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Saturday, February 21, 2015
MRC Promotes Discredited Study Smearing Same-Sex Parents
Topic: Media Research Center

Kristine Marsh is very excited to use a Feb. 12 Media Research Center item to promote a study that conforms with the anti-gay agenda of her and her employer (boldface is hers):

Now a new larger-scale and more scientific study in the U.S. has been published with contrary results, and all we get from the media is embarrassed silence.

The study titled "Emotional Problems among Children with Same-Sex Parents: Difference by Definition," was conducted by sociologist and priest Donald Sullins of the Catholic University of America and published in “The British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioral Science” this month.

Sullins set out to discover whether the Australian study’s findings could be replicated using more reliable methodology. So he took a larger representative sample from the general population: 207,007 children, including 512 with same-sex parents, from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey.

 The results of the study were not good for children of same-sex parents:

Eight of 12 psychometric measures used in the study showed that children with same-sex parents experienced more distress than children of opposite-sex parents. The results were "clear, statistically significant," and "of substantial magnitude," after controlling for age, sex, race, education and income. For four of the measures of emotional and behavioral problems, children raised by same-sex parents were at least twice as likely to experience difficulties compared to children raised by opposite-sex parents. 

While Marsh was quick to attack as "flawed" an earlier study showing that children of gay parents, in her words, "were healthier and happier than children of hetero parents" (parroting the anti-gay Family Research Center) she exhibited no interest in hesitating to promote Sullins' study before others whose political agenda is less invested in its results could take a look at it.

And it appears to be even more flawed than Marsh claims the earlier study is. Steve Williams at Care2 outlines the numerous problems with the study, starting with the fact that Sullins has conducted research for the FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute and, thus, his objectivity on the issue is in question.

Williams points out that the "207,007 children" Marsh touts as being studied by Sullins as lacking significant research controls:

If we are studying same-sex parents and comparing them to opposite-sex parents, it logically follows that, given marriage offers a raft of benefits that support child-rearing, we should control for whether the same-sex parents were married like (presumably) most of the heterosexuals in this study were, or at least inquire as to the marriage status of all involved. This is not controlled for in the study.

Secondly, we would also take into account one key fact: if the same-sex attracted parents had a child as the result of a previous heterosexual relationship, this obviously will have a bearing on the child’s emotional well being because they will most probably have had to endure a break-up and divorce. The study does not adequately account for this fact either.

Third, the study should also have controlled for whether the same-sex parents were in stable longterm relationships that specifically included the cohabiting partners each taking on a parenting role. By the study’s own admission, same-sex parents were classed only as “those persons whose reported spouse or cohabiting partner was of the same sex as themselves.” Again, there appears to be no adjustment for this meaningful variable.

Williams also notes that Sullins' framework is designed to produce unfavorable results for same-sex parents, he makes assertions that his own study doesn't support, and that the study's results appear to have been rushed with an eye toward influencing court cases on same-sex marriage.

Don't expect Marsh to go back and update her article with Sullins' flaws -- after all, only his initial conclusions matter. Such further research at the MRC is only for studies that don't advance the MRC's agenda.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:38 PM EST

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