Full response from traditional marriage advocate, Katy Faust

“Thank you for the chance to respond. I am attempting to compile the results of many thousands of international studies during a short layover while I have internet. There is so much social science research now out on this that entire books have been written just to try to summarise the available data. Here are just some of them. You have an important role as fact checkers and the resources below might be good items to have on hand, especially on recurring topics such as this.

  • Blackenhorn, David, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem. New York: Basic Books, 1995.
  • Christensen, Bryce, ed., When Families Fail…. The Social Costs. Lanham, MD.: The University Press of America, 1991.
  • O’Neill, Rebecca, Does Marriage Matter? London: Civitas, 2004. Doherty, William, et. al., Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-One Conclusions from the Social Sciences. New York: Institute for American Values, 2002.
  • Horn, Wade and Tom Sylvester, Father Facts, 5th ed. Gaithersburg, MD.: National Fatherhood Initiative, 2007.
  • Logan, Bruce, Waking Up to Marriage. Auckland: Maxim Institute, 2004. Maher, Bridget, ed., The Family Portrait: A Compilation of Data, Research and Public Opinion on the Family, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: Family Research Council, 2002, 2004.
  • Stanton, Glenn, Why Marriage Matters. Colorado Springs: Pinon Press, 1997. Waite, Linda and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage. New York: Doubleday, 2000.

Thousands of studies are featured in these volumes. I cannot repeat them all here obviously. Assuming you have a budget for resources, why not acquire some of these important research volumes?

Because my time here is about over, let me just offer a few quick things here, and upon my return I can send through more. Australian author Bill Muehlenberg, an Aussie, has summarised the mountain of data on the case for married heterosexual families and how children fare in such households.

Dozens of references, up to the time of that writing, can be found there.

The shortcoming of studies on same-sex parenting have been documented frequently, and indeed admitted by the very authors of those studies in almost every case, though the limitations are rarely reported within media. Feel free to examine any study, for example the large study Australia Child Health in Same Sex Families last year, which states their method using "convenience” samples, rather than randomly derived participants.

Here’s a summary on the finding of same-sex parenting studies thus far:

Of the several dozen extant studies on same-sex parenting in the past two decades, only eight have used a random sample large enough to find evidence of lower well-being for children with same-sex parents if it exists. Of these eight, the four most recent studies, by Dr. Mark Regnerus, Dr. Douglas Allen and two by Dr. Paul Sullins, report substantial and pertinent negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents. The four earlier studies, by Dr. Michael Rosenfeld and three by Dr. Jennifer Wainright and colleagues, find no differences for children with same-sex parents because, due to errors in file coding and analysis, a large portion of their samples actually consists of children with heterosexual parents.

When the sample used by Wainright’s three studies is corrected of this error and re-analyzed, these data also show negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents similar to those reported by Regnerus and Sullins. More importantly, they also show substantially worse outcomes for children who have lived an average of ten years with same-sex parents who are married than for those who have lived only four years, on average, with unmarried same-sex parents. At this time, the three largest statistically representative datasets used to address the question—Regnerus’s New Family Structures Survey, with 3,000 cases; the National Health Interview Survey, with 1.6 million cases; and the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, with 20,000 cases—have all found that children with same-sex parents fare substantially worse—most measures show at least twice the level of distress— than do children with opposite-sex parents on a range of psychological, developmental and emotional outcomes.“ – Submission to the US Supreme Court by the American College of Pediatricians and Family Watch International.

On the Married Mother/Father home being the structure that most stacks the deck in favour of kids, some studies are below. Again, because I’ve done all this in transit with spotty wifi, and because there is so much material on this, this list is going to be incomplete. But here is one article that give a summary followed by several links to articles and research.

Another from left-leaning Child Trends:

[I]t is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development [emphasis in original]. [R]esearch clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabitating relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes than do children in intact families headed by two biological parents. There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.” Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How does family structure effect children and what can we do about it?

In addition, because I have it on hand, let me simply offer some excerpts from one chapter of a book mentioned above by Bill Muehlenberg, Strained Relations:

  • A study (Sotirios Sarantakos , “Children in Three Contexts,” Children Australia, vol. 21, no. 3, 1996, pp. 23-31.) of Australian primary school children from three family types (married heterosexual couples, cohabiting heterosexual couples and homosexual couples) found that in every area of educational endeavour (language; mathematics; social studies; sport; class work, sociability and popularity; and attitudes to learning), children from married heterosexual couples performed the best, while children from homosexual couples performed the worst. The study concludes with these words: “[M]arried couples seem to offer the best environment for a child’s social and educational development”.

  • A major American study (Paul Cameron, “Homosexual parents testing ‘common sense’ – A literature review emphasizing the Golombok and Tasker longitudinal study of lesbians’ children,” Psychological Reports, 85, 1999, p. 282.) arrived at these conclusions: “children of homosexuals will 1) be more frequently subjected to parental instability (of residence and sexual partners) and 2) have poorer peer and adult relationships. Also, as is held to be true of their parents, homosexuals’ children will be more apt to 3) become homosexual, 4) be unstable (have emotional problems and difficulty forming lasting bonds) with reduced interest in natality, and 5) be sexually precocious and promiscuous”.

  • On studies that show “no difference” between same-sex headed households and that of the married/mother/father household, most studies purporting to show that children raised in same-sex households do as well as other children have been roundly criticised for methodological shortcomings. One meta-analysis of 49 such studies found a number of methodological flaws. These include the lack of any proper hypothesis statement, the problem of affirming the null hypothesis, the lack of proper comparison groups, the problem of measurement error and probability, neglect of extraneous variables, and so on. (Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai, Out of Nothing Comes Nothing: Homosexual and Heterosexual Marriage Not Shown to be Equivalent for Raising Children. Washington: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2000.) Two US researchers (David Demo and Martha Cox, “Families with young children: A review of research in the 1990s,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, Nov. 2000, pp. 876-895, at p. 889.), after examining the available data, said that “studies on same-sex parenting are plagued with persistent limitation[s]”. They conclude their study with these words: “we cannot be confident concerning the generalizability of many of the findings”.

  • Another expert, sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia, who claims to be agnostic on the question of same-sex marriage and the like, has also analysed the literature on homosexual parenting. He came up with these conclusions: “1) all of the studies I reviewed contained at least one flaw of design or execution; and 2) not a single one of those studies was conducted according to general accepted standards of scientific research.” (Steven Nock, Affidavit to the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice regarding Hedy Halpren et al., 2001.)

  • The simple truth is, there exists a mountain of social science research which demonstrates that children do best when raised in a biological, two-parent household, cemented by marriage. The evidence is so overwhelming that the reader is advised to look at recent summaries of the data. (See, for example, my two research papers, “The Benefits of Marriage” (Melbourne, 2004), and “The Case for the Two-Parent Family” (Melbourne 2004).

  • One American study of 19,000 young people conducted by the Bowling Green State University (Ohio) found that teens fare best when living with two married biological parents: “Adolescents in married, two-biological-parent families generally fare better than children in any of the family types examined here, including single-mother, cohabiting stepfather, and married stepfather families. The advantage of marriage appears to exist primarily when the child is the biological offspring of both parents. Our findings are consistent with previous work, which demonstrates children in cohabiting stepparent families fare worse than children living with two married, biological parents.” (Wendy Manning and Kathleen Lamb, “Adolescent well-being in cohabiting, married, and single-parent families,” Journal of Marriage and Family, vol. 65, no. 4, November 2003, pp. 876-893, at p. 890.)

  • Another large-scale American study (Yongmin Sun, “The well-being of adolescents in households with no biological parents,” Journal of Marriage and Family, vol. 65, no. 4, November 2003, pp. 894-909, at p. 894.) found that there are “overall disadvantages” in not living with both biological parents. The author concludes, “My analyses have clearly demonstrated some overall disadvantages of living with neither parent. Among adolescents from all six family types, those in non-biological-parent families appear to rank the lowest in academic performance, educational aspiration, and locus of control. Further, they appear to fare less well in the remaining outcome areas (self-esteem, behavior problems, and cigarette smoking).”

As two family experts and child psychologists put it:

While a compassionate and caring society always comes to the aid of motherless and fatherless families, a wise and loving society never intentionally creates fatherless or motherless families. But that is exactly what every same-sex family does and for no other reason than adults desire such families. No child-development theory says children need parents of the same gender – as loving as they might be – but rather that children need their mother and father. (Stanton and Maier, Ibid., pp. 70-71.)“


A follow-up email was sent to The Conversation by Donald Paul Sullins from the Catholic University of America, citing the following sources to support Ms Faust’s assertions:

  • Sullins, Donald Paul, Emotional Problems among Children with Same-Sex Parents: Difference by Definition (January 25, 2015). British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science
  • Sullins, Donald Paul, The Unexpected Harm of Same-Sex Marriage: A Critical Appraisal, Replication and Re-Analysis of Wainright and Patterson’s Studies of Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents (August 2015).
  • Schumm, W. 2010. "Comparative Relationship Stability of Lesbian Mother and Heterosexual Mother Families: A Review of Evidence,” Marriage and Family Review 46: 499-509
  • A 2003 review of them by the Washington Times, a conservative US newspaper.
  • Finneran, C., Stephenson, R. 2012. “Intimate Partner Violence Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Systematic Review,” Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 14: 168-185.)
  • Rosenfeld MJ. Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress through School. Demography. 2010;47(3):755–75 and Allen D. High school graduation rates among children of same-sex households. Rev Econ Househ. 2013;11(4):635–58.
  • Wainright JL, Russell ST, Patterson CJ. Psychosocial adjustment, school outcomes, and romantic relationships of adolescents with same-sex parents. Child Dev. 2004;75(6):1886-98.
  • Wainright JL, Patterson CJ. Delinquency, victimization, and substance use among adolescents with female same-sex parents. J Fam Psychol. 2006;20(3): 526–30.
  • Wainright JL, Patterson CJ. Peer relations among adolescents with female same-sex parents. Dev Psychol. 2008;44(1):117.
  • Sullins, Donald Paul, Bias in Recruited Sample Research on Children with Same-Sex Parents Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (January 10, 2015). Journal of Scientific Research & Reports 5(5): 375-387, 201
  • The report to the US Congress from the National Incidence Study (Number 4) in 2010, a periodic surveillance of child physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
  • Study titled “Family Structure and Children’s Health” based on the National Health Interview Survey.

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