Wednesday was not a good day for Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery: During a Senate hearing to repeal the odious Defense of Marriage Act, the equally odious Minnery tried to make the case for opposing marriage equality, only to have Sen. Patrick Leahy make him admit that DOMA harms the children of gay parents. It only got worse—or better, depending on your viewpoint—after that. Sen. Al Franken ripped apart Minnery’s written testimony that claimed a federal study indicated children of gay parents suffered a slew of ill effects. “I checked the study out,” Franken said. “It doesn’t say what you say it says.” The study cited “nuclear families,” which as Franken pointed out could encompass gay parents as well.
It’s not often that you get an audience to laugh at a congressional hearing, but Franken did—at Minnery’s expense. Guess those years at SNL paid off.
Way to go Senator Franken! Standing up for Gay Americans. Another reason why we need to organize a Dump Klobuchar campaign.
Wow, I would totally vote for Franken for president. This man cuts through all the bullshite in DC big time.
Do we know if the study actually included married same-sex couples raising children? Not that I have any desire whatsoever to provide cover for Focus on the Family, mind you. But the facts matter. When was this study conducted? At the time the study was conducted, how many states allowed same-sex couples to marry and for both spouses to adopt/be legally designated as the child’s parents?
I would like to think the study really does include same-sex households in what it refers to as the nuclear family. I’m just not ready to make that leap without more complete information about the study. Hopefully Franken had that information at his disposal and we can trust his characterization to be true.
Interesting that the Focus rep didn’t raise those issues himself. That potentially tells us that:
1) He doesn’t know, either
Or more likely:
2) Focus and company didn’t care to know. Just as this bunch has done all along, they think they can baffle everyone with their BS.
Awesome!!! I love, love, love to see people get taken down a notch when they warp facts to suit their own goals and needs and don’t view things objectively.
@Elloreigh: From the clip, it sounded like the study was from 2010 and the important part of the clip is how Minnery stated “nuclear families” was a man and a woman and how it DIDN’T state that in the study. Did you hear something differently from the clip?
I love this clip. It’s simply a joy to watch over and over.
@Elloreigh: Countless other studies have proven that children with two mommies often surpass children raised by a mother and a father by leaps and bounds. There have also been studies to show that children with two fathers often surpass those raised by a mother and a father as well.
The biggest thing is that gay and lesbian people actually choose to have children and do so at times that they can actually afford to provide love and support to those children. That makes it much easier for gays and lesbians to provide more for their children.
@scott ny’er: Precisely.
Franken wasn’t saying the study necessarily included s/s couples, just that it didn’t specifically exclude them as Minnery claimed.
Thank you Al Franken for digging a little deeper and divulging the truthful purpose of the report. This is so typical of the underhanded rewriting and purposefully skewing the truth, just as they cherry pick from bible.
The author has come out and said that the study did include same-sex couples. http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2011/07/tom-minnery-you-were-wrong.html
@scott ny’er: Yes, I understand Franken’s point was that Minnery “reinterpreted” (i.e., lied about) what the study said.
My point is that we would need to know whether or not the study actually contained same-sex couples before we can truthfully say whether the authors meant their use of “parents” to be genderless, or whether they – like Minnery – presumed opposite sex couples.
@Roman: Why do you want to dump Amy Klobuchar and what difference would it make as they’re both currently senators?
Al Franken has proved to be an excellent senator, as this display proved. So smart.
@Daez: “countless” studies? No. Actually a very few, though the findings amongst those few are consistently favorable toward same-sex couples. My point is not to question those findings, but to point out that there need to be more to replicate the results and reinforce them.
“Do we know if the study actually included married same-sex couples raising children? Not that I have any desire whatsoever to provide cover for Focus on the Family, mind you. But the facts matter. When was this study conducted? At the time the study was conducted, how many states allowed same-sex couples to marry and for both spouses to adopt/be legally designated as the child’s parents?”
Most of your questions were answered in the video.
1. The study used gener neutral words and did not specify a husband or a wife. Therefore, yes, gay parents are included in the findings.
2. The study was conducted in 2010, so that would mean that Iowa, most of new England, and Washington DC had marriage, and Maryland, and NY allowed outside married couples. Also included would be the 18,000 legally marriaged gay couples in CA. that were married before prop 8.
@scott ny’er: What we didn’t hear was whether or not any actual same-sex nuclear families were included in the study. It could be that they were, but their definition does not guarantee that that is the case. If there were no same-sex families in the study’s sample then we cannot draw conclusions about the relationship between family structure and outcome for one group (homosexual couples within the family) from another (heterosexual couples). It would be like trying to draw conclusions about the health of seniors from a health analysis of 20-something year old college students.
This doesn’t necessarily invalidate Franklyn’s argument that Focus on the Family misinterpreted the parameters of the study, but it does have bearing on what actual conclusions we can draw from the study. This also does not speak to the methodology used in the study. Had it been a cross-sectional survey based study of outcomes I’d question the results either way.
No. 5 · scott ny’er wrote, “@Elloreigh: From the clip, it sounded like the study was from 2010 and the important part of the clip is how Minnery stated “nuclear families” was a man and a woman and how it DIDN’T state that in the study. Did you hear something differently from the clip?”
The study as quoted by Franklin had a definition of a nuclear family that includes families in a married couple have the same sex. It’s possible that the families in the study were only ones in which the married couple had opposite sexes – for example, if the sample did not include states where same-sex marriages are legal or if by chance same-sex couples didn’t appear in the sample. But, you’d have to go through the data in detail to tell, and Minnery probably didn’t given that he did not have an answer to Franklin’s criticism. Unfortunately, nobody in the video talked about how many families were in the study and how they were selected.
Minnery had another possible reply as well – since same-sex marriages are a tiny fraction of all marriages (only a few percent of the population is gay or lesbian and same-sex marriages have been legal in only a handful of states for only a few years), the number of same-sex marriages in the study could be too small to draw any meaningful conclusion about them. The fact that he didn’t think of that (at least during the hearing) might tell you something about what he actually did (which was probably to not think at all).
So, most likely Minnery got caught making up “facts”, but Franklin actually showed a lack of understanding as well regarding what such studies might actually measure.
@Cam: The use of gender neutral words doesn’t mean households headed by same-sex couples were included. You’re making an assumption that’s unwise to make.
Likewise, the legality of marriage in certain states doesn’t mean that researchers automatically included same-sex couples in their studies. Again, you’re making an assumption that’s unwise to make.
Notice I haven’t said that same-sex couples were excluded from those studies. I’m not making that assumption, just as I’m not assuming they were included. Point being, we don’t know, absent someone digging up the actual study to see what demographics were represented in it.
@B: Yes – that was exactly my point. Minnery seems to have assumed that only opposite-sex couples were represented, and Franken basically caught him in a lie about the language used by the survey. Gender-neutral language and the existence of same-sex marriage recognition aren’t guarantees that the survey was inclusive. It tells us nothing about the demographics or methodology of the survey.
Franken says he took a look at the survey, so it’s plausible that he knows more than was communicated in his exchange with Minnery. Plausibility doesn’t equal certainty, though.
I think it is indeed very telling that Minnery didn’t raise any of this.
@Daez: can you post links to those studies by any chance? or were you just referencing off the top of your head?
@Elloreigh: according to the link provided by patric at No. 10. The author of the study did include same sex couples.
. 20 · chpinnlr wrote, “@Elloreigh: according to the link provided by patric at No. 10. The author of the study did include same sex couples.”
What that link says is that ‘“Sen. Franken is right,” the lead author of the study told POLITICO. The survey did not exclude same-sex couples, said Debra L. Blackwell, Ph.D., nor did it exclude them from the “nuclear family” category provided their family met the study’s definition.’
The problem is that nobody said how many same-sex couples were in the study. The number could have been so small that you wouldn’t be able to say much of anything about them due to sampling error. Note that “did not exclude” does not mean “included”: just because there was no criteria excluding same-sex couples does not mean that couples that ended up being randomly selected included same-sex ones.
Regardless, Minnery showed that he really didn’t have a clue as to what he was babbling about – it is merely a question of precisely what he got wrong.
OK I am still confused here, some smart gay help me! The study came out in 2010 and the research was conducted in 2001 to 2007 so no gay married couples existed then and thus they were not included in the nuclear family definition of the study. What is Al Franken trying to point out exactly?
@chpinnlr: Seriously? Your evidence is another article on another blog covering the same story, with no more information on the actual study than what has been put forth here?
Sorry, but that’s just plain laughable.
Focus on the Family is run by the biggest anti-gay Closet Case of all time, James Dobson.
Found the study:
The survey covers 2001 – 2007. The only state recognizing same-sex couples at that time was Massachusetts (2004).
Here’s the problem: Because of DOMA, same-sex couples are not recognized as married by the federal government. The agency responsible for this report, the CDC (which is under the Department of Health & Human Services), would likely adhere to that federal definition of marriage, excluding same-sex couples.
So I think Franken is wrong – I don’t think this report categorizes married same-sex couples with children as “nuclear families”.
All Franken is not wrong, the study does NOT say same sex couples cause the problems Minnery says. It only defends nuclear families.
A simple web search of gay parents better parents links a decent amount of studies and articles that can be reviewed.
No. 25 · Elloreigh wrote, “Found the study: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_246.pdf The survey covers 2001 – 2007. The only state recognizing same-sex couples at that time was Massachusetts (2004). Here’s the problem: Because of DOMA, same-sex couples are not recognized as married by the federal government. The agency responsible for this report, the CDC (which is under the Department of Health & Human Services), would likely adhere to that federal definition of marriage, excluding same-sex couples. So I think Franken is wrong – I don’t think this report categorizes married same-sex couples with children as ‘nuclear families’.”
Franken was probably right about the definition but irrelevant. The study defined a “nuclear family” as one that “consists of one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all children in the family.” This definition includes both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Unless the researchers screwed up, this is an accurate description of the data they used. The catch: since only Massachusetts recognized same-sex marriages at the time, and not for very long, and given the constraint – all children being biological or adoptive children of both parents – there are most likely very few nuclear families in which both parents have the same sex in the study.
The CDC does not care about DOMA: it cares about health, and is not going to change definitions to fit some irrelevant act of Congress anymore than a mathematician would have used 3 for the value of pi had a silly state law passed in 1897: http://www.snopes.com/religion/pi.asp – “In 1897 the Indiana House of Representatives unanimously passed a measure redefining the area of a circle and the value of pi. (House Bill no. 246, introduced by Rep. Taylor I. Record.) The bill died in the state Senate.”
So basically, the result is that you can’t say anything one way or the other about such families based on the data collected in this particular study. Minnery jumped to an invalid conclusion, and Franken failed to realize that the study actually didn’t study nuclear families with same-sex parents as those were not in a separate category.
@Elloreigh: Oh right Massachusetts…
@B Since no one has come up with a count of same-sex vs opposite-sex couples in this particular study, for all you actually know ALL the couples in this study are same-sex couples. For all you know, the number of opposite-sex couples in the study was so small as to make them statistically irrelevant.
The author of the study has come out and said that Franken was right. The author wouldn’t have said that if there were no same-sex couples in the study.
Why are you so willing to accept without an actual statement that thre study included “mostly” hetero couples but no willing to accept the author of the study means same-sex couples are included when the author states Franken is right?
You seem awfully willing to give the benefit of the doubt to hetero couples and at the same time give NONE to same-sex couples. And, the FACTS are that you don’t know the data for either group (hetero or same-sex) in the study.
@timncguy: If the author is affirming that “nuclear families” included same-sex couples who were married, with both being the biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the household (as defined by the study), then how is he defining married as applied to those same-sex couples? He can’t be using the federal legal definition, since DOMA doesn’t allow for those couples to be recognized as married. Is he using a state definition of legal marriage? If so, that would only apply to couples married in Massachusetts for the time period surveyed (while the report was published in 2010, the data is from the period of 2001-2007). Is he counting same-sex couples legally married in other countries, such as Canada? Is he relying on couples self-reporting themselves as married?
More questions than answers at this point.
@Daez: Or a number of sites all reporting on the same limited number of studies. Define “decent number of studies” for us, please.
@B: “The CDC does not care about DOMA”
So you think they just made up their own definition of marriage to use in this study, then?
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