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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Harm? What "Harm?"

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 12th February 2009

While examining new volumes about same-sex marriage, I noticed that the Religious Right has a new one out-a new effort by right-wing Mormon opponent of same-sex marriage, Lynn Wardle.

"Bad research": Lynn Wardle
Wardle is a law professor at Utah's Brigham Young University, and also a frontline opponent of same-sex marriage, both in the United States and abroad. He argues that two straight parents are needed for parenting, that lesbian and gay relationships carry 'risks' to any children brought up by same-sex parents, such as relationship instability and breakup, as well as 'premature sexualisation' of children and the absence ofopposite sex parents as role models, as well as the 'narratives' ofchildren who exist in same-sex led families.

Wardle is no stranger to long-term observers of the US Christian Right. He visited New Zealand in the late nineties, as a guest of Bruce Logan and his former Education Development Foundation, before it metamorphosed into the Maxim Institute. Wardle has also spoken before the conservative interfaith World Congress of Families (1997-8), and testified before the US Congress over the federal Defence of Marriage Act and the failed Federal Marriage Amendment.

Insidiously, his book is entitled What's the Harm: Does Legalising Same-Sex Marriage Really Harm Individuals, Families and Society? Some idea of his agenda can be derived from his table of contents, which asks whether the introduction of same-sex marriage "harms" families and childrearing, responsible sexual behaviour and childbearing, relationships and the meaning of marriage, and basic human freedoms and institutions.

I see, and there's already sufficient reliable evidence-based, concrete long-term research proof of "harm" from the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Massachuesetts to "prove" there is, is there?

It's usually quite easy to detect invalid attributions within what passes for Christian Right social science. Usually, it fails to pass muster due to small sample size, short sampling duration, bad research design, 'cherry picking' data sets from larger bodies of mainstream research that show quite the opposite, or misquoting research findings and taking them completely out of context. That is, when they're not criticising research frameworks with inapplicable models used in other disciplines. Then there's the Christian Right/New Right marriage movement, which is highly selective in its analyses, only cherry picking research that substantiates its conservative views of marriage and family structures, and erroneously comparing solo parents to dual parent same-sex led families.

"Harm?" What "harm?"


Lynn Wardle: What's the Harm: Does Legalising Same-Sex Marriage Really Harm Individuals, Families and Society?Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America: 2008.

Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz: "Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?" American Sociological Review: 58: 2: April 2001: 158-183.

[The definitive progay research overview on same-sex led families].

Craig Young - 12th February 2009