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Children thrive equally with same-sex, heterosexual parents, psychologist testifies at Prop. 8 trial

A Cambridge University developmental psychologist testified at a federal trial in San Francisco today that broad research has documented that children of same-sex parents are just as likely as those of heterosexual parents to be well-adjusted.

"Studies have found children do not require both a male and female parent," testified Michael Lamb, who heads Cambridge's Department of Social and Developmental Psychology.

Lamb was called by lawyers for two same-sex couples who are challenging Proposition 8 as a violation of federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. Proposition 8, approved by 52.3% of voters in 2008, amended the California constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

He said childhood adjustment is determined by the relationships parents have with children and their relationships to each other.

Lamb also said that studies show "no significant increase" in the proportion of children who become gay and lesbian when they are raised by same-sex couples rather than heterosexuals.

Children of same-sex couples are more vulnerable than their counterparts to be teased about their parents, but not more likely to be teased overall, he said. Lamb also said that children of gays and lesbians have fewer sexual stereotypes than children of heterosexuals.

Under questioning by a lawyer for the Proposition 8 campaign, Lamb admitted he was a member of the ACLU, the National Organization of Women, the NAACP, Amnesty International and the Nature Conservancy.

"And you have even given money to PBS, isn't that correct?" asked David H. Thompson, who is defending Proposition 8. Thompson suggested Lamb was "a committed liberal."

Thompson also elicited testimony from Lamb that "children clearly benefit when they have two parents, and both of them are actively involved."

Thompson said that 2000 census data showed that 33% of lesbian households and 22% of gay men household were raising children and that most studies have dealt with lesbian mothers rather than gay fathers.

-- Maura Dolan at the San Francisco federal courthouse

Comments () | Archives (17)

Will somebodoy please explain to me how giving money to PBS is relevant in this case? Thompson's line of questioning only reveals his own bias.

Veneer of science over politics.

They may be just fine, they may not, but the matter will never be settled in a legal or political forum.

OTOH, _anything_ beats crazy or disconnected parents unwilling or incapable of doing their job. A same-sex couple willing to go through all the trouble are likely to be people who really want to raise kids, and probably scrutinized heavily from the outside.
I'd be worried more about the kids being unpopular with other kids than about the parents - mebbe they should nudge them towards being athletes & cheerleaders to counteract that. PC indoctrination at school won't work - kids want to do anything other than sit in a chair and be lectured at.
Most adults too.

Since when does donating to public broadcasting cement an individual as "a committed liberal"?

Ever since the 70s, the relentless chant "X is liberal" has brought about a society where nothing is too extreme in the right-wing direction. Everything is extreme in the left-wing direction if it's not extreme in the right-wing direction. Sound odd? Why else would anyone on "mainstream" shows ask the head of the RNC if the latter though Obama was a socialist? Isn't the very question too stupid to merit a response - except in our country? What does PBS have to do with it? Nothing, except to elicit an AHA! on the part of the extremists who dominate public opinion. The very fact that we're putting civil rights up to a vote where people can express their preferences for or against human dignity is already proof how pathetic we are as a democracy.

Now this goes to show how far out of the mainstream the pro Prop 8 group is.
They don't even like PBS or protecting nature! Their lawyer rattles off these groups as if they were bad things. But then this is typical of the right wing in this country...if one is an expert in their field they are suspect and called an elitist. If one studies hard and achieves a doctorate you're not to be believed ..you're elitist.
They would rather listen to "common sense" people like Sarah Palin, even if their facts are wrong and they have no idea what they are talking about.
For the pro 8 people it isn't about the children or potevting marriage, it's about politics and trying to demonize a group of citizens for political gain.

If it's true that "children clearly benefit when they have two parents [and I think we're safe in assuming Thompson means the children's biological ones], and both of them are actively involved," where are the bans on divorce (at least until one day after the youngest child's 18th birthday), single parenthood, and out-of-wedlock childbirth? At the very least, stop blaming gays for other people's failure to keep their families together.

What the studies on "same-sex couples" show is that children do well reared in households with their birth mothers without fathers when those birth mothers are not plagued by poverty, multiple family transitions, marital strife or divorce custody wrangling with hostile nonresidential males, and other data-confounding problems, and that their mothers' sexual orientation is of little or no relevance. The studies say very little about a generic "children reared in same-sex couple households", and should not be misrepresented as doing so.

Imagine that.

People are people.

Even our gay offspring. They're people, too.

Imagine. That.

Now hows about we stop abusing our gay offspring via the law and give them back what we have wrongly and contemptuously taken from them. A human being's rights are not debatable. They are not for the public to confirm or deny. And we have done so immorally and at the expense of our gay offspring's lives.

This is the very least we can do. The very least.

Apparently Michael Lamb is unaware that numerous qualified research investigators, including some prominent pro-gay researchers who have conducted homosexual parenting studies, have found that studies on the question of homosexual parenting have serious methodological flaws and that no generalizations can be drawn from them. (Patterson, 2000, 2004; Shumm, 2004; Lerner & Nagai, 2001; Nock, 2001; Fitgzerald , 1999; Sears, 1994; and Rekers and Kilgus, 2002).

What we need to be aware of is that traditional marriage was not created by civil law or religion. It is the recognition of the natural law that exists for all children. Without exception all children have both a mother and a father and it is natural for a child to want a mother and a father, rather than two mothers or two fathers. Some psychotherapists who treat children of same sex parents are reporting that the children do indeed long for the gendered parent they never knew. While it is true that sometimes heterosexual couples fall short of providing their children the stable marriage they need, homosexual parenting will inherently deny a child either a mother or a father, leaving the child with a black hole where a mother or father should be. If we were to inject an equivalent new change into the mating and child rearing habits of other species, environmentalists would be screaming. That some couples would intentionally set up a child to be motherless or fatherless because they want to be parents is profound. For a whole society to do so is overwhelmingly profound.

The preservation of traditional marriage puts what is best for children, as determined by natural law, above all else.

In response to Kevin posted at 11:25am. I think comparing raising human children to other animals/species actually undermines your argument. There is much diversity in how other species rear their young and if both a male and female of that species is involved. In some case the "father" doesn’t stick around at all - vanishing after mating occurs, while others the male is the primary care giver. And in many instances the females pair up with other females and co-raise the offspring. Nature actually disproves your theory. What nature actually shows is that the young thrive when well care for, regardless of the gender of what is caring for it. Even among our own species we can find great variation of how children are raised if you step out of suburban American. In many cultures/countries men are basically not involved at all, in others very much so, and in some the children are equally cared for by multiple members in their family (cousins, aunts, siblings). Again, what is shown, over and over, is a child thrives when it is loved and cared for and who does the loving and caring can be incredibly diverse.

In response to vv, whilc I respect your opinion, nothing changes the fact that some children raised by same sex parents long for the gendered parent they never knew, as reported by therapists treating such children. Your argument that in some species only one parent raises their young doesn't change the statistics that single parent homes are a major component in juvenile delinquency. Furthermore, if a child is given the choice of a loving father and mother in a stable marriage over two mothers or two fathers, what do you honestly think the child will choose?

I am amazed at the manner in which "vv" disputes a single obscure reference by "Kevin" about animals, while conveniently ignoring the numerous studies Michael Lamb has chosen to disregard about homosexual parenting, which as Kevin points out, have methodological flaws which keep them from being able to provide generalizations about the topic.

This brings to mind the old adage about "making a mountain out of a mole hill", which, in this case, involves simultaneously bulldozing the existing mountain of evidence out of the way, to make room for the "mountain" you just made from the mole hill. A great example of mental gymnastics on the part of "vv"...

Interesting citations, Kevin, but methodological concerns can mean a lot of things, many of which needn't affect the validity of the study's results at all.

I don't see why homosexual parents should have to prove anything all all, personally. My impression is that if someone wants to take rights away from you, like the right to parent, they have to prove they had the right and/or justification to do it.

"vv" has made a fine point, that as usual the simplified and idealistic world of the pro-8 crowd simply doesn't exist. Kids, and all offspring on this planet, are raised in a variety of ways. Would a human child choose married, opposite sex parents? Probably, but so what? Is that going to return an orphan's parents from the dead? Will we legally force childless heterosexual parents to adopt him? Are we going to ban divorce, so that a child's biological parents can't part because it's best for him? If not, we've no business talking about the one ideal situation, because never before have we put the force of law into making sure it happens.

Response to Zach:
As I stated in my blog, it was because of the methodological flaws that no generalizations regarding same sex parenting could be drawn. Either Michael Lamb was unaware of that fact or chose not to mention it.

No one is taking the rights away from homosexuals to parent - marriage is not a requirement for adoption in California. Since you agree that, given the choice, a child would choose opposite sex married parents over same sex parents, why would you be in favor of encouraging a situation that would inherently deny a child that option? There are many childless heterosexual couples who would love to fulfill a child’s wish of a mother and a father.

Kevin, I've not read your blog, but since I don't believe homosexuals should have to prove anything at all as the burden should be on their detractors to prove their accusations, I really don't care if you've found a few researchers with criticisms of these studies. Since often times detractors blow such criticisms out of proportion as an excuse to dismiss research, I'm pretty skeptical of your vague, sweeping claim.

Now, there are still lots of unadopted kids in the foster system. Kids may WANT their biological, opposite sex parents, but what they NEED is a stable, caring, supportive home environment. I don't know why you'd deny them from getting that from a loving homosexual couple, opting instead to let them take their chances with the foster system as they wait for your ideal parents to appear. My guess is because it's not really about the kids, but making a moral statement.

Kevin, you undermine your own point here:

"... some children raised by same sex parents long for the gendered parent they never knew, as reported by therapists treating such children. Your argument that in some species only one parent raises their young doesn't change the statistics that single parent homes are a major component in juvenile delinquency..."

The first statement is highly anecdotal (the "some" gives it away), and for every "I wish I knew my bio-dad/mom" anecdote there's a "I wish my two moms/two dads could get married" anecdote. It's a pretty baseless foundation for a law in either case.

Your second statement, that single-parent homes are statistically correlated with juvenile delinquency, supports a conclusion that two married homosexuals make better parents than one single heterosexual.

Also, vv's statement, while not changing the statistic you mention, does effectively counter your earlier argument that heterosexual/traditional marriages are supported by "natural law."

There's a word for changing the rules in the middle of a game you're losing, in logic as in anything else: cheating. If you can't make your case without resorting to it, you may not have a very good case to begin with.

Kevin - if you're going to try to prove that "studies on the question of homosexual parenting have serious methodological flaws", perhaps you should try citing at least 1 paper that was written in the last 5 years? Are we assuming that no one has done a relevant study since 2004?

Secondly, it's interesting that you claim that the studies showing positive outcomes for same-sex parenting have flaws, while ignoring the fact that studies showing predominantly negative outcomes for such parenting don't even exist. Shouldn't the burden of proof be on those who claim that the outcomes are different and who are trying to use that argument to prevent same-sex couples from having children?

As far as "natural law", by your argument it looks like divorce, single-parenting, and in-vitro fertilization should be banned before gay marriage.


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