Focus On The Family: Children Deserve ‘Biological Families’ From ‘Natural Marriage’

Focus on the Family must be running out of original content, because they’ve taken to posting “guest” commentaries from subsidiary state groups, even if the content is not new. This week’s commentary is a post from the New Jersey Family Policy Council that was originally published in February of 2012 condemning adoption to justify opposing marriage equality:

Children have a right to a mother and a father. This right is more than a sentimental tie to social custom; it is based on an iron law of biology. We are all created male and female. Although we have devised mechanisms in the last twenty years that allow us to circumvent traditional fatherhood and motherhood, a new life can still not be created without male and female genetic material. Significantly, these artificial means display a grave lack of respect for human dignity.

Though the implication of the piece is that same-sex couples should not have the right to marry, it takes an incredibly strong position against any kind of family that uses assisted reproduction or adoption. Even the National Organization for Marriage has had to take a position against adoption to avoid sounding too anti-gay with its other rhetoric about protecting children. Still, the post doesn’t argue that adoption should be outlawed — only same-sex marriage — and its three arguments are easily refuted.

The first claim is that children are harmed by the “collapse of marriage.” This is true, because children do better when both their parents are still present and supporting the family. It’s a claim that has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, despite Focus on the Family’s many attempts to use “fatherless” studies about single mothers to fraudulently draw conclusions about lesbian couples’ parenting.

The second claim, incidentally made before the infamous Regnerus study was published, is that social science suggests that children do better in a “married-couple family with a mom and dad.” This could be another reference to “fatherless” studies or other conflated conclusions about broken homes. None of the research that actually looked at committed same-sex parents, even in the absence of marriage’s legal protections, has found any adverse outcomes for children.

Lastly, the post concludes that children of same-sex couples suffer because they do not have a biological connection to both parents. The assertion relies on a 2011 report from the conservative Institute for American Values called “One Parent Or Five,” a study that that relied on no actual research about same-sex parents — dismissing all such studies as not being “representative.” Instead, it suggests that same-sex families “most closely resemble” stepfamilies, because one parent is often biological and the other is not. Thus, just like the Regnerus study would later do, the researchers apply evidence about broken homes and separated families to same-sex families, presuming that the biological connection is more important than the parents’ commitment to the child’s well-being.

If conservatives in New Jersey and at Focus on the Family were really concerned that children without a biological connection fared worse, they would actually campaign against adoption and foster care. Instead, they just misapply research and make faulty conclusions to try to persuade their supporters that there is some justification for opposing marriage equality besides anti-gay animus. As far as science is concerned, there is no such justification.