THOSE who oppose gay marriage often argue that having gay parents is hard on children. This has been a hard argument to make, because there simply isn’t that much data about the effects of growing up with gay parents, and what little there is—such as the 2010 study that found a 0% rate of child abuse in lesbian households—tends to undermine it. Some will believe that has changed this week with the publication of a new study by Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas, on “adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships.” As Mr Regnerus explains, in an accompanying essay at Slate, there are significant differences between that group and those who grew up in intact biological families (ie, a mother and a father, no adoption, no divorce). “On 25 of 40 different outcomes evaluated, the children of women who’ve had same-sex relationships fare quite differently than those in stable, biologically-intact mom-and-pop families,” he writes, “displaying numbers more comparable to those from heterosexual stepfamilies and single parents.”
The study has been greeted with fierce criticism, and for good reason. Mr Regnerus’s methodology stacked the deck against gay parents. There aren’t that many young adults around who grew up with openly gay parents, so he drew a bigger circle. Anyone who reported that either of their parents had a same-sex relationship while they were growing up was put into the “lesbian mothers” or “gay fathers” category, regardless of whether their parents had been married or divorced, whether the kids were adopted or biological, whether the parents seemed happy or not, whether the same-sex affair was a one-time encounter or the basis of the household, and so on. (By this silly standard, the number of children growing up with a gay parent is about to skyrocket.)
-more at Economist
As I read the study, it’s not remotely comparing gay parents with straight parents – it’s comparing parents who are faithful to their spouses, with those who are not. To draw a comparison between gay and straight parents from his sample, he should have compared parents who had a same-sex extra-marital affair, with those who had an opposite- sex extra-marital affair. This he has not done, but the chances area there would have been minimal difference.
The real lesson, as the Economist points out in their conculuding paragraph, is that children need stable families. For those who are being raised by same- sex parents, that probably means we should support gay marriage – for the sake of the children.