August 18, 2010 (—  Judge Walker built his decision overturning Proposition 8 on many “findings of fact,” which to a great extent came from experts supplied by the opponents of Proposition 8.  But according Dr. Walter Schumm, professor of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University, many of these so-called facts are either false or doubtful.

In the following interview with (LSN), Dr. Schumm explains that homosexual parents are more likely to raise homosexual children; that scholars are often biased in favor of research friendly to the homosexual agenda; and that legalizing homosexual “marriage” places an unjust burden upon heterosexual families.

LSN: The 71st finding of fact in Judge Walker's decision states that children "raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful, and well adjusted." What does your research show about the influence of homosexual parents on their children, especially in terms of sexual orientation?LSN

Dr. Schumm: For decades it was politically correct to argue that parental sexual orientation had nothing to do with a child's sexual orientation. However, about 1995 or so, a few scholars began to admit that, at least in theory, parental values would be expected to influence children's values, including sexual orientation preferences. Nevertheless, it was argued that even such an expected result had little empirical support. I decided to tackle this difficult problem from three perspectives, in a report in press with the Cambridge journal, Journal of Biosocial Science.

First, I reviewed ten books concerning over 250 children of gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents and evaluated the children's own stories about their sexual orientations. I used a 10% baseline for a simulated comparison group of heterosexual families. It was clear that the children of GLB parents were more likely to either have identified as GLB or to have at least experimented with nonheterosexual behavior. The more I controlled for age (using older children) and availability of data (using only those children who specifically described their sexual orientations), the stronger the results became. Gender was an interesting and strong factor in that the daughters of lesbian mothers were most likely to reject a heterosexual orientation whereas sons of gay fathers were least likely to do so.

I then compiled data from 26 studies about GLB parenting and found that children of GLB parents were more likely to report a nonheterosexual orientation than were children of heterosexual parents in those studies, an effect that was strongest for mothers.

Third, I studied reports from a number of cultures from around the world and found that the less strongly those cultures condemned homosexuality, the less rare was its actual (open) practice.

Thus, all three sources of data indicate that sexual orientation, at least in terms of its open expression, is subject to the influence of social and cultural factors, including family background. While not surprising in terms of what social science theory might predict, the results differ greatly from the testimony of many experts at a host of previous court cases concerning gay or lesbian parenting.

Furthermore, my analysis of previous data, some of which has seldom been mentioned, showed that gay or lesbian parents were less likely to want their children to grow up to be heterosexual than were heterosexual parents. Gay and lesbian parents also seemed less likely to expect that their children would grow up to be heterosexual. Thus, both parental expectations and aspirations tend to pressure children to model their parent's own sexual orientation, providing a clear pathway for parental sexual orientation to influence a child's sexual orientation.

LSN: The media has covered studies reporting that children raised by homosexual parents do as well as or even better than children raised by heterosexual parents. Has media coverage of these stories been accurate? Are there any flaws in such studies that has been overlooked?

Dr. Schumm: The problem of determining how parental sexual orientation might influence a child's health or psychological adjustment is more complicated than many recognize. It is becoming increasingly clear from research that lesbian mothers tend to have less stable relationships than heterosexual mothers and fathers, an issue seldom considered by researchers.

When it has been considered, it is usually found that the children of single parents do worse than children of two parents. That might not sound like much but the issue is that if lesbian mothers are less likely to remain in a two-parent structure, merely comparing single lesbian parents with (heterosexual) single parents buries the adverse risks of lesbian parenting in the single-parent issue, essentially obscuring the risks to children of parental break-ups. If the scientific models predicted child outcomes from parental stability and predicted parental stability from parental sexual orientation, we might observe some important adverse indirect effects of parental sexual orientation.
Likewise, I have yet to see a study which has monitored outcomes such as sexualcompulsivity or general delayed gratification (also known as time preference) among children of the various types of parents. Some research that has looked at abuse of drugs or insecure attachment has found strongly adverse results for daughters of gay fathers.

Furthermore, many of the studies have set up questionable comparisons of GLB and heterosexual parents. Often, the GLB parents have higher education, higher incomes, fewer children, as well as a likely desire to present their children in a socially desirable manner for the sake of "the cause". I have yet to see any study that has controlled for or taken into account per-capita household income when comparing children from both types of households. Few studies have controlled for social desirability, especially what might be labeled "parental social desirability". One recent study used gay fathers from households earning an average of $190,000 annually, which put them easily into the top 5% of all U.S. households for income. Generalizing from the top 5% of all households to all households is simply not appropriate scientifically, even if few differences are observed across types of parents among the top 5% of households. Some studies have sampled "same-sex" parents but may have included grandmothers and mothers or mother/adult daughter pairs who are raising children, yet they expect readers to draw conclusions about the favorability of GLB parenting.

LSN: During the case, Judge Walker ruled that the testimony of David Blankenhorn, one of the two witnesses who testified for the proponents of Proposition 8, constituted "inadmissible opinion testimony that should be given essentially no weight."

Leaving aside the question of whether Judge Walker was correct to so decide, can it difficult for research that does not fit into the agenda of LGBT activists to be accepted in the court, academia, or elsewhere? Could you give examples?

Dr. Schumm: In my view, few scholars are willing to evaluate research on GLB parenting or marriage issues critically. There are just too many mistakes that are published, as if the peer review process was not very effective. Some journals refuse to publish any critique of their articles, including articles dealing with GLB issues, rendering the "give and take" of academic scholarship mute.

My own research has shown that articles featuring "pro-gay" outcomes are much more likely to be cited scientifically than those featuring "anti-gay"results, even if the authors, timeframe, and journals are the same. I have also found that sometimes, the worse the quality of the research in this area, the more likely it is to have been cited in major reviews of the literature.

Professors who do research in this area have to be very careful lest they offend the wrong people because even false allegations about one's being "homophobic" can lead to adverse professional evaluations, regardless of other professional criteria. If a journal is willing to publish adverse outcomes for GLB parenting it is at risk of being blackballed and deemed "unscientific"; thus, editors of journals must have tremendous courage to buck the current of political correctness and allow fair peer review of such research.

One issue that Judge Walker raised was that expert testimony could be ruled less valuable if it was based on research done for the sake of litigation. This is almost amusing. It doesn't seem to matter if pro-gay scholars do research or critiques of research as part of litigation, but it seems to matter if other scholars do so. In the Florida trial on gay adoption with which I was involved as an expert witness, at least one of the "pro-gay" experts was paid $200 an hour for 70 hours ($14,000 total) to critique my research. Clearly, this was done as part of the litigation, but that didn't seem to reduce her credibility in the eyes of the court. So, I feel there may be a double standard at work here.

In some states, like Florida, it is actually against the law to try to impeach a witness's credibility on the basis of their religious beliefs or views. Nevertheless, that didn't stop the lawyers on the pro-gay adoption side of the trial from attacking the credibility of witnesses on the basis of their religious views or affiliations - you might remember how harshly Dr. George Rekers, a Ph.D. clinical psychologist, was attacked for also being a Baptist minister, which appeared to discredit his views in the eyes of the court, as I interpreted the decision. My own testimony was raked over the coals because of a half-sentence from a much longer opinion paper in which I mentioned using science to highlight the truths of Scripture. The court overlooked the fact that I have actually tested (and published) various Scriptures and religious doctrines statistically in ways that would permit acceptance or rejection of the hypotheses involved. In other words, I was very open to findings that the Scriptures were not correct from a scientific perspective, but the statement was taken out of the larger contexts of both the particular paper and of my overall research program to imply that I would bias my research to support certain "religious" perspectives.

LSN: The 76th finding of fact states that it is an entirely unsupported stereotype that homosexuals are "incapable of forming long-term intimate relationships." The 48th states that same-sex "couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions." What does research indicate about the fidelity within and length of typical homosexual relationships?

Dr. Schumm: Back to the stability issue, one article recently admitted that there was one previous research report showing that lesbian mothers had less stable relationships than heterosexual parents. However, I have found several others that have yielded the same results. Nevertheless, many scholars continue to assert - for example, at the Prop 8 trial - that there are no differences whatsoever between heterosexual and nonheterosexual relationships, even in terms of stability. Researchers have also found that gay men are much more likely than heterosexual men to engage in and approve of "extra-marital" sexual affairs.

A common response to this fact is a rebuttal that if both men approve of it, what's wrong with it?

What I see wrong with it is that it begins - or perhaps continues - a process whereby we have two Americas, one free and one slave. The "free" America is where you can have sex with anyone as long as its not rape. The "slave" America is where you can only have sex with someone you marry of the opposite gender and then never again with anyone else as long as the marriage endures.

I am not sure how long, as Lincoln observed, you can have a nation endure if it remains half-free and half-slave, with such a major cultural divide. I would expect that social entropy would favor a gradual erosion of sexual values in the direction of "freedom" from marriage and gender norms. It is as if you made a national policy that half the nation would get a "free" guaranteed annual income while the other half had to earn their income and pay for the "free" income of the rest. I am not sure how long those who had to earn their income (just as some have to earn their right to sex by making a marriage commitment and by accepting the inherent conflicts involved in gender differences) would continue to put up with such a division peacefully.

LSN: Judge Walker argues that it is simple justice to provide same-sex couples with the same rights, duties, and social recognition as opposite-sex couples. Do you think that this is the case? Why?

Dr. Schumm: Judge Walker argued that it was simple justice to afford equality to same-sex couples. In my opinion, this is a case of focusing on equality of outcomes rather than taking into account equality of inputs.

For example, one might argue that all households should have "justice" in the sense of equal annual incomes and that the courts should tax households in ways that create that type of social justice.

However, doing that would overlook issues of relative risk (should those who risk their lives more often be paid the same as those who work at relatively safe desks?) and training (should those with less training be paid the same as those with more training?) and effort (should those who work less hours or who are less diligent be paid the same as those who work more hours or more diligently?).

Heterosexual or mixed-gender relationships assume risks not assumed by same-sex couples, including pregnancy caused by the other person, unwanted pregnancy, or perhaps a risk of needing an abortion. There are greater costs because only heterosexual couples accept the difficulties involved in working out gender conflicts.

There really is a "battle of the sexes" and married heterosexual couples are well aware of it. Even the gay professor Larry Kurdek has admitted this matter in an article published in the Journal of Family Psychology in 2008. Women are more vulnerable to injury if physically attacked by a man, so that is another heterosexual risk factor. According to Kiersey, women are more likely to be feeling oriented and men truth-oriented, in terms of Kiersey's personality profile, which should lead to a higher rate of personality incompatibility among mixed-gender couples.  Spouses within heterosexual couples, on average, also have greater differences in level of sexual desire than do members of same-sex couples, which can also lead to numerous and intense conflicts.

Despite these greater risks and costs, heterosexual couples are important to society because only they provide society with children who have two biological parents, usually coupled with each other. Same-sex couples may have only children with at most one biological parent in the pair. I suppose this matter could be solved by allowing for polyamory so a child might have two lesbian mothers and a biological father living as a triad, but that would take another timely court decision.

Furthermore, only heterosexual couples model for children how to manage heterosexual conflict in a constructive manner within the confines of marriage. True, heterosexual couples may not model how to manage lesbian or gay conflicts, but that omission would only matter for a small minority of children of heterosexuals who grow up to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. By contrast, same-sex couples are not modeling how to manage heterosexual conflict for a much larger percentage of children who will grow up to be heterosexuals.

My point is that by treating unequal relationships (unequal in terms of costs and risks) as if they deserve to be equal in terms of societal benefits, the court is actually establishing a great inequality, the very opposite of what it may think it was doing.