It took a while for President Barack Obama to find his voice on LGBT equality. But his voice is now a full-throated roar, and he has emerged as the “fierce advocate” that he promised to be during his initial campaign. The implications of the President’s involvement in the Prop 8 marriage case are enormous.
Attorney and LGBT advocate Richard Socarides writes:
Thursday night, just hours before a filing deadline, President Obama’s Justice Department submitted an amicus curiae brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8—California’s gay-marriage ban. Even more importantly, it did so by asserting a bold claim to full equality for gay and lesbian Americans, which is a significant development in the nation’s rapidly moving consideration of the issue.Some of the arguments in Obama’s brief are particular to California, or to states that have full domestic-partnership or civil-union laws. California, it says provides to same-sex couples registered as domestic partners all the legal incidents of marriage, but it nonetheless denies them the designation of marriage allowed to their opposite-sex counterparts. Particularly in those circumstances, the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage does not substantially further any important governmental interest. Proposition 8 thus violates equal protection.
Importantly, however, the Administration goes on to say that any legislative classifications based upon sexual orientation—like laws that limit marriage to heterosexuals—in order to be justified constitutionally, should be subject to a standard of review known as “heightened scrutiny.”
Meanwhile, anew California field poll finds that 61% of residents support marriage equality, while 32% oppose it. The only groups that are non-supportive: Republicans, strong conservatives, moderate conservatives and tea-partiers. Groups where the majority are supportive: ALL age groups, ALL parts of the state, Democrats, non-partisan voters, men, women, whites, Latinos, blacks, other racial groups, political middle-of-the-roaders, moderate liberals, strong liberals, married people, divorced people, never-married people.
Finally, as John Becker reports and Alvin McEwen dissects, the American Sociological Association filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8. In it, the ASA destroys the infamous Mark Regnerus sham study, which maligns gay parents, in its brief (pgs. 26-29):
First, the Regnerus study does not specifically examine children born or adopted into same-sex parent families, but instead examines children who, from the time they were born until they were 18 or moved out, had a parent who at any time had “a same-sex romantic relationship.” . As Regnerus noted, the majority of the individuals characterized by him as children of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” were the offspring of failed opposite- sex unions whose parent subsequently had a same-sex relationship. In other words, Regnerus did not study or analyze the children of two same-sex parents.
Second, when the Regnerus study compared the children of parents who at one point had a “same-sex romantic relationship,” most of whom had experienced a family dissolution or single motherhood, to children raised by two biological, married opposite-sex parents, the study stripped away all divorced, single, and stepparent families from the opposite-sex group, leaving only stable, married, opposite-sex families as the comparison. . . Thus, it was hardly surprising that the opposite-sex group had better outcomes given that stability is a key predictor of positive child wellbeing. By so doing, the Regnerus study makes inappropriate apples-to-oranges comparisons.
Third, Regnerus’s first published analysis of his research data failed to consider whether the children lived with, or were raised by, the parent who was, at some point, apparently involved in “a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex” and that same-sex partner. Instead, Regnerus categorized children as raised by a parent in a same-sex romantic relationship regardless of whether they were in fact raised by the parent and the parent’s same-sex romantic partner and regardless of the amount of time that they spent under the parent’s care. As a result, so long as an adult child believed that he or she had had a parent who had a relationship with someone of the same sex, then he or she was counted by Regnerus as having been “raised by” a parent in a same-sex relationship.
Fourth, in contrast to every other study on same-sex parenting, Regnerus identified parents who had purportedly engaged in a same-sex romantic relationship based solely on the child’s own retrospective report of the parent’s romantic relationships, made once the child was an adult. This unusual measurement strategy ignored the fact that the child may have limited and inaccurate recollections of the parents’ distant romantic past.
Finally, the study fails to account for the fact that the negative outcomes may have been caused by other childhood events or events later in the individual’s adult life, particularly given that the vast majority (thirty-seven of forty) of the outcomes measured were adult and not childhood outcomes. Factors other than same-sex parenting are likely to explain these negative outcomes in the Regnerus study. Regnerus himself concludes that “I am thus not suggesting that growing up with a lesbian mother or gay father causes suboptimal outcomes because of the sexual orientation or sexual behavior of the parent.”
In sum, by conflating (1) children raised by same-sex parents with (2) individuals who reportedly had a parent who had “a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex,” and referring to such individuals as children of “lesbian mothers” or “gay fathers,” the Regnerus study obscures the fact that it did not specifically examine children raised by two same-sex parents. Accordingly, it cannot speak to the impact of same-sex parenting on child outcomes.
This has been a terrific week and there has been much momentum for LGBT equality. Let’s hope the Supreme Court makes a wise decision and sides with the future instead of the past.