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Sep 02 2013

Michigan Bigots Unwittingly Argue for Marriage Equality

I mentioned recently the lawsuit challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and adoption, in which a friend has submitted an amicus brief. The Michigan Catholic Conference also submitted a brief in the case and unwittingly provided an argument for marriage equality:

Encouraging procreation within the confines of marriage serves other legitimate state interests of promoting economic stability and decreasing the need for government assistance. The bonds of marriage promote stable relationships that are beneficial not only to husband, wife, and child, but also to the state and its resources. Research shows that, as compared to other environments, a child raised by a traditional married family is significantly less likely to be dependent on public assistance than a child raised in other settings. Mark Regnerus, How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study, Social Science Research 41 (2012) (data reveals that a child born to a traditional family is significantly less likely to be unemployed, currently on public assistance, or have received public assistance while growing up).

Note the slippery language: “a child raised in other settings.” The study did not compare married families headed by a straight couple against married families headed by a gay couple, which is the only comparison that would be at all relevant, it compared intact families with single-parent families and broken homes. You mean two-parents households with two incomes are typically better off financially and less likely to need government assistance than single-parent households? What a shock. Sounds like a good reason to create more two-parent households, doesn’t it?

The Michigan Family Forum also submitted a brief citing the Regnerus study.

Decades of study on various parenting structures yield the near uniform conclusion that a biological mother and father provide optimal child outcomes. [Regnerus citation.] So the claim that another parenting relationship produces child outcomes just as good as (or even better than) intact biological parents is a surprising proposition, to say the least, and one that must be rigorously tested (and until then, viewed with healthy suspicion).

But wait, is that even at issue in the case? The case is not about whether children should be taken from intact families with a mom and a dad and put into the homes of gay people, single or married; the case is about whether a lesbian couple that already exists and already has three children that were previously adopted only by one of them (two by one and one by the other) can jointly adopt all three children so that they all have the protection of having two parents that are legally responsible for them. So these comparisons simply are not relevant, even if they didn’t actually support marriage equality.

28 comments

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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    And yet, when a clever group proposed an initiative in Washington in 2007 that would make procreation a requirement for marriage (I-957), these same Catholic groups started screeching about how marriage nothing whatsoever to do with children. Imagine that.

  2. 2
    raven

    Quoting the Regnerus study is a sure loser.

    That study has been discredited over and over in many different ways.

    It’s not a study, it is a bunch of lies and crude propaganda.

    It’s like an economist quoting Rogoff and Reinhart.

    The christofascists and right wingnuts know who their real enemy is. Reality, the real world. All they can do is lie a lot.

  3. 3
    raven

    The bonds of marriage promote stable relationships that are beneficial not only to husband, wife, and child, but also to the state and its resources.

    Just about every sentence of this is a lie.

    The divorce rate is 50%. So much for stable realationships.

    Encouraging procreation within the confines of marriage serves other legitimate state interests of promoting economic stability…

    This is from a group of Catholics. That is what birth control and family planning is for. Of course, they routinely oppose both while in fact, 98% of Catholic women will use birth control.

    a child raised by a traditional married family is significantly less likely to be dependent on public assistance than a child raised in other settings….

    40% of US chidlren are born to single motehrs. The vast majority of them are heterosexual. I don’t see them trying to outlaw single motherhood or heterosexuality though. While this may be true, it is completely irrelevant.

    The way to reduce this number is well know. Comprehensive sex ed and widespread and low or no cost birth control. Both of which the RCC opposes for no good reason. It’s just something a Pope made up a few decades ago and isn’t found in the bible.

  4. 4
    whheydt

    IIRC, the Regnerus study was brought up in the District Court in the Federal Prop. 8 case. The judge made short work of it in his decision. Hopefully, someone will give this court a suitable citation.

    As for the “40% to single mothers”…don’t be too certain of that statistic. In California (in the past, not sure if it’s still true), the number of children born to “single mothers’ was determined by comparing the the child’s last name to the mothers, since the birth records didn’t specify whether or not the parents were married. Since there has been a major trend of women *not* changing their names on marriage, there were a lot of kids born to married couples that were counted as being to single mothers.

  5. 5
    raven

    Controversial Gay-Parenting Study Is Severely Flawed, Journal’s Audit
    chronicle. com/blogs/percolator/controversial…study…flawed…/30255‎

    Jul 26, 2012 – Chief Auditor Eviscerates Regnerus Study, But Questions Remain …

    http://www.bilerico.com/2013/…/chief_reviewer_repudiates_regnerus_study.p…‎
    May 30, 2013 - In fact, the study had deep methodological flaws, because Regnerus’s sample was not asked whether their parents were gay or lesbian, but …

    Mark Regnerus – Huffington Post
    www .huffingtonpost. com/news/mark-regnerus‎

    Now that an internal audit at Social Science Research has confirmed that Mark Regnerus’ “gay parenting” study was indeed so badly flawed that it never should …
    Mark Regnerus’ study on gay parenting is hopelessly flawed – Los …

    and

    wikipedia:

    Sherkat concluded that Regnerus, a conservative evangelical Christian, had “disgraced” himself by drawing misleading conclusions from poor research:[18]

    When we talk about Regnerus, I completely dismiss the study. It’s over. He has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better. Some of them think that he’s also stupid and an ideologue. I know better. I know that he’s a smart guy and that he did this on purpose, and that it was bad, and that it was substandard

    Regnerus is just a liar, a wild eyed religious kook, and everyone knows it..

  6. 6
    raven

    As for the “40% to single mothers”…don’t be too certain of that statistic.

    Yeah, I know.

    Some of those 40% are in stable relationships and just not formally married by the state’s rules.

    When my friends got married, their 6 year old daughter was the flower girl. They decided to get married when their kids started school because it was confusing the teachers.

    Since there has been a major trend of women *not* changing their names on marriage,…

    Very few of my cohort changed their names. It was considered archaic and silly.

    We in the USA badly need that 40%. The US birth rate is rigtht at replacement. If we abolished single motherhood, our population would be dropping like a rock.

  7. 7
    raven

    wikipedia:

    conducted by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. The study was later declared to be flawed in an audit conducted by the publisher of the study, Social Science Research,[9] and was criticized by major professional scientific institutions and associations as well as other sociologists at the University of Texas.[10]

    The American Sociological Association formally condemned the NFSS for being invalid in a brief to the United States Supreme Court.[11][12]

    The University of Texas conducted an inquiry into the publication and declined to conduct a personal investigation stating that ordinary errors are not considered personal misconduct.[1

    More.

    The Regnerus study was a joke. He looked at 3,000 people and found two that might have been raised in LGBT households. A sample size of two isn’t a sample.

    If I did what Rogoff and Reinhart or Regnerus did, I would be fired and so would any other scientist. The truth simply isn’t important to religious and libertarian fanatics.

  8. 8
    matty1

    I’m very skeptical of the “two parents are best” argument, I mean I can accept the bit where two incomes means more resources to support the child but that is only part of good parenting. Where I can’t follow is the idea that a child is always better off with two parents than one. I’m sure we can all think of cases where a relationship failed and I am not persuaded that children living with two parents who hate each other have better outcomes than children whose parents split and came to an agreement about custody.

    There are simply too many variables to claim that any one is the deciding factor and if I was to guess I’d suggest the number and gender of parents are pretty low on the list with social and financial support ranking a lot higher.

  9. 9
    raven

    I’m very skeptical of the “two parents are best” argument,…

    Sometimes it is.

    Sometimes it isn’t. What if one parent is a drunk, criminal, Tea Partier, or religious kook? That is one reason why the divorce rate is 50%.

    Humans vary a huge amount and making that sort of generalization is worthless.

  10. 10
    matty1

    @9 Exactly what I was getting at, it’s the individual parents that benefit a child or not. Not whatever categories we choose to slot them into.

  11. 11
    cptdoom

    @3 raven I think hits the ole nailhead – we don’t confer parental or marriage rights based on the statistical probability that the family will be successful. As matty1 (#8) notes, there are too many variables in personalities and how they mesh, not to mention in the abilities of individuals to be good parents to know how a family or its children will turn out. So the very idea of using research to determine individual rights is nonsensical.

  12. 12
    drr1

    whheydt wrote:

    Hopefully, someone will give this court a suitable citation.

    We did.

  13. 13
    Modusoperandi

    The case is not about whether children should be taken from intact families with a mom and a dad and put into the homes of gay people”

    ISNT IT? ISNT IT?!!! LOOK AT THE FACTS ED BRATYON! I REST MY CASE!

  14. 14
    hunter

    “So the claim that another parenting relationship produces child outcomes just as good as (or even better than) intact biological parents is a surprising proposition, to say the least, and one that must be rigorously tested (and until then, viewed with healthy suspicion).”

    It has been — exhaustively. There are over 120 studies comparing the children of straight and gay couples, and they are remarkably consistent in demonstrating equivalent outcomes between the two groups.

    I can only hope that one of the responses to these briefs confronts this outrageous lie.

  15. 15
    Randomfactor

    Quoting the Regnerus study is a sure loser.

    On a par with quoting the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

  16. 16
    lclane2

    The most important need of a child is to be wanted by those who raise him/her. Same sex couples adopt only because they want children. For this reason children raised by same sex couples will have significant advantages over many children.

  17. 17
    AsqJames

    Yes, yes, the Regnerus study is about as scientifically credible as the creation museum’s pictures of Jesus riding a dinosaur. But that’s really not the point of it at all is it.

    It exists so that people who are toiling mightily to resist the all powerful alliance of atheists, moslems, commies and homosexuals can cover their paranoid and bigoted irrationalities with a fig leaf of “scientific evidence”. One hopes that judges are a little more likely to consider all the evidence, and weigh its quality objectively, but with the likes of Scalia around, who knows?

  18. 18
    Modusoperandi

    AsqJames “Yes, yes, the Regnerus study is about as scientifically credible as the creation museum’s pictures of Jesus riding a dinosaur.”
    That’s too far. You’re way, way over the line there. Those pictures are autographed.

  19. 19
    gshelley

    The study did not compare married families headed by a straight couple against married families headed by a gay couple, which is the only comparison that would be at all relevant, it compared intact families with single-parent families and broken homes.

    Almost. It compared intact married families where neither parent was known to have had a same sex relationship, to all families where at least one parent had a same sex relationship. So that could have included intact same sex families.

    Quoting the Regnerus study is a sure loser.

    That study has been discredited over and over in many different ways.

    It’s not a study, it is a bunch of lies and crude propaganda.

    I have wondered the same for other examples, but are they being deliberately dishonest, or do they just not are enough to do a couple of minutes of basic checking of any “fact” that supports them. I would have thought that anyone taking the time to write and submit a brief would take the time to make sure the sources they quote actually support their position, but the alternative, that they do know how bad the Regnerus study was, and assume the judge in this case will be lazy and not bother checking doesn’t make any sense to me either.

  20. 20
    Squiddhartha

    I can’t help but read the “unwittingly” in the post title as a synonym for “witlessly.”

  21. 21
    John Phillips, FCD

    gshelley, I think the paper was used in the Prop 8 case, IIRC, but the judge there dismissed it as garbage, though he had help by having it pointed out to him, as will happen in this case.

  22. 22
    hunter

    The Regnerus study was cited by several amici in the Prop 8 case before the Supreme Court, and shot down resoundingly in an amicus brief submitted by, among others, the American Sociological Association.

    Note to ghselley — only two of the subjects in Regnerus’ study were raised by lesbian parents for a significant portion of their childhoods, none by gay male couples. And the subjects in the non-intact family group *thought* that one parent had had a same-sex relationship at some point, but duration was not specified. That’s not the same as one parent having had a same-sex relationship.

  23. 23
    Matt G

    Slightly OT but there was a judge somewhere in the deep South (“where else?”, you will ask) who refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple because, he claimed, such relationships usually fail.

  24. 24
    anubisprime

    gshelley @ 19

    but are they being deliberately dishonest

    Yes most of them are, and others champion it because they want it to be true so badly they think it is.
    But in a paltry defence it is mainly because relevant and concrete argument has traditionally been thin on the ground for them, and theists tend to make up that which they do not have.
    Mostly because they have neither the wit nor the will to analyse data but mainly because they do not have the wit!

    Theist modus operandi revolves around the established tactic of relying on the claims and ‘evidence’ not being challenged or criticized because you know …god…!
    And in the past it was a foregone conclusion that their spiel would not be checked or researched because well… same as above…to challenge a man of god’s word was …well… disbelieving god…and who would risk the fires in the past, or the antipathy of their community!

    They are still in that mind set, because it has worked so well for over two millenia, and they do not have the mental capacity to change that pattern.
    They know they are behind the 8-ball on all sorts of questions, and when that occurred in the past they simply lied.
    They see no reason to change that tactic now, besides they do not have a plan C.

    If the ‘God says so ‘ does not work, they lie to pretend that god indeed did say so…if that fails they assassinate the character and misstate the position of their opposition and even mutter dark forebodings concerning the devil and demon possession, this is mainly a face saving measure, nothing more and it is oriented to impress or influence the by stander’s.

    It is all they have left when push comes to shove, but in the present world tales of demons and devils tends to make them the butt of derision, or tongue in cheek by the media at best and their collective ego has always been important to the clerics, they love the gravitas, to lose that they lose the power.
    So affectively they have either their preferred…’but god said so’…that crashes and burns then it is backup plan B flat out lying!

    These days seems ‘Plan B’ is the only plan in town!

    I would have thought that anyone taking the time to write and submit a brief would take the time to make sure the sources they quote actually support their position

    No not important, it was never required in the past, they are not used to being challenged or their claims researched…they are still in bronze age mode!

    but the alternative, that they do know how bad the Regnerus study was, and assume the judge in this case will be lazy and not bother checking doesn’t make any sense to me either

    But that is the point, they have not understood how the rules of society have changed and rationality now trumps subjectivity, the roles have reversed, they did not get the memo!
    They still assume their word is sacrosanct, they cannot survive in a world where claims have to be ‘proven’ beyond doubt.
    That is one important reason they are fading in the world…their shit stinks to much and they have no idea how to sanitize it.

    They assume the judge will accept their screed at face value, and that their ‘evidence’ is pristine and unimpeachable.

    That is their only hope, and they know that deep down, it is the only card left in the deck, so they twist it.

    Besides the Regnerus study is what they would dearly love to be true…it provides rare comfort to their bigotry, they would not desert it no matter how debunked it became….like so many other facets of their delusion.

  25. 25
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    intact biological parents

    As opposed to, say, being fragmented or atomized, I guess.

  26. 26
    democommie

    Every time a “Liars for JESUS” member tells a whopper like that, a demon gets his tail and horns ripped off. True story.

    “Theist modus operandi”

    Our own modsoperandi thought that part of his family had faded into a well deserved obscurity but, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! YOU had to bring them up!

  27. 27
    dingojack

    Demo – wait now. You and Modus share thought patterns?
    NOOOooooooooooooooo [big breath] OOOOOoooooooooooo!!!!!!
    (Meh. Doesn’t really surpise me).

    :) Dingo

  28. 28
    democommie

    dingojack:

    I don’t even share thought patterns with myself.

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