Equality Matters

Fox Invites Hate Group President Tony Perkins To Continue His Anti-Gay Misinformation Campaign

April 27, 2011 10:39 am ET - by Carlos Maza

On Sunday, Fox and Friends invited Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC) – designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – to debate with Faith In America spokesman Bernard Whitman over an Arizona bill that would give married heterosexual couples preference over same-sex couples when adopting children.

The debate eventually devolved into an argument about whether gay and lesbian couples could effectively raise children with both sides citing a number of “studies” they claimed validated their positions:

It’s no surprise that Perkins isn’t telling the truth, but it’s important to know what exactly is wrong about what he’s preaching on national television:

Most importantly, studies do exist that show same-sex parents are just as effective as heterosexual parents in raising children. In fact, a literature review done the American Psychological Association in 2005 concluded that there is “no empirical foundation” for the claim that gay and lesbian couples make unfit parents and found that “lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children”:

[B]eliefs that lesbian and gay adults are not fit parents have no empirical foundation (Patterson, 2000, 2004a; Perrin, 2002). Lesbian and heterosexual women have not been found to differ markedly in their approaches to child rearing (Patterson, 2000; Tasker, 1999). Members of gay and lesbian couples with children have been found to divide the work involved in childcare evenly, and to be satisfied with their relationships with their partners (Patterson, 2000, 2004a). The results of some studies suggest that lesbian mothers' and gay fathers' parenting skills may be superior to those of matched heterosexual parents. There is no scientific basis for concluding that lesbian mothers or gay fathers are unfit parents on the basis of their sexual orientation (Armesto, 2002; Patterson, 2000; Tasker & Golombok, 1997). On the contrary, results of research suggest that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.

Second, Perkins is likely citing studies that compare married heterosexual couples to unmarried or single heterosexual parents. This is a tactic frequently adopted by right-wing family groups (and most recently the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher while under oath). According to Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology and of Gender and Sexuality at New York University:

According to the child protection discourse that Professor Wardle, Maggie Gallagher, and others deploy, social science research demonstrates that legalizing same-sex marriage poses dangers to children and families… In particular, claims that research establishes the superiority of the married heterosexual-couple family and that children need a mother and a father conflate and confuse research findings on four distinct variables - the sexual orientation, gender, number, and the marital status of parents… Unfortunately, opponents of same-sex marriage, like Maggie Gallagher and Professor Wardle, and even some advocates, draw selectively, indiscriminately, and inappropriately from research findings about all four variables to address questions the studies were not designed to, and are not able, to illuminate. [University School of Quinnipiac Law Review, via Lexis, 2004]

This is especially likely if you consider the source; The FRC has a history of pushing discredited and inaccurate “research” in order to demonize the LGBT community and fight against LGBT equality. In fact, it’s what landed them on the SPLC’s list of hate groups in the first place. According to SPLC:

The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Case in point, Perkins points to a “current” Australian study that he claims demonstrates children raised in same-sex households are worse off than those raised by heterosexual parents.  Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to refute this study since, as Alvin McEwen at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters notes, “Perkins didn't give an[y] pertinent details as to when this study was published or who published it.”

FRC has, however, frequently cited a 1996 study conducted by Australian sociologist Dr. Sotirios Sarantakos which they claim found that children of same-sex couples performed worse than children of married heterosexual couples in a number of academic and social categories. Dr. Sarantakos later clarified, however, that the difference in performance was likely a result of anti-gay prejudice and not some failure on the part of the parents:

It is difficult to accept that living in a family environment that is condemned by the community, in which homosexuals and their children are subjected to discrimination, disadvantage, negative criticism, humiliation, harassment, embarrassment, exclusion, hostility, injustice and media bashing, offers as good a place to grow as that of heterosexual relationships.

The irony is almost insufferable. Tony Perkins is warning people about the dangers of same-sex parenting by citing studies that warn people about the dangers of Tony Perkins.

Previously:

Tony Perkins Still Can’t Let Go Of DADT

Boehner Launches DOMA Defense To The Delight Of Anti-Gay Hate Groups

Bachmann Working “Hand-In-Hand” With Anti-Gay Hate Group

Copyright © 2010 Equality Matters. All rights reserved.