Good News for Mary Cheney: Focus on the Family is Wrong About Same-sex Parents

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A New York Times story about Mary Cheney's pregnancy included a statement from Focus on the Family spokesperson Carrie Gordon Earll, who questioned the expecting mother's judgment. In response, Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes issued a statement congratulating Cheney and condemning Focus on the Family. This article includes highlights and commentary on recent social science research on this topic.

In today's New York Times, a story about Mary Cheney's pregnancy included a statement from Focus on the Family spokesperson Carrie Gordon Earll, who questioned the expecting mother's judgment: "Just because it's possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn't mean it's the best for the child."

In response, Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes issued the following statement: "We wish Mary Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, a future full of love and joy. We find it unconscionable that Focus on the Family has exploited their good news in order to once again ignore or distort the social science research on same-sex parent families."

Lutes, who is himself a family therapist and a father, continued, "Focus on the Family's views do not reflect the mainstream of American professional organizations concerned with researching and promoting children's wellbeing, nor do they reflect the consensus of credible, peer reviewed research."

In 2004, a policy statement from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy reported "no evidence that same-sex couples or family units vary significantly from heterosexual couples or family units in terms of aspirations, hopes and goals, or in outcomes for children." Many other organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have issued position statements in support of adoption rights and protections for same sex parents and their children.

In 2001, sociologists Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz published a comprehensive review of the social science research on lesbian and gay parenting in the American Sociological Review. In an interview, Dr. Stacey concluded that "there is not a single, respectable social scientist conducting and publishing research in this area today who claims that gay and lesbian parents harm children."

In a 2006 interview in the Wisconsin State Journal, Stacey commented on the most recent wave of research: "The kids are fine. There's no evidence whatsoever that children of gay and lesbian parents have noticeably different outcomes on mental health."

In fact, Stacey commented, children of same-sex parents may turn out even better by some measures: "It's not because of the sexuality but because of selection factors. It's because these are wanted children…. When you're looking at heterosexual parenting, you have a lot of accidental" pregnancies.

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to http://www.soulforce.org.

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PAIGE SCHILT

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