March 23, 2013
On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, they will consider the constitutionality of the definition as enshrined in the California state constitution by voters in that state when they adopted “Proposition 8” in 2008 (effectively reversing the decision of the California Supreme Court to impose same-sex “marriage” earlier that year). In Windsor v. United States, they will consider the constitutionality of the same definition of marriage being adopted for all purposes under federal law through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
In anticipation of those oral arguments, I am running a series of blog posts with questions and answers related to the issue. Today, we look at the claim that we should redefine marriage to protect the children already being raised by same-sex couples.
Q—How normal is “the new normal” (children being raised by homosexual couples)?
This week there was a flurry of news coverage of a new “Policy Statement” (that’s what it was, by its own labeling—it wasn’t a “study”) from theAmericanAcademy of Pediatrics, which endorsed the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
The impression which advocates for marriage redefinition seek to create in the public’s mind is that children of homosexual parents are essentially in exactly the same position as children of heterosexual parents, and children raised by same-sex couples are in the same position as children raised by married opposite-sex couples, except regarding the gender of the parents.
Yet some data reported in the AAP’s own Policy Statement tend to undermine that message. Consider this quote:
“The US 2010 Census reported that 646,464 households included 2 adults of the same gender. These same-gender couples are raising ~115,000 children aged ≤18 years and are living in essentially all counties of theUnited States. When these children are combined with single gay and lesbian parents who are raising children, almost 2 million children are being raised by gay and lesbian parents in the United States.”
If the estimate of 2 million children with “gay and lesbian parents” is correct, then comparing it with the figure of 115,000 being raised by same-sex couples indicates that only 1 in every 17 children of “gay” parents actually lives with a same-sex couple. Thus, the model of “gay parenting” held up by homosexual activists in the marriage debate—that of children being raised in a stable household by a loving and committed same-sex couple—is extraordinarily rare in the real world, even as a fraction of the already small minority of children who have a homosexual parent.
Last summer, University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus published a groundbreaking study of homosexual parents in the journal, Social Science Research. It showed that children of homosexuals suffered disadvantages in numerous areas—both when compared with children raised in an intact biological family, and when compared with other, less stable (but heterosexual) parenting situations. (I summarized its findings and responded to critiques of it in a series of blog posts.)
One of the chief criticisms of his work (and really, one of the only criticisms of any substance) was that many of the 236 subjects he identified—young adults whose parent had a homosexual relationship while they were growing up—had never actually lived with the parent and the parent’s same-sex partner. Therefore, it was argued, the Regnerus findings could not be considered relevant to debates about children being raised by same-sex couples.
The reason for the paucity of children raised by same-sex couples in the Regnerus study was simple—they could hardly be found in a representative, population-based sample. The data-gathering group hired for Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study screened 15,000 young adults—and found only two who had been raised by a same-sex couple from birth to age 18. In both cases, the couple was a lesbian one—they found no one who had been raised by a homosexual male couple from birth.
In other words, what some liberal activists (and Hollywood) like to refer to as “the new normal”—kids being raised by homosexual couples from birth—is not normal at all, even for kids with a parent who has homosexual relationships.
While the ideal—the “new normal”—of the family revisionists is not normal, what about the “old normal?” Advocates for maintaining the definition of marriage as the union of a woman and a man uphold an ideal also—the married couple household in which a child is raised by a mom and dad (and in particular the natural family, wherein a child is born to and raised by his or her own biological mother and father, who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage).
Revisionists, however, scoff at this ideal, relegating it to the outdated, “Ozzie and Harriett,” “Father Knows Best” world of 1950’s sitcoms. When you consider the high rates of cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and divorce, along with singles adopting and “gay parents,” the old-fashioned nuclear family hardly exists any more—or does it?
The answer to that question can also be found in the AAP Policy Statement, which reports, “In 2010, married adults were raising 65.3% of all children in this country.” Even if the Census Bureau (source of this figure) defied the federal Defense of Marriage Act and chose to include some of the 646,464 same-sex couples in this number, it is still clear that the overwhelming majority of these 48 million married couples are of the opposite-sex.
To summarize, only 1 in every 17 children of “gay” parents is living with a same-sex couple. So the “new normal” isn’t normal.
On the other hand, nearly 2 out of every 3 children of heterosexual parents are living with a married couple. The number of children being raised by a married heterosexual couple is more than 400 (four hundred) times higher than the number being raised by a same-sex couple.
The “old normal” is still the norm.