Bench Memos

Exposing the Schlock Social Science on Gay Parenting—Part 2

The second article that the academic journal Social Science Research has just published is University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus’s “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.”

Unlike the small convenience-sample studies that have generated the unreliable research that has wrongly been taken seriously (see my Part 1 post), the New Family Structures Study is a data-collection project based on a large random sample of young adults, and it studies a broad range of developmental outcomes. Regnerus’s paper “compare[s] how the young-adult children of a parent who has had a same-sex romantic relationship fare on 40 different social, emotional, and relational outcome variables when compared with six other family-of-origin types.” (P. 752.)

Regnerus’s findings contradict the “conventional wisdom … that there are very few differences of note in the child outcomes of gay and lesbian parents” as compared to heterosexual parents. (P. 753.) In his words, “the empirical claim that no notable differences exist must go.” (P. 766.)

In 24 of the 40 outcome measurements, there are statistically significant differences (even after controlling for various factors) between, on the one hand, children who were raised in an intact biological family and whose parents remain married and, on the other, children whose mother had a same-sex romantic relationship. (P. 764; see Tables 2, 3, and 4 on pp. 761-762.) In terms of outcomes positively associated with child development, these differences uniformly cut in favor of the children raised in an intact biological family:

For example, the now-adult child of a mother who has had a same-sex romantic relationship is statistically more likely to be less educated; to be currently cohabiting, on public assistance, unemployed or not fully employed; to have had an affair while married or cohabiting; to have been touched sexually as a child by a parent or other adult; to have been forced to have sex; to suffer from depression; to have been arrested and to have pled guilty to a non-minor offense; and to use marijuana frequently. That child is statistically less likely to identify as entirely heterosexual and to enjoy good health.

The adult children of men who have had same-sex relationships fare worse on 19 of the 40 outcomes (and better on none) than children in intact biological families. (P. 764; see Tables 2, 3, and 4 on pp. 761-762.)

As Regnerus sums it up, his study “clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”

I hasten to add that I don’t regard Regnerus’s study as authoritatively and definitively settling much of anything. (Nor, I think, does Regnerus.) But, as I will explain in my Part 3 post, I do believe that it has significant implications for the ongoing debate over same-sex marriage, in part in further discrediting the junk social science that so many proponents of same-sex marriage propagate (and that courts have relied on), and in part in drawing attention to the massive potential negative consequences of redefining marriage in a manner that severs it from its core purposes of responsible procreation and child-rearing.

Most Popular


It’s Time to Attack Putin’s Soft Underbelly

Vladimir Putin was reelected president of Russia today in an event as predictable as the sun’s rising. But his biggest asset hasn’t been his iron grip on Russian politics, it’s been the fecklessness and passivity of his Western counterparts in the face of his outrageous actions. Garry Kasparov, the former ... Read More
White House

John Brennan Freaks Out on Twitter

Former CIA director John Brennan issued a stinging rebuttal to President Donald Trump's Thursday tweet celebrating the dismissal of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. Brennan, who led the CIA under President Barack Obama, referred to Trump as a “demagogue” and hinted that damning evidence of ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Hillary’s Other America

I am still chuckling at Hillary Clinton’s speech in India. Among the things she said: If you look at the map of the United States, there is all that red in the middle, places where Trump won. What that map doesn’t show you is that I won the places that own two thirds of America’s Gross Domestic product. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Samantha Power Regrets

‘I’ve had a lot of bad ideas in my life,” former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power tells Politico. “Though none as immortalized as that one.” Wow. It’s a major concession. And what might “that one” be? Not standing idly by in the White House while Iranians protested a fixed election in 2009, then ... Read More