Family Research Council Attacks Marriage Equality With Study That Didn’t Research Same-Sex Couples


The Family Research Council's headquarters in Washington, DC.

The Family Research Council, an anti-gay hate group, is back to one of its old tricks of conflating single parents with committed same-sex couples raising children. In a radio interview, Peter Sprigg and Tony Perkins discussed a new Harvard University study that found that children growing up in communities with many single parents are less likely to have economic mobility as adults. This, they claim, shows that same-sex marriage will contribute to the same consequences for other children in their communities:

SPRIGG: If a child grows up in a community with married households, that child will do better than a child raised in a community where there are many single-parent households. And this is exactly what I’ve been saying about the marriage issue and so forth: if you redefine marriage, it’s not going to affect just those couples. It’s going to affect the whole community by setting an example.

PERKINS: That’s very interesting Peter because… that study then answers that question of, “How does my same-sex marriage affect yours?” It may not affect my marriage, but it affects my children because it has an impact upon marriage across the board.

Listen to it (via Right Wing Watch):

The attributed Harvard study (PDF here) does not once use the words “gay,” “lesbian,” or “same-sex.” It provides absolutely no information or conclusions about same-sex marriage.

Sprigg and Perkins may actually have a point, however. If same-sex couples raising children marry, it may actually impact other children in their community, but there is not any evidence supporting a conclusion that such an impact would be negative. If this study suggests anything, having more married families in a community will help children, which means allowing same-sex couples to marry would have a positive impact.

The trick of conflating “fatherless” children is a favorite for those opposed to marriage equality, though no study has ever found parallels between having two moms and having just one. Focus on the Family once claimed that a University of Chicago Booth School of Business study proved that “moms and dads both matter here,” but the study did not actually include any same-sex parents for comparison. Another frequently cited source is David Popenoe’s 1996 Life Without Father, which similarly studied divorce, single parents, and stepfamilies, but not any same-sex families. The researchers behind a 2002 Child Trends study have actually chastised conservatives for using their research to oppose marriage equality, pointing out that “no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents.”

In stark contrast, studies that have actually examined the impact of same-sex parenting have found that children do just as well as they would with opposite-sex parents.