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Jenet Jacob Erickson: Debate over gay parents needs more honest inquiry

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  • psmithphd Orem, UT
    Nov. 19, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    As a social scientist (Ph.D. from Stanford University) I was taught rigorous methodology and how to separate valid science from biased work. At the same time we looked at many family-related studies and it was evident that those on both sides of the spectrum in the 1960s at Stanford, both liberals and conservatives and those in between, determined from their research that the traditional family led by an adult male and adult female and their dependent children was distinctly better for the children than any other arrangement. I sorrow to see that so many who do studies today ignore the need to neutralize bias and thus come up with invalid, often called "politically correct" results.

    Homosexuals need to be treated with kindness and protected from persecution. At the same time honest scientists, those careful to follow valid scientific procedures properly, have concluded that the traditional nuclear family is better for children than any other arrangement. The Regnerus study is in this valid, ethical tradition.

    Phillip C. Smith, Ph.D.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 28, 2012 11:49 a.m.

    @Voice of Reason
    "t was simply a ban on gays adopting children that are not their own, which is the norm in America today. It would NOT have taken away a gay parent's children, holy cow."

    It would have taken away children from adoptive gay parents which qualifies as taking kids away from parents. I should have specified that more clearly.

  • Lightening Lad Austin , TX
    Sept. 28, 2012 8:21 a.m.

    With so very few exceptions all gay children were born (in the past) to hertosexual couples. If the home enviorment of a man and a women couldn't effect a child being gay, how could gay parents have any effect on a child either being gay or straight? A child is better off in a stable loving home, regardless of the parents being straight or gay. I'm sure those who questioned the study wondered what the purpose of this study was. Is this ammunition for a straight parent to use in gaining custody of children when the other parent is gay and can no longer remain in a marriage? Or an argument to prevent gay couples from adopting children or maintaining custody of their own children conceived by artificial insemination? (check out the waiting room at a fertility clinic, a majority of the clients are gay couples) In all the studies I've read over 30 years in medicine, the abstract indicates the purpose in conducting the study along with what conclusions (hypothesis) were being tested. It's hard to imagine the author conducting this study for any purpose other than to condemn gay parents.

  • DanO Mission Viejo, CA
    Sept. 27, 2012 4:45 p.m.

    Voice of Reason, you're being dishonest. The study doesn't compare intact, committed same-gendered partner households to married intact opposite-gendered households. It compares anyone whose parent had even a random same-sex encounter to married intact opposite-gendered households. Doesn't it make sense that if a parent is gay and trying to make a straight marriage work that there will be problems? The study is more indicative of what happens to the children of alleged "ex-gay" people trying to be straight. No matter how you or NOM and its related parties (the author of this article being one of them) try to spin it, the study is flawed and claiming martyrdom as Ms Erickson does, doesn't change that.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 4:37 p.m.

    Why are conservatives so concerned/interested in/fascinated by other people's private lives? Worry about your own.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 11:49 a.m.

    DanO,

    Actually, that is exactly what the study has shown, at least in a statistically significant sample group. Clearly, that doesn't mean - and the study doesn't say - that ALL gay-raised children as worse off, only that on average more are worse off in gay-raised households than in traditional or non-gay households.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 27, 2012 11:47 a.m.

    @ VOR: Huh? Where did I say anything about the encounters being non-romantic? (Hint: If there is no romantic underpinning, there is no "sexual" aspect to the encounter - same or otherwise. Hint 2: There are 3 dynamics - straight, gay, and bi.)

    And, I'm sorry - but I have read enough of your comments to know how you read things that aren't there into what is clearly stated in order to make things fit your agenda...

    I seriously fear the validity of any survey or study you have anything to do with interpreting.

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    Sept. 27, 2012 10:27 a.m.

    I applaud any research done in this area. Unfortunately, this research is flawed. To be representative the study would have to compare married same sex couples to married opposite sex couples. As we know, this would be impossible because same sex marriage has not been legal long enough or widespread enough to ensure a valid sample. Perhaps the researcher did have an agenda and did deserve the ridicule from his peers. I have observed the same things the gayldsparent in Nashville found, committed, gay parents raise emotionally healthy children (although some might be a bit over indulged). Maybe "all you need is love" is an accurate synopsis of what makes a happy child.

  • trytobereasonable Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 9:40 a.m.

    More honest inquiry would also evaluate the likelihood of children being in a loving two paretn (mom/dad) environment. Someone earlier commented that children should be with their own mom and dad and if that isn't available then placed with a loving mom and dad. How realistic is that? I'm a single mom of a child with special needs. I divorced when my child was a toddler. Would you have forced me to stay with his father who was mentally incapable of dealing with our situation? Subject my child to an alcoholic parent and require me to take time away from my child to deal with a dysfunctional adult too? What's next? Will we police families to make sure that the mom and dad are truly loving? Let's do the best we can and focus on setting up systems that support our children and our families (whatever flavor) the best we can -- rather than judging families that have a different structure.

  • DanO Mission Viejo, CA
    Sept. 27, 2012 9:33 a.m.

    Voice of Reason, the study still can't be used to say that children of committed same-gendered couples are somehow worse off because the study didn't study that. I also find it laughable that Erickson compares Regnerus to Galileo. Considering is was the church that put Galileo on trial. Regnerus is better compared to a religious "scholar" of the time arguing that the earth was flat, despite true scientific evidence to the contrary.

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    Sept. 27, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    Kalindra,

    So...you're saying the surveyors counted non-romantic same-sex encounters as romantic? This is false. In reality, the survey was designed quite well in its questions (I've read them) using inquiry design previously used many times to ascertain orientation by being careful to only include ROMANTIC same-sex encounters and relationships (from the period the individual was newborn to age 18) and only then used it as indicative of a gay parent. They knew the child would likely only know about it if it was a significant and ongoing relationship; a one-time coffee with another man would very likely have not been known to the child at all, and no child I know would have called that "romantic". At any rate, if his/her dad was having regular "romantic" coffees with other men, he was gay. Pure and simple. Short of asking point-blank if their parents were gay - a big statistical no-no that would have led to response-shaping - that's the best survey method to determine sexual orientation while maintaining the study's randomness.

    Having conducted extensive survey design, the more I read the survey instrument the more I was impressed.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 26, 2012 11:46 p.m.

    This "study" asked respondents if, at any time from when they were born until they turned 18, their father or mother had a same-sex encounter -

    it did not specify that the child had to be living with the parent when the same-sex encounter took place -

    it did not define a minimum type of same-sex encounter -

    it did not ask if the respondent knew about it when it took place or found out about it when they were older -

    According to the criteria of this study, if your parents were divorced, you were living with your mother, and your father bought coffee for another man, you were raised in a same-sex household.

    Really?

    If we used this same loose criteria for other aspects of someone's life, would it still sound reasonable? Let's try with church -

    from the time you were born until the time you turned 18, did your father or mother miss church for any reason other than death or illness?

    They did?

    You were raised in an atheist household.

    Someone explain to me how that question leading to that conclusion is reasonable - because that is what this guy did.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 7:13 p.m.

    @VOR
    this is by far and away the least credible study conducted on the subject. There is a reason why the study is so far off what all the other research on the subject found and its really not a grand conspiracy n the part of all the other researchers.

  • Voice ofReason LAYTON, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 4:51 p.m.

    atl134,

    The 2008 Arkansas Proposed Initiative 1 you're referring to did not - repeat, did NOT - take away ANYONE'S children at all. It was simply a ban on gays adopting children that are not their own, which is the norm in America today. It would NOT have taken away a gay parent's children, holy cow. In fact, only 12 states allow gay-cohabiting people to adopt children, putting Arkansas in solidly mainstream company. And again: Arkansas was not trying to take away gay people's children. Seriously, what a blatantly dishonest scare tactic.

    And if you expect me to defend every single word or "tweet" uttered by every single person out there who has spoken on the subject, you're in for a surprise. I disagree with a LOT of things said by other conservatives...how often do you disagree with the monstrous amount of stunningly hateful speech spewed out by most gay activists today?

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Sept. 26, 2012 4:41 p.m.

    I am claiming just that, but do you really want to wait for that study? Why not just look at the prison system.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    @Voice of Reason
    "Nobody's talking about taking a gay parent's children away from them. "

    Actually in 2008 Arkansas had a ballot initiative that would do just that, and the heard of the Family Research Council (Brian Fischer) has tweeted that we need an underground railroad for children of gay parents.

  • Voice ofReason LAYTON, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 3:06 p.m.

    xscribe,

    Nobody's talking about "outlawing" gay families. Nobody's talking about taking a gay parent's children away from them. However, adopting children in the first place is another story entirely. The idea that there are more children than two-parent households available to take them is a myth; the reality is a 6 month to over 2 year waiting period for adoptive parents, with an average cost of about $30,000. There is literally no risk of children going unadopted if gays can't adopt; the only reason to force gay adoption is political, i.e. to mainstream homosexuality at the expense of child welfare.

    Also, you are claiming, in a small single-paragraph post, that somehow you can immediately find "one straight-raised kid testing just as poorly for every gay-raised kid testing poorly", implying that there's no statistical difference between the two groups. This study, far and away the most comprehensive and rigorous study on the subject ever conducted, found the exact opposite. Well, if you can really prove them wrong with a stinging methodological critique, uncolored by political bias, then we're all waiting.

    I'll get the popcorn.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    Sept. 26, 2012 1:47 p.m.

    @Roswel: Scientific proof for what? That children are more unstable in a same-sex marriage? I will bet a lot of money that for every child reared in a gay marriage that tests poorly by this person's criteria, that I can find another child in a hetero marriage that tests the same or worse. Are we to find which situation holds the most stability for children and outlaw the rest? That would be the next good study: The poor with children; the homeless with children; children with unstable parents who fight all the time. Time to deem those couples unfit for marriage and to have children.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 12:48 p.m.

    @cjb

    "When this isn't possible, children should be adopted by a mother and father.
    ..., but children should not have to settle for less to help make this a reality."

    --

    What about children that wouldn't be adopted at all otherwise for whatever reasons? They should settle for "less" (a loving, same-sex couple) or the "more" of absolutely nobody?

    Gah, do you even stop to think?

  • Voice of Reason Layton, UT
    Sept. 26, 2012 12:05 p.m.

    Some on here have tried to criticize this report by claiming that it only compared "stable straight marriages to offspring from broken mixed-orientation relationships." This is not true. In fact, the study examined children from multiple different family types - single-parent, married, stable 2-parent, gay single parent, stable 2-gay parent, etc. And across the board, children from gay-parented familes ended up worse off generally than straight-parent households, regardless of marriage status. Overall, however, the very worst was the broken gay parent households, and the very best were the married heterosexual households.

    In the real non-ivory-tower world, we've known for a very long time that the entire "no difference between gay and straight parenting" myth was completely political in its origins, and has always been based on a tiny handful of "studies" that would normally have been thrown out of academic journals to the sounds of loud laughter if they had been done the same way on other, less-PC subjects.

    But political pressure and fear tactics from gay activists have gone a long way in manipulating research on the subject, especially considering social science academia is an overwhelmingly leftist echo chamber.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Sept. 25, 2012 12:35 a.m.

    Does the study compare the children of same-sex couples to children of unmarried heterosexual couples? I think the data on that comparison would be interesting.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Sept. 24, 2012 11:28 p.m.

    r.e. A Scientist: Good scientists can disagree without just flatly saying the other's point of view is "absurd." Where is your evidence to back up your claim? Your response sounds like it comes from someone who is insecure in their own position. I didn't come up with my theories on my own. Other good scientists also agree. I've studied human evolution for over 50 years and my conclusions are not isolated in the scientific community. Other good scientists agree with me--and some don't. What I stated was my opinion based on my own reading and studying. I might be wrong but calling it "absurd" reveals something uncomplimentary about your objectivity.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 24, 2012 8:01 p.m.

    @roswell

    what is strangely predictable is that the right is clinging to this one study conducted under very faulty study and ignoring the mountain of research that clear refutes every claim made by the author of this one study.

    @lost in Dc
    you can publish and study you would like but if your study is based on faulty research methods then you will be roundly criticized and called out for your failure to follow basic research methods.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 7:03 p.m.

    You cannot publish a study if it does not support PC dogma.

    Hutterite,
    I guess you didn’t read the article, let alone the study. It didn’t say anything about who or what was married, it compared same sex relationships with intact biological families.

  • gayldsparent Nashville, TN
    Sept. 24, 2012 5:19 p.m.

    Strange results from his research. I'm gay, my daughter is now 18 studying forensic science as a paleontologist at the University, we are part of the LGBT Community raising kids and none of us have seen this in any of our children. What we have seen is kids who have grown up to be proud of who they are, get into loving relationships, became productive citizens, active in politics and human rights and helping others. So prove to me that his research wasn't flawed and bias.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 12:57 p.m.

    Hutterite, perhaps it would be worthwhile to figure out your definition of 'commitment'. You seem to have strong opinions about what does or does not constitute marraige. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to what constitutes 'commitment', because it appears from this study that no matter the failures of what constitutes marraige by God and our society generally,it appears far better than those who feel otherwise. Perhaps commitment to things and values that matter most are what helps people make greater 'commitment.' Of course, if one is being honest, then no matter your stance on marraige, one shouldn't be afraid of independent, time honored methods for scientific research. Perhaps that is what is so troubling. In a day and age of shallow thinking on a host of issues, it isn't surprising that anyone that actually did solid research would be castigated and maligned.

  • roswell Saint George, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 11:58 a.m.

    One could very well predict the comments on this article. Even when 'scientific proof' is cited, those for gay marriage, etc. are unwilling to believe it. If the study had concluded otherwise, supporting the children of gay marriage, there would not have been a peep of question from its supporters. Ultimately, this is not about science, it is about your feelings on a controversial topic, and truth be damned.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Sept. 24, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    Of course at the heart of the issue is weather or not society as a whole (government) has the right to determine who can have children and raise them.

    Am I hearing this correctly that people (conservatives) are actulling mulling over the idea of preventing gay parenthood? Preventing people from raising thier own children? Yes gays are having children by a number of methods. Having babies is easy rememeber.

    What definetly messes up kids is their straight parents getting divorced.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 9:35 a.m.

    JSB,

    There is absolutely ZERO scientific evidence to support your absurd claims.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Sept. 23, 2012 10:45 p.m.

    The human species evolved as a heterosexual pair-bonding species. This evolution occurred as the length of time it took for human offspring to develop into mature adults increased. Those humans that came from the most stable heterosexual pair-bonded parents developed into the healthier, more productive adults. We shouldn't mess with biology to try to accomplish some kind of sociological, feel good, politically correct goal that will inevitably lead to more suffering, poorly adjusted children.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:14 p.m.

    There have always been gay parents.... They just didn't tell anyone including their spouces.

    What many see as the unfolding of society is just people being honest.

  • JP71 Ogden, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:42 p.m.

    Men and women both provide a unique and different type of nurturing for children that the other gender cannot provide. A man and a woman together make a whole, or a family unit. Without the nurturing of both a father and a mother a child will lack the needed nurturing and training that is needed in life. This is not always possible for various reasons. We have already seen that communities with more fatherless homes have more crime, poverty, etc. The more fatherless or motherless homes that we have the more society as a whole will erode. What others do does affect me and society. No man is an island.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:29 p.m.

    Ideally, children should be raised by their own mother and father.

    When this isn't possible, children should be adopted by a mother and father.

    Gays do deserve to be treated with dignity, but children should not have to settle for less to help make this a reality.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:27 p.m.

    Irrespective of whether we approve or disapprove of gay marriage, we should let the data speak. We cannot have a rational discussion without considering the simple data.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 5:08 p.m.

    The more important question is, what is the relevance of this study (even if it is valid) for the debate over the legalization of same sex marriage?

    And the answer is, it has very little relevance.

    There are a large number of factors at work in creating better or worse, healthier or less healthy environments for children, and as a matter of liberty, we do not regulate and outlaw all those factors that are less optimal. Americans are protected in their rights to live sub-optimal lives, to suffer from sub-optimal health and habits, to be sub-optimal parents, and to raise sub-optimal children.

    And that is assuming that this study has any degree of validity for these questions, which is not the case as stated by the authors themselves.

  • tigger AMERICAN FORK, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 4:54 p.m.

    Sounds like Erickson is right; "...we need more, not less,academic freedom, honest inquiry and civil discourse."

  • StraightGrandmother Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 3:11 p.m.

    Sorry to disappoint you Jenet Jacobs Erickson but documents recently obtained via the Freedom Of Information Act verify that Regnerus Colluded with Witherspoon Institute (the org that funded him).

    If the link fails to open the webpage if you hand type it in your browser it will work
    http://bit.ly/QpVdUE

  • Scott Rose New York, NY
    Sept. 23, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    "Honest inquiry" is not occurring if one points -- as Ms. Erickson does -- at the three writers of commentaries published beside the Regnerus study as "proof" of the study's scientific validity, without disclosing that those three commentary writers are non-topic-experts with conflicts of interest with the study's chief funding agency, the Witherspoon Institute, whose W. Bradford Wilcox also is on the editorial board of the journal that published Regnerus and the commentaries, Elsevier's Social Science Research. The peer reviewers also had similar conflicts of interest. This conflagration of unethical science publication practices never would have occurred at a science journal without a study's funder on its editorial board.

  • O'really Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 23, 2012 1:50 p.m.

    So how does any scientist do a fair, reliable study on this topic when every study is going to be labled "anti-gay"?

  • Marco Luxe Los Angeles, CA
    Sept. 23, 2012 1:01 p.m.

    Hellooo, your comment is exactly why Regnerus was so criticized by peers - that the study would inevitably be mischaracterized as antigay, and that this outcome was foreseeable and was the specific motive of the ideologues [Witherspoon Inst.] who funded it.

    You not-unreasonably but wrongly conclude that "it appears that those offspring 18 to 30 from same sex relationships are not doing as well in the measures of the study as the 18 to 30 year old from offspring of heterosexual relationships."

    This is exactly what was NOT studied. What was compared was the offspring from stable straight marriages to offspring from broken mixed-orientation relationships. Anyone could tell you the proper comparison would be to offspring from stable gay marriages. Regnerus acknowledged that this was the proper comparison, but didn't do it because it would have been more expensive. This failure is the reason why it was so widely criticized by his peers. He knew he didn't do a proper scientific comparison, he knew it would be mischaracterized as antigay, and he knew his conditional funding from ideological sponsors depended on this improper comparison.

    Stable families are better than broken dysfunctional homes. Duh!

  • conservative scientist Lindon, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 12:29 p.m.

    Excellent article Mrs. Erickson. Thank you for the thoughtful commentary. We should evaluate all science on its merits and not by political agendas and not make any honest scientist recant under the bayonet of political correctness.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 11:45 a.m.

    Excellent article Ms. Erickson the effort by academy to silence scientific inquiry is truly a problem of our modern institutions. Hutterite appreciate your opinion of course the study of which Ms. Erickson is commenting was an attempt to do exactly what you suggest "before you can get too haughty about the negative effects of homosexuals..... take a look at how heterosexuality is doing with it." In this study, it appears that those off spring 18 to 30 from same sex relationships are not doing as well in the measures of the study as the 18 to 30 year old from off spring of heterosexual relationships. Important data and something that sociologist should be studying given the current dynamics moving forward on making same sex marriage an equivalent.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 9:46 a.m.

    Is the definition of marriage a 'grave and serious' matter to society? How? My wife and I have signed the legal contract, but that isn't marriage. Marriage is the ritual we chose to celebrate the contract, and the commitment we make to one another thereafter. Both of those qualities are entirely personal to us, and need not have anything to do with societal expectations or those of some stuffy church. In fact, it can be well said that it's none of their business. Besides, before you can get too haughty about the negative effects of homosexuals being able to call themselves married, take a look at how heterosexuality is doing with it. I don't see any harm in letting people committed enough to one another that they will suffer abuse for it calling themselves married.