NOM’s Ruth Institute Attacks ThinkProgress Post By Agreeing With It

The head of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute was apparently quite unnerved by a ThinkProgress LGBT post last week calling out Focus on the Family for using a study about single parenthood to attack same-sex parents. One of FOTF’s experts, Glenn T. Stanton, concluded from the study that children were better off with “a mother and a father,” a common talking point NOM has used to oppose marriage equality. Jennifer Roback Morse wrote that “Zach Ford” was “outraged,” “breathless,” and had a “seizure,” but she then essentially admitted all the same points made in the very post she objected to. Here are some of her concessions:

MORSE: Now Mr. Ford is correct that the University of Chicago study didn’t talk about same sex parents.

Correct. It concluded that children benefited from having intact families.

MORSE: Fatherlessness would be a serious issue, even if the definition of marriage were completely off the table.


Fatherlessness is certainly a concern for the child of a single mother, but not for the child of a committed lesbian couple, which is the conflation FOTF and NOM regularly make. As long as Ms. Morse is not attempting the same rhetorical distortion, there is no disagreement over her conclusion.

MORSE: I wrote two books, one in 2001, and another in 2005, which deal extensively with impact of family structure on the lives of children, arguing for the importance of the two parent married couple household for the development and happiness of children. Neither book has a single word about homosexuality or same sex unions.

Morse has conceded here that children are better off with “two parents” who are married. Rick Santorum similarly let slip a similar admission this week after making a “fatherless” claim of his own. One would think she would thus support same-sex families having access to marriage for the sake of their children, but Morse likely avoids thinking about loving same-sex couples raising families. After all, she thinks that couples should not have access to sperm banks, that “anal sex is icky” and a “completely shameless activity,” that sexual orientation is an “accidental characteristic” that gays and lesbians “suffer from” and “struggle with,” and that LGBT activists are comparable to Nazis and she could get “shot at any moment.”

MORSE: [Books by Stanton, Maggie Gallagher, and David Blankenhorn on family structure] are not about same sex unions.

This may very well be true, and if so, these books should never be used in arguments against same-sex marriage, nor should they qualify their authors as experts on that topic. For example, Blankenhorn, known for his book Fatherless America, was the star witness for those defending California’s Proposition 8 in court. Despite expectations that his testimony would support continued discrimination against same-sex couples, he admitted, among other things, that marriage is a “public good” and that the children of gays and lesbians would benefit if their parents could marry.

MORSE/STANTON: “Intact families are best for children of either gender.”

Nobody at ThinkProgress disputes this conclusion. Perhaps Ms. Morse should reserve her ad hominem attacks for bloggers she actually disagrees with.


Dr. Morse has written a follow-up post on the study, though without reference to this rebuttal. In the new post, she confirms exactly the concern that inspired the original ThinkProgress post:

But this study certainly doesn’t prove any such thing. Unless Mr. Ford wants to claim that the identity, the biology and the gender of the extra adult in the household are all completely irrelevant, he really should accept this study at its face value, as a general statement for the general population: kids benefit from having a mom and a dad in the home. Does Mr. Ford seriously deny the contention that kids benefit from having a mom and a dad in the home?

The advocates of redefining marriage to be a genderless institution have painted themselves into an intellectual corner. They have to deny that gender matters, for parenthood as well as for sex and marriage. I believe that gender does matter.

I also believe that repairing a marriage culture, attaching fathers to their children, encouraging fathers to invest in their children, encouraging mothers and fathers to collaborate with each other, and to love one another, are all necessary parts of any renewal of the lower classes. I bet Glenn Stanton thinks so too. This study is consistent with our position. Unfortunately, advocates for genderless marriage are throwing themselves in front of the train of evidence that a mom and a dad in an intact marriage will improve the school achievement and reduce behavior problems of children.

In other words, after admitting that the study does not provide any data to draw conclusions about same-sex parenting, Morse nevertheless draws a conclusion about same-sex parenting! In fact, her argument here actually proves that religious conservatives use these “fatherless” studies to disparage same-sex families, exactly as ThinkProgress has claimed all along. If she intends to make a habit of criticizing LGBT-friendly blogs, Morse should perhaps exercise a bit more caution that she doesn’t so blatantly contradict herself.