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Not Letting Facts Get in the Way of Same-Sex Marriage

Hype Overshadows Scientific Data

MADRID, Spain, NOV. 8, 2004 (Zenit) - The battle over same-sex "marriage" rages on. In the United States, Tuesday's elections saw voters in 11 states overwhelmingly support amendments to their state constitutions to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. And in Canada the pros and cons of same-sex marriage are being argued before the Supreme Court.

In Spain the Socialist government unveiled draft legislation to legalize same-sex marriages and to allow adoption by homosexual couples, Reuters reported Oct. 1. The law would make Spain the third country to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium.

A characteristic of the debate over same-sex marriage in Spain was the manipulation of data and false statistics used to justify the legislation. Many, including official government figures, affirmed that homosexuals constitute up to 10% of the population. The local news agency EFE, along with other media, repeatedly affirmed that Spain has around 4 million homosexuals, according to a report published Sept. 30 by the Web site


Yet, official data published by Spain's national statistical office, Instituto Nacional de Estadística, tells another story. According to a report Aug. 5 in the newspaper La Razón, out of approximately 11 million family units in Spain, only 10,400 are made up of homosexual couples, a mere 0.09% of the total.

Data from Canada also point to a low percentage of homosexuals. According to the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey, carried out by Statistics Canada, around 1% of the population identified themselves as homosexual, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported June 16. Another 0.7% of the population considered themselves bisexual.

Canada's total population as of January was 31.7 million. To calculate the number of homosexuals, Statistics Canada surveyed more than 83,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 59.

Commenting on the report and the pressures to legalize same-sex marriage, Derek Rogusky, vice president of family policy for Focus on the Family Canada, said: "I think that when we're talking about changing something so fundamental to our society, as I believe marriage is, just for the sake of really such a small handful of individuals, I think it causes us to stop and pause and think about that."

The number of homosexuals was also dealt with in a 2004 book published in the United States. In "Outrage," its author Peter Sprigg, director of research for the Family Research Council's Center for Marriage and Family Studies, noted that the 10% figure continues to be a commonly cited statistic.

Yet, this claim is not backed up by any scientific study, he said. In fact, a legal brief by a coalition of homosexual groups in a 2003 legal case admits that the percentage of people who declare themselves homosexuals or bisexuals ranges from 2.8% for males to 1.4% among females. The brief was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Lawrence v. Texas.

The source used in the brief is the National Health and Social Life Survey. Looking further into the data in the survey, Sprigg found that only 0.9% of men, and 0.4% of women, reported having only same-sex partners since age 18. Moreover, the 2000 census found that same-sex households accounted for only 0.99% of the total number of households headed by couples.

Sprigg explained that the 10% myth springs in part from research carried out by Alfred Kinsey, which has since been discredited for its shoddy statistical methods. Kinsey himself is on record as saying that he considered that only around 4% of white males are exclusively homosexual.

Adoption studies discredited

Another claim put forward in Spain regarded the question of adoption by same-sex couples. The Reuters report of Oct. 1 quoted the country's deputy prime minister, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, as saying: "There are already thousands of children in Spain who live with homosexual parents ... more than 50 studies agree that there are no differences among children who grow up in homes with homosexual parents."

No further information was given on what studies were involved. But a 2001 report published in the United States by the Marriage Law Project and the Ethics and Public Policy Center evaluated 49 studies on homosexual parenting. Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai, experts in the field of quantitative analysis, in "No Basis: What the Studies Don't Tell Us About Same-Sex Parenting," observed that the studies have often been used to "prove" that it a child is not adversely affected when brought up by two parents of the same sex.

However, the authors conclude that this "proof" is nonexistent and that "the studies on which such claims are based are all gravely deficient." Among the deficiencies were unclear hypotheses, missing or inadequate comparison groups, invalid measurements, non-random samples, samples too small to yield meaningful results, and missing or inadequate analysis. For example, 21 of the studies had no heterosexual control group at all.

More recently, on Feb. 27, the Washington-based Institute for Marriage and Public Policy published a policy brief entitled "Do Mothers and Fathers Matter? The Social Science Evidence on Marriage and Child Well-Being." Written by Maggie Gallagher and Joshua Baker the brief observes:

"While scholars continue to disagree about the size of the marital advantage and the mechanisms by which it is conferred, the weight of social science evidence strongly supports the idea that family structure matters and that the family structure that is most protective of child well-being is the intact, biological, married family."

Nevertheless, the brief notes that advocates of adoption-by-homosexuals continue to affirm that same-sex couples will make good parents. A case in point is a 2003 article written by Mary Bonauto, counsel for the plaintiffs in the Massachusetts marriage litigation. "Child-rearing experts in the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association insist that the love and commitment of two parents is most critical for children -- not the parents' sex or sexual orientation," she wrote.

But, point out Gallagher and Baker, at least three scientific reviews have pointed to the serious scientific limitations of the social science literature on gay parenting. Information on one of these comes from testimony by Steven Nock, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who was asked to review several hundred studies as an expert witness for the attorney general of Canada.

Nock observed: "Through this analysis I draw my conclusions that 1) all of the articles I reviewed contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution; and 2) not a single one of those studies was conducted according to general accepted standards of scientific research."

Gallagher and Baker added that the vast majority of studies used to defend same-sex parenting compare single lesbian mothers to single heterosexual mothers. Thus, in both cases the families are without fathers. As such, they cannot be used to contradict the weight of many other studies that show that a family headed by a married father and mother is the best option for children.

John Paul II, in a Sept. 4 address to Canada's new ambassador to the Holy See, noted that attempts to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples "contradict right reason" and create "a false understanding of the nature of marriage." Words that proved only too true in the recent debate in Spain.


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