Facts and Observations About the Same-Sex Family Study in Australia

We hear a lot of “a survey has found that…” or “studies prove that…” Public opinion has a big effect on issues that we face. But when presented with such surveys, studies, or polls, how do we know if all the information is accurate? Can we trust everything it says? There have been numerous instances where no one is calling out the errors or omissions in the information presented. Here is a good example that recently happened in Australia:

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne found that same-sex couples are better parents than heterosexual couples. The Australian university collected data from 500 children of same-sex attracted couples or married parents to “established population samples” (information collected from heterosexual homes). The study claims that children in same-sex homes, whether the parents are married or not, scored 6% better than children in heterosexual homes when it comes to the physical health and the social well-being of the children.

However, there are four noticeable errors in the data gathering for this study: (1) there were problems with the methodology; (2) there is no explanation of the comparison group of children; (3) there are huge contrasts in their heterosexual and same-sex parenting samples; and (4) the study contradicts itself. All these issues combined makes for a study that is inaccurate.

Problems with methodology

One of the biggest problems with this study is the methodology has problems. Even the authors of the study admitted there were significant problems with the way the data was collected.

For starters, a group of 500 people is a very small sample and the 500 participants that were selected was not a good representation of children from same-sex marriages. Of the 500 children selected for the study, 406 kids came from a household with an annual income from 60K – 250K. If this were a representative sample, that would mean that 81% of people make at least 60K a year.

Also, the sample that was studied was a “convenience sample”. This means the study was targeted towards gay communities, gay publications, etc., where people in those communities are more likely to attract people who are interested in the topic.

This then led to another problem: parents knew what they were signing their families up for. If you know that your family is not a happy one and you have both health and emotional issues in your home, you are not going to fill out a study on the well-being of your family.

Probably the biggest problem was that the information was collected from self-reports completed by the parents for the children. Also, knowing the importance of the political and rhetorical implications of this study, same-sex parents have a strong reason to provide a positive response to the study, thus skewing the results of the study.

These problems combined make for a study that is not representative of the general same-sex homes. The children were not part of the study at all. Everything is based on the parents’ perspective of their family. Unless the children are completely open with their parents on everything going on in their life, the study is not an accurate description of the child’s health and well-being.

There is no explanation of the comparison group of children

Another flaw in the study is that the authors failed to explain the difference between the sample group and the control group. For instance, they never clarified whether the children from heterosexual homes were from low or high income, single parent or married parent homes, etc.

The authors use income and education to form their opinion, but all they provide in the study about heterosexual homes is the information comes from an “established population [sample]”. This is not an accurate description of what the study is using to compare children from same-sex homes to those in heterosexual homes. How would we know if children who come from same-sex homes are better than children from heterosexual homes if we don’t know what type of families they come from?

There are huge contrasts in their heterosexual and same-sex parenting samples

One more problem with the study is there are huge gaps in the parenting “samples”. There is no information given regarding the demographics of the heterosexual parents, but the study does explain some of the demographics of the same-sex parents.

As was stated before, the sample of children was not a representative group, thus, the parents are not a representative sample, either. One of the reasons being that most of the parents that took the study were from higher income households, had higher education levels, and tended to be older than most heterosexual parents.

Of the 500 children that were studied, 406 children came from households with an income of 60K – 250K, whereas the average heterosexual household has an annual average income of 64K. Also, 384 (76%) of the 500 children had parents with at least an undergraduate degree. That is higher than the average American with bachelor degrees (in 2012, 30% of American adults had a bachelor’s degree). Further, the study doesn’t specify the age of the parents when their first child was born. With same-sex parents becoming first time parents at a later age than most heterosexual parents, they will already have achieved an educational goal, higher income, and life stability. When combined, these factors characteristically foster a more positive outcome for the children.

Study contradicts itself

Finally, a huge error made by the study authors is that they contradict themselves. For example, the study claims children from same-sex homes do better than children from heterosexual homes. However, the study also claims that those same children from same-sex homes are more likely to suffer from serious harm due to the social stigma concerning their family.

In a recent article, Simon Crouch, one of the authors of the study, wrote that “stigma is a common problem. Around two-thirds of children with same-sex parents experienced some form of stigma due to their parents’ sexual orientation which, of course, impacts on their mental and emotional well-being“.

The whole study explains how children in same-sex homes are 6% more likely to have better health and well-being. However, this cannot be true if the children could also be experiencing stigma impacting their mental and emotional well-being?

The four flaws of this study have not been adequately addressed by the authors. Likewise, the media is not questioning the contradictions. This study had enormous omissions, yet no one called the authors on it. Sadly, this happens a lot with studies and surveys, especially with issues that will have huge political implications. With all the information we have coming at us today, it is important that we stay informed and make sure that the data is fair and accurate.

Marriage Chaos

Since marriage was redefined in Washington State two years ago, people in Washington State may not be paying attention to what is happening all over the country.

While the picture is not pretty, ignoring it won’t be helpful.

By way of quick review, last June the U.S. Supreme Court, in Windsor v. U.S., struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

While the court said it was not interfering with the thirty-two state constitutional amendments defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, it was clear that within the bizarre decision was all the ammunition an activist judge would need in order to unilaterally overturn them.

Opponents of natural marriage have seized the opportunity.

In just the last few weeks, Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon and Pennsylvania have all had their marriage amendments struck down by federal judges.

The Oregon decision can’t even be appealed because no state official even defended the law in court. There’s no one to appeal.

You may remember that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who refused to defend DOMA despite having the legal obligation to do so, told the state’s Attorneys General that they don’t have to defend laws if they don’t like them.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum followed his lead and refused to defend the marriage amendment passed by Oregon’s citizens.

As a result, the law in Oregon now requires a bakery to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding despite their conscientious objections but apparently doesn’t require the Attorney General to defend a Constitutional Amendment passed by the people in court because of her conscientious objections.

Go figure.

California has a similar situation.

Seven million people voted for a constitutional amendment that says, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California”.

California law requires a three judge appellate panel to overturn a provision of the state Constitution before it can be set aside.  A prior Ninth Circuit appellate decision against marriage was vacated when the Supreme Court concluded that those defending Prop 8 did not have standing to do so.

As a result, there is no decision on the books of an appellate panel overturning Prop 8. The language defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman is still in the California Constitution today.

Yet, the state of California is issuing same-sex “marriage” licenses because the Governor and the Attorney General want to.

The judicial system has always had its challenges, but is this the moment America officially declares its independence from the rule of law?

Monarchs throughout history are smugly shaking their heads from the grave and whispering, “I told you so”.

You may think all this is wonderful because you like same-sex marriage, but just wait until a conservative judge, conservative plaintiff, and conservative Attorney General conspire to repeal a law you like by filing a lawsuit that no one defends.

Our system of checks and balances is sometimes frustratingly slow, but that’s intentional. It is designed to prevent three people from repealing laws they don’t like all by themselves.

We should all be careful about calling for swift action despite the law because we agree with the outcome.

History assures us that the time will come — maybe sooner than we think — when we’ll wish the system was a bit more deliberate and not so subject to the preferences of the two or three people who happen to be in power.

But it’s hard to slow down and worry about process when we’re so busy being historic.

In fairness, not every state is behaving as lawlessly as California and Oregon.

There are 17 states where lawsuits challenging one man, one woman marriages are in process but no decisions have been issued yet.

There are only 3 states left where no lawsuit challenging marriage has been filed: South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana.

That could change at any moment.

With the Oregon decision considered to be a “final” decree because there’s no one to appeal it, there are now 18 states plus D.C. where same-sex marriage is currently legal.

In addition, 12 states have seen their marriage law struck down but are in the process of appealing those rulings.

Recent developments are clearly not good for marriage, the rule of law, or the culture generally.

But this is far, far from over.

Our friend Ryan T. Anderson, from the Heritage Foundation, wrote a good piece today entitled “Where Do We Go From Here?” that offers good insights into next steps for those of us who will never give up on the value of natural marriage.

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid.  We have all been placed in this time, at this place, for such a time as this.  Let’s figure out what that is.

And never forget…truth wins.

“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, because I have overcome the world”. John 16:33.


Note: The original version of this post has been edited to reflect the fact that there was a prior Ninth Circuit appellate decision against marriage that was vacated by the Supreme Court.  The original version said that there has never been an appellate decision against Prop 8.  While that is true for legal purposes and same-sex marriage licenses are being issued in California in violation of the law, it is not the entire story.

My Thoughts After Referendum 74

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves and the rules take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us. He who sits in the heavens laughs;…”  Psalm 2:1-4a

Yesterday, Preserve Marriage Washington conceded that our attempt to repeal the same-sex “marriage” law that was passed by the legislature was not going to be successful.

The first question is, “why?” Why did we lose after such a long string of successful campaigns on marriage?

The most obvious answer to this question is the huge discrepancy in resources.  In some ways, being outspent by more than $10 million and still having the race be as close as it was is a testament to the strength of our argument and the hard work so many of you invested.  The spending differential in left leaning Washington was significantly greater than had ever been faced in other, often far more conservative states.   Washington was clearly targeted nationally as the priority for passing same-sex “marriage.”

It doesn’t make anyone feel better, but these are realities that help us create some context for what happened with Referendum 74 that are important because of the next question.

Does this mean America is now prepared to embrace same-sex “marriage” as a normative?

Advocates of same-sex “marriage” will no doubt be energized by these results and believe that America is ready to say that same-sex relationships are in every way the same as marriages.

Here is the reason I don’t believe this is true.

What became apparent in all the discussions about this subject is that people in general don’t object to the idea that kids need moms and dads.  Some do, but that’s the fringe left of their movement.

The support they received from the middle, that they needed in order to prevail, came from people who were voting to approve this as a way of proving they don’t dislike gay people.

Their campaign makes an entirely emotional argument that says, “the only reason you would oppose redefining marriage is if you don’t want gay people to be happy.”  When well-funded, this can clearly be successful.

But the fatal flaw of every purely emotional argument is that the emotions you depend upon eventually go away.   Eventually you must defend your arguments on the merits. And the idea that kids don’t need moms and dads, that gender is meaningless, and that there is no reason to recognize different relationships cannot be defended on the merits.

The only reason they have convinced people to agree with these principles is because they have convinced people that you’re a bad person if you don’t.   Once they lose that leverage, and they will, they lose the argument.

So what does this mean?

It means that the legal definition of marriage has been changed.  But it does not mean that the important distinctions between men and woman have been erased, or that most people even agree with the idea that they should be.  The vote changes civil law, but it does not change reality.

As my children’s father, I am specifically necessary in their life. As my children’s mother, my wife is specifically necessary in our children’s life.  That is true for every parent in Washington State.  None of us are replaceable.  The relationship that allows my children’s mom and dad to be present in their lives at the same time is uniquely valuable.

Marriage has always served a purpose greater than our own personal fulfillment. It not only unites men and women to each other, but it unites men and women to the children that result.  No, not every married couple has a child.  But every child has a mother and father, and the absence or presence of a child’s mother and father in her life is not meaningless.  True marriage-between a man and a woman-honors this.

The greatest risk from redefining marriage is not that same-sex couples can live as they choose, or even that the religious freedoms and individual rights of those who disagree will be lost (though that is a reality). The greatest risk is that we, as a culture, continue to internalize the idea that there is no greater good than our own personal happiness; that the world exists, or should exist, to make us feel good about ourselves.

Regardless of the context, when the adults care primarily about themselves and their own happiness, children and the next generation suffer.  That is evidenced equally by our national fatherlessness epidemic as well as our $16 Trillion national debt.

The “Greatest Generation” earned that moniker because of their selflessness in defense of others.  I cringe when I consider how my generation could be remembered.

The more we believe “it’s about me”, the worse it will be-for everyone.

Yes, we hope every person finds joy in life.  But joy is not a function of your circumstances but a byproduct of decisions that are consistent with what is good, true, and beautiful.  And that, invariably, requires us making less of our own personal happiness, rather than more of it.

Friends, this battle is not over.  In the end, we cannot lose because truth is always vindicated.  Every lie is ultimately exposed as such.  And when the history of this anomaly has been written, may it be said of us that a temporary political setback not only did not weaken our commitment to truth, but strengthened it.

There are all sorts of corny clichés or scenes from inspirational movies that could be used to analogize moments like these.

But it will always be true that our character is determined not by what happens, but how we respond.

There is no need for fear.  And if you’re inclined to feel fearful, consider the following.

Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?  It’s true.  He has never learned something that changed how he viewed things. He already knows everything, and I assure you, He’s not afraid.  He who sits in the heavens laughs…

If it was up to us to fix all the world’s problems, we should be terrified.  But it isn’t.  And that’s why He told us so many times to “fear not”.

We must control the things we control.

We must guard our marriages and purge from our own lives the idea that my own happiness is paramount.  We must teach our children not only how to think biblically in light of an increasingly hostile culture. We must strive to find that balance truth and grace so that who we are speaks more than what we say.

And finally, we must persist.

While this is unquestionably a setback, what has been built over the last several months has the opportunity to be the turning point for our state.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of new relationships that are formed and thousands of people who have engaged in this battle for the culture for the first time.  More than a thousand churches who applied biblical truth to cultural discussions in ways they never had before.

What has been built over the last year has the opportunity to create truly lasting change in Washington State, provided we don’t quit.

Benjamin Franklin remarked that if we don’t hang together, we will all hang separately.  I’d like you to consider the possibility that if we hang together, we just might win this thing.

There are unborn lives to be saved.

There are freedoms to be won.

There are rights to be protected.

There are lives to be changed through a confrontation with truth.

There are people to be reminded that marriage is, and will always be, a relationship between a man and a woman.

If anything, what just happened in Washington is a testament to what can be accomplished by a few highly motivated people.  Now it’s our turn.