Mormons And Evangelicals To SCOTUS: Ignore Preponderance Of Science On Same-Sex Parenting

A group of religious organizations, including the Mormon Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and National Association of Evangelicals, have submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court arguing it should uphold both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. The briefs, written by Mormon Church lawyer Von Keetch, make similar points to other anti-gay briefs about the inferiority of same-sex couples, but notably tries to brush aside the research that suggests otherwise (HT: Kathleen Perrin):

DOMA BRIEF: Whether the Nation retains the traditional definition of marriage or redefines marriage to include same-sex couples is a social issue with potentially wide-ranging consequences. By their nature, such policy questions cannot be definitively answered by science, professional opinion, or legal reasoning alone. Although we are certainly persuaded by scholarly opinion supporting traditional marriage, the truth is that social science scholars, for instance, disagree about the effects of gay parenting on children. Whatever the ultimate conclusions may be, “nothing in the Constitution requires [government] to accept as truth the most advanced and sophisticated [scientific] opinion.”

PROP 8 BRIEF: Admittedly, there is an active debate within the social sciences over whether some of these common sense judgments are empirically sound. But “nothing in the Constitution requires California to accept as truth the most advanced and sophisticated [scientific] opinion.” Lawmakers — including the people of California — are entitled to “act on various unprovable assumptions,” including those that in “the sum of [their] experience” lead them to conclude that traditional marriage and the family structure it supports deserve distinctive legal protection.

In the footnotes, Keetch cites the Mark Regnerus “family structures” study, as well as the simultaneously published meta-analysis by Loren Marks, as evidence of research with a negative conclusion on same-sex parenting. But an internal audit by the publishing journal found Regnerus’ conclusions about same-sex parenting to be “bullshit,” and Marks’ analysis to be “lowbrow” and unworthy of publication. Despite how conservative groups have championed Regnerus’ methods and results, Regnerus himself has admitted that his research was not about gay parenting.


Contrary to what these religious groups claim, there is no debate among social scientists about the capacity of same-sex couples to raise children. In fact, it has already been nine years since the American Psychological Association resolved to support same-sex adoption, and subsequent research continues to confirm that children raised in such households fare just as well as children raised by opposite-sex couples. Researchers have objected that other briefs filed in these cases have cited their studies to draw conclusions about same-sex parenting that are not evident from the research.

The language in these particular briefs suggest that the religious groups don’t care what the research says anyway, hence their haste to dismiss it. Given their concern for protecting children, what is more telling is their refusal to acknowledge the two million children already being raised by same-sex couples. Even if the Court chooses to ignore the science that same-sex couples could make equally good parents, it cannot ignore that they already are doing so.