Author archives: Peter Sprigg

New York Times: All the Opinions (about North Carolina’s Bathroom Law) That Are Unfit, They Print

by Peter Sprigg

September 23, 2016

A Facebook friend recently posted a meme that displayed some text upside down. The message was that you have an amazing talent if you are able to read the text when it is upside down and backwards (i.e., right to left).

Actually, it was fairly easy to read. But a similar (modest) talent is needed to read the New York Times these days — especially an editorial about North Carolina’s “bathroom protection bill,” House Bill 2, known as HB2 (“North Carolina Pays a Price for Bigotry,” September 21). Simply take everything the New York Times says and invert it, and you will come close to understanding the truth about the HB2 controversy.

The Times says that Charlotte, N.C.’s sexual orientation and gender identity ordinance was “used as a reason” to pass HB2. Used? Charlotte’s passage of this ordinance in February was the only reason for the state law that was “hastily passed in March” — to prevent the Charlotte ordinance from taking effect on April 1. If Charlotte had left well enough alone — including allowing issues of transgender bathroom use to be settled on a case-by-case basis like they always had — there would have been no state intervention.

The Times says that HB2 serves to “bar transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity.” Yet they fail to mention that the bill’s guidelines for bathroom use apply only to “public agencies” — that is, to buildings that are owned by the government. House Bill 2 does not dictate any policy for private organizations or businesses. This is in contrast to the Charlotte ordinance, which would have barred private businesses from reserving women’s showers, locker rooms, and restrooms for biological females.

The Times also fails to mention that while facilities in government buildings are to be “used by persons based on their biological sex,” their “biological sex” is defined by the sex on their birth certificate — which actually can be changed in North Carolina if a person has had sex reassignment surgery. In other words, the only transgender people “barred” from the women’s room by HB2 would be those who still have male genitalia. Finally, they failed to mention that the HB2 restrictions apply only to “multiple occupancy” facilities, while the bill explicitly authorizes the provision of “single occupancy” facilities that may be used by anyone, regardless of sex or gender identity.

Expressing one of the most common misconceptions about HB2, the Times says the bill is “based on the specious notion that transgender people are sexual predators.” This charge is itself a “specious notion.” The safety concerns around “public accommodation” laws that include “gender identity” as a protected category (like Charlotte’s) do not involve people who consistently identify as transgender. They involve those who may be tempted to pose as transgender in order to gain access to the facilities of the opposite sex.

Such predators won’t be deterred by HB2,” some critics argue. The Times mocks HB2, saying it “was never enforceable, since police officers can’t reasonably be required to inspect people’s genitals outside bathroom stalls.” Under normal circumstances, however, the first line of prevention is not police officers, but ordinary citizens or employees saying, “What are you doing in here?” But under “gender identity” laws like the one in Charlotte (which was overturned by HB2), those ordinary citizens would be deterred from speaking out — by the threat that they could be charged with “discrimination” if they do. Remember, there is no visible difference that would allow such a citizen to distinguish a person who identifies as transgender and a cross-dressing predator. And to radical transgender activists, asking for proof of transgender status is itself a form of “discrimination.”

The Times claims that “no one has been made safer by preventing transgender people from using appropriate [sic] public restrooms.” This, of course, is utterly impossible to know, unless one can read the minds of sexual predators to know what they would see as deterrent or as license. If the Times is asserting that cross-dressing men have never committed crimes in public showers, locker rooms, or restrooms, however, they plainly have not been paying attention. Family Research Council has compiled a list of such incidents, as have others.

Even in the absence of criminal activity, however, women and girls (in particular) have a legitimate concern about privacy. In fact, courts have ruled that there is a fundamental right to “bodily privacy” — that is, not to be seen unclothed or partially clothed by someone of the opposite sex, or to be exposed to the partially clothed or unclothed body of someone of the opposite sex, against one’s will. This is the very reason why we have separate men’s rooms and women’s rooms to begin with (something which, at least so far, the New York Times has not questioned). It is not because men and women have different “gender identities,” but because they have different bodies.

The Times asserts, “The governor and his Republican colleagues in the Legislature are solely to blame for the hundreds of job and millions of dollars the state has lost as businesses and sports organizations have turned away from North Carolina.” In reality, national LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, who care nothing about destroying jobs in North Carolina, are primarily to blame. Having failed at the normal task of lobbying, they are now engaged in a form of racketeering, using specious charges of “bigotry” (echoed by the Times) in an effort to extort cooperation from businesses and sports leagues, and using the economic consequences in an (unsuccessful) effort to coerce a reversal from the legislature. If the NCAA and the ACC had kept their sports championships in North Carolina and simply monitored them, they would undoubtedly have found that their concerns about North Carolina “providing a safe and respectful environment at our events” were completely unfounded.

The Times baldly asserts, “The point of the law was to harm and humiliate L.G.B.T. citizens.” In reality, the point was to protect ordinary citizens, who could be “harmed and humiliated” by being forced to share showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms with those of the opposite biological sex.

It is the New York Times editorial board — not North Carolina’s courageous Gov. Pat McCrory — who need to “come to [their] senses.”

Expanding the Definition of “Parent” Expands the Power of the State

by Peter Sprigg

September 2, 2016

New York’s highest state court, the Court of Appeals, ruled August 30th that the former lesbian partner of a woman who gave birth (via artificial insemination) while the couple was cohabiting could qualify as a “parent” for the purpose of seeking custody and visitation rights (Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A. C.C.).

In light of the 2015 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to order a fifty-state redefinition of “marriage” to include same-sex couples (Obergefell v. Hodges), this may seem like something inevitable—merely a legal mopping-up operation. Actually, it is far more troubling, with implications that extend far beyond same-sex couples.

New York’s Domestic Relations Law says that “either parent” of a child living in the state may apply to a court requesting “the natural guardianship, charge and custody of such child.” In a case similar to the current one 25 years ago (Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M.), the same court had ruled that “a biological stranger to a child who is properly in the custody of his biological mother” has no standing to seek visitation. Despite having upheld it as recently as 2010, the court explicitly overruled Alison D. this week.

In part, the decision was based on the fact that during the period the couple was together (2006-2010, with the baby boy being born in 2009), same-sex couples could not yet legally marry in New York. According to the opinion, the couple “lacked the resources to travel to another jurisdiction” to enter into a marriage or similar “legal arrangement.”

One is tempted to say that they must have been quite destitute—since the first state to grant civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples (in 2004), Massachusetts, borders on New York state. By the time the child was born, in June 2009, Massachusetts had repealed a 1913 law that had initially prevented many out-of-state couples from marrying there; and New York’s Gov. David Paterson had ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex unions from other states.

In fairness, though, the couple apparently did live in Chautauqua County—at the far western end of the state, about 400 miles from Massachusetts. However, it is only a little over 100 miles from Niagara Falls, Ontario—which was also giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples from the U.S. Meanwhile, New York’s high court had already recognized a right of “second-parent” adoption even for unmarried partners of a biological parent in a case decided in 1995.

All this is to say that, even for a same-sex couple, it may not have been so difficult to establish a legal family relationship by a more traditional means—either a civil marriage or legal adoption.

Family Research Council (FRC) promotes the ideal of the “natural family.” In the natural family, a man and a woman commit to one another in marriage, and their sexual union bears its natural fruit in the birth of children who are biologically related to both parents. Support for the natural family is not just based on abstract principle—there is abundant social science research showing that it tends to result in the best outcomes for children (see this recent blog post reviewing the evidence).

However, we realize that the natural family is not universal, and recognize that parental relationships are sometimes formed without marriage (as in out-of-wedlock births) or without a biological relationship between parent and child (as in adoption). These parents should have their rights respected by the state just as much as those in the more traditional natural family.

However, these have historically been the limits of how legally-recognized “parental” relationships may be established. The court’s decision in Brooke B. smashes through those limits.

Only one of the New York judges, Eugene Pigott, fully acknowledged this. Although he concurred with the outcome of the case, based on its “extraordinary circumstances,” he disagreed with the decision to overrule Alison D. “I would retain the rule that parental status under New York law derives from marriage, biology or adoption,” Pigott wrote. Until now, he said, “Our Court … rejected the impulse to judicially enlarge the term ‘parent’ beyond marriage, biology, or adoption.” Instead, they had “consistently interpreted it in the most obvious and colloquial sense to mean a child’s natural parents or parents by adoption.”

The argument for expanding the definition of “parent” to include “de facto parents” who have lived with, cared for, and formed a close personal relationship with a child is simple—namely that it may be “in the best interests of the child” to preserve that relationship even if the adult couple breaks up. This sounds emotionally appealing—but the problem is what it means for parental rights. While parental rights are not absolute—in the case of serious abuse, for example, a parent may be declared “unfit” and have those rights severed—they are normally entitled to great deference.

The court did quote from its 1991 decision in Alison D., which said that “[t]raditionally … it is the child’s mother and father who, assuming fitness, have the right to the care and custody of their child,” and granting visitation to a “de facto” parent “would necessarily impair the parents’ right.” Without a biological or adoptive connection to the child, the former partner has no right “to displace the choice made by this fit parent in deciding what is in the child’s best interests.”

The New York court claimed it was still protecting this “substantial and fundamental right” (which it acknowledged as “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests”). It did so by saying that it was only recognizing the “parental status” of a non-biological, non-adoptive partner where the person “proves … that he or she has agreed with the biological parent of the child to conceive and raise the child as co-parents.”

This limitation is small comfort. Libertarians inclined to see this as another step toward “freedom” or “equality” for all sexual preferences, or conservatives inclined to shrug it off as the inevitable consequence of Obergefell, are missing the larger point—which is a massive expansion of the power of the state in general, and of judges in particular.

Judge Pigott addressed the latter point, noting that “other states had legislatively expanded the class of individuals who may seek custody and/or visitation of a child.” In fact, New York had done the same, explicitly extending it by statute to siblings or grandparents—but not to those in the position of the petitioner. If the result seems unfair, “such criticism is properly directed at the Legislature;” but judges had, until now, “refused to undertake the kind of policy analysis reserved for the elected representatives of this State.”

In my view, however, the Legislature should not further expand the definition of “parent,” either. The existence of the natural institution of the family is an inherent check upon the power of the artificial institution of the state. Even when the state does create a parental relationship through a legal act (adoption), it does so only when the natural parents are absent, or there has been a convincing showing, with a strong burden of proof, that they are unfit.

Moving away from the limited definition of families as being formed by marriage, biology, or adoption is a move in the direction of the further deconstruction of the family as an institution. Granting greater power to the government to define or even create “family” or “parental” relationships, meanwhile, is a move toward concentrating greater societal power in the hands of the state across the board.

Both trends should alarm not just social conservatives, but anyone who is concerned about excessive concentrations of power in the hands of the government.

Ending the Secular Witch Hunt

by Peter Sprigg

August 26, 2016

Review of:

It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, by Mary Eberstadt (New York: Harper, 2016).

Mary Eberstadt offers a concise diagnosis of the growing problem of hostility to religious freedom in the Western world, in her new book, It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies.

Her historical analysis notes that, contrary to progressivist myths about Christians exercising “theocratic” power, the influence of religion has been generally in decline ever since the French Revolution. However, she cites two recent historical events as triggering a more virulent hostility to religion—the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which raised concern about the dangers of religious fanaticism; and the Catholic priest sex abuse scandals revealed in 2002, which solidified cynicism about institutional religion.

Eberstadt also cites two key legal battles in which the secular left discounted the importance of protecting religious liberty—the HHS contraceptive mandate in Obamacare; and the Supreme Court’s 2015 redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The Obama administration’s insistence on forcing an order of Catholic nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, to pay for abortifacient contraceptives is cited as an example of how the poor—supposedly the subjects of progressive concern—are subordinated to other ideological goals. She points out the abundances of charitable works and social services provided by religious believers, and notes that these agencies simply cannot be replaced by their secular or government-run counterparts. Yet secular progressives prefer to shut such agencies down (like they have Catholic adoption agencies that dare give preference to mother-father households) rather than allow dissent from the progressive worldview. Another chapter highlights how Christian education—whether in the form of student groups, distinctively Christian institutions, or homeschooling—has also been in the crosshairs of the Left.

Eberstadt argues, however, that the secular progressivism is not merely anti-faith, but actually represents a competing faith, explaining that “the sexual revolution has given rise to a new secularist faith of its own whose founding principles are the primacy of pleasure and self-will.” This faith actually mirrors Christianity in some ways, with its own “secular saints” (Sanger, Kinsey), “foreign missionaries,” “quasi-demonology,” and “canon of texts and doctrine.”

They believe they are in possession of a higher truth,” Eberstadt explains, “and they fight to universalize it.” This helps explain the ferocity of their attacks upon those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian morality—“the only remaining minority that can be mocked and denigrated … [n]ot to mention fired, fined, or otherwise punished for their beliefs.”

Eberstadt does not hesitate to describe the attacks on believers as a “witch hunt”—and to compare them directly and in detail with similar “moral panics” in the past, including the day-care sexual abuse hysteria of the 1980’s, the McCarthyism of the 1950’s, and the granddaddy of them all, the Salem witch trials of 1692. “‘Bigot’ and ‘hater’ are the new ‘wizard’ and ‘witch,’” she explains; “epithets that intentionally demean and dehumanize.” Yet even serious consequences—like the armed assault upon the Family Research Council offices in Washington in 2012—has not deterred activists like those at the Southern Poverty Law Center from employing such inflammatory language.

Progressives claim that conservative Christians are on “the wrong side of history”—but Eberstadt flips that argument on its head, declaring that “today’s ideological stalking and punishing of Christians is going to look contemptible in history’s rearview mirror.”

This leads to the most distinctive aspect of Eberstadt’s argument. Unlike others who have written on similar topics, Eberstadt does not say the solution is for Christians to mobilize and defend themselves. Other witch hunts were not ended by their victims, and she warns that this one will not be, either. Instead, she calls on liberals themselves to return to liberal values—such as tolerance, freedom of speech and association, and respect for true diversity. We must, she says, “agree to disagree”—affirming “the right to be wrong,” as author Seamus Hasson has put it.

American history already gives us the model for this resolution of the culture war, Eberstadt argues—Thomas Jefferson, whose misunderstood “wall of separation between Church & State” was intended to protect religious liberty, not to stifle it.

Empirical and philosophical critiques of the sexual revolution are legitimate subjects for debate,” Eberstadt asserts, and those who disagree with them should nonetheless “do the right thing by listening to what [critics] have to say, and acknowledging their American right to say it.”

People on both sides of the culture wars would gain by reading and heeding Eberstadt’s thoughtful analysis.

(Note: Chris Gacek and I interviewed Mary Eberstadt about her book on the FRC daily radio program, “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” on August 18. That interview can be heard here.)

Five Things to Know About “Gender Dysphoria” in Children

by Peter Sprigg

August 19, 2016

Gender dysphoria” (GD) is a condition in which a person may feel unhappy with his or her biological sex, express a desire to be the opposite sex, or even insist that he or she is of the opposite sex from what his or her genes and anatomy indicate. People who choose to adopt a “gender identity” different from their biological sex are known as “transgender.”

This condition is increasingly being identified not merely in adults, but even in very young, pre-pubescent children. The American College of Pediatricians (an organization formed as an alternative to the larger and more liberal American Academy of Pediatrics), has now released an important paper on “Gender Dysphoria in Children.” It provides a significant medical and scientific counterweight to the growing ideology that demands affirmation of “transgender” identities—even in children.

I encourage those interested to read the College’s press release and the full study. For those wanting a brief summary, however, here are five key points I took away from the paper.

1)      There is no scientific evidence that people with gender dysphoria are “born in the wrong body.”

Those who identify as transgender often claim that they are “women born in men’s bodies” or “men born in women’s bodies.” Yet the scientific evidence put forward in support of this theory is weak. In fact, studies of twins have shown that when one twin identifies as transgender, only 20% of the time does the other twin also identify as transgender. This finding alone disproves the idea that gender dysphoria results primarily from prenatal genetic or hormonal influences. (Note: “gender dysphoria” is not the same as biological “disorders of sexual development”—DSD—or “intersex” conditions. The vast majority of people who identify as transgender are entirely normal males or females genetically and biologically.)

2)      Most children who experience gender dysphoria do not grow up to identify as transgender adults.

Research has shown that, left to themselves—that is, if they are not given special hormone treatments and not permitted to “transition” into living socially as a person of the opposite sex—most children who exhibit symptoms of “gender dysphoria” will resolve those issues before adulthood and will live as normal males or females with a “gender identity” that corresponds to (rather than conflicts with) their biological sex at birth. Historically, this has been true of between 80% and 95% of gender dysphoric children.

3)      Despite #2, many children with gender dysphoria are now being funneled into a treatment protocol that involves both early and ongoing hormone treatments.

It is one thing (and radical enough) for someone born a boy to be allowed to start living as a girl, or vice versa (that is, to “socially transition”). However, some children (as young as 11) are actually being given hormones to block the natural effects of puberty before it begins. The physical differences between male and female children (when clothed) are relatively small and fairly easy to conceal with clothing. Those differences become greater after puberty, which in turn makes it more difficult for a teenager who identifies as transgender to “pass” as a member of the opposite biological sex. Puberty blockers are intended to forestall that “problem.”

Then when they are older (although sometimes as young as 16), they may begin to receive “cross-sex hormones” (e.g., estrogen for males who identify as female, or testosterone for females who identify as male). These continue the suppression of characteristics of their biological sex, while triggering some of the characteristics of the intended gender (such as breast growth or development of facial hair).

4)      Such hormone treatments may have serious negative health consequences—both known and unknown.

Supporters of puberty-blocking hormones contend that their effects are reversible, giving a child the opportunity to change his or her mind about gender “transition” upon reaching adulthood. Case studies show, however, that in reality such an intervention puts the child on a nearly inevitable path to a transgender identity—in sharp contrast to most gender dysphoric children who are not so treated. Completion of the entire protocol of both puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones (especially when followed by sex reassignment surgery) results in permanent sterility—the inability to ever have biological children, even using artificial reproductive technology. The American College of Pediatricians argues, “The treatment of GD in childhood with hormones effectively amounts to mass experimentation on, and sterilization of, youth who are cognitively incapable of providing informed consent.”

As for cross-sex hormones, a comprehensive review of the scientific literature found, “There are potentially long-term safety risks associated with hormone therapy, but none have been proven or conclusively ruled out.” For example, giving estrogen to biological males may place them at risk for cardiovascular disease, elevated blood pressure, gall bladder disease, and breast cancer; while giving testosterone to biological females may be associated with elevated triglycerides, sleep apnea, and insulin resistance—in addition to the risks associated with obtaining a double mastectomy, which some may do when only 16 years old.

5)      Research shows that “severe psychopathology and developmental difficulties” often precede the development of gender dysphoria.

A more compassionate approach to caring for children with gender dysphoria would involve what was once the “standard approach”—either “watchful waiting” or psychotherapy “to address familial pathology if it was present, treat any psychosocial morbidities in the child, and aid the child in aligning gender identity with biological sex.” Children are in no position to given meaningful “informed consent” for more serious and potentially hazardous procedures such as hormone therapy.

Who’s Waging a War on Science? (Hint: It’s Not Conservatives)

by Peter Sprigg

August 5, 2016

Liberals often accuse conservatives of being hostile to science, and insist that they will rely only on “evidence-based” policies. The questioning of scientific claims that we face catastrophic human-induced global warming, and efforts to teach critiques of evolutionary theory in school biology classes, are two of the most frequently-cited example of conservatives’ supposed “war on science.”

Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame Law School, however, points out in Public Discourse that this supposed liberal reverence for science is itself a myth and a deception. When it comes to some areas of policy—those involving any aspect of the sexual revolution and the demand for a “right” to sex of any kind without consequences—the Left abandons science in favor of ideology every time.

Whether it is the humanity of the unborn, the harms of abortion, the benefits of contraception, the advantages of abstinence, the origins of homosexuality, or the reality of biological sex, the Left has no patience for science incompatible with their worldview.

I am especially grateful that he mentions sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE (what its enemies—and none of its practitioners—call “conversion therapy”). Even some Republicans have been influenced by the LGBT’s constant drumbeat on this issue (yes, I’m looking at you, Chris Christie), and several states have actually outlawed such treatment for minors. One has to be very familiar with the scientific research to know that there is no scientific research regarding the impact of SOCE on minors—only unscientific anecdotes.

This is an important and valuable article. Check out President Obama’s Sex-Driven War on Science.

PolitiFact Falsifies Family Findings

by Peter Sprigg

August 4, 2016

In an interview on July 17, Chuck Todd of NBC challenged Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus regarding a passage in the Republican platform dealing with family structure, which includes the statements:

Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime, or become pregnant outside of marriage.

and:

The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad.

Priebus defended the platform plank, affirming that “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad.”

That same day, PolitiFact released an article that rated Priebus’ statement “False.”

A rating along the lines of “Requires clarification” might have been defensible. However, in light of the available evidence, rating the statement “False” is nothing short of bizarre. It destroys not Priebus’ credibility, but PolitiFact’s as a neutral arbiter.

In October 2014, PolitiFact offered a similar critique of a similar statement by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. A detailed response was posted on the Family Research Council blog, all of which is still valid. Following is a summary with information on some more recent research.

What the research on family structure shows

Here are some other professional organizations which have made statements similar to that in the platform:

The non-partisan, non-profit research group Child Trends has reported, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.”

The anti-poverty group the Center for Law and Social Policy reported, “Research indicates that, on average, children who grow up in families with both their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage are better off in a number of ways than children who grow up in single-, step- or cohabiting-parent households. Compared to children who are raised by their married parents, children in other family types are more likely to achieve lower levels of education, to become teen parents, and to experience health, behavior, and mental health problems.”

The Institute for American Values declared (as one of its “fundamental conclusions” about “what current social science evidence reveals about marriage in our social system”), “The intact, biological, married family remains the gold standard for family life in the United States, insofar as children are most likely to thrive—economically, socially, and psychologically—in this family form.”

One example of the type of research being summarized in those statements is the federal survey data published in 2014 which showed that “children living with two biological parents” (which by definition includes a “mom and dad”) are fifteen times less likely “to have had four or more adverse experiences” than children in any other living situation.

These statements alone should be sufficient to designate Priebus’ innocuous statement as “true.”

Not just about parents who identify as homosexual

The clarification that might be justified is that these broad and entirely accurate summaries of the research on family structure are based primarily on studies that did not focus specifically on a comparison with children raised by parents who identify as homosexual or by same-sex couples. However, the platform passage did not limit its conclusion to such comparisons, either. Omitted from mention in Todd’s questioning of Priebus were the following references in the platform to cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and single-parent households:

We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation. Moreover, marriage remains the greatest antidote to child poverty. The 40 percent of children who now are born outside of marriage are five times more likely to live in poverty than youngsters born and raised by a mother and father in the home. Nearly three-quarters of the $450 billion government annually spends on welfare goes to single-parent households.

Instead, Todd focused only on same-sex parents, saying, “It’s implying that somehow children of same-sex couples are more likely to be addicts? To engage in crime?” Chuck Todd’s single-minded focus on same-sex parents was deceptive regarding the context of the platform language—and PolitiFact should have noted that and called him out on it.

What about the research on parents who identify as homosexual?

Nevertheless, it is also true that the platform says that “the cornerstone of the family is natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman,” and it declares, “Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” as well as saying, “Every child deserves a married mom and dad.” Since same-sex couples do not meet this definition of marriage and do not provide both a mom and a dad, a clarification of what the research on parents who identify as homosexual shows is also in order.

PolitiFact refers to only two sources for its conclusion: a one-page summary of the findings of “78 scholarly studies” on “the wellbeing of children with gay or lesbian parents” published by Columbia Law School (which concludes that “children of gay or lesbian parents fare no worse than other children”); and a longer research summary on “LGB-Parent Families” published by a pro-homosexual think tank, The Williams Institute (which concludes that “LGB parents and their children are functioning quite well”).

Apples to Apples? Some studies omit the “intact biological family”

In evaluating any particular study that relates to “gay or lesbian parents,” it is crucial to be aware of what is being compared to what, and what conclusions can legitimately be drawn (or evaluated) from the findings.

For example, it is true that there have been a large number of studies which purport to show that children raised by “gay or lesbian” parents “do just as well” as, or show “no differences” from, children raised by “straight” or “heterosexual” parents. However, when you dig down you discover that many of these studies do not feature a comparison between children raised by “gay or lesbian parents” and children raised by the intact biological family—that is, children raised from birth by their married, biological mother and biological father. Instead, the comparison is with children who have heterosexual parents, but from single-parent, divorced, or step-parent households, for example.

Studies which look at children of “gay parents,” but which do not include the intact biological family as a comparison group, can tell us exactly nothing about whether “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad.”

Furthermore, these studies, although numerous, suffer from serious methodological limitations, such as the use of very small, non-random “convenience” samples (gathered by advertising in “gay” publications, for example). Referring to a defense of parents who identify as homosexual by the American Psychological Association (APA), researcher Loren Marks reported in 2012, “[N]ot one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children.”

The Columbia publication cited by PolitiFact downplays this, arguing that “convenience sampling is not considered a methodological flaw, but simply a limitation to generalizability.” Yet “generalizing” from such studies, without apparent “limitation,” is exactly what defenders of “gay parents”—and PolitiFact—have done.

Apples to Apples? Some studies omit same-sex couples

On the other hand, some other studies have included comparisons between the intact biological family and other family structures, including ones in which a child’s mother or father had a same-sex relationship while the child was growing up. The most widely-reported such study in recent years was the New Family Structures Study published in 2012 by sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas. It showed that children raised in the intact biological family have considerable advantages over those raised in other family structures—including children with a mother or father who had a homosexual relationship. (FRC published a summary of the Regnerus study on our website, then later added a more detailed list of its findings.)

One of the criticisms that some observers made regarding the Regnerus research was that it (like most of the studies favorable to “gay parents,” it might be noted) was not based on a direct, “couples-to-couples” comparison. Many of the “fathers who had a gay relationship” and “mothers who had a lesbian relationship” never lived in the same household with the child and a same-sex partner, and almost none lived in such a household throughout the child’s growing up. (Regnerus made these facts perfectly clear in both his initial article and a later, more detailed one.) The deficits identified in the children of “gay parents,” according to these critics, were the result of household instability (e.g., one parent divorcing the other parent to “come out” as gay or lesbian), not of sexual orientation per se.

Demanding that comparisons be made only with children of “stable” same-sex couples, however, is both unreasonable and unrealistic—given that such households are extraordinarily rare. Of the 248 children in the Regnerus study whose parents had had a homosexual relationship, only two had been raised by a same-sex couple (a female couple in both cases) from birth. Even the Williams Institute survey cited by PolitiFact acknowledges at the outset, “In the majority of contemporary LGB-parent families, the children were conceived in the context of different-sex relationships,” adding that “research is needed on LGB stepfamily formation post-heterosexual divorce.”

Recent research

More recent studies have overcome some of the methodological limitations of earlier research, allowing couples-to-couples comparisons using much larger sample sizes drawn from government surveys. Canadian economist Douglas W. Allen and co-authors analyzed data from the 2000 U.S. census and reported, “Compared with traditional married households, we find that children being raised by same-sex couples are 35% less likely to make normal progress through school.” Another study by Allen using the 2006 Canada census found, “Children living with gay and lesbian families [a “same-sex married or common law couple”] in 2006 were about 65% as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families.”

Sociologist D. Paul Sullins studied data from the National Health Interview Survey that included 512 children living with same-sex couples, and found that children in households with same-sex couples “are at least twice as likely to experience serious emotional problems compared to their counterparts” in other types of households generally, and more specifically “they are at almost four (3.6) times the risk of emotional problems when compared to children residing with married biological parents.”

Other Resources

Several other organizations and publications have produced summaries within the last two years of the existing research on family structure and child outcomes, including:

The American College of Pediatricians, et al. (amicus brief, U.S. Supreme Court)

The Heritage Foundation

MercatorNet

Public Discourse

Conclusion

The Republican platform, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, did not say, “Straight parents are better than gay parents.” The primary issue addressed by summary statements on family structure like those in the platform is not “sexual orientation”—it is the benefits to children of a two-parent home, marriage, gender complementarity, and a biological relationship with both parents. Evidence suggests that children denied the first two suffer, even if their parents are “straight”; while children with openly “gay” parents are always denied the latter two, no matter how “stable” their household.

This evidence is more than sufficient to rate Priebus’ statement that “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad” as “True.”

Gallup Poll Shows Few Same-Sex Couples Marry Despite Supreme Court OK

by Peter Sprigg

July 6, 2016

Noting the one-year anniversary of the 2015 Supreme Court decision redefining marriage to include same-sex couples, the Gallup organization recently released poll data on how many Americans self-identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), and how many of those are now in legally recognized civil marriages.

Marriages after Obergefell

Same-Sex Marriages Up One Year After Supreme Court Verdict” was the headline Gallup used, reporting that “approximately 123,000 same-sex marriages have taken place since the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.” Some news outlet emphasized the growth of such relationships even more strongly, with Time saying they are “Way Up” and The Atlantic referring to “a surge in same-sex marriages in all 50 states.”

One would hardly have expected it to be otherwise, given that the Court had thrown open a door that had been closed by the state constitutions of thirty states. (Due to lower court decisions, however, only 13 states were still denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples by the time the Supreme Court ruled.)

The real news in the Gallup survey—missed by virtually every news outlet that reported on it—is not how many same-sex couples have now obtained civil marriages, but how few.

LGBT Adults Who Are Married

Gallup currently estimates 3.9% of U.S. adults are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” the report says. How many of those are married? “Currently, 9.6% of LGBT adults report being married to a same-sex spouse.”

Wait a minute—after all the hullabaloo over same-sex marriage, all the insistence that marriage was essential to affirm the dignity of lesbian and gay Americans—less than one in ten have even bothered to take advantage of this critical new “right?”

Well,” you may point out, “adults can be as young as 18 years old. They may not feel ready to marry, or they may not have found the right person yet, or they may be between relationships. Not all heterosexual adults are married at any given time, either.”

All this is true—so let’s compare the 9.6% of “LGBT adults” who are in same-sex marriages with the percentage of the general population (the vast majority heterosexual) who are married. That figure has been in decline for decades—partly because people are waiting longer to marry, partly because of an increase in cohabitation outside of marriage, and partly because of an increase in divorce.

In fact, a federal government report issued in 2014 made headlines: “Number of Unmarried Americans Now Over 50 Percent.” According to NewsMax, “the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the number of Americans over the age of 16 who are unmarried leapt from 37.4 percent in 1974 to 50.2 percent today.” Thus, only 49.8% (roughly five out of ten) were married.

Yet if five out of ten heterosexuals are married, and only one out of ten “LGBT” adults is in a same-sex marriage, this suggests that LGBT Americans are only one-fifth as likely to marry as are heterosexuals.

Same-Sex Couples Who Are Married

Perhaps,” you may respond, “it’s just harder for LGBT people to find partners than for heterosexuals. What about the marriage rates among people who have already found a partner they are living with?”

The Gallup report offered data on that question as well—in fact, it led with it, beginning its report by declaring, “The proportion of same-sex cohabiting couples who are married has increased from 38% to 49% in the year since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.”

However, 49% being married means that 51% of “same-sex cohabiting couples”—an outright majority, although a slim one—are still “living together but not married.”

What about all the arguments that legal civil marriage was absolutely essential to same-sex couples, because it is the only way to provide for inheritance rights, and medical decision-making, and over a thousand other “benefits” attached to marriage under federal law? It looks like most same-sex couples can do without civil marriage after all.

Lots of opposite-sex couples cohabit instead of marrying, too,” you may say, and that is true. According to the Census Bureau, in 2015 there were 8.3 million households with opposite-sex unmarried couples—and 60 million married couples. That means that about 88% of opposite-sex couples living together were married, vs. only 12% that were cohabiting without marriage.

If the percentage of same-sex couples who reject marriage (by cohabiting instead) is 51%, and the percentage of the general public who do the same thing is only 12%, this suggests that those in homosexual relationships are over  four times more likely to reject marriage than those in heterosexual relationships are.

Handling Data

I will concede that making precisely accurate comparisons between “LGBT Americans” and non-LGBT persons using such data is sometimes a challenge. First, unless it is explicitly separated out, data for the general public includes LGBT persons (although they are only a small fraction—about one in twenty-five).

The second issue—which Gallup may want to consider in its future reports—is that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons are four different populations, which really ought to be addressed separately. They tend to be lumped together only because they are perceived as having common political interests (in challenging traditional norms for their sex), not because they share sociological characteristics. Gallup distinguished them only in part, by noting, “Males who identify as LGBT are more likely than females who identify as LGBT to report being married to a same-sex spouse (10.5% vs. 8.8%, respectively).”

B” and “T” Americans and Opposite-Sex Marriages

There is no reason to expect that bisexual or transgender persons would necessarily seek marriage to a person of the same sex (although they might). It is just as likely that they would be married to someone of the opposite sex (although even defining who the opposite sex is could be problematic in the case of transgender persons).

This may help explain perhaps the most startling finding in the Gallup report, which none of the media reports even picked up on. It is this: more “LGBT Americans” are married to an opposite-sex spouse than to a same-sex one. Gallup reports that 13.6% of “LGBT Americans” are married to an opposite-sex spouse—a number 42% higher than the 9.6% of “LGBT Americans” now legally married to a same-sex spouse.

To interpret this figure, it would be helpful if Gallup had released more data specifically on those who identify as bisexual (sexually attracted to both males and females)—what percentage of “LGBT Americans” are actually “B,” and what percentage of just the “B’s” are married to or living with a same-sex vs. an opposite-sex partner. A recent federal report based on the National Survey of Family Growth said that self-identified bisexuals may actually outnumber self-identified homosexuals—narrowly among men (2.0% of the population vs. 1.9%) and widely among women (5.5% to 1.3%).

Gallup did report that 5% of LGBT’s are living with an opposite-sex partner outside of marriage. These cohabitors are 27% of the opposite-sex couples in the LGBT population, which means that even “LGBT Americans” in opposite-sex relationships are only about half as likely to reject marriage in favor of cohabitation as those in same-sex relationships.

Perhaps the most intriguing of all would be to learn how many people in the Gallup survey identify as “gay” or “lesbian,” yet are married to someone of the opposite sex. Could it be that some people place fidelity to a vow they have made to a husband or wife ahead of solidarity with their “sexual orientation?” If this number is anything other than zero, it would put the lie to Justice Anthony’s Kennedy’s assumption that one-man-one-woman marriage laws prevent “gay” or “lesbian” persons from marrying at all.

One thing should now be clear—the drive to redefine the institution of marriage was not really about marriage. The data from the Gallup report prove that most people with same-sex sexual attractions do not “need,” and do not even want, to marry. The primary purpose of redefining marriage was not to gain access to the institution of marriage, but to put the official governmental stamp of approval on homosexual relationships by declaring them identical to heterosexual ones, even though they clearly are not.

No “Discrimination” in North Carolina’s Bathroom Protections

by Peter Sprigg

June 1, 2016

Who would have thought 2016 would become the year of the “bathroom wars?” Both sides in this cultural battle have now appealed to the courts, with North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders suing President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ), while DOJ is suing North Carolina public officials. DOJ charges that the state’s House Bill 2 (HB 2, enacted in March) violates federal law.

This is a stunning claim. HB 2 codifies (for government buildings only) something that has, until recently, been completely taken for granted — namely, that multiple-user public restrooms, locker rooms, and showers are to be separated on the basis of biological sex.

HB 2 was written in response to an ordinance adopted in Charlotte that would have barred “discrimination” on the basis of “gender identity.” Transgender activists interpret such laws as requiring that biological males who claim to be “women” be allowed to share restrooms, locker rooms, and showers with actual biological females. HB 2 reversed the Charlotte ordinance, leaving private businesses and organizations free to adopt whatever bathroom policy they choose.

Having a biological male in the ladies’ room would create discomfort and anxiety for many women. Furthermore, the impossibility of verifying someone’s “transgender” status would make it easy for sexual predators to exploit such laws to gain access to women and girls.

The Obama administration asserts that the state’s policy violates three federal laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination in employment on the basis of sex (among other things). The DOJ claims that the state is discriminating against transgender state employees by not allowing them to use the restroom that corresponds to their “gender identity.” Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in education. The DOJ claims that the University of North Carolina is violating this law by upholding HB 2 on its campuses.

Neither of these statutes mentions “gender identity.” They address discrimination based on “sex.” Regulations implementing them make clear that it is not sex discrimination to maintain separate sleeping quarters, restrooms, locker rooms, and showers on the basis of sex. It is absurd to think that Congress intended (in 1964 and 1972) to allow some biological males to make use of women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and showers.

The third law, the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) included a “nondiscrimination” provision based on “gender identity.” The principal intent of this was to insure that transgender persons are protected against domestic violence. It seems doubtful that the intent of Congress was to open bathrooms to the opposite biological sex.

Indeed, it would be ironic if a law ostensibly aimed at preventing violence against women ends up enabling stalking or violence by allowing biological males into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers.

Family Research Council believes that “gender identity” should not be a protected category under “non-discrimination” laws at all, because the behavioral choice to cross-dress (unlike, say, race) is not inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, or in the U. S. Constitution.

I do not believe that North Carolina’s HB 2 violates federal law by “discriminating” based on sex (or even “gender identity”). However, I would go further and argue that the bathroom issue does not fit into a conceptual framework of “discrimination” at all.

Usually (as in the classic case of race) we identify “discrimination” when a class of people is denied a service altogether (as when restaurants refused to serve black patrons) or when services are provided in separate facilities (as when blacks and whites were assigned to different public schools).

In the bathroom debate, however, no one is telling transgender people they can’t go to the bathroom at all. Furthermore, all sides of the debate agree that the separation of male and female restrooms, locker rooms, and showers is reasonable and acceptable, so separate facilities are not the issue.

Instead, the question is: How do we define “male” and “female?”

The conservative view is that these should be defined on the basis of objective biological sex, as identified at birth. The leftist view is that these should be defined on the basis of subjective “gender identity,” based on the individual’s internal self-perception.

This is a clash of philosophy or worldview; but it is not really an issue of “discrimination.” Separating bathrooms and other facilities on the basis of biological sex treats all people of the same biological sex the same. Separating them on the basis of “gender identity” treats all people of the same gender identity in the same way. One must choose one or the other approach — they cannot be reconciled.

The text of the Constitution and federal statutes are silent as to this philosophical choice. Therefore, neither the Justice Department nor federal judges should impose their preference for the “gender identity” paradigm upon states.

Elections Offer Chance to Restore the Rule of Sanity in Fairfax Schools

by Peter Sprigg

October 27, 2015

A decade or two ago, the homosexual movement began its long march through the public schools of the United States. Now, the transgender movement has begun to follow the same path. The issue exploded like a bombshell last May in the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, the nation’s tenth largest school district. That was when parents and taxpayers first learned of plans to add “gender identity” to the school system’s “non-discrimination” policy — meaning that “transgender” students of any age would be able to choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and which sex’s sports teams to play on.

Hundreds of angry citizens turned out at a School Board meeting to protest, but their complaints fell mostly on deaf ears, as the Board voted 10-1 with one abstention to approve the radical new policy. Then, within days, they also adopted a new curriculum to teach about transgender issues in the classroom (the timing was a coincidence, the Board claimed).

The Board passed the buck for the unpopular policies to the Department of Education, which has threatened school districts with a loss of federal funds ($42 million annually to the Fairfax Schools) unless they treat the statutory prohibition on sex discrimination to include “gender identity.” Soon, however, Board members will answer to a higher authority — the voters. A number of candidates opposed to the new transgender policies are challenging incumbents in the Fairfax County School Board elections next week. It’s crucial for pro-family voters to turn out and send a message that they do not want to be governed by sexual radicals and federal bureaucrats.

Last night, FRC Senior Vice-President Rob Schwarzwalder joined FCPS Board Member Elizabeth Schultz at a forum discussing the biblical view of parents and education (Schwarzwalder) and the stakes involved in the upcoming election (Schultz).  Watch their presentations here.

Third Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month to be Marked by “Safe Exit Summit”

by Peter Sprigg

September 28, 2015

Defenders of the truth that change is possible for those with same-sex attractions will mark the Third Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month by gathering in the Washington, DC area for a “Safe Exit Summit” on Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3.

Dr. Michael L. Brown, host of The Line of Fire radio program and author of the books A Queer Thing Happened to America, Can You Be Gay and Christian? and the just-released Outlasting the Gay Revolution, will be the keynote speaker. Attorney Charles Limandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, who defended a Jewish ex-gay ministry in a New Jersey lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is scheduled to receive an award.

The Summit will also feature testimonies by individuals who have left homosexuality and entertainment by ex-gay Christian songwriter and singer Dennis Jernigan.

The principal organizers of the Safe Exit Summit are Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX); Voice of the Voiceless; and Equality and Justice for All. Family Research Council is a supporting sponsor of the event.

The “Safe Exit” term is drawn from a new program by PFOX to help churches to provide a safe space for those struggling with same-sex attractions, while also providing an exit for those who wish to escape the homosexual lifestyle.

For more information and registration, visit the Summit website.

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