Maggie Gallagher’s Institute Attacks APA Support Of Marriage Equality With Vague Generalizations

Way back in August of 2011, the American Psychological Association unanimously approved a resolution in favor of marriage equality. Now, eleven months later, Maggie Gallagher’s Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (IMAPP) has released a critique, challenging all of the claims made in the resolution about gay people, their relationships, and their ability to parent. Rather than offer any compelling evidence that runs contrary to the APA resolution, IMAPP took eleven months to essentially argue that it’s merely not convinced by the evidence cited. Here are a few of the claims IMAPP simply refuses to accept:

  • People who are gay are normal and healthy and can have satisfying relationships and raise well-adjusted children.
  • Campaigns to deny same-sex couples rights cause them stress and negatively impact their psychological well-being.
  • Same-sex couples are similar to opposite-sex couples.
  • Equality improves same-sex couples’ psychological well-being.

There are two obvious flaws that make IMAPP’s critique irrelevant. First of all, IMAPP abandoned any sense of objectivity by only looking for opportunities to challenge the APA’s claims. There is plenty of additional supporting research not cited in APA’s resolution that IMAPP simply treated as non-existent, instead focusing only on weaknesses it could find in the few citations APA did provide. For example, the APA only cited three reference for its claim that anti-equality campaigns stigmatize gays and lesbians, the most recent of which was from 2006. But there is well over a decade of studies that reinforce this claim, such as the vast amount of research on this very question conducted by Dr. Glenda Russell.

Secondly, IMAPP abused what is actually good scientific rigor in the cited studies. When scientists conduct research, they take responsibility for identifying the limitations of each study, pointing out to what extent the conclusions can be fairly generalized and suggesting future areas of study. IMAPP pounced on these limitations in an attempt to demonstrate that the studies’ conclusions were somehow faulty or inapplicable, a tactic that abridges the integrity of what each study actually found. It actually raises the question of whether there is any collection of studies that could ever convince IMAPP to support marriage equality, and the answer is probably no, because IMAPP was founded upon the very bias of opposing equality. Thus, this oddly delayed and whiny rebuke should be seen only in the shallow intellectual format in which it was presented.

Just to drive home how disconnected from reality IMAPP’s positions are, consider this excerpt from its critique:


Overall the APA cites virtually no research suggesting that gay marriage provides any additional long-term benefits for gay couples in terms of their relationships, or social stigma. Nor does the APA take cognizance of the gay people who have opposed same-sex marriage, or in fact prefer civil unions. We do not know how many gay people take these views, but they appear with enough frequency in academic and popular press that a broad-brush assessment that gay people find the absence of gay marriage or the presence of civil unions uniformly stigmatizing appears hard to justify.

This, from one of many conservative groups committed to “strengthening marriage,” advocating for covenant marriage, and reducing the divorce rate. According to Gallagher and IMAPP, opposite-sex couples can benefit incredibly from having long-lasting committed marriage, but same-sex couples wouldn’t benefit at all. Clearly, IMAPP has nothing substantive to offer except a narrow-minded bias against the very lives of LGBT people.