Article Title:'Family' used to be such a nice word
Category:Comment
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:22nd October 2003 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:117
Text:The GLBT communities should be gearing up for a fight against the religious right says Wellington researcher and writer Craig Young. In Utah, USA, in early October, United Future leader Peter Dunne visited Brigham Young University, where arch-opponent of same-sex parenting Lynn Wardle is a family law professor. According to the United Future website, he gave a talk on the Families Commission Bill, which does recognise plural family models, as opposed to his party's opposition to the Civil Union and Care of Children Bills. Two days later, the Maxim Institute posted an updated version of John O'Neill's "Where is the Government Taking the Family?" onsite. I don't think Dunne passed the information on to them- remember, Logan and the then-EDF invited Wardle over to address a symposium on conservative Christian approaches to family policy back in 1999, so I suspect his so-called Marriage Law Project and the Maxim Institute share information on a regular basis. And what a surprise- Anthea Nagai and Robert Lerner's MLP hatchet job on pro-gay same-sex parenting research turns up in the latest version of O'Neill's attack on it. Now, I'm definitely one for methodological rigour in social science, which is why it's such fun to dissect the Christian Right on their lack of adequate social scientific and medical protocols in their usual parade of junk science. Control groups, large sample sizes, representative populations as opposed to clinical ones, long-duration studies and lack of inferential jumps mark good social scientific research from Christian Right junk science. Nagai and Lerner criticise pro-gay same-sex parenting research for lacking methodological rigour in this context. Sorry, Maxim. The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute had a look at Nagai and Lerner's critique, and some of the studies that they criticised, as well as Stacey and Biblarz' critique of their critique. In their review of submissions on the subject of same-sex adoption access in Tasmania, TLRI noted that Wardle, Nagai and Lerner hadn't submitted their papers to a peer-reviewed and refereed academic journal for publication. Why not? However, it's certainly done the rounds of the British, Australian and US Christian Rights, as the recommended reading list below notes. Moreover, the TLRI noted that Nagai and Lerner distorted the content and conclusions of pro-gay same-sex parenting research, which did acknowledge its own limitations. It is interesting that the Christian Right isn't as candid when it comes to Lynn Wardle's dependence on Paul Cameron, a discredited source when it comes to same-sex parenting research, or his interesting views on so-called reparative therapy, disavowed by the mainstream American Psychological and Psychiatric Associations. Moreover, Nagai, Lerner and Wardle haven't been cited in mainstream professional journals, according to the influential Web of Science database. After he published his original attack on same-sex parenting, Wardle himself was criticised in the University of Illinois Law Review. Carlos Ball and Janice Pea critiqued his paper, which led to much blustering, but no evidence-based rebuttal from Bruce Logan when he noticed it in "Cutting Edge," "Evidence's" predecessor. It should be noted that the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute saw through the distortions in the "case" against same-sex parenting. It recommended that Tasmania should join Western Australia, which is the only Australian state that provides same-sex adoption rights to date, although the Australian Capital Territory has also expressed recent interest. The Maxim Institute needs to realise that it faces an unfriendly government, professional associations and an internationally networked lesbian and gay community that can deconstruct its flawed arguments quite easily. Unlike the Prostitution Law Reform Act, this will be a more one-sided fight if we prepare properly for it. John O'Neill: "Where is the Government Taking the Family" (7.10.03): http://www.maxim.org.nz/ri/govt  
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