Post article uncritically reports Focus on the Family canard that "research says children do best with a married mother and father"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In an article about the legal battle over adoptions by same-sex couples, The Denver Post uncritically reported the dubious claim by Focus on the Family that "research says children do best with a married mother and father." In fact, "[n]ot a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged ... relative to children of heterosexual parents," according to the American Psychological Association.

A November 16 Denver Post article about laws governing adoptions by same-sex couples uncritically reported the dubious contention of Focus on the Family spokeswoman Carrie Gordon Earll that "[t]he social science research says children do best with a married mother and father."

In fact, as Colorado Media Matters has noted (here and here), the American Psychological Association (APA) concluded in a 2005 study of lesbian and gay parenting that "[n]ot a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents." The study also said that "the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth."

The Post article, by Bruce Finley, reported on a case before the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit regarding a 2004 Oklahoma law "that would ban state officials from recognizing a same-sex adoption." After noting that "Colorado voters just amended their constitution to [define marriage as between a man and a woman]" -- a reference to Amendment 43, approved in the November 7 election -- the article reported Earll's views on same-sex parenting. According to the Post:

Colorado-based Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group, opposes gay adoption, said its spokeswoman, Carrie Earll.

"Are we advancing a bill to ban it? Not now," she said.

A core part of the battle over marriage rights is "whether same-sex parenting is best for children. The social science research says children do best with a married mother and father," she said. "We shouldn't tinker with what we know works."

However, the APA summary of research, "Lesbian and Gay Parenting," by Charlotte J. Patterson, Ph.D., concluded that "there is no evidence to suggest that lesbian women or gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of lesbian women or gay men is compromised relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents." The summary further concluded:

Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth.

The APA publication included an extensive annotated bibliography containing 148 entries in the following categories:

  • Empirical studies specifically related to lesbian and gay parents and their children
  • Empirical studies generally related to the fitness of lesbians and gay men as parents
  • Reviews of empirical studies specifically related to lesbian and gay parents and their children
  • Reviews of empirical studies generally related to the fitness of lesbians and gay men as parents
  • Legal reviews
  • Case studies and popular works related to lesbian and gay parenting
  • Theoretical and conceptual examinations related to lesbian and gay parenting

From Finley's November 16 Denver Post article, "Court in Denver to rule on gay adoption":

Oklahoma officials this week launched a legal push to uphold the Adoption Invalidation Law, passed in 2004, that would ban state officials from recognizing a same-sex adoption.

Same-sex couples anywhere with legally adopted children would lose their status as parents when inside Oklahoma -- meaning doctors, educators, police and others would treat them legally as strangers.

A federal judge in Oklahoma struck down the law in May.

Oklahoma officials have appealed, and now the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals must decide whether to affirm the lower court's decision -- setting a precedent in what is emerging as a hot legal issue nationwide. The appeals court heard arguments in the case this week.

[...]

Adoption rights vary by state. Florida prohibits adoption by homosexuals. In Colorado, individuals can adopt, and same-sex partners can petition for parental rights.

Now amid efforts to define marriage as between a man and a woman -- Colorado voters just amended their constitution to do this -- some gay-rights activists are bracing for legislative assaults on parental rights.

[...]

Colorado-based Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group, opposes gay adoption, said its spokeswoman, Carrie Earll.

"Are we advancing a bill to ban it? Not now," she said.

A core part of the battle over marriage rights is "whether same-sex parenting is best for children. The social science research says children do best with a married mother and father," she said. "We shouldn't tinker with what we know works."

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