Tag Archives: gay parenting

Is Intellectual Honesty Too Much to Expect?

Okay, that’s a rhetorical question.

After Governor Pence responded to the decision striking down DOMA, citizens who disagreed with him flooded his Facebook page. Their comments were removed; when asked about that, Pence said the comments had been “uncivil” and profane. As the media has reported, screenshots proved otherwise. Evidently, our governor is too thin-skinned to engage in good faith with those holding opinions different from his own, so his staff simply erased them.

That’s a relatively minor–and all too predictable– example, however. What really caught my eye was an Op-Ed penned by Curt Smith in yesterday’s Star–a counter to the Star’s surprisingly excellent editorial.

Curt Smith, for those who are unfamiliar with his background, is a longtime local culture warrior. I first met him when I was the ‘token heterosexual’ in a group that visited the offices of Senator Dan Coats to express concerns about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” This was during Coats’ first term, and Smith was his AA. Smith met with the group–Coats did not–and spent most of the uncomfortable half-hour telling us that God disapproved of homosexuality.

Let’s just stipulate that it wasn’t a productive meeting.

My other illuminating Curt Smith story occurred when the Jewish Community Relations Council convened a community-wide meeting at the Jewish Community Center, to determine whether the organization should take a formal position on the effort to place a ban on same-sex marriage in the Indiana Constitution. The session began with a panel discussion; David Orentleicher and I argued that a position opposing the Amendment and supporting same-sex marriage was consistent with Jewish values. Curt Smith and someone I don’t recall spoke in opposition. During the lively question and answer period that followed, Rabbi Dennis Sasso spoke eloquently about the importance of separation of church and state, and made several biblical references to justice and equality. Curt Smith responded by telling Rabbi Sasso that he had misunderstood the biblical text, and he offered to send the Rabbi “biblical scholarship” that would straighten him out.

I’ve never forgotten that exchange. It was one of the most arrogant and offensive things I’ve ever seen.

Arrogance is one thing, however, and dishonesty is another. In his column yesterday, Smith wrote the following:

A 2012 study published in a well-known academic journal, Social Science Research, showed children raised by lesbian or gay parents fared worse than children of straight parents when it came to education, mental health, criminal history and other measures. The study looked at a large, random sample of young adults over age 18.

Well, not exactly. If you consult the actual publication, you get a significantly different, and far more nuanced, set of conclusions. The study did find slight advantages enjoyed by children of  non-divorced heterosexual families over those of non-separated homosexual parents. However, this result was qualified because the researcher did not have a sufficient number of children from the latter group to allow her to draw statistically-significant conclusions.  She also did not control for adoption. (A number of studies find that adopted children and biological children have different experiences and thus outcomes that are statistically different.) Furthermore, several scholars commented with concerns about aspects of the study’s statistical methods, and the author readily conceded the legitimacy of those methodological concerns. The study’s basic conclusion? “This probability study suggests considerable diversity among same-sex parents.”
Well, yes.
Most research has found little or no difference between the children of gay and straight parents. Perhaps those studies are wrong. On the other hand, as more states recognize same-sex marriages, and those families have the same social supports that heterosexuals enjoy, such differences as exist may well disappear. I don’t know, and neither does Curt Smith.
But whatever the evidence ultimately shows, honest people will deal with it. Dishonest ideologues will lie about it.