Gay parents and appropriate science

I just read an article on why gay parents may be better parents, on average, than straight parents and I was reminded of some common abuses of science. These abuses were markedly absent; the article took the time to qualify what it was saying, calling speculation just that, pointing out when a point should be construed narrowly and not broadly, and generally being scientifically appropriate. Here is my favorite part:

The bottom line, [New York University sociologist Judith] Stacey said, is that people who say children need both a father and a mother in the home are misrepresenting the research, most of which compares children of single parents to children of married couples. Two good parents are better than one good parent, Stacey said, but one good parent is better than two bad parents. And gender seems to make no difference. While you do find broad differences between how men and women parent on average, she said, there is much more diversity within the genders than between them.

Emphasis added.

Most of the article is on a few studies and the reasoning behind their conclusions – gay parents tend to choose to become parents whereas straight parents do it by accident about half of the time – but I really liked this part. It is so often that bigots go around and misrepresent the data. They love to look at studies comparing X to Y and then extrapolate it all to Z without any justification at all. I would say it is purely an ideological thing, but when we’re talking about sexuality and religion is involved (as it is with the particular bigot to whom I linked), I suspect sexual insecurity is a huge factor as well. It’s sad.

I’m glad LiveScience took the time to show an appreciation for science.

Catholics, adoption, intolerance, and non-acceptance

A friend recently made a post on Facebook where I felt she did not distinguish between intolerance and non-acceptance. I’ve written about the issue before, so I naturally responded. I think it’s more than a mere semantics issue: If we conflate intolerance with non-acceptance, we bring everything into a false equivalence, often causing us to overlook actual issues of intolerance. Let’s take the issue of Catholic adoption agencies in Illinois:

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money.

This is blatant intolerance. Rather than continue placing orphaned children into loving homes, these Catholics are actively seeking to impede the rights of others by way of shutting everything down. If they weren’t legally bound, there is no doubt they simply wouldn’t allow gay adoptions at all – ya know, since that’s the sort of intolerance they had been practicing for decades.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, look at the gall of these people:

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services.

I suppose the Bishop is technically right. No one is willing to tolerate his bigotry, so that is itself a form of intolerance. Of course, this is nothing more than a caveat: Intolerance is unacceptable except where it has a compelling reason. I think that much is implied, assumed, and understood. The Bishop is trying to exploit an unspoken yet implicit issue in order to gain pity for discriminating Catholics. It’s pathetic.

It should be obvious to any thinking person that this really isn’t a matter of mere semantics. If we’re going to allow people to run around, without challenge, claiming they are facing intolerance, as if connotations and implied meaning have no place in language, then real issues of intolerance – such as gays not being allowed to adopt – will have far less impact in the public mind when they are identified and pointed out: the dilution of language is always the dilution of meaning.

via Friendly Atheist.

Moral progress in Arkansas

The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled the will of the people of Arkansas invasive and unwarranted:

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a voter-approved initiative that barred gay couples and other unmarried people living together from serving as adoptive or foster parents.

Associate Justice Robert L. Brown wrote for the court that the law would encroach on adults’ right to privacy in the bedroom.

“Act 1 directly and substantially burdens the privacy rights of `opposite-sex and same-sex individuals’ who engage in private, consensual sexual conduct in the bedroom by foreclosing their eligibility to foster or adopt children,” Brown wrote.

Just like with most civil rights issues, it’s going to take the courts to bring the country up to speed – especially the south.