Social conservatives came out in full force on NBC’s Meet The Press on the Sunday after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) of the Heritage Foundation and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) both claimed the court’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages sacrificed children’s wellbeing — only to have their arguments promptly slapped down by MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and David Gregory.
DeMint said the court had privileged “the desires of adults” over “the best environment for children,” arguing that heterosexual marriage is “the environment where children can thrive and succeed.” Maddow immediately pointed out that this argument ignores the children of same-sex couples, who have up til now been treated as second-class citizens under the law:
Justice Kennedy addressed that issue specifically in his ruling. He says that by denying marriage rights to same-sex couples who have kids, you’re humiliating and demeaning those kids. By denying their families equal protection under the law by the parents who are raising them and who love them and who make their family. So we can put it in the interests of children, but I think that cuts both ways. And the ruling cuts against that argument. I mean, gay people exist. There’s nothing we can do in public policy can do to make more of us exist or less of us exist. And you guys for a generation have argued that public policy ought to demean gay people as a way of expressing disapproval of the fact that we exist. But you don’t make any less of us exist, you are just arguing for more discrimination. And more discrimination doesn’t make straight people’s lives any better.
Later in the program, Huelskamp tried to justify his introduction of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage by touting debunked research that supposedly shows heterosexual parents are better for kids. Gregory challenged the congressman, insisting that he admit the research is bogus:
HUELSKAMP: As Senator DeMint did note, the research is very clear that the ideal way of raising our children should be the issue here, and that’s what we need to focus on in this debate.
GREGORY: Wait, but Justice Kennedy speaks to this. There’s also research that indicates that…you know, everyone talks about the interests of children. Children tend to prosper in homes where there is a loving marriage. There is really not evidence to suggest that if you are a same-sex couple or a heterosexual couple that it makes one difference one way or the other.
HUELSKAMP: Well actually the research does not show that, actually the research is very clear as we have indicated here, but —
GREGORY: No, no. Everybody throws that out, but the research actually shows that in broken homes, it hurts the children. Which I think most people would say that would be true of same-sex couples or heterosexual couples. We don’t really know, do we? But we do have a sense that loving marriages provide a good family life for children, right?
Huelskamp ducked the debunk and again claimed that “the court decided the desires of adults should trump the needs of children.” Nevertheless, Gregory is correct that the research cited by marriage equality opponents actually has nothing to do with same-sex couples. In fact, the largest study of families with same-sex parents recently concluded these children are not only thriving, but even beat the national average for overall health and family cohesion.