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Gay parents: A controversial new study

Social conservatives now have more proof that “traditional families produce more stable children,” said Janice Shaw Crouse in The Washington Times. A new study by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, funded by conservative groups, has shown that kids raised in homes where one or both parents are gay fare far worse later in life than children brought up in stable heterosexual marriages. Regnerus interviewed 15,000 adults ages 18 to 39, and quizzed them about their lives, including whether their mothers or fathers had ever been in a gay or lesbian relationship. People with one or more gay parents reported higher rates of depression, drug use, unemployment, infidelity, and ill health. No one should be surprised by these findings, said Mona Charen in NationalReview.com. Previous studies have found that traditional families are “the gold standard” for raising kids; even kids raised by adoptive parents or stepparents fare worse. Should society really take the chance that same-sex parents will achieve a “gold standard” level of stability?

The new study reveals nothing about kids raised in same-sex marriages, said William Saletan in Slate.com. “It documents the failure of the closeted, broken, and unstable households that preceded same-sex marriage.” When the survey’s respondents were born, decades ago, “millions of homosexuals were trying to pass or function as straight spouses.” So the same-sex relationships covered by the study were extramarital gay or lesbian affairs that, in many cases, resulted in shattered marriages. “What the study shows, then, is that kids from broken homes headed by gay people develop the same problems as kids from broken homes headed by straight people.” It’s an absurdly flawed piece of research, said Jill Filipovic in The Guardian (U.K.), but we haven’t heard the end of it. When the battle for same-sex marriage moves to the Supreme Court, marriage-equality opponents will undoubtedly use this study to claim: “‘Gay marriage is bad for kids.’”

Now that gay marriage is legal in several states, said Andrew Sullivan in TheDailyBeast.com, we can really find out if that’s true. Despite the fierce, even hysterical resistance of the religious Right, gay people are now forming stable, committed relationships, and some of those couples are going to raise children. If conservatives really cared about those kids, wouldn’t they want their parents to have the full commitment that marriage brings? “And yet they are doing their damndest to prevent that. There is no logic here; just panic.”

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