Amicus Brief for the American College of Pediatricians and Family Watch International in Support of Respondents (Opposing Redefining Marriage to Include Couples of the Same Sex), Obergefell v. Hodges, Supreme Court of the United States, 2015
69 Pages Posted: 5 May 2021
Date Written: April 1, 2015
Despite being certified by almost all major social science scholarly associations—indeed, in part because of this—the alleged scientific consensus that having two parents of the same sex is innocuous for child well-being is almost wholly without basis. All but a handful of the studies cited in support draw on small, non-random samples which cannot be extrapolated to the same-sex population at large. This limitation is repeatedly acknowledged in scientific meetings and journals, but ignored when asserted as settled findings in public or judicial advocacy.
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. The longer social scientists study the question, the more evidence of harm is found.
In analyzing the questions presented, special consideration must be given to the states’ interests in the well-being of children, who are uniquely vulnerable and have little recourse against harm. Given the mounting evidence of harmful outcomes in children raised in households with same-sex parents, state laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex partners have a rational basis, and it would be imprudent to restrict the states from limiting marriage to opposite-sex partners for the well-being of children. At the same time, this outcome does not preclude the states from continuing to explore alternative resolutions to the conflicted and difficult question of how best to support same-sex couples and their children.
Keywords: child outcomes, same-sex parents, same-sex marriage
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