Article Title:The Weak "Case" Against Same-Sex Parenting
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:6th September 2003 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:100
Text:Last week, the fundamentalist Maxim Institute tepidly stepped into ongoing debates over lesbian, gay and trans representation in spousal and parental equality legislation. Why are they so tentative, and why haven't they shown the scale of mobilisation that existed against prostitution law reform? In 1999, the then-Education Development Foundation held a so-called family policy seminar at Auckland's Greenlane Christian Centre. As noted in my previous article on the Care of Children Bill, conservative Mormon academic Lynn Wardle was one of the overseas activists invited to that symposium, and his paper was subsequently published in "Cutting Edge", the EDF's precursor to the Maxim Institute's glossier "Evidence" in July 2000. The Institute may have decided not to run with Wardle because he would be too vulnerable to concentrated attack. As Judith Stacey, Tim Biblarz and the Tasmanian Law Reform Commission have all noted, Wardle relies on the discredited work of Paul Cameron, expelled from the American Psychological Association and denounced by the American Sociological Association for poor research methodology and fabricated data. Worse still, Wardle is associated with the "ex-gay" lobby and contributed a paper to a NARTH (National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality) symposium. It should be noted that the American Psychiatric Association opposes NARTH's brand of so-called "reparative therapy." The Vermont Psychiatric Association filed an affidavit against Wardle when he tried to interfere in state debates over civil union legislation. Meanwhile, back in New Zealand, EDF director Bruce Logan authored a monograph entitled "Same Sex Marriage" for Affirm, a fundamentalist Presbyterian pressure group opposed to lesbian and gay ordination, relationship and parenting equality. All of Logan's bibliographical references are located within the US fundamentalist subculture, and have no independent professional standing outside that context. Logan did not cite social scientific or medical data that would have substantiated his case within this early monograph. The booklet cites the so-called Marriage Law Project's David Popenoe, fundamentalist activist Norman Geisler, New Zealand fundamentalist luminaries Briar and Neil Whitehead, and Jeffrey Satinover, a Jungian and anti-gay Orthodox Jew. In 2001, the EDF mutated into the Maxim Institute and "Cutting Edge" was replaced with "Evidence," a quarterly glossy journal with increased production values. Apart from opposition to hate crimes provisions within the Sentencing Act 2001, the Maxim Institute has not presented any evidence that same-sex relationships and families are intrinsically "unstable." If the Institute has realised that Wardle is too soft a target for critical analysis, then what are their other options? As mentioned in the aforementioned prior article on the Care of Children Bill, Patricia Morgan comes readily to mind. She is a researcher for the Christian Institute, a UK Christian Right pressure group currently under investigation by the UK Charities Commission for illegitimate lobbying activities. Morgan's monograph, "Children as Trophies?" was cited in recent anti-gay lobbying against Tasmania's exploration of inclusive same-sex adoption provisions, which would follow the lead of Western Australia. However, the Tasmanian Law Reform Commission disregarded Morgan's monograph, as it did not cite any authoritative research that same-sex parenting had negative effects either. Evidence has cited Morgan in other contexts, and it should be assumed that "Children as Trophies" will cross the Tasman if it has not done so already. What about Maxim's own publications? When I perused Angela Burgess' "The Erosion of Marriage," I was puzzled to note that Burgess cited no empirical evidence for or against the proposition that there is a direct causal relationship between heterosexual relationship instability and legal recognition of same-sex relationships and parenting. Burgess cites New Zealand case law, but that is about all. That could change. Anthea Nagai and Robert Lerner have criticised pro-gay research methodologies in current social scientific and medical literature about same-sex parenting. They originally presented a seminar paper at Lynn Wardle's "Revitalising Marriage" symposium at Brigham Young University in 2000. Since then, Nagai and Lerner have repackaged their critique for use by the Marriage Law Project and Focus on the Family Canada. In the latter context, it has done nothing to stop moves toward same-sex marriage and adoptive parent status. Neither Nagai or Lerner are employed at an academic institution. Again, Stacey, Biblarz and the Tasmanian Law Reform Commission were unconvinced by the status of this critique. Stacey and Biblarz examined the methodology of some of the cited studies and concluded that they were based on legitimate methodological criteria. The Tasmanian Law Reform Commission accepted their reasoning when it issued its recent summary of submissions on amendments to Tasmanian adoption laws. In any case, the Christian Right is hardly able to talk about competent social scientific research standards, given the exposure of Wardle's linkages to Cameron, and controversy about Nagai and Lerner's hatchet job. Is the Maxim Institute tentative about opposing same-sex relationship and parenting equality because it knows that there is no credible negative social scientific or medical research available from independent and authoritative sources that could condemn it? It should be noted that submissions on the Care of Children Bill close on September 25. The Christian Right's campaign against our inclusion within this legislation has been low-key, but can be expected to pick up soon. Use this document to prepare submissions that support our inclusion and send them to: Justice and Electoral Select Committee Parliament Buildings Private Bag, Wellington Further Reading: Angela Burgess, The Erosion of Marriage, Christchurch: Maxim Institute: 2003. Bruce Logan, Same Sex Marriage? Tauranga: Affirm Publications: 2000. Patricia Morgan, Children as Trophies? :London: Christian Institute: 2001. Anthea Nagai and Robert Lerner "Out of Nothing Comes Nothing: Homosexual and Heterosexual Marriage are Not Shown to be Equivalent for Raising Children" Paper, "Revitalising Marriage for the 21st Century", Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 2000. Lynn Wardle "The Importance of Marriage and the Marriage-Based Family for Society" Cutting Edge 48 (July-September 2000): 38-55. Rebuttals: Ellen Perrin et al "Technical Report: Coparent or Same-Sex Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents" Pediatrics 109:2: February 2002: 341-344. Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz "Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?" American Sociological Review (2001): 66: 159-183. Tasmanian Law Reform Commission: Adoption by Same-Sex Couples: Hobart: TLRC: 2003. NB: The latter three documents are available online. Craig Young - 6th September 2003    
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