Views expressed in community voices do not represent opinions of The Gazette-Virginian or staff members.

Regarding the Community Voice article “Velvet colored tyranny” that  cast a negative light on gay parents, I’d like to offer some counterpoints, especially regarding the New Family Structure Study (NFSS) by Sociologist Mark Regnerus mentioned in the article. The study was not praised by the scientific community for its accuracy or adherence to ethical standards. It was more along the lines of you pay for what you get for. 

As soon as the study was published, backlash was immediate as a letter was sent to the editor of Social Science Research journal signed by over 200 PHD’s and MD’s questioning the process of the papers submission, how it was reviewed by peers, and its acceptance for publication. 

Others at the same university as Regnerus argued the study was unable to show whether same-sex parenting caused any observable differences. Marc Musick, associate dean at the University of Texas was asked to review the controversy around the NFSS article and summarized many of the criticisms, and stated the survey itself was designed to practically guarantee negative results possibly violating the universities ethics standards.

Cornell University’s What We Know Project asked the question, “what does the scholarly research say about the well-being of children with gay or lesbian parents?” 

Their answer is as follows.

“We identified 79 scholarly studies that met the criteria for adding knowledge about the well-being of children with gay or lesbian parents. Of those studies, 75 concluded that children of gay or lesbian parents fare no worse than other children. While many of the sample sizes were small, and some studies lacked a control group, researchers regard such studies as providing the best available knowledge about child adjustment, and do not view large representative samples as essential. We identified four studies concluding that children of gay or lesbian parents face added disadvantages. Since all four took their samples from children who endured family break-ups, a cohort known to face added ricks, these studies have been criticized by many scholars as unreliable assessments of the well being of LGB-headed households. Takes together, this research forms an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research that having gay or lesbian parents does not harm children.”

The American Sociological Association provided assistance in a legal brief reviewing literature regarding the well being of children raised in same sex families and concluded “that is clear consensus in the social science literature indicating that American children living with same-sex parent households fare just as well as those residing within different-sex parent households over a wide array of well being measures: academic performance, cognitive development, social development, psychological health, early sexual activity and substance abuse. Our assessment of the literature is based on credible and methodologically sound studies that compare well being outcomes of children residing within same-sex and different-sex parent families. Differences that exist in child well being are largely due to socioeconomic circumstances and family stability.”

Many studies have demonstrated that children’s well being is affected much more by their relationship with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family then by gender of the sexual orientation of their parents. The National Survey on Children’s Health also agrees that children’s psychosocial adjustment is associated more with the quality of parenting rather than with parental orientation. 

 According to Wikipedia, The New Family Structure Study (NFSS) by Mark Regnerus cited in the article met with criticism from many academic and scholarly organizations. Most notably, only two (out of 15,000) children in the study had actually lived with same-sex parents for the entire childhoods. Many of the same-sex parents were in previous heterosexual marriages, and had then gone on to be in same-sex relationships. Regnerus removed the effects of divorce, infidelity, and single parenthood from his heterosexual “control group,” but not from the gay parent group. Thus, negative outcomes could be attributed to family disruption and divorce, as opposed to same-sex parenting. Most importantly, large studies of twins separated at birth and raised in different environments found that they grew up to be just as similar as those raised together. Large adoption studies found that adopted children correlated with their biological parents for genetic reasons, not their adoptive parents, thus, parents tend to have limited environmental effects on their children’s behavior, and negative outcomes very likely correlate with shared genes between parents and children. A 2015 reanalysis of the NFSS study raised serious questions about the validity of the study, suggesting misclassification of families, inconsistency in answers suggesting mischief, and evidence many respondents did not live with their same-sex parents. When these cases were excluded the differences largely vanished.  

The NFSS study was paid for by the Witherspoon Institute ($700,000) and by the Bradley Foundation ($90,000). The Witherspoon Institute is a conservative organization that opposes same-sex marriage, and the Institute’s president expected results that would be unfavorable to supporting gay marriage. In the initial report, Regnerus said the organizations had no role in the design of the study, and dismissed allegations of improper influence. However, in response to requests by the American Independent News Network, emails sent between Regnerus and Witherspoon Institute employee Brad Wilcox were released that cast doubt on those statements. In one email, Wilcox approved several items relating to the study on behalf of the institute. Critics also noted that Wilcox sat on the editorial board of the Social Science Research, the journal in which the study was published.   

I realize the article by Dane Skelton was in response to The Virginia’s Value Act that became law July 1, and it is notable that churches may be upset by the law just as some churches are upset that Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, and that same-sex marriage was also recognized by the Supreme Court. With the predominance of conservative judges on the Supreme Court and the fear for many that those rights may be challenged in the near future, many states are choosing to enact their own legislative measures. It is fine to state your opinion, but when you cite studies that have been discredited by numerous universities and cited in federal court as not worthy of serious considerations, you make your opinions as appear as face when they are not. 

All I am asking is that both sides be heard and then let people decide for themselves. It is worth mentioning that same-sex couples are six times more likely to foster children, and at least four times more likely to adopt. 

Whatever happened to the separation of church from state and federal government? Guess it is all hard to understand when our money says “In God We Trust” and our Pledge of Allegiance says one nation under God. How does that jibe with all the other religions in the country that do not worship the same or believe the same as Evangelical Christians? 

Perhaps it would have been beneficial to direct the young ladies to a church that would marry them, suggest a civil union, or suggest they go to the courthouse to marry. It is hard for people of faith to be cast aside by their church because of who they love. Needless to say, living in this country is never boring as many opinions can be shared. Let’s just share both sides.