A: Taking the Heat

by Robert Morrison

August 1, 2012

My wife and I decided to brave the heat and the crowds at our local Mall today. We wanted to show our appreciation for Chick-fil-A. And I was, frankly, interested to see how this day would look. We live in Annapolis, the liberal capital of a liberal state. So we thought this would be a good test of National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. And we were grateful to Gov. Mike Huckabee for sending out his stirring call to service: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for Chick-fil-A.”

I cannot honestly say it was a huge crowd at the food court. It seemed no larger than Anderson Cooper’s nightly audience on CNN. Still, 80% of the folks at the tables were sporting Chick-fil-A bags. Taco Bell and Sbarro’s shared the rest of the tables, it seemed, with Five Guys, a very popular Washington area burger chain. The line was about 10 minutes long. That’s the longest we’d ever waited at a Chick-fil-A, but it moved along. In line, however, we saw a lot of people getting their lunches and taking them out to the parking lot. So that 80% dining in figure had to be weighed against all the takeouts.

We ran into people we knew, of course. Folks we know from our church. Friends and co-workers. One man, Brian, told me his son had worked in the General Assembly in Maryland when the state’s political elite jammed their faux marriage bill through the legislature.

Brian’s son goes to the local community college and is eager to transfer to a four-year to major in political science—so he can learn how to counter such shenanigans. Perhaps, I thought, the young fellow should major in business and become a billionaire.

Then, like New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomburg, he could threaten state lawmakers with bankrolling their opponents if they don’t approve same-sex stuff and promise them campaign cash if they do. In any other state, but my native New York, that would count as bribery and extortion. In the N.Y. legislature, it’s pretty much politics as usual.

I told Brian I thought his son should be commended. What we saw today was a nationwide outpouring against bullying by the bully boys—the ones always carp about bullying. The very idea of beating up Chick-fil-A is offensive. My wife, normally apolitical, was incensed. She likes Paul Newman salad dressing a lot. And she likes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We don’t buy those products because we don’t agree with their owners’ donations to Planned Parenthood and other leftist “charities.” But we wouldn’t dream of trying to shut down Annapolis businesses that feature those products.

Brian agreed. It’s about the moral issue of marriage, to be sure. But it’s about more than that: It’s about freedom. “I’ve had enough of those ‘gaystapo tactics,’” we heard one diner say. We agreed. And it was fun to learn that today is also Rush Limbaugh’s twenty-fourth anniversary behind the golden microphone. I don’t think they’ll let Rush smoke his cigar at his local Chick-fil-A.

We should not have to organize and rush out to make a statement like this. But it’s a great thing—and talk radio really helps with this—that we still can. As we surveyed the happy diners at the local Mall, it was good to know that Americans were standing up and sitting down for freedom.

One young man called in to WMAL radio this morning. He said he’d been accosted by hostiles at the Chick-fil-A where he works in Northern Virginia. He is actually in favor of letting same-sex couples marry, but “I’m just a poor college kid trying to earn enough to stay in school.” The outrageous behavior of the always enraged legions is going to drive millions of people our way.

I have been on the receiving end of their nonsense for decades. Whenever I would debate on the right to life with some Planned Parenthood minion, usually female, she would trot out their standard line of abuse: You conservative men want to keep women in the kitchen, pregnant and barefoot.

When they trotted out that hackneyed line, I’d reply: Yes, my wife has been pregnant and in the kitchen—but she was never barefoot. That would have been out of uniform. You see, she’s a Navy Captain, and she ran the food service at Bethesda Naval Hospital. And by the way, it was a $25 million operation.

Chick-fil-A bravely took the heat today. And they have to take the heat. If they didn’t maintain proper temperature, they’d risk undercooking their chicken. Which they never do. It’s a good reminder, though, of what President Harry Truman used to say: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

The Homosexual Parent Study and The Weekly Standard, Part 1: Making Mountains out of Molehills

by Peter Sprigg

August 1, 2012

Last weeks The Weekly Standard featured a cover story by Andrew Ferguson (Revenge of the Sociologists, July 30) about the attacks being leveled at University of Texas scholar Mark Regnerus, who published a journal article in June concerning children whose parents had same-sex romantic relationships. The study largely debunks previous pro-homosexual articles about children of gay parents, which claimed that such children suffer no disadvantages. (The best part of the Standards piece was the cartoon on the cover, featuring Regnerus as a victim of medieval torture.)

Unfortunately, Ferguson also takes issue with a statement by the Family Research Council summarizing the new study. Here is Fergusons critique of what FRC said:

Again, its not Regneruss fault that gay and lesbian relationships were so unstable when todays young adults were children. But the complication should have tempered the overenthusiastic pronouncements of his popularizers. As the conservative Family Research Council put it:

In a historic study of children raised by homosexual parents, sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin has overturned the conventional academic wisdom that such children suffer no disadvantages when compared to children raised by their married mother and father.

This is not only breathless but inaccurate. We may concede that Regneruss study could rightly be called historicthe data set he collected is unique and likely to yield interesting findings for years to come. But it is not a study of children raised by homosexual parents. Regnerus did not ask respondents to give their parents sexual orientation; merely whether they knew if their parents had at some point engaged in a homosexual relationship, for however long. The parents may or may not have considered themselves gay, then or now. And many of these children were not raised by a homosexual parent: There were GFs who never lived with their father at all. As a close reading of its title suggests, this is a study of adult children of parents who had same-sex relationships. And the Family Research Councils use of the present tense is jumping the gun. The study is retrospectivea picture of the nation during the last 40 years, much of it before the gay rights movement and the widespread social acceptance of homosexuality. For all we know, and as Regnerus readily admits, the instability, and hence the bad outcomes, could be largely traced to trauma caused by the antihomosexual prejudice of an earlier time.

To summarize, Ferguson calls the FRC statement inaccurate because in the study:

1) The parents did not necessarily self-identify as gay.

2) The children were not necessarily raised by the parent who had a same-sex relationship

3) The data was collected retrospectively from young adults (while the statement used the present tensesuffer … disadvantages).

4) No causal relationship between the parents sexuality and the negative outcomes was proven.

What Ferguson fails to note is that the statement quoted was merely the first, introductory sentence of a larger paper, nearly 3,000 words long (of which I was the author), which analyzed the Regnerus study in depth—and which included explanations of all of these points in the course of its analysis.

Let me go through these points one at a time.

1)Ferguson says, Regnerus did not ask respondents to give their parents’ sexual orientation … . The parents may or may not have considered themselves gay… .

Regarding the first partlater in the same paper, I describe more precisely the methodology by which the lesbian mothers and gay fathers (those are Regnerus’ terms) are identified: Of these, 175 reported that their mother had a same-sex romantic relationship while they were growing up, and 73 said the same about their father.

The second part of this is not a legitimate criticism of the FRC statement at all, because I did not call these parents gay either. I called them homosexual, and while many people may consider those synonyms, FRC has long made it clear that we do not.

Gay is a label of self-identification; but as I wrote in a recent pamphlet (Debating Homosexuality: Understanding Two Views), when we [social conservatives] use the word homosexual as a noun, it is usually intended merely to mean a person who engages in sexual relations with a person or persons of the same sex. (Regnerus asked only about a romantic relationship, not a sexual one, but the measure is likewise a behavioral one.) On that basis, I think you could argue that FRCs reference to homosexual parents is somewhat more accurate than Regnerus’ own references to lesbian mothers and gay fathers.

2) It is true that the subjects identified as having gay parents did not necessarily live with that parent. However, 77% of his respondents did live with the parent while they were in a same-sex relationship. Regnerus data includes more detailed information on that point, so other researchers could certainly mine the data to see if there were differences between children who were raised by a homosexual parent, and those whose homosexual parent was a non-custodial parent.

I made no effort to cover up this point in my Issue Brief. In fact, I said this:

The definition of what it means to have a homosexual parent is also a loose one in this studyby necessity, in order to maximize the sample size of homosexual parents. Not all of those who reported that a parent was in a same-sex relationship even lived with that parent during the relationship; many who did, did not live with the partner as well. Only 23% of those with a lesbian mother, and only 2% of those with a homosexual father, had spent as long as three years living in a household with the homosexual parent and the parent’s partner at the same time. Details like this involving the actual timeline of these children’s lives can reportedly be found in Regnerus’ dataset, which is to be made available to other researchers later this year.

Figures like these suggest a need for more research, to distinguish, for example, the effects of living with a homosexual parent from having a non-custodial one, or the effects of living with a homosexual single parent vs. a homosexual couple.

3) It’s also true that this was a retrospective study—the subjects were young adults ages 18-39, who were asked about their experiences between birth and age 18. But again, this is quibbling—every academic study is retrospective in one sense (the data were collected at some point in the past), and it is hardly unusual to draw generalized conclusions about the present based on data regarding past events. Again, it would be possible to use Regnerus’ data to compare the responses of the older respondents (who had a gay parent growing up longer ago) from those of the younger respondents, to see if changes in the social and legal climate are paralleled by changes in the outcomes for children with homosexual parents.

The FRC paper accurately described who the respondents were and how the data were collected—and, unlike Ferguson, pointed out some notable advantages of this method of data collection:

Another improvement Regnerus has made is in his method of collecting data and measuring outcomes for children in various family structures. Some previous studies collected data while the subjects were still children living at home with their parent or parentsmaking it impossible to know what the effects of the home environment might be once they reach adulthood. Some such studies even relied, in some cases exclusively, on the self-report of the parent. This raised a serious question of self-presentation bias—the tendency of the parent to give answers that will make herself and her child look good.

Regnerus, on the other hand, has surveyed young adults, ages 18 to 39, and asked them about their experiences growing up (and their life circumstances in the present). While these reports are not entirely objective, they are likely to be more reliable than parental self-reports, and allow evaluation of long-term impacts.

4) As to the issue of causality—it is worth noting that even the one sentence of mine which Ferguson quoted did not say that having a homosexual parent causes harm to children. It merely implied that such children suffer disadvantages (by stating that Regnerus study had overturned the conventional academic wisdom that such children suffer no disadvantages).

My paper went into more detail on the issue of causality—and why the inevitable uncertainty on that point in social science research cannot mitigate the importance of Regnerus findings:

Author Mark Regnerus emphasizes the traditional caveat in social science, warning against leaping to conclusions regarding causality. In other words, just because there are statistical correlations between having a homosexual parent and experiencing negative outcomes does not automatically prove that having a homosexual parent is what caused the negative outcomesother factors could be at work.

This is true in a strict scientific sensebut because Regnerus carefully controlled for so many other factors in the social environment, the study gives a clear indication that it is this parental characteristic which best defines the household environment that produces these troubling outcomes. The large number of significant negative outcomes in this study gives legitimate reason for concern about the consequences of homosexual parenting.

The latter point is one made in a paper by Ana Samuel (New Family Structures and the No Differences Claim) that appears on the official website for Regnerus study, the New Family Structures Study (NFSS; emphasis added):

Controls help sociologists eliminate alternative explanations for a given outcome, making the causal link between parenting structure and childrens outcomes more likely when the results are statistically significant after controls.

The NFSS website also includes the following summary of his findings under the Frequently Asked Questions:

More precisely, he [Dr. Regnerus] says, the data show rather clearly that children raised by gay or lesbian parents on average are at a significant disadvantage when compared to children raised by the intact family of their married, biological mother and father.

This statement is virtually indistinguishable from the FRC statement Ferguson cited. Fergusons criticism of one out-of-context sentence by FRC is petty quibbling—making mountains out of molehills, merely because the study could not be exhaustively described in a single sentence.

Tomorrow, in part two of this post, I will examine the ways in which Ferguson, on the other hand, made some mountainous errors of his own.

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