Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fischer: "Underground Railroad" Needed to Rescue Children in Gay Families

[Content note: Homophobia, heterosexism] 
In his essay discussing how confusing and harmful it was for him to have been raised by lesbian parents, Robert Oscar Lopez states that the flawed and widely-critiqued Regnerus study is especially "affirming" to him "because it acknowledges what the gay activist movement has sought laboriously to erase, or at least ignore." His claim is that the "the gay activist movement" is actively trying to hide or ignore the reality that "the children of same-sex couples have a tough road ahead of them" because "being strange is hard" and they don't have both a male and female role model.

In his narrative, Lopez does not acknowledge that a main critique of the Regnerus study was that it was not a study about "the children of same-sex couples" or same-sex parents, but rather, that it was a study of the adult children who reported that their parents had ever had a same-sex relationship while the children were under the age of 18.

Are scholars of the family to now believe that Lopez's story gives Regnerus' study a statistically-significant sample size of "children of same-sex couples"? Does his anecdote somehow bolster the study's conclusions? Can his article be used as though it's a scientific addendum to the study? Does family scholarship methodology in a post-Regnerus era now consist of collecting a buncha anecdotes and calling them "data"?

For those who are using the Regnerus study to confirm their already-held belief that "the children of same-sex couples" fare worse, much worse, than other children, Lopez's narrative will surely ring true. In a vicious domino effect of confirmation bias, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer has used Lopez's essay, which both relied on and supported Regnerus' study, to Tweet that Lopez's story is evidence as to "Why we need an Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households."

So, in addition to groups misusing the Regnerus study in legal actions to deny LGBT people equality, the study is now, however tangentially, being used to incite unlawful kidnapping of children from their families.

Personally, I have always given Regnerus the benefit of the doubt that he did not have bad faith intentions when he published his study, and I continue to do so. I can't read his mind, so I'm not even going to try to explain what was in it. Mostly, I remain perplexed by his actions. When one is purporting to write about a topic as politically-contentious as same-sex households, it is inexplicable to me as to why one might think that their sketchy categorization method would not be scrutinized with resulting blowback and critique, or that groups devoted to attacking and marginalizing same-sex families wouldn't misuse the study.

The actions and words of all of us can have consequences down the line that we cannot anticipate or predict. I think that those in positions of power and influence, on all sides of this debate, have a responsibility to try to be more mindful of that reality.
Same-sex families are constantly under attack and, no matter Regnerus' intentions, his study- and the flawed methodology that he chose to use- enables that.

That Bryan Fischer can incite criminal acts against "children from same-sex households" also demonstrates that, despite so many protestations to the contrary, Americans can say quite a lot about homosexuality, LGBT people, and our families without being arrested and detained by either the PC police or the actual, real police.
That will continue to be the case even if same-sex marriage is legalized throughout the United States. To those who fear otherwise, I wonder.... is what you really want to say more uncivil, more aggressive, and more bigoted than what Bryan Fischer has already said?

[Cross-posted: Family Scholars Blog]

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