Monday, March 13, 2017

Once again the bishops attack gay people, their parenting and their marriages

On Saturday the Catholic bishops use their Marriage Unique for a Reason site to again attack gay people. I suppose that the men who comprise the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops think that there is a subtlety to all of this. However, the message is clear. Gay couples are inept parents and, therefore, should not be permitted to marry.

What remains unclear is the purpose for this message which is intended for a Catholic audience. Are they trying to arm the faithful with arguments for what is a settled issue? Are they trying to convince gay Catholics not to marry? Or, perhaps, do they simply have too much time on their hands and need a hobby?
We finish this series on Made for Life with a clip of Katie and Pete talking about the way that marriage provides the “perfect” setting to raise a child. It takes a man and a woman to bring a new human being into the world. Two men or two women simply cannot do this. So if sexual difference is the basic necessity for conceiving a child, then it makes sense that sexual difference would also be important for raising that child. A mother and a father bring balance and ensure that children always have one person similar to and one persondifferent from them to look up to.
Simply stated, according to the pampered prelates, if it takes a man and a woman to make a baby then it takes a man and woman to raise a child. Well, no, that's not true. There are, for example, children of single parents who do just fine. At least one has been President of the United States. For over a decade, now, peer-reviewed research published to respected academic journals has consistently and repeatedly demonstrated that the children raised by gay couples are at least as healthy, happy and well adjusted as kids raised in “traditional” families.

It also seems fair to ask; if the research doesn't count then what do the bishops contribute to our understanding of child rearing? They are unmarried and ambitious celibate men — theologians who have not been in relationships and have not raised children. Some of them are quite neurotic. Advancing in the hierarchy of the Church is not, in any way, dependent upon parenting skills. How is it that they speak with authority without having to offer evidence that they know anything about the subject?

A child’s “first right” is to “be born in a real family,” that is, to be born to his or her own father and mother, bonded in marriage1. Protecting this right is a matter of social justice. As the bishops have taught, “To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice. In fact, it would be a grave injustice if the state ignored the unique and proper place of husbands and wives, the place of mothers and fathers, and especially the rights of children, who deserve from society clear guidance as they grow to sexual maturity.”2
So a gay couple with children is not a “real” family? Apparently the bishops have also redefined the concepts of left, right, up and down as they manage to decry that marriage discrimination is social justice. And let us back up for a moment. The bishops are making arguments for the teachings of the Church after the fact. All of this disingenuous noise and misdirection is expected to excuse and defend dogma that is based on ancient texts. The bishops know those ancient texts by heart. Social science? Not so much.
It is sometimes claimed that what really matters for a child is the presence of any two loving, committed adults, regardless of their sex/gender. But there are major problems with this assertion. First, two men or two women are physically incapable of having a child together. Nothing they do can change this fact. Instead, two people of the same sex must either attempt to adopt a child or contract with a “third party” egg or sperm donor who contributes one-half of the child’s genetic material. This means that placing a child in the care of two men or two women deliberately separates that child from his or her father or mother in every single case. Then, those children are further denied the benefit of witnessing a healthy relationship between a father and mother and the experience of the parental love of either a man or a woman. Children deserve better.
Again, they are stating the obvious that gay couples cannot crank out kids. That is unrelated to the quality of parenting. Then they are claiming — yet again — that children raised by gay couples are somehow disadvantaged. Where are the footnotes for that? Surely there must be a study that they can cite. No? Even they do not dare assert that their position is supported by Mark Regnerus' research although Regnerus is a zealous Catholic convert. I am sure that Dr. Paul Sullins at Catholic University has something that they can cite without noting the fact that Sullins is a Catholic priest. Perhaps they can find something helpful from the tiny American College of Pediatricians, a Christian organization that SPLC labels a hate group.

Columbia University did a review of 79 studies. They have identified 75 studies confirming the fact that children raised by gay couples fare as well as those raised by opposite-sex parents. They further identified four studies that are outliers. The authors of those four studies are Mark Regnerus, Father Paul Sullins, Paul Allen and a 1996 study by Sotirios Sarantakos published to an obscure Australian journal3.

Paul Allen is not a social scientist. He is a Canadian economist and a fierce defender of the faith. His study was done in conjunction with another economist at Ave Maria University. Sotirios Sarantakos is (or possibly was) an adjunct professor at Charles Sturt University in Australia. Adjuncts are non-tenured and not on a tenure path. Charles Sturt University is in Australia's third or fourth tier.  Sarantakos obviously studied unmarried gay couples in 1996. A link to the full study no longer exists so I am unable to evaluate or even discern the methodology.

For more information on three of the outliers (Sullins was omitted) click on the link in footnote 3 which is from expert testimony in the Michigan Marriage case.

1 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 244.
2 Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, 22.  
3 According to expert witness testimony in the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder.

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