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Monday 08 November 2010

The Australian Christian Right Versus Adoption Reform: The "Research" (Sic)

Posted in: Politics and Religion
By Craig Young - 6th September 2010

The New South Wales Parliament's Lower House passed its adoption reform bill, which still has to pass the upper house before it can become law. In the interests of clear and accurate debate, I thought I'd focus on what the Australian Christian Right is actually saying about same-sex parenting.

Firstly, though, what does mainstream, evidence-based and peer reviewed medical and social scientific research say about same-sex parenting? As Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz noted in their benchmark literature review about the existing social scientific, pediatric and developmental psychology research, published in peer reviewed professional journals and upheld as policy by most mainstream US child welfare organisations, the key findings are these:

Same-sex parenting demonstrates strong interpersonal spousal and parental communication skills. Gay male parents are good boundary setters when it comes to discipline and same-sex parenting doesn't adversely affect educational and employment options of adult children. Sons of same-sex parents have better interpersonal communication skills than those raised in straight families, while daughters have better likelihood of non-traditional future employment, higher wages and better employment prospects.

Of course, you won't find any of the above in the Australian Christian Right's propaganda against same-sex parenting. I was going to review the Australian Christian Lobby's "Kids Rights Count" in this article, but as the website is now down (possibly due to the Rekers NARTH link it held beforehand), I decided to focus on Salt Shakers, Family Voice and the Australian Christian Lobby publications against same-sex parenting instead. I found some sadly familiar pieces of junk 'science' amidst their propaganda and parliamentary submissions. Just like their New Zealand counterparts.

For example, the Australian Christian Lobby and Salt Shakers cite the work of Paul Cameron, George Rekers, David Popenoe, Saran Sarantokos, Steven Nock, David Lerner and Althea Nagai in their attempted "rebuttals" of mainstream same-sex parenting research.

Popenoe is a social conservative activist and his work has been repeatedly criticised in mainstream family sociologist circles for its selective citation of materials that suit his own position. Sarantokos work deals primarily with the subjective impressions of teachers in specific contexts, as opposed to anything substantive about same-sex parenting. Nock, Lerner and Nagai are social conservative 'hired gun' social scientists who attack procedures and research of other disciplines that they themselves lack any professional competence in. George Rekers has been declared a 'nonperson' in his former National Association for Research and Treatment of Homosexuality "exgay" group due to that unfortunate rent boy baggage handler incident. As for Paul Cameron, what hasn't been said about this charlatan's abuse of research ethics, expulsion from professional associations due to that abuse and other instances of his lack of any mainstream credibility as a 'social scientist?'

All that the above demonstrates is that as ever, the US Christian Right is still the pusher of propaganda, rhetoric, strategy and tactics to its satellites in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. These derivative pressure groups cite pseudoscientists, hired guns and ideologues with no professional standing within mainstream child welfare, health and development organisations whatsoever. On the other hand, LGBT community organisations, lobby groups and the aforementioned mainstream child health, welfare and development organisations support same-sex parenting reforms.

Strongly Recommended:
Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz: “How Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?” American Sociological Review (April 2001): 158-183.
Greg Herek (University of California): Paul Cameron Rebuttals:
Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz: Critique of Steven Nock:

Additional Evidence-Based Rebuttals of the Above:
Ellen Perrin and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health: "Technical Report: Coparent and Second Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents:" Pediatrics: 109: 2: (February 2002): 341-344.
Affidavit of Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz: Court File No 39/2001: Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court): Halpern et al v Canada (Attorney-General) et al/ Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto v Canada (Attorney-General) et al:
Declaration of Judith Stacey: Circuit Court: State of Oregon, County of Multnomah: Li and Kennedy et al and Multnomah County v State of Oregon et al and Defense of Marriage Coalition et al: No. 0403-03057 0403-03057.
Provided to: Markowitz, Herbold, Glade and Mehlhof: Suite 3000, Pacwest Centre, 1211 South West Fifth Avenue: Portland, Oregon: 97204-37.

Dr.Stacey herself can be contacted at:

Craig Young - 6th September 2010

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