Monday, April 1, 2013
Conservatives are criticized for being “anti-science,” a charge that grew stronger last month when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement affirming that children living with same-sex parents “receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders.” This claim purports to be evidenced by science, which, if true, would contribute to the left’s argument that conservatives reject rationality whole cloth. Of course, though, AAP’s findings are unscientific and continue a liberal tradition of using science as a propaganda tool to further political ambitions.
Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, criticizes AAP’s statement saying that it is “clearly driven more by political correctness than by the actual state of research on [the] issue.” “An overwhelming body of social science research has shown conclusively that children raised by their own biological mother and father, committed to one another in a lifelong marriage, are happier, healthier, and more prosperous than children in any other family structure,” according to Sprigg. Perhaps it is this “overwhelming body of research” that has informed American courts for years and inspired them to favor biological parents over foster and adopted parents.
Echoing Sprigg’s claims, the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) issued a statement rejecting AAP’s conclusion. “The American College of Pediatricians reaffirms that the intact, functional family consisting of a married (female) mother and (male) father provides the best opportunity for children…The College, therefore, disputes the AAP claim that supporting same-sex unions promotes the ‘well-being of children.’”
ACP even criticizes the scientific research that undergirds the AAP statement. President Dr. Den Trumbull says, “No one concerned with the well-being of children can reasonably ignore the evidence for maintaining the current standard, nor can they or we ignore the equally strong evidence that harm to children can result if the current standards are rejected.”
An ACP report on Homosexual Parenting claims that domestic violence in same sex households is two to three times more common than in households with married heterosexual couples. Same-sex partnerships are “significantly more prone to dissolution” than traditional marriages, “with the average same-sex relationship lasting only two to three years.” Furthermore, the tendency for homosexuals to experience mental illness, engage in substance abuse, exhibit suicidal tendencies, and live shortened life spans than heterosexuals is not a function of societal disdain of the homosexual lifestyle, but exists, too, “at inordinately high levels among homosexuals in cultures where the practice is more widely accepted.”
Clearly, despite the AAP’s claims, the science is not settled on same-sex parentage. But, is it clear that same-sex marriage would be devastating to child welfare?
Dr. Jason Richwine, of the Heritage Foundation, writes that “the main challenge to research on the children of parents in same-sex relationships has been simply finding enough of them to analyze in the first place.” The ACP seconds that notion: “Data on the long-term outcomes of children placed in same-sex households is sparse and gives reason for concern.”
Given what is available, though, the data contradicts AAP’s basis for endorsement. “Studies that appear to indicate neutral to favorable child outcomes from same-sex parenting have critical design flaws,” says the ACP. In 2005, the American Psychological Association (APA) stated that no study has found children reared by homosexual parents “to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.” Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at University of Texas, challenged that sweeping claim when he released a study in June of 2012 that used a large nationally representative dataset. Regnerus’ study found that “children from same-sex households experienced more negative adult outcomes compared with children from intact biological families.” Regnerus’ study was met with “remarkably hostile and unscientific backlash.”
The AAP, and those who attacked Regnerus’ work on grounds other than his methodology, have done a disservice to the name of science and to its place in American discourse. For the political left to try to use science as a tool to bludgeon its opponents can be expected—politics is blood-sport, after all. Those of us outside of the political realm are political animals nonetheless, scientists included. But it is wrong for scientists to bend research to support a political agenda as appears to be occurring on the issue of same-sex parentage.
Furthermore, the slander that conservatives are, by definition, against science is an onerous and pernicious lie. Conservatives in many cases fight the use of science as a propaganda tool, and unfortunately their skepticism of some realms of the scientific community is warranted. The nation suffers when politics so pervades science that political factions become the watchdogs determining scientific validity. Liberals and conservatives can peaceably disagree about political philosophy, but they should not live in separate planes of reality.
Photo Sources: "Same sex fathers 1" from http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/blogs/dnews-files-2013-03-gay-parents-660.jpg; "Same sex fathers 2" from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/meyer769/myblog/gay-parents-3.jpg; "Mark Regnerus" from http://chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/files/2012/07/6985657.jpg
Monday, March 18, 2013
"Wild Speculation Offers Insights about 2016"
By: J. Hunter
With Presidential elections beginning ever sooner, Republicans and Democrats have already begun weighing potential tickets. Democrats have successfully broken the color barrier with President Barack Obama, and are eager to break the gender “Glass Ceiling” post haste. Republicans, in need of a win, are searching within the conservative tradition to find candidates who best champion more attractive elements of the tradition without surrendering past hard-fought political gains. However wild it is to speculate so early on the 2016 race, early predictions offer interesting insight into the respective movements’ thinking.
Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner posits “the ultimate Grrl Power ticket” will be manifested in 2016 by Former New York Senator and State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama. “It’s not just talk,” Bedard writes. “Bumper stickers reading...‘Hillary-Michelle 2016’…saw a 60% increase…with the largest uptick in March.” He cites Democratic strategists who call Clinton “a lock to get into the race” and who herald her “strong donor network from her 2008 campaign.”
Elspeth Reeve, writing in The Atlantic Wire, says of Michelle Obama that the only thing keeping her out of elected office is Michelle Obama, herself. “The only argument against Obama running is that she doesn’t want to; that disappears if she just…changes her mind.”
A Clinton-Obama ticket would go far to show a Democrat commitment to the Party’s women, according to strategist Chris Lehane and former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile. Lehane is quoted as saying that the ticket “reflects the growing awareness that it is time for the glass ceiling of the last old boys club to be firmly shattered,” and Brazile relishes “a day when a woman can run for the presidency without so much parody and fanfare.”
That said, there is a striking irony in the proposed ticket that does not escape me even as it appears illusive to its advocates searching for Democrats to make a strong feminist statement. Unlike the prominent women in the Republican Party like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Hillary Rodham and Michelle Robinson owe their political good fortunes to men, their husbands in particular.
Moreover, this ticket would only further expose the thin bench on the Democrat side. Whereas the GOP appears to be the Sherman Tank of politics, always ready with credible candidates to replace old ones.
On the subject of the GOP, the recent news is the CPAC poll that chose Kentucky Senator Rand Paul as the conference’s presidential preference. Stephen Dinan and David Sherfinski of the Washington Times note that the poll of 2,930 attendees “skewed toward younger conservatives”—41% of those polled were students. Austin Alexander, a 26 year old conservative quoted in Dinan and Sherfinski’s article, volunteered for Rand Paul’s father—Texas Congressman Ron Paul—and welcomes a more libertarian streak in the Republican Party.
On the other hand, Gary Kim, 62, supported the poll’s close second, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. “Marco’s just a terrific messenger…People get his life story, he’s Latino. So it’s a strategic decision…[he’s] as good a shot as we’ve got.”
At the heart of Kim’s comment is an understanding that the Republican Party is failing to include enough people in its ranks to grow. Indeed, growth requires more than just presenting candidates that look like the constituency the Party wishes to court. Forging a more inclusive ideology is part of the growth strategy. Paul spoke, at CPAC, about the Republican Party focusing on individual liberties above all, a message that worries social conservatives fighting for traditional marriage and rights for the unborn. Rubio, on the other hand did not shy from social issues and was even compared positively to Rick Santorum. The contrast highlights the conversation within the Republican Party that has raged without resolve since the days of Fusionism—is libertarian objectivism compatible with traditional conservatism beyond issues of free markets?
With the 2016 election years away, and interrupted by a crucially important midterm election in 2014, any predictions about the 2016 are obviously premature. That said, the reflexes of the two Parties indicate their priorities and a taste of what is to come.
Photo Sources: "Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama" from http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/images/stories/large/2013/03/14/Hillary-Michelle-2016-97618348.jpg; "Clinton-Obama 2016 Sticker" from http://socialismisnottheanswer.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/hillary_clinton_michelle_obama_2016.jpg?w=500; "Rand Paul" from http://www.ronpaul.com/images/randpaul.jpg; "Marco Rubio" from http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2013/02/06/151014817_custom-8bff63961185274b85a544cb711ae0d90b29b193-s6-c10.jpg