Thursday, June 14, 2012

Inappropriate comparisons and special categories for gays

We discussed the deeply flawed about the deeply flawed Regnerus study on how broken households affect kids, and how Regenerus has interpreted this to mean "gay parents" even though he acknowledges that's not accurate.

We expect to see this used in the press and the courts to attack LGBT families and our children as well as our marriages.

(Turns out Regnerus is a hard core Evangelical with rather retro notions of women's sexuality as well.)

Does his agenda make a difference? From the Daily Beast:
Regnerus is also explicitly giving scientific credibility to parenthood-related arguments against gay marriage, which have played a large role in the political fight over the issue. Despite claiming that his research is descriptive of a previous generation and offers no causal explanation of the supposed discrepancy between gay and straight parents, Regnerus says outright that his study could reasonably lead to caution against legalizing gay marriage. It could lead to support for gay marriage to stabilize gay families, he writes, but it “may suggest that the household instability that the [study] reveals is just too common among same-sex couples to take the social gamble..."

Regnerus’s research doesn’t really “suggest” anything of the kind; he admits that it’s not clear sexual orientation had anything to do with inferior life outcomes of certain respondents in his survey or that his research has anything do with marriage at all. If we go by his own claims about the study, it has no bearing on what is at stake in the political debate over gay marriage and parenthood: whether gay couples who get married and decide to have children are any different from straight ones. But the way Regnerus is selling the research seems designed to bait pundits like Rod Dreher, who gave his post on the study the headline “Traditional Families Are Best for Kids” and touted it as evidence that “deconstructing marriage” will have dangerous consequences.

The last I'll say on this comes from Nathaniel Franks in the LA Times.
There is a larger point, however, that can be lost in the debate over how to read the data. There is no basis in the recent history of American social policy for testing the parenting skills of a class of citizens before we grant them permission to parent — or to marry. Given all the research on the hardships of children raised by single parents, there is still no movement to preemptively remove kids from broken homes after every divorce or to ban single people from having kids; such policies would be patently inhumane and unenforceable. Growing up in poverty increases the risk of a wide range of social and psychological ills, yet since the craze for eugenics died down, no one is proposing banning poor people from marriage or child rearing. And some ethnic and racial groups are statistically less likely to get or stay married, yet there is no ethnic litmus test for marriage or parenting — only a gay one.

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