The Iona Institute, among other pro-marriage groups, likes to use a number of studies to buttress its case that marriage should be given special status.
It is obvious that marriage should not have special status unless there is something special about it. What is that something? The answer is the benefits it passes on to children.
One paper often quoted in this regard is from Child Trends, a big US-based organisation. That paper, called ‘Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children and What Can We Do About It, is a summary of studies which show that children tend to fare best when raised by their own biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.
This same paper goes on to say: “There is thus value in promoting strong, stable marriage between biological parents.”
This is our position. Take this away, and it is very hard to find any reason to give marriage special status.
There are those who object to the above kind of quote being used in arguments about same-sex marriage.
Child Trends itself says its brief only “summarises research conducted in 2002, when neither same-sex parents nor adoptive parents were identified in large national studies. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents or adoptive parents”.
That is indeed the case. We cannot say how well children raised by same-sex parents do compared with children raised by their own biological married parents and won’t be able to say so for a long time to come.
Studies showing that there are no differences between the two kinds of families from the point of view of children invariably suffer from some fatal flaw or another. In this debate, the burden of proof is firmly on those who say motherhood and fatherhood are of no special value to children. That burden hasn’t even come close to being met yet.
However, what we can say most emphatically is that when sufficiently large, well designed studies do allow for comparisons to be made between different types of families, the married, biological family fares best from the child’s viewpoint.
This is why marriage deserves special support from the State and from society. Advocates of same-sex marriage don’t agree. Therefore they need to find some other justification for giving marriage special status. I would like to hear what the justification is.
As you can see, David Quinn failed to discuss any of the actual charges which were levied against the Iona Institute. There is no explanation as to why they decided to utilise research which omits same-sex couples. He does do not explain why they purposefully misrepresented the research to make it appear as if Child Trends’ agreed with Iona’s claims that two biological parents are of a greater benefit to children than same-sex parents. Nor is there an apology for any of the above. We must remember the context in which Iona misrepresented the research. It was in a submission to the Constitutional Convention. They were attempting to sway the opinion of the Convention members to oppose same-sex marriage legislation. To do so in such a dishonest manner is quite disgusting and warrants a retraction and an apology: both of which David has completely failed to do in the above post.
Worse again, the post repeats the same misrepresentation which was contained in the submission to the convention. David claims the Child Trends’ research “is a summary of studies which show that children tend to fare best when raised by their own biological parents in a low-conflict marriage” – no it doesn’t. The research shows that children fare best when raised by their own biological parents in a low-conflict marriage when compared to other family structures such as single parents, stepparents, and cohabitating parents. Note: this is not a claim that two biological parents are a greater benefit to children than every form of family structure, only those contained in the study. Allow me to posit a simple analogy which will explain Iona’s deceit clearly. Let’s say several car manufacturers were tested for their safety: Toyota, Ford, Seat, and Audi. When the safety of these four manufacturers is compared, it is found that Audi has the best safety record. Audi then tries to utilise this research to claim they are the safest car manufacturer compared to every manufacturer, even safer than those which were not tested in the research. This would be blatantly dishonest, yet it is this form of dishonesty that the Iona Institute has engaged in by representing Child Trends’ research in the manner they have above and in the submission to the Constitutional Convention.
David then further lies by stating
we cannot say how well children raised by same-sex parents do compared with children raised by their own biological married parents and won’t be able to say so for a long time to come. Studies showing that there are no differences between the two kinds of families from the point of view of children invariably suffer from some fatal flaw or another.
This is completely untrue. There are dozens of research papers which show that children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as those raised by their biological married parents. Here is a select few with links to the original research.
This review has provided an overview and summary of the main bodies of research about parenting by LGBT people, and located the research within the broader family studies field, which it is both informed by and informs. In keeping with the broader family studies literature, the literature discussed here indicates that the family factors that are important for children’s outcomes and well-being are family processes and the quality of interactions and relationships. The research indicates that parenting practices and children’s outcomes in families parented by lesbian and gay parents are likely to be at least as favourable as those in families of heterosexual parents, despite the reality that considerable legal discrimination and inequity remain significant challenges for these families.
According to their mothers’ reports, the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts in Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth. Within the lesbian family sample, no Child Behavior Checklist differences were found among adolescent offspring who were conceived by known, as-yet-unknown, and permanently unknown donors or between offspring whose mothers were still together and offspring whose mothers had separated.
Our ﬁndings revealed, for the ﬁrst time, that young children adopted early in life by lesbian and gay parents were as well-adjusted as those adopted by heterosexual parents. Our results suggest that lesbian and gay adults can and do make capable adoptive parents. We found no signiﬁcant differences among families headed by lesbian, gay, or heterosexual parents in terms of child adjustment, parenting behaviors, or couples’ adjustment.
I could very easily continue and provide dozens of more examples but I don’t want to bore my readers too much, plus the American Psychological Association has done my work for me. They have compiled 150+ research papers concerning same-sex parenting and analysed their findings.
In summary, there is no evidence to suggest that lesbian women or gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of lesbian women or gay men is compromised relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. 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. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth.
So David’s claim that “we cannot say how well children raised by same-sex parents do compared with children raised by their own biological married parent” is either a flagrant lie or willful ignorance, neither of which is flattering for Mr Quinn. Furthermore, David also arrogantly claims that the “studies showing that there are no differences between the two kinds of families from the point of view of children invariably suffer from some fatal flaw or another”. Quinn, a man of no substantial experience in the field, is attempting to contradic the findings of over 150 experts. The manner in which he tries to accomplish this is reminiscent to those who reject evolution and climate change. The research does not confirm their bias so instead of reconsidering their opinion they automatically assume there is some flaw in the research. It is nonsensical and childish thinking.
- David Quinn and the Iona Institute should issue a retraction and apologise for intentionally misrepresenting Child Trends’ research in their submission to the Constitutional Convention. Such blatant misrepresentation was in an effort to dupe the Convention members and the Irish people. Such deceitfulness will not be tolerated.
- From now on they should stop using Child Trends’ research in arguing a case against same-sex marriage as it is totally irrelevant to the issue.
- They must stop claiming there is no research showing that the children of same-sex parents experience the same benefits as children of two biological parents. There is a plethora of research out there which confirms this. To continue making such a claim is, once again, blatant dishonesty.
- They must actually read and get to grips with this research and stop making such childishly broad claims that it is all “flawed”. Such claims border science denialism and deserve no more respect than evolution deniers and young Earth creationists.