Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage Lies and Distortions

On the Minnesota ballot in November is a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage by defining marriage as between one man and one woman. As is always the case when these issues come up a great deal of money is spent by people on both sides of the campaign. One group in favor of the proposed amendment is Minnesota for Marriage which has produced a series of web videos arguing in favor of the proposed amendment. In their latest video they have invoked a recent study that they claim shows that couples raised by homosexual parents do far worse on a variety of measures than children raised by heterosexual parents. Watch the video, and then I will discuss a fallacy committed by it.

The primary fallacy committed in this video is the Suppression of Relevant Data. In particular, the actual results of the study are seriously misrepresented in the video. In particular, what the video fails to mention is that the study does not actually compare children raised by heterosexual parents with children raised by homosexual parents. Instead, it is a study of children raised in families where one of the parents engaged in a same-sex affair, often resulting in the destruction of the that family unit. In particular, the study only looks at children born between 1971 and 1994, a period when gay marriage was illegal. The study then looks at marriages in which at least one of the partners had homosexual tendencies that they suppressed in order to lead a "normal" life. As is no surprise, for many of these people the burdens of a sham marriage and the pressures to hide their true desires led them to act out in various ways that were destructive of that marriage; a destruction that naturally had negative impacts on the children born of that union. In effect then, what the study shows is that children from broken households do worse than children from intact households, a conclusion that should surprise no one. The study is criticized in Slate by William Saletan who does a good job pointing out the methodological issues with the study that lead groups like Minnesota for Marriage to misrepresent the results of the study. Saletan concludes by suggesting that what the study really shows is that:
Kids do better when they have two committed parents, a biological connection, and a stable home. If that’s good advice for straights, it’s good advice for gays, too.
This seems accurate, but that is a point that Minnesota for Marriage ignores by suppressing the actual details of the study in order to draw their own ideological conclusions.

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