Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage seems to always be the first to complain that her organization's zeal to stop same-sex marriage is mislabeled and she is unfairly targeted as a "bigot" or a "liar."
However, how she distorts a recent study of abused children does make the case that Gallagher and NOM tend to play loose with facts.
The study reported findings from the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4), which was conducted by Westat, Inc., with the assistance of its subcontractor Walter R. McDonald and Associates, Inc. (WRMA).
Gallagher, however, uses the study to attack the concept of same-sex parenting and gay marriage.
In a recent piece on the National Organization for Marriage blog, she cited it in an effort to criticize the ongoing Proposition 8 trial and the lawyers speaking against the Proposition 8 -- Ted Olson and David Boies:
Here's my question for Ted and David as they strive to prove that Science Says same-sex unions are just like opposite-sex ones, when it comes to children.
Perhaps you are right. Perhaps alone of all the family structures science has ever studied, children living with same-sex couples do just as well as children in intact married families. (Perhaps that is true even though your own expert witness admits there is no research on gay male families and child outcomes, and there is no nationally representative study that follows children raised from birth to adulthood by same-sex outcomes and compares how they do to children in other family forms ).
But does this study, which is one of hundreds with similar results favoring the natural family give Ted Olson and David Boies pause late at night as they assert the scientific irrationality of respect for the natural family at all I wonder? Ted and David, I'm wondering: not even a little bit?
Here is the thing that Gallagher is intentionally overlooking -- the study NEVER LOOKED specifically at same-sex households. Same sex households wasn't even a category.
Gallagher even admits this when talking about the study:
All the other family structures studied (which does not include same-sex parent families probably because these are such a small part of the population), but does include solo parents, other married parents (remarried primarily), single parents living with a partner, cohabiting parents, and no parents.
Through her distorted usage of the child abuse study, Gallagher is exploiting a common religious right talking point which goes like this: same-sex marriage/same-sex parenting is not a good idea because studies show that the best place to raise a child is in a home with a mother and a father.
However when the religious right groups and talking heads (such as Gallagher) make this point, they always seem to commit an egregious "sin of omission" by not revealing that:
* usually these studies are talking about children in the homes of their biological parents,
* and none of these studies ever factor in same-sex households.
Also strangely (or maybe not so strangely) when these two facts are brought to their attention, they never want to address them. On several occasions, I posted a variation of the question - how can a study which never even looked at same-sex marriage or parenting be used to criticize these concepts -- on the NOM blog. I have yet to see my question appear.
However, Gallagher gets points for audacity. Her acknowledging the fact that the study she cited never even looked at same-sex households (and by extension, marriage equality) while at the same time using it to decry both concepts shows that she has a lot of chutzpah.
Too bad chutzpah in this case isn't the same as accuracy or respect for truth.