Robert R. Reilly

Queering education: it’s worse than you think

Robert R. Reilly
By Robert Reilly
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June 10, 2013 (Mercatornet.com) - The logic works like this: If homosexual acts are moral, as so many now insist, then they should be normative. If they are normative, they should be taught in our schools as a standard. If they are a standard, they should be enforced. And so it has come, and is coming, to be. Education is an essential part of the drive to universalize the rationalization for homosexual behavior; so it must become a mandatory part of the curriculum.

The infiltration of higher education by LGBT studies is well known. However, less attention seems to have been paid to the effort to spread LGBT propaganda in elementary schools and high schools. Because of the young ages of students K through 12, the introduction of pro-homosexual materials has required a special sensitivity from those who are trying to get away with it. They must avoid the explicit nature of the LGBT courses offered at the college level and disguise the effort in terms of something other than what it really is. Therefore, they use a stealth approach under the cover of issues such as school safety, diversity, and bullying.

One of the primary organizations involved in spreading the rationalization for homosexual behavior in elementary and high schools is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), begun in 1990 in Massachusetts. According to its mission statement, GLSEN “strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. We believe that such an atmosphere engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike”.

The statement sounds fairly anodyne, though its clear purpose is to make homosexuality acceptable, and for good reason. GLSEN’s founder, homosexual activist Kevin Jennings, spoke at a homosexual conference on March 5, 1995, titled "Winning the Culture War", in which he laid out the rhetorical strategy for success. It is worth quoting at length for what it reveals about the agenda. Jennings said:

"If the Radical Right can succeed in portraying us as preying on children, we will lose. Their language – 'promoting homosexuality' is one example – is laced with subtle and not-so-subtle innuendo that we are 'after their kids.' We must learn from the abortion struggle, where the clever claiming of the term 'pro-life' allowed those who opposed abortion on demand to frame the issue to their advantage, to make sure that we do not allow ourselves to be painted into a corner before the debate even begins. In Massachusetts the effective reframing of this issue was the key to the success of the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.

"We immediately seized upon the opponent's calling card – safety – and explained how homophobia represents a threat to students' safety by creating a climate where violence, name-calling, health problems, and suicide are common. Titling our report 'Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth,' we automatically threw our opponents onto the defensive and stole their best line of attack. This framing short-circuited their arguments and left them back-pedaling from day one. " 

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So successful was Mr Jennings in his framing operation that he was appointed in the first Obama administration to the position of Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, in the Department of Education. The irony was not lost on 52 members of Congress, who wrote to President Obama requesting that he rescind the appointment because Mr. Jennings had, as the letter stated, “for more than 20 years, almost exclusively focused on promoting the homosexual agenda”. Mr. Obama did not do so, and Mr. Jennings served in the position for two years.

GLSEN’s mission of promoting a safe and supportive environment for students of all sexual orientations means providing the approval of those orientations. In the Safe Space Kit: Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students, GSLEN provides an examination of conscience for those wanting to be allies to LGBT students. Here are some of the searching questions: “If someone were to come out to you as LGBT, what would your first thought be? Have you ever been to in LGBT social event, march or worship service? Why or why not? Have you ever laughed at or made a joke at the expense of LGBT people?” 

With an Orwellian touch, the Safe Space Kit advises that, during casual conversations and classroom time, one should “make sure the language you are using is inclusive of all people. When referring to people in general, try using words like ‘partner’ instead of ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ or ‘husband/wife’, and avoid gendered pronouns, using ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’. What’s wrong with referring to a man as “he” and to a woman as “she”? Well, the glossary helps us to understand the definition of gender as “a social construct based on a group of emotional, behavioral and cultural characteristics attached to a person’s assigned biological sex”.

The whole point of GSLEN is that, if you don’t like the “gender construct” society has assigned you, you can construct another for yourself, and have every right to expect that everyone should go along with you.

As far as students “coming out” are concerned, one should realize that “it can be a difficult and emotional process for an LGBT student to go through, which is why it is so important for a student to have support”. In other words, encourage them by providing approval and support. Whatever you do, however, don’t advise the student not to tell anyone. Why not? Because, the booklet answers, “This implies that there is something wrong and that being LGBT must be kept hidden”.

Gay-Straight Alliances

To help carry out this work there are “Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), student clubs that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. 4,000 GSAs are registered with GLSEN.” The number of GSAs should give some idea of the scope of this organization’s influence. Among the activities sponsored by GLSEN and its affiliates are: the Day of Silence, National Coming Out Day, and GSA Day. On January 24, 2012, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, gave official government approval of the first GSA Day through a GSA PSA on YouTube commemorating the event and endorsing GSA clubs in schools.  So this is an officially endorsed event.

GLSEN is also hard at work providing role models for LGBT students. NBA player Jason Collins, who plays center for the Washington Wizards basketball team, announced he was a homosexual in an article for the Sports Illustrated website on April 29, 2013. Hardly a week passed before, on May 8, 2013, GLSEN, announced it would honor Collins with the Courage Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards in New York on Monday, May 20. "We are incredibly proud to honor Jason Collins with our Courage Award," said Dr Byard. "His decision to come out is a game-changer for sports”.

In the classroom

What does this kind of thing actually translate into in the classroom? The film, It’s Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues In School, is the first item recommended on the Book Link page on GLSEN’s website. It’s Elementary is, according to its makers, “the groundbreaking film that addresses anti-gay prejudice by providing adults with practical lessons on how to talk with children about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people”. The filmmakers visited six elementary and middle schools to film teachers and students discussing “gay and lesbian issues” in their classrooms. The purpose was to explore "what happens when experienced teachers talk about lesbians and gay men with their students". It aired on more than 100 public television stations in 1999 and continues to be widely used.

This film is worth some detailed attention not only because of its wide circulation, but because it seems to incorporate what GLSEN advocates. In fact, GLSEN’s founder Kevin Jennings said, “It’s Elementary is the most important film dealing with LGBT issues and safe schools ever made. It took a topic that was mystifying to many people and made it real, inspiring an entire generation of educators to see how they could make a difference…. No other film has had a bigger impact on LGBT issues in the schools.” 

Through means of a transcript, let us examine what the film presents. It should be noted that the film is a documentary. Though it obviously has its own strong pro-homosexual point of view, it is simply recording what is already taking place in the schools from first to eighth grade classrooms in the way of inculcating the acceptance of homosexuality as a norm.

At a filmed meeting of the faculty at Cambridge Friends School, a Quaker school in Cambridge, MA, a teacher declares, "What we're trying to have people do is to understand that people are. And we have to respect the right of all of us to just be, and be who we are, and we do that in the classroom when we teach so that everyone can learn. ‘There isn't a right way, there isn't a wrong way, there isn't a good way, there isn't a bad way’”. So much for Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This teaching, however, comports perfectly with the Space Safe Kit’s advice to “Show students that you understand there is no one way a person ‘should’ be”.

This sophistical message obviously works. A 3rd grader summed it up by saying, “I don't get it. Who cares if you're gay? Do you care? It's like, duh, you're gay”.  Who cares? The entire homosexual lobby, which has been pushing its rationalization to reach this exact point, cares.

In another filmed venue, a first grader at Public School 87 in New York City, Emily, reads to the class from her Mother’s Day essay:

"My mothers mean so, so, so, so, so much to me. I have two mothers. Two moms is pretty nice. Well, it's more than pretty nice, it's really nice. You can't imagine. Although having two mothers is a problem to others, I respect that that's the way they think, and I can't do anything about it. I still think that those people think stupidly. This once happened with a boy in my class who couldn't come to my house because my parents were lesbians. One night I called their house and their mother told me their version of the Bible. I stood up for my mothers and knew that many kids in my class were supporting me and calling me to see how I was. I am proud of my moms and enjoy marching in the gay pride march every single year with my moms."

Teacher: "Wasn't that a nice essay? Shouldn't we give Emily a round of applause?" (Applause ) 

Evidently, no one has told poor Emily that one of her parents is a dad.

As the responses of the children throughout this film demonstrate, propaganda works. All you have to do is repeat it often enough before their minds are formed. Children can be easily exploited, as the film demonstrates.

Whose children are they?

The background song with the closing credits has these lyrics (taken from Khalil Gibran): “Your children are not your children; They come through you, but they are not from you; And though they are with you, they belong not to you; You can house their bodies but not their souls…”

Well, then, if not their parents’, whose children are they? One may be sure that wherever same-sex “marriage” has been legally enshrined, it will be taught in schools with or without the permission of parents. In this respect, the children will belong to the state and its schools. Massachusetts, which legalized same-sex “marriage” in 2003, is exhibit A.

In 2005, kindergartners in Lexington, Massachusetts, were given a "Diversity Book Bag" to take home, which is what the 5-year-old son of David and Tonia Parker did. To the parents’ shock, it contained a picture book, titled Who’s in a Family? In it, are approvingly displayed same-sex “parents” such as: "Robin's family is made up of her dad, Clifford, her dad's partner, Henry, and Robin's cat, Sassy”. The author Who’s in a Family?, Robert Skutch, explained in a National Public Radio interview, "Here and Now", May 3, 2005, “The whole purpose of the book was to get the subject [of same-sex parent households] out into the minds and the awareness of children before they are old enough to have been convinced that there's another way of looking at life”.

The Parkers wrote a letter to the principal stating, “There is a book included entitled, Who's in a Family (with pictures) that include lesbian and homosexual couples with children – implicitly equating this family structure as a morally equal alternative to other family constructs. We stand firmly against this book or any other subject matter pertaining to homosexuality ever being indoctrinated to our child, discussed in school, or sent home. We don't believe gay parents constitute a spiritually healthy family and should not be celebrated”. The Parkers requested advance notification of any such material in the future and indicated that they wished to opt out their son from any future exposure “to any sexual orientation/homosexual material/same sex unions between parents”.

The principal responded: “I have confirmed with our Assistant Superintendent and our Director of Health Education that discussion of differing families, including gay-headed families, is not included in the parental notification policy”. On April 27, David Parker, went to the school for a scheduled meeting and insisted that he would not leave until the issue was resolved. As a consequence he was arrested by the Lexington police and charged with "trespassing". He spent the night in jail.

The next year, at the same school, a second grade teacher read the book, King & King, to the students as part of an educational unit on weddings. In the book, the Queen is frustrated that she cannot interest her son in any of the princesses she presents to him as prospective brides. Then, one day he sees the brother of one of the princesses. “At last, the prince felt a stir in his heart... It was love at first sight”, the book exclaims. The pictorial depiction of the subsequent wedding shows the two “Kings” holding hands. The last picture is of the two of them kissing.

Parents Robb and Robin Wirthlin complained that they had not been notified about the reading or its contents, to which they objected. Robin Wirthlin appeared on CNN, saying, “We felt like seven years old is not appropriate to introduce homosexual themes… My problem is that this issue of romantic attraction between two men is being presented to my seven-year-old as wonderful, and good and the way things should be… Let us know and let us excuse our child from the discussion”.  They were told that the school was under no obligation to notify them or to allow their child to opt out.

In 2006, the Wirthlins and the Parkers filed a federal lawsuit against the school district of Estabrook Elementary School, claiming that the school was engaging in sex education without parental notification, in violation of their civil rights and state law. Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf, of the U.S. District Court dismissed the lawsuit, saying “Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation… [The Department of Education] also encourages instruction concerning different types of families… Some families are headed by same-sex couples”.

The ramifications of his judgment became abundantly clear in 2008, when Dr. Paul B. Ash, the superintendent of Lexington Public Schools, announced the “new, formalized diversity curriculum in preparation for the next year, when we plan to pilot 4 to 5 short units in each elementary grade. Some units will focus on families, including families with single parents, foster parents, and gay and lesbian parents”.  A parent, Shawn Landon, protested, demanding “prior notification to any discussion, education, training, reading or anything at all related (even remotely) to homosexuality”.

Here is part of Dr Ash’s response to the father:

“… perhaps you are not aware of the lawsuit decided by the United States Court of Appeals (Parker vs. Hurley). This case established Lexington's right to teach diversity units, including stories that show same gender parents. The court decided we are not required to inform parents in advance of teaching units that include same gender parents or required to release students when such topics are discussed. The Appeals Court dismissed the claim that parents have a right to require the school provide advance notice or the right to remove their children. In addition, the School Committee has decided that teachers must be able to teach topics they feel are appropriate without the requirement parents be notified in advance”.

Recall Jean Jacques Rousseau’s prescription for the replacement of the family by the state: “The public authority, in assuming the place of father and charging itself with this important function (should) acquire his (the father’s) rights in the discharge of his duties”. This prescription was filled in Massachusetts. One can expect its spread wherever same-sex “marriage” is mandated by the state.

Gender-bending

Back to the classroom, we have another GLSEN publication, Elementary School Toolkit, subtitled Ready, Set, Respect!, to assist the state in its usurpation of parental duties. This booklet advises on how to deal with certain children being perceived as “not behaving ‘enough’ like a boy or ‘enough’ like a girl”. It states: “As educators we have the opportunity to create environments that not only support students as they develop an awareness of gender but that also challenge the stereotypes that may impair healthy development”.

As if on cue, in May 2013, the Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities, a Milwaukee elementary school, sponsored a “Gender Bender Day” for which the students were asked to dress as a member of the opposite sex. “I think it’s just teaching them the wrong lesson about gender”, one parent told local Fox affiliate WITI. “If you’re a boy, stay a boy. You shouldn’t have something like that at school”. Another parent said she was ‘speechless’ about the school’s decision day. She, like some other parents, ended up keeping her son home from school that day. A school-board member dismissed parents’ concerns, saying they were ‘using the kids for political purposes.’ In an effort to appease upset parents, the school changed the name to ‘Switch It Up Day.’ In fact, WITI couldn’t find many students participating in the themed day when it finally came last Friday; it appears to be mostly teachers and other staffers”.  On Fox-6 News TV, one mother protested: “I don’t want to send my son to school dressed as girl. He’s only 7 years old.”

However, this is clearly the age at which some homosexual ideologues and their allies would like to reach children with their propaganda. The extent to which this can go becomes, on occasion, unintentionally hilarious. In the Ready, Set, Respect! booklet, for instance, teachers are advised to “write math problems with contexts that include a variety of family structures and gender-expressions”. For example, “Rosa and her dads were at the store and wanted to buy three boxes of pasta. If each costs $.75, how much will all three boxes cost?” This reads as if some now unemployed Soviet or Sandinista propagandist wrote it. If it were written during the Cold War, they would be buying Kalashnikovs, not pasta but, of course, then there would have been only one dad, not two.

What happened to innocence?

It is a measure of the depravity of the homosexual movement that it will not spare the innocence of children in the spread of its rationalization, which must embrace everyone at every age, regardless of price. Innocence cannot be left to stand in its way. As shocking as some of the classroom and reading material may be, it is all part of the inexorable logic of the situation playing itself out.

Classroom presentations by homosexuals or on the subject of homosexuality are invitations to obscenity and inevitably lead to the question asked by one boy during It’s Elementary: “How do you guys do it?” The response was, “We are not allowed to talk about our personal sex lives – we can't do that”. Nevertheless, with the question implanted, curious young minds will ineluctably be drawn to the subject of sodomy. “So that’s what those nice guys who talked with us do? There must not be anything wrong with it”. Mission accomplished – to make the abnormative normative before the children have developed their critical faculties of thought.

Everyone who has an affliction deserves respect and consideration. But respect does not require calling the affliction something other than what it is – much less its opposite. One cannot teach about sickness and at the same time call it health. It is much worse to promote moral sickness as moral well-being – especially to children.

To teach children that one’s orientation, sexual or otherwise, gives one license to perform acts that are inherently immoral is an evil teaching. It scandalizes the children. It also degrades the dignity of human free will and responsibility to teach that these acts are inevitable outcomes of “who we are”, rather than as freely chosen deeds with consequences in terms of both moral and physical health.

Robert R. Reilly is the author of The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He is currently completing a book on the natural law argument against homosexual marriage for Ignatius Press. This article reprinted from Mercatornet.com under a Creative Commons License. 

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Banning reparative therapy for gay minors is ‘a form of child abuse’: former homosexual (Video)

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By Ben Johnson

SPRINGFIELD, IL, February 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Not only would Illinois legislators not be protecting children by enacting a ban on “conversion therapy,” they would be engaging in “a form of child abuse,” according to a man who left the homosexual lifestyle three decades ago.

Stephen Black of the Restored Hope Network told the Illinois Family Institute that reparative therapy helps minors who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction.

While opponents have said that psychological counseling to reduce sexual attraction violates truth in advertising laws and borders on torture, Black described it as little more than “pastoral care for people who want to come out of homosexuality.”

The Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act (H.B. 217), introduced by Democratic State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, would ban such therapy for minors, subjecting medical professionals to discipline by the licensing or medical review board.

"It would be tragic not to allow someone to have self-determination," Black said. "It's a form of child abuse."

“You've got a teenager...[who] actually believes the Bible. He finds himself same-sex attracted,” Black said. “In the Bible...the loving thing to do is to repent, to turn away from this type of lifestyle.”

“Now, this legislation is going to come in and keep him from getting the help he wants,” Black said.

He added that such legislation undermines the family, which may wish to steer a child away from homosexuality – with its attendant higher risk of STDs, depression, and suicide.

Legislation such as H.B. 217 says that “government knows best,” according to Black, and “conflicts with religious liberties.”

He finds confirmation in an unlikely source – far-Left Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. As a state senator, Lieu introduced the ban on reparative therapy, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lieu said at the time, “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill.” Barack Obama endorsed Lieu in his successful race for U.S. Congress in 2014.

Stephen Black says he has benefited from reparative therapy himself. After converting to Christianity, he says he eventually left behind his homosexual attraction.

Today, he's a proud grandpa. And he says other teens should have that same opportunity.

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He knows society is quickly turning its back on traditional moral stands, but he and Restored Hope Network continue to uphold the Biblical standard on all sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage, however unpopular his view.

“It's not politically correct, but it's Biblically correct,” Black said.

The Illinois House rejected a similar ban last April. IFI and Concerned Women for America, among others, have asked citizens to urge elected officials to oppose the bill.  

(Story continues following video.)

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New research on same-sex households reveals kids do best with mom and dad

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By Mark Regnerus

February 27, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse.com) -- A new study published in the February 2015 issue of the British Journal of Education, Society, and Behavioural Science appears to be the largest yet on the matter of same-sex households and children’s emotional outcomes. It analyzed 512 children of same-sex parents, drawn from a pool of over 207,000 respondents who participated in the (US) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) at some point between 1997 and 2013.

Results reveal that, on eight out of twelve psychometric measures, the risk of clinical emotional problems, developmental problems, or use of mental health treatment services is nearly double among those with same-sex parents when contrasted with children of opposite-sex parents. The estimate of serious child emotional problems in children with same-sex parents is 17 percent, compared with 7 percent among opposite-sex parents, after adjusting for age, race, gender, and parent’s education and income. Rates of ADHD were higher as well—15.5 compared to 7.1 percent. The same is true for learning disabilities: 14.1 vs. 8 percent.

The study’s author, sociologist Paul Sullins, assessed a variety of different hypotheses about the differences, including comparative residential stability, experience of stigma or bullying, parental emotional problems (6.1 percent among same-sex parents vs. 3.4 percent among opposite-sex ones), and biological attachment. Each of these factors predictably aggravated children’s emotional health, but only the last of these—biological parentage—accounted for nearly all of the variation in emotional problems. While adopted children are at higher risk of emotional problems overall, being adopted did not account for the differences between children in same-sex and opposite-sex households. It’s also worth noting that while being bullied clearly aggravates emotional health, there was no difference in self-reported experience of having been bullied between the children of same-sex and opposite-sex parents.

Vocal critics, soon to emerge, will likely home in on the explanatory mechanism—the fact that two mothers or two fathers can’t possibly both enjoy a biological connection to a child—in suggesting the results of the study reveal nothing of value about same-sex households with children. On the contrary, the study reveals a great deal. Namely, there is no equivalent replacement for the enduring gift to a child that a married biological mother and father offer. It’s no guarantee of success. It’s not always possible. But the odds of emotional struggle at least double without it. Some critics might attribute the emotional health differences to the realities of “adoption by strangers,” but the vast majority of same-sex couples in the NHIS exhibited one parent with a biological relationship with the child.

Even research on “planned” same-sex families—those created using assisted reproductive technology (ART)—reveals the significance of biological ties. Sullins notes such studies

have long recognized that the lack of conjoined biological ties creates unique difficulties and relational stresses. The birth and non-birth mother . . . are subject to competition, rivalry, and jealousy regarding conception and mothering roles that are never faced by conceiving opposite-sex couples, and which, for the children involved, can result in anxiety over their security and identity.

The population-based study pooled over 2,700 same-sex couples, defined as “those persons whose reported spouse or cohabiting partner was of the same sex as themselves.” This is a measure similar to that employed in the US Census, but it has the advantage of clarity about the sexual or romantic nature of the partnership (being sure to exclude those who are simply same-sex roommates). Among these, 582 had children under 18 in the household. A battery of questions was completed by 512 of them.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

This is not the first time the NHIS data have been used to analyze same-sex households and child health. A manuscript presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Population Association of America assessed the same data. Curiously, that manuscript overlooked all emotional health outcomes. Instead, the authors inquired only into a solitary, parent-reported measure of their “perception of the child’s overall health,” a physical well-being proxy that varies only modestly across household types. Hence, the authors readily concluded “no differences.”

I’m not surprised.

This juxtaposition provides a window into the state of the social science of same-sex households with children. Null findings are preferred—and arguably sought—by most scholars and journal editors. Indeed, study results seem to vary by author, not by dataset. It is largely a different approach to the presentation of data that distinguishes those population-based studies hailed by many as proof of “no differences” from those studies denounced by the same people as “junk science.”

In fact, population-based surveys of same-sex households with children all tend to reveal the same thing, regardless of the data source. It’s a testimony to the virtues of random sampling and the vices of relying on nonrandom samples, which Sullins argues—in another published study—fosters “a strong bias resulting in false positive outcomes . . . in recruited samples of same-sex parents.” He’s right. Published research employing the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), the ECLS (Early Childhood Longitudinal Study), the US Census(ACS), the Canadian Census, and now the NHIS all reveal a comparable basic narrative, namely, that children who grow up with a married mother and father fare best at face value.

The real disagreement is seldom over what the data reveal. It’s how scholars present and interpret the data that differs profoundly. You can make the children of same-sex households appear to fare fine (if not better), on average, if you control for a series of documented factors more apt to plague same-sex relationships and households: relationship instability, residential instability, health and emotional challenges, greater economic struggle (among female couples), and—perhaps most significantly—the lack of two biological connections to the child. If you control for these, you will indeed find “no differences” left over. Doing this gives the impression that “the kids are fine” at a time when it is politically expedient to do so.

This analytic tendency reflects a common pattern in social science research to search for ‘‘independent’’ effects of variables, thereby overlooking—or perhaps ignoring—the pathways that explain how social phenomena actually operate in the real world. By way of a helpful comparison, I can state with confidence that after controlling for home ownership, residential instability, single parenthood, and neighborhood employment levels, there is no association between household poverty and child educational achievement. But it would be misleading to say this unless I made it clear that these were the pathways by which poverty hurts educational futures—because we know it does.

The academy so privileges arguments in favor of same-sex marriage and parenting that every view other than resounding support—including research conclusions—has been formally or informally scolded. I should know. The explosive reaction to my 2012 research about parental same-sex relationships and child outcomes demonstrates that far more is at work than seeking answers to empirical research questions. Such reactions call into question thepurpose and relevance of social science. Indeed, at least one sociologist holds that social science is designed “to identify and understand the various underlying causal mechanisms that produce identifiable outcomes and events of interest.” That this has not been the case with the study of same-sex households raises a more basic question.

Is the point of social science to win political arguments? Or is its purpose to better understand social reality?

What to Expect from a Topic Emerging from Its Infancy

One byproduct of better data—or perhaps the smell of impending victory by proponents of civil same-sex marriage in America—may be greater intellectual honesty about such relationships. Indeed, researchers have admitted the tendency to downplay “any inequities between same-sex partners . . . in part because of the dominant mantra that same-sex couples are more equal than different sex couples.”

It’s not the only consequential admission. Scholars are increasingly—and openly—squabbling over the nature of sexual orientation itself, signaling the comparative infancy of the social science here. Moreover, there’s a good deal of sexual identity switching being reported among young adults, a fact that does not comport with a honed narrative of immutability.

So should scholars trust self-reported sexual orientations? If people report something different a few years later, should we attribute this to their malleable sexuality or consider them heterosexual “jokesters” bent on messing with survey administrators? It is profoundly ironic that social scientists make strong social constructionist arguments about nearly everything except sexual orientation.

Stanford demographer Michael Rosenfeld’s survey project How Couples Meet and Stay Together (HCMST) reveals that while only 3 percent of heterosexual married persons reported being “at least sometimes attracted” to persons of a gender other than the gender of their current partner in the past year, the same was true of 20 percent of men in same-sex relationships and 33 percent of women in same-sex relationships. While the malleability of self-identified lesbian women is now taken for granted among social scientists of sexuality, the one-in-five figure among men in gay relationships is higher than most would guess.

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In keeping with the data, expect those robust legal arguments leaning on the immutability of sexual orientation to bleed out within the next five years. Indeed, sociologists have never been fans of such biological essentialism, but have kept their mouths shut out of a sense of political duty to a movement they helped birth. No more.

Social scientists will soon wrestle with, rather than overlook, the elevated levels of poverty among well-educated lesbian women in America (as seen in the ACS, NFSS, NHIS, and HCMST). Until now, scholars predictably elected to employ income as a control variable in their studies of child and adult life outcomes, enabling them to avoid confronting the reasons for the unprecedented negative association of education with income among the population of same-sex female couples. Here again, it’s not been about understanding but about winning political battles.

We will also learn much more about the relationship stability distinctions that are common in the data between gay and straight parents. Unpublished research exploring the stability rates of same-sex and opposite-sex couples using data from yet more population-based surveys finds that claims about thecomparability of same-sex and heterosexual couple stability (again, after a series of controls) are actually limited to couples without children. For couples with children, the dissolution rate for same-sex couples is more than double that of heterosexual couples. What remains unknown yet is whether this difference is an artifact that will disappear with legal marriage rights. I doubt it, given that same-sex relationships are distinctive in other ways, too. But it’s an empirical question.

As it turns out, the NFSS was not unique. It was simply more transparent than most datasets and offered a clearer glimpse into the messy reality of many Americans’ household histories. It did the work social science was intended to do—to richly describe and illuminate—but in so doing invited unprecedented hostility.

On a Thursday morning in late June 2015, Americans will be treated to the Court’s decision about altering an institution as old as recorded human history. But one thing that day will not change is the portrait of same-sex households with children. After a series of population-based data-collection projects, we know what that looks like: a clear step down, on average, from households that unite children with their own mother and father.

Biology matters—as new research released this week confirms—and no amount of legislation, litigation, or cheerleading can alter that. Whether the high court will elect to legally sever the rights of children to the security and benefits of their mother's and father’s home is anyone’s guess.

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute. 

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Michael Stokes Paulsen

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The case for imposing gay ‘marriage’ is remarkably similar to that for slavery. But can the GOP produce a new Abe Lincoln?

Michael Stokes Paulsen
By Michael Stokes Paulsen

February 27, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse.com) -- No, of course Old Abe never said a lick about same-sex marriage. The idea would have been unheard of in the 1850s—or even the 1950s. The issue of Lincoln’s day was slavery—in particular, the extension of that peculiar institution into federal territories and even into free states. But in connection with the slavery issue, Lincoln had plenty to say about the use and abuse of judicial authority to propagate social policy and about the dangers of judges usurping legislative authority. The man whose birth we honored two weeks ago thus spoke, indirectly, to one of the central controversies of our own era, and to a case pending before the Supreme Court right now.

Lincoln’s specific concern was the expansion of slavery into federal territories, mandated by the Supreme Court’s horrendous decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, in 1857. Lincoln warned of the prospect of a “second Dred Scott” decision following on the heels of the first, mandating the extension of slavery into (formerly) “free” states where the institution of slavery was banned, like Illinois. “We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free,” Lincoln intoned, in the famous House Divided speech launching his (unsuccessful) 1858 campaign for Senate, “and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois slave State.”

The logic of the Dred Scott case, Lincoln argued, would seem to imply that no state could deny recognition to the property rights of slaveholders coming from another state. Dred Scott had held that a right to own slave property, conferred by the laws of a slave state, bound the federal government, in administering federal territories that had not yet become states. Federal law could not ban slavery in the territories, for that would unfairly and unconstitutionally deprive slave-owners of a benefit they had possessed under state law, and thus deny them “due process of law.”

However convoluted and unpersuasive the Court’s reasoning, Lincoln recognized the implications of its logic: if the federal government had to recognize slavery as a result of some states’ laws, how could a free state (like Illinois) deny recognition to slave status conferred by a slave state’s laws (like Missouri’s)?

A House Divided

Lincoln warned that politicians and judges, like builders working according to a common plan, were preparing the framework to make slavery the uniform national rule: “Put that and that together, and we have a nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a state to exclude slavery within its limits.” And once that had happened, a state could scarcely deny to all citizens of a state the same “constitutional right” to the institution of slavery that it had to recognize to newcomers or travelers from slave states. A case presenting exactly these issues was kicking around in the New York courts, and seemed at the time destined to make it to the US Supreme Court, presenting the perfect opportunity for such a second Dred Scott.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln said, quoting Jesus. Lincoln did not expect the house to fall, but he did expect that “it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” The only way to prevent slavery from becoming the national rule was to resist the decision of the Supreme Court and to seek to prevent its extension—to “meet and overthrow the power of” the “political dynasty” that was seeking to extend slavery to the entire nation.

Lincoln lost that Senate campaign to the incumbent Stephen Douglas, but then beat Douglas in a rematch two years later, this time for the presidency. The rest, as they say, is history: southern states revolted against what they considered a revolting, lawlessly antislavery president; Lincoln considered it his constitutional duty to maintain the Union, faithfully execute the laws, and put down the rebellion; and during a four-year bloody Civil War that tragically claimed 620,000 lives—more than all of America’s other wars combined—Lincoln found it necessary to proclaim the emancipation of slaves held in the states in rebellion. The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery throughout the nation, was proposed by Congress 150 years ago this month, and Lee surrendered to Grant 150 years ago this April. Barely a week after that, Lincoln was killed by an assassin’s bullet—having seen, but never entered, the promised land of a nation free of slavery.

Parallels between Dred Scott and Windsor

So what does all this have to do with same-sex marriage? A lot. Two years ago, in the contrived test case of Windsor v. United States, a bare majority of Supreme Court justices held that a legal status conferred by state law had to be recognized within the federal sphere. The court held that to deny such a status, as federal law did, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

In legal form and substance, the decisions in Windsor and Dred Scott are surprisingly parallel. Windsor involved a same-sex marriage that was recognized by the state of New York but not recognized by the federal government due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Court held that DOMA denied “due process of law” because it withheld federal recognition to a state-law legal status. That is exactly the same thing the Court did in Dred Scott. Instead of marriage, Dred Scott involved the status of slavery, which was recognized by the state of Missouri, but not by federal law in federal territory. Scott’s master, a captain in the army, had taken Scott to Fort Snelling, in the free federal territory of present-day Minnesota. The federal Missouri Compromise of 1820 banned the status of slavery in federal territory north of a designated line. Dred Scott held that the Missouri Compromise denied “due process of law” because it withheld federal recognition to a state-law legal status. That is just what Windsor did with respect to DOMA.

In both Dred Scott and Windsor, the Court’s legal analysis was transparently result-oriented: the justices wanted a particular result, and manipulated the law to reach the outcome they thought preferable as a social-policy matter. In both cases, the majority’s “reasoning” wanders aimlessly before finally settling into the same oft-discredited judicial invention of “substantive due process”—the idea that it is simply morally wrong, or mean, for a democracy to deny a legal right or status conferred under the law of a different jurisdiction. In both cases, the majority opinions were subject to devastating dissents, and they produced greatly divided public reaction. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Dred Scott and Windsor are two peas from the same judicial-activist pod.

A Second Windsor?

Lincoln warned that there could be a “Second Dred Scott” making slavery national. “Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States. Welcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming.”

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Could there be a “Second Windsor” making same-sex marriage national?

Quite possibly yes. A case is now pending before the Supreme Court asking whether four states—Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee—acted unconstitutionally by not recognizing the status of same-sex marriages under their laws. Some of the plaintiffs are same-sex partners who were married under the laws of other states before moving to a state not recognizing such status. Other plaintiffs seek simply to be married in their home states, the laws of which limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Just as with Dred Scott and slavery, the logic of Windsor does not quite require extension to invalidate the laws of every state that denies same-sex marriage status. But an argument will be made that it does. The reasoning of Windsor is that it was gratuitously and indefensibly mean, and therefore unconstitutional, for the federal government to deny recognition to a same-sex marriage recognized under state law. Just as Lincoln asked with respect to Dred Scott, how likely is it the Court will say that a state can then deny to other state’s citizens, or even to its own, the status of same-sex marriage? “Put that and that together,” as Lincoln said, “and we have another nice little niche” for the next Supreme Court decision.

Same-sex marriage is obviously an entirely different social institution than slavery. Reasonable and honorable people today disagree about whether the traditional view of marriage as a conjugal and intrinsically male-female union should be abandoned for an understanding of marriage as embracing any sexual-romantic bond into which two (or more) people might enter. Nobody today disagrees about slavery.

But that is not the point. The point is that, in the structure and logic of the legal arguments made for judicial imposition of an across-the-board national rule requiring every state to accept the institutions, the two situations appear remarkably similar.

If recent lower court opinions on marriage are any guide, the judicial winds may be blowing on the marriage question in the same direction Lincoln seemed to perceive them blowing on the question of extending slavery into northern states by judicial decree. (Lincoln’s prediction probably would have proved right had he not been elected president.) As with slavery in the 1850s, so too with same-sex marriage in 2015: the house very likely will soon cease to be divided. I wouldn’t want to say it’s inevitable, but it is certainly possible that a Second Windsor is coming.

Will the Republican Party produce another Lincoln to stand against it?

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute

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