I wish more attention was focused on how religious right groups and talking heads distort science to denigrate the lgbtq community.

There is a Pulitzer just waiting for the intrepid reporter who can break down this decades old story. At any rate, until that happens, it’s up to us bloggers to make these facts known.

And Think Progress just did:

Focus on the Family’s duplicity is not always obvious, but execution of their anti-gay rhetoric is becoming more transparent. In a post yesterday, FOTF’s director of Global Family Formation Studies Glenn T. Stanton boasted that a new study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business proves that boys benefit behaviorally from having “a home with a mom and a dad”:

STANTON: This supports over three decades of consistent research showing that kids who grow up in a home with their married parents tend to do better in all measures of educational attainment than their peers being raised in single, divorced and cohabiting-parent homes. This is true from everything from grade-point average, behavioral issues, high school graduation and going on to graduate from college. Moms and dads both matter here, as well as the type of relationship between them.

But though FOTF is clearly trying to use this as evidence against same-sex marriage, the study did not prove anything “against” same-sex parents.  The study in question (PDF here) did not, in fact, address same-sex parenting whatsoever, but instead compared children raised by married heterosexual parents to children raised by a single mother. It is one of many “fatherless” studies that conservative groups use to conflate not having a father/having one mother with having two mothers. Recall when Sen. Al Franken eviscerated FOTF’s Tom Minnery at a July Senate hearing for attempting to do the very same thing.

If anything, the Booth study supports arguments in favor of marriage equality, because it found that it was neither family structure nor biology that were the direct cause of differences in boys’ behavior, but environmental factors determined by levels of parental input. Stanton’s conclusions reflect nothing found in the actual research data — merely his discriminating ideology.

It should be known that scientific distortions is old hat for Stanton. In March 2008,  he claimed that there’s a “clear consensus” among anthropologists that “A family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female.”

However, those with expertise in such matters vehemently disagreed with this claim.

The American Anthropological Association in particular wrote a letter to Focus on the Family calling out Stanton for his error, calling it a gross misrepresentation of the position of the anthropological community on gay marriage:

My name is Damon Dozier, and I am the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Director of Public Affairs. In this capacity, I am responsible for the Association’s full range of government relations, media relations, and international affairs programs. Founded in 1902, the AAA—11,000 members strong—is the world’s largest organization of men and women interested in anthropology. Its purposes are to encourage research, promote the public understanding of anthropology, and foster the use of anthropological information in addressing human problems.

I write to address the gross misrepresentation of the position of the anthropological community on gay marriage in your March 3, 2008 Citizen Link press release, “Anthropologists Agree on Traditional Definition of Marriage.” In the release, Glenn Stanton, an employee of your organization who does not identify himself as an anthropologist, asserts that “a family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female.”

In point of fact, the AAA Executive Board issued in 2004, the following statement in response to President Bush’s proposal for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:

The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

I am alarmed and dismayed at this example of irresponsible journalism and deliberate misrepresentation of the anthropological community. In the future it is my hope that your organization will accurately and honestly convey and communicate the views and interests of the AAA, its 11,000 members, and the social science community at large.

Damon Dozier
Director of Public Affairs
American Anthropological Association
2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600
Arlington, VA 22201
703.528.1902
ddozier@aaanet.org



Hat tip to Box Turtle Bulletin for this letter.

Related post:

Twelfth researcher complains about religious right distortion of her work