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Sen. Franken Torpedoes Anti-Gay Testimony In DOMA Hearing

July 20, 2011 12:53 pm ET by Brian Powell

Senate Republicans invited Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery to testify against the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. With his first question, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) immediately torpedoed any semblance of credibility Minnery's testimony may have garnered by bluntly highlighting the fact that Minnery had mischaracterized a Department of Health and Human Services study in order to make a case against same-sex marriage.

Minnery was there representing a group that, among many anti-gay positions, opposes "efforts to specifically protect gay kids from bullying because those programs promote acceptance of homosexuality as normal." His testimony followed a similar vein:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains in its new and exhaustive report, Family Structure and Children's Health in the United States: Findings from the National Health Interview Survey, 2001-2007, that children living with their own married biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to healthcare, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and almost never live in poverty, compared with children in any other family form.

In fact, in all the ways we know how to measure child well-being, having a married mother and father is consistently shown to be the ideal family form across all important measures. And as I will point out next, no reliable data indicates that same-sex parenting comes anywhere close to rivaling married mothers and fathers for optimum child well-being outcomes.

Franken read Minnery's written testimony aloud, declaring sardonically that the report "actually doesn't say what you said it says." The study cites the benefits of children living in nuclear families, defined as "one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another." It does not, despite Minnery's portrayal of the study, mention the sex of the married couples, leaving Franken to ponder, "I frankly don't really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony."

Watch:

FRANKEN: Mr. Minnery, on page 8 of your written testimony, you write, quote, "children living in their own married biological or adoptive -- with their own biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to healthcare, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and almost never live in poverty, compared with children in any other family form."

You cite a Department of Health and Human Services study that I have right here, from December 2010, to support this conclusion. I checked the study out. And I would like to enter it into the record if I may.

And it actually doesn't say what you said it says. It says that nuclear families, not opposite sex married families, are associated with those positive outcomes. Isn't it true, Mr. Minnery, that a married same sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?

MINNERY: I would think that the study, when it cites nuclear families, would mean a family headed by a husband and wife.

FRANKEN: It doesn't. The study defines a nuclear family as 'one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family. And I frankly, don't really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways.




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