HOSTS ITS WEEKLY
Antagonists Present Their
YES: Eloise McInerney says everyone has a right to choose
discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation is no better than racism.
NO: Tony Allwright says the recognition of gay marriage would
against other kinds of partnerships
and be open to abuse.
I read a rather grim story recently in Newsweek magazine. A
woman in Seattle was trapped in the basement of her home when flood
waters poured into it. She phoned her partner, who came to try and get
her out, but the pressure of the water was too strong. They called the
fire brigade but, by the time it arrived, the water had already filled
the basement and she was unconscious.
rushed to hospital where, unaccountably, her partner was banned from her
bedside as she fought for her life, allowed entry only in time to hold
her hand as she died.
Afterwards, her partner was also forbidden to make any
of the funeral arrangements. This happened because, although they had
been partners for 10 years and had committed to each other in a public
ceremony, the couple were not legally married.
Neither had they ever had the option to get married,
because they were both women, and the state of Washington does not allow
same-sex marriages. (Afterwards, the testimony of the bereaved woman,
Charlene Strong, was crucial in having legislation passed to legally
recognise same-sex couples in the state.)
During the recent Civil Union Bill debate, Charles
Flanagan TD told a similar story of a gay man in his constituency who
was treated as a stranger by the family of his deceased partner,
relegated to the sidelines during the funeral and denied the rights and
respect that we would normally accord to someone in his position.
Sadly, these kinds of stories repeat themselves again
and again. Stories of couples forced to separate because they were born
in different countries and couldn't achieve residency through marriage;
of parents whose children were taken away from them when their partner
died; of bereaved people being forced to sell the house they shared with
their partner because the State had more right to it than they.
The only thing that will put an end to these stories
and end the hardship and discrimination faced by same-sex couples is the
provision of full civil marriage for all, regardless of gender or sexual
After much procrastination, the Irish Government has
finally decided to begin addressing some of the problems faced by
same-sex couples in Ireland, and will table the heads of a Bill on civil
partnership before the summer.
We have no idea when actual legislation will emerge,
or what exactly it will provide, but one thing is clear - it won't be
What are on offer are special rights, not equal
rights. Same-sex couples will continue to be treated as second-class
citizens, and the law will continue to treat their relationships as
inferior and undeserving of the same respect accorded to heterosexual
Unfortunately, there are people who would agree that
this should be the case, many coming from a religious perspective -
claiming that marriage is sacred, defined in the eyes of God as existing
between one man and one woman. But nobody is asking for church weddings
here. Religion doesn't, and shouldn't, have a part to play in state
Others argue that marriage exists to protect children,
and since gay people don't have children, they should have no right to
But gay people do have children, they do raise
families, and they do so just as well and as capably as heterosexual
couples, often in the face of official discrimination. These children
are being denied the very protections under law that we consider so
Gay parents are a fact, now, today, in this country -
why should their children be discriminated against?
But marriage is not just about children. If it were,
why would we allow people beyond child-bearing age to marry? Why would
we allow those unfortunate couples with fertility problems to marry?
Why, for that matter, would we allow people who choose not to have
children to remain married?
Because there is a recognition that marriage is also
about love and commitment. Some claim that gay people don't want
commitment, pointing to the jaded stereotype of the promiscuous gay man.
This argument is a tautological one - gay people don't
commit, therefore they should not be allowed to commit, but without the
legal mechanisms and expectations of commitment, how are they supposed
to do so in the first place?
Apart from that, it completely ignores the promiscuity
of heterosexuals. A trip to most straight nightclubs on Saturday night
Sexual orientation cannot be changed, anymore than
skin colour. We think it's wrong to discriminate because of the latter,
so why should it be okay to discriminate in terms of the former?
Gay people are normal people. They work, they pay
taxes, they participate in their communities, they contribute to
society, they raise children.
Marriage is not a privilege, it's a right. Is it
really fair to continue denying same-sex couples the same rights and
respect as other Irish citizens?
• Eloise McInerney
is communications officer of LGBT Noise, a group set up last November to
lobby for gay civil marriage in Ireland. (www.lgbtnoise.ie)
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Civil union, civil partnership, gay marriage. It's all the talk, these
days. Unless you're one of those (say in the Vatican) who believe
homosexuality is some kind of curable disease, or else a fun lifestyle
choice like drinking wine instead of beer, you would have to feel sorry
for the plight of gays and lesbians in a hetero world.
A tiny minority wherever they go, often - and wrongly -
despised, disliked or disparaged, whether to their face or not, I doubt
they can ever feel fully comfortable except amongst fellow-gays.
Furthermore, except for those torn few who suppress
their true sexual nature, conventional marriage is out, as is having
children and enjoying a "normal" family life. Conventional marriage is,
of course, a State-endorsed union between one man and one woman who vow
to stay together for life.
Thus, when you hear proposals for making marriage
available to gays, you'd have to be especially hard-hearted to remain
unsympathetic. Of course, there's nothing to stop two gays vowing to
remain together as a couple for life.
But without legal standing they would be denied the
social benefits of marriage, specifically the opportunity to be taxed as
a single unit rather than individually; tax-free inheritance of assets
between spouses; the continued payment of a pension to a surviving
spouse; and certain other less pecuniary rights such as next-of-kin
These benefits help couples procreate and raise
children by reducing the financial penalty of the parent who spends more
time rearing and less time earning. Only last week, Kate Holmquist
lamented in The Irish Times how motherhood reduces earning
Yet numerous studies demonstrate that kids have a
better chance in life if reared by their married biological parents.
This is society's return for the tax breaks. Thus, the practical
argument against gay marriage is that without the possibility of
children, marital tax concessions have little payback.
It is true, however, that availability of gay marriage
might help reduce promiscuity among gays, but although this may be
intrinsically beneficial to society, it is not comparable with raising
responsible future citizens.
Granting legal status to gay unions means conveying
very real financial advantages. So, a question immediately follows:
what's so special about a partnership that's gay? If gays are to
benefit, there are plenty of other partnerships that should also be
considered: two elderly brothers who have shared a house all their
lives; a spinster daughter and/or bachelor son living with their widowed
mother; lifetime bridge partners who have long shared a home together;
celibate gays; three siblings.
Once you move away from the one-man-one- woman
formula, the possible permutations become limitless. The one thing that
would distinguish gay partnerships from all the others is that sex is
involved, albeit fruitless sex. But that is a ridiculous prerequisite
for tax breaks.
Yet without it, the doors would open to all kinds of
people - genuine and mountebank alike - claiming to be civil partners as
a tax-convenient ploy, some undoubtedly exercised on the deathbed of a
conveniently ageing relative or friend.
Linda McCartney, resident in England for three
decades, hired top lawyers to have her will probated in New York, which
avoided 40 per cent inheritance tax, estimated at Ł60 million.
Without discriminating in favour of gay sex, it will
be impossible to stop two people hitching up for purely tax purposes, or
indeed three or four. In jurisdictions - such as the UK - which have
granted significant tax advantages to gay couples in civil unions, it is
only a matter of time before non-gay couples claim and obtain similar
rights. It's already happening.
Britain's two elderly Burden sisters, who have lived
together all their lives, are appealing, on anti- discrimination
grounds, to EU courts to avail of the inheritance tax waiver now
available to gay couples. Otherwise, when one of them dies, the other
will have to sell their shared house to pay her sister's inheritance
tax. Eventually, someone will succeed in extending gay tax breaks to
Just as abortion law - originally highly restrictive -
has over the years become de-facto abortion-on-demand until late into
pregnancy, so tax-advantageous civil unions will eventually become
available to any couple (or triple) who ask for it.
The "equal rights" argument does not hold water
because gays already have the right to marry someone of the opposite
sex; they just usually choose not to, albeit for understandable reasons.
So, for all the understanding gays deserve, any kind
of statutory non-traditional marriage for them or anyone else is
insupportable and unjust. It's either too discriminatory against
non-gays, or else too wide open to abuse by tax-dodgers.
Resultant tax concessions would, in the absence of any
discernible payback, unjustly increase the tax burden on others.
Non-marital vows and commitments are personal arrangements. The State
has no business getting involved.
• Tony Allwright is a part-time
engineering and industrial safety management consultant and a blogger (www.tallrite.com/blog.htm)
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in Response to the Debate
DEBATE ON GAY MARRIAGE - 16th January 2008
Madam, - Tony Allwright (Head 2 Head, January 14th) gets
it all wrong when it comes to gay marriage.
His loosely veiled discrimination against lesbian and
gay couples seeking the right to civil marriage is framed in terms of
concern over providing the same benefits to "other partnerships" - such
as cohabiting elderly brothers .
Let's nail this once and for all: if the Government
wants to legislate for cohabiting siblings then it can if it wants. But
that it is an entirely separate argument to legislating for full
equality for gay and lesbian couples by granting them access to full
Moreover, it might be possible to take Mr Allwright
seriously if he didn't display such obvious bigotry towards homosexual
people who, in his view, indulge in "fruitless sex". With this comment
his mask slips, and it is all too obvious that he is merely a mouthpiece
for the far right whose outdated view of human sexuality belongs to an
Ireland that we all hoped we had left behind. - Yours, etc,
GRAINNE HEALY, Co-Chair, MarriagEquality,
Hogan Avenue, Dublin 2.
My response: It is not a separate
issue, unless - in order to exclude non-gay
(eg between two siblings or friends) - gay marriage is to
specific provision that
gay sex is to be practiced. This would be a ridiculous
Madam, - Were you distracted by the crossword when you
sanctioned some unknown, self-described blogger and part-time engineering
and industrial safety management consultant named Tony Allwright to pen a
piece against the possibility of the Irish State sanctioning gay marriage?
Is this the latest in "reality journalism"? What makes his
particular opinions worthy of being shared with your readers? Mere mortals
are best confined to the Letters page.
response: I wonder what kind of person would qualify as having views
“worthy of being shared”? A lawyer? A politician? A movie star? A
journalist? And why would mere membership of “LGBT Noise”
apparently make Ms McInerney's views “worthy of being shared”?
Madam, - Surely The Irish Times should rise above accommodating
those who loosely and lazily refer to uncited "numerous studies" and
events and consequences in unnamed "other jurisdictions", and who
pejoratively introduce the abortion argument, not to mention tax-dodgers
- both other arguments for other days.
My response: Correct, my
“numerous studies” were indeed uncited.
But everything on both
sides of the argument went uncited, as citation
is not common
practice in print media
as it is on the internet.
On the other hand, I never used the phrase “other
jurisdictions”. I referred to
jurisdiction, namely the UK's which recognizes gay unions.
My reference to abortion and tax-dodging was to illustrate the
gay-marriage legislation to evade taxes. I did not
on the rights and wrongs
of abortion or tax-dodging per se.
Furthermore, Mr Allwright makes no mention of the
legitimacy of tax breaks for married couples in so-called "fruitless"
sexual relationships. He can keep his mountebank pity for the "tiny
minority" who seek equal opportunity and respect as equal citizens of
this republic. - Yours, etc,
My response: Correct, I did not
mention fruitless heterosexual relationships.
I think a
can be made for excluding them from tax breaks if a way can
found to do so fairly and enforceably. That's an argument
for another day.
TIM FORDE, Swords, Co Dublin.
MORTAL COMBAT - 17th January 2008
Madam, - "Mere mortals are best confined to the
Letters page," writes Tim Forde (January 16th). Mortal, yes. Mere, no! -
OLIVER McGRANE, Marley Avenue, Rathfarnham,
DEBATE ON GAY MARRIAGE -
21st January 2008
Madam, - Grainne Healy
(January 16th) displays a poor grasp of the concept of equality when she
states that the call "to legislate for cohabiting siblings" is "an
entirely separate argument to legislating for full equality for gay and
Either you want equality or you don't. It is clear
that Ms Healy wants special treatment for gay and lesbian couples by
virtue of the sexual nature of their relationships. The chaste, the
lonely and cohabiting siblings are expected to fork out for her
privilege. - Yours, etc,
MANUS MAC MEANMAIN, Elizabeth Street, Dublin
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Poll and Further Debate
The Irish Times hosts a poll and a vigorous debate,
here, with 28 pages of comments adding up to some 300 individual
comments in all. This is a huge response, as it is rare that the
number of pages exceeds ten. Indeed, out of 44 debates to date
(end January 2008), 39 have had fewer than ten, and they in fact
averaged only 2˝ pages of comments.
The five others averaged 18, of which
my debate was exceeded only by last March's question,
gay and lesbian couples be allowed to adopt children?”,
with 30 pages, and a poll result of 63% YES to 37% NO. Clearly, gay
issues strike a strong chord with Irish Times readers.
The vast majority of debaters attack my article
(with several ad-hominen assaults) rather than even refer to Ms McInerneys', but few attempt to refute my
Many people talk of
unnaturalness of homosexuality,
difficulty of gays raising children,
of gays to love each other and live together,
undermining of straight marriages,
as if I had raised these issues as reasons to deny
marriage to gays. But I never said any such thing. Some
people seemed to infer that because I said nothing homophobic, that only
proves how clever I am at being a closet homophobe (which I am not,
closet or otherwise).
A very large proportion of debaters - and therefore
presumably voters - state that they are themselves gay. This puts
into some perspective the poll, which eventually stood at
from the Online Debate
Excerpts from the 300 comments
were published on 21st January, as follows.
Join the debate online
Last week Eloise McInerney and
Tony Allwright debated the question "Should the State
sanction gay marriage?" Here is an edited selection of your comments:
My grandfather was born in Ireland. He would be
rolling over in his grave over this. Will the Emerald Isle transition to
the Lavender Isle? Homosexual behaviour is diseased and threatens the
common good. There is no such thing as a "committed" sodomite
Mary Ann Kreitzer, United States
As a Catholic priest, I fully support the co-equality
of every human being made as we are in the image and likeness of God. To
treat as equal before the law of the land the love between same-gender
adults is a work of justice that cries to Heaven for implementation.
Surely it is past time that the Irish State did as our ancestors
envisaged all those years ago and "treat all our children equally."
Bernard J Lynch, United Kingdom
Tony Allwright asserts that if same-sex marriage were
introduced, there would be nothing stopping people marrying each other
for tax breaks. Bizarrely, he doesn't follow that thought through and
realise that such fraudulence is entirely possible with heterosexual
Michael Pidgeon, Ireland
Homosexuality is unnatural behaviour and is opposed by
the major religions. I live and let live and don't force my opinion, but
gay adoption and marriage is a step too far. The child's innocence would
be morally corrupted and two dads will never replace a mother's unique
role and, like it or not, that child will be victim to intolerable
cruelty throughout his school years through no fault of his/her own.
Note to "Joe" who won't give his full name: the
"intolerable cruelty" you claim children of gay marriages would suffer
would very likely be inflicted by people like you.
Ciarán Reilly, Ireland
My parents brought me up to believe that marriage was
a union of two people who love each other. Does it matter that these two
people are the same sex?
Pat Mahood, Ireland
Tony Allwright writes that "It is true, however, that
availability of gay marriage might help reduce promiscuity among gays".
I for one vow that as soon as I can marry my lady, I will stop preying
on innocent straight women.
The right to marry is a human and civil right. Denying
that right to lesbians and gay men is a fundamental denial of our rights
as human beings and as citizens. It is profoundly discriminatory, and
Ailbhe Smyth, Ireland
Well it's just a simple issue of minority
discrimination which should be solved as soon as possible. All arguments
against gay marriage apply essentially to straight marriage as well.
People who love each other and want to be together should be treated in
the same way, disregarding the question of their sexuality. I strongly
hope that Ireland will sanction gay marriage soon.
Vladimir Dotsenko, Ireland
The definition of marriage is a partnership between
one man and one woman, so until you take the decision to call something
which isn't by the term of something which is, the question, thankfully,
is merely rhetorical!
Susan Philips, Ireland
We have had same-sex marriage here for years, and
despite what some claim, civilisation has not ground to a halt, children
of same-sex couples have not been socially crippled, and we still have
freedom of religion.
Kaitlyn Burris, Canada
As someone who did make use of the civil partnership
regulations in the North, I see no reason why my friends 10 miles up the
road can't avail of a similar and preferably better facility of complete
equality in the form of a marriage. As far as my partner and myself are
concerned we are "married" to each other even if technically it's called
a civil partnership. Now is the time for change!
C, Newry, Ireland
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More Angry Comments
Several angry comments also appear at, appropriately,
AngryPotato.net, another Irish
It's also worth checking out the
where they don't seem too happy
with me, though some of the comments are
Maureen McM dissects me on
Sapphic Ireland and says I have turned her into
While over on
Martin Rafael says
stoupence tradiční rodiny
proti obhájkyni úchyláků, která propaguje
homo-sňatky v Irsku”,
to which Antonio Ghislieri
“Vyzkoušel jsem tradiční
rodinu 2x, nyní bydlím s chlapem a mohu jenom
So I'm glad that's been clarified then.
hardly anyone has made any comment whatsoever -
supportive or disparaging - about the
arguments on the YES side by my
antagonist Eloise McInerney. She must be very disappointed at being
Return to Top of Page
On 17th January, I was invited to debate the gay marriage
issue with a very polite Councillor
from the ruling Fianna Fail party,
Malcolm Byrne, who is
were the host, under the chairmanship of Joe Finnegan.
You can listen to and/or download an MP3 podcast
I was also asked to participate in a few other live
debates, but declined because I don't want to find
myself as some kind of
crusader, and more to the point such events are not my strongest suit.
Return to Top
On 10th November I was invited to a debate about gay
marriage on RTÉ's Questions and Answers TV
programme. A few days earlier, Cardinal Seán Brady, who is the
so-called Primate of All Ireland, had
warned that were the Irish government
to bring in legislation to give cohabiting couples the same
married couples, the Catholic Church would mount
constitutional challenge. The TV panel
was invited to discuss the question
“Is Cardinal Brady right about civil partnerships?”,
Quinn, leader of the
making the principal defence.
You can view the very spirited discussion
You can also listen to and/or download an MP3 audio of my
Return to Top
Biological Parents Are Better for Children”
Studies that support this statement
can also be accessed at the shorter URL,
number of my critics object to my statement that
studies demonstrate that kids have a better chance in life
reared by their married biological parents”
because I did not provide any citation. So here is a
selection of reputable articles,
and documents in the public domain
which support this contention.
Nevertheless, as David Quinn over at the
Institute has often said, the onus of proof is
actually on cohabitees, singles and gays to demonstrate that their
unconventional concept of
parenthood is no less beneficial to
children than that of conventional married biological
This involves demonstrating that a mother or a father is effectively
requirement: children don't suffer if one of them is
absent, removed or replaced.
I know of no research that reaches such conclusions.
As a result, the notion of gays rearing children is,
in fact, a social experiment, in which children
are used as the
guinea pigs, with the results only being known when those children
Is this moral?
experiments can be defended only if the alternative to gay adoption
is no adoption at all,
and a childhood spent in an institution.
demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the
family structure that helps the most is a family headed by two
biological parents in
a low-conflict marriage ... There is thus
value in promoting strong, stable marriages
It also contains this cautionary note:
“This Child Trends brief summarizes research conducted in
same-sex parents nor adoptive parents were identified in large
Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about
children raised by same-sex parents or adoptive parents.”.
In either direction.
Ontario Superior Court of
Justice Court File No. 684/00
This is Professor Steven Nock's expert evaluation, under
Affidavit, of the scientific
literature concerning the effect of
legal recognition of the marriages of gay and lesbian
their children. In particular it addresses the research of Dr.
Jerry Bigner, into
whether “The children of gay and lesbian
parents are as healthy and well adjusted as
those of their
He concludes that
1) all of the articles reviewed contained at least one fatal
flaw of design or execution; and
2) not a single one of those studies was conducted according to
general accepted standards of scientific research.
He also points out that the effect of gay and lesbian marriages
on children in such unions
cannot be answered because they are
too new to have generated sufficient statistical data.
Up with a Single Parent:
What hurts, What Helps”
by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, 1994
“If I were asked to design
a system for making
sure that children's basic needs were met,
would probably come up with something quite
similar to the
two-parent ideal...The fact that
both parents have a biological
connection to the
child would increase the likelihood that the
parents would identify with the child and be
sacrifice for that child, and it would
reduce the likelihood
that either parent would
abuse the child ...”
A response to recent proposals on civil unions”
by the Iona Institute, 2007
report refers to several other reports
which consistently point
better statistical outcomes for the child
reared by his/her biological married parents.
is a specific chapter entitled,
marriage benefits children”
suffer child poverty,
suffer sexual and physical child
suffer physical and mental ill-health,
suffer educational and employment
become divorced or unwed parents
“Communities where good-enough marriages are
common have better outcomes f
or children, women, and men than do communities suffering from
high rates of divorce,
unmarried childbearing, and high-conflict or violent marriages.”
involvement and children's developmental outcomes: |
a systematic review of longitudinal studies”,
Anna Sarkadi, Department of Women's and
Children's Health, Uppsala University, Sweden
Robert Kristiansson, Centre of Clinical
Research, Västerĺs County, Sweden,
Frank Oberklaid, Centre for Community Child
Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia,
Sven Bremberg, National Institute of Public
Health, Östersund, Sweden|
This is a systematic review of existing research into the
of father involvement (both biological fathers and
on children's developmental outcomes.
“There is evidence to
support the positive influence of father
engagement on offspring social, behavioural and psychological
“High father engagement in
poor families (with stable marriages)
predicted lower incidence of delinquency during the early adult
for both sexes,”
policies in most countries do not support the ”
increased involvement of fathers in child rearing
Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia
Lewis, Sandra Blakeslee
demonstrating the deleterious effect on
children of divorced
this in-depth study of a hundred real-life
cases amounts to a strong argument for
fostering the institution
Contrary to the popular belief that kids
bounce back after
their parents' split, children of divorce often
to suffer well into adulthood.
Their pain plays out in their
their work lives and their confidence about
“When marriages fail,
there is no way most
mothers [whether they or
get custody] can maintain the same level of
emotional involvement with
their children ... [who say]
they faced was the loss of their mother
In their thankless task
of keeping everything afloat [single] mothers often lose
keep their primary emotional investment in their children”
the Cinderella Effect to unintentional childhood fatalities”,
Greg A. Tooley (School of Psychology, Deakin University,
Mari Karakisa (School of Psychology, Deakin University,
Mark Stokesa (School of Psychology, Deakin University,
Victoria, Australia) and
Joan Ozanne-Smith (Monash University Accident Research
Centre, Victoria, Australia)
In May 2008, The Australian newspaper
summarised this academic study into the effects on children
of step-parenting, which examined more than 900 coronial inquiries
into child deaths from
violence or accident.
It demonstrates that children with a step-parent
or no biological parent are up to 22 times more
at risk - particularly the under-fives - than those with both
biological parents or even a
single biological parent.
an Opportunity Society”
Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill
The Brookings Institute in the US
(a liberal think-tank with close ties to the Democratic Party)
The book, published in 2009, examines economic
in the United States and explores how to create more of it.
recommends pro-marriage policies as one key way to help the
poor, especially their children, climb out of poverty.
“There is a growing consensus that having two
parents is the best environment for children. Marriage brings
not only clear economic benefits but social benefits as well,
enabling children to grow up to be more successful than they might
... To those who argue that this goal [promoting marriage]
is old-fashioned or
inconsistent with modern culture, we argue that modern culture
with the needs of children.”
Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse
and Neglect (NIS-4)|
Report to US Congress, 2010
Also available via
by Sedlak, Andrea J, Mettenburg, Jane, Basena, Monica, Petta,
Karla, Greene, Angela, and Li, Spencer
“The rate of Harm Standard abuse for children living
with two married biological
parents [shown in gold below] ... is significantly lower
than the rate for children
living in all other conditions of family structure and living
arrangement ... The
rates in the highest and lowest risk groups differ by more than
a factor of 11.”
Gold = Married
Purple = Other
Silver - Unmarried
Pale Blue = Single
Parent with Partner
Turquoise = Single
Parent, No Partner
Light Grey = Neither
“Harm” comprises all maltreatment,
abuse and neglect
“All Abuse” comprises physical abuse,
sexual abuse and emotional abuse
“All Neglect” comprises
physical neglect, emotional neglect and educational neglect
by Monte Neil Stewart,
the Marriage Law Foundation,
Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 1st July 2008:
“Ever stronger current,
rigorous social science studies have ever more firmly
that family form matters and that children receive maximum
private welfare when they
are raised by a married mother and father in a low-conflict
marriage ... This evidence has
troubled many in the academy who believe that all family forms
are normatively equal.”
and the Public Good: Ten Principles”,
by the Witherspoon Institute, June 2006:
“There are crucial sex differences in parenting.
Mothers are more sensitive to the cries,
words, and gestures of infants, toddlers, and adolescents, and,
partly as a consequence,
they are better at providing physical and emotional nurture to
their children ...
[Complementing that,] fathers are more likely than mothers to
encourage their children to
tackle difficult tasks, endure hardship without yielding, and
seek out novel experiences.”
Will Gay Marriage Weaken Marriage as a Social Institution”,
by Maggie Gallagher, University of St Thomas Law Journal, Fall
Marriage ... is the only institution that
can both (a) produced the next generation
of babies and (b) connect thus babies to both their father
and the mother ...
Getting men and women into stable marital
union was understood to protect the
interests of children and society in a stable social order
Babies are most likely to grow into
functioning adulthood when they have the care
and attention of both their father and their mother ...
The weight of social science evidence
strongly supports the idea that family
structure matters and that children do best when raised by
their own mother and
father in a decent, loving marriage”
The Safest Place for Women and Children”
by Patrick F Fagan and Kirk A Johnson, PhD,
“The evidence shows that the
married intact family is by far
the safest place for children ... [British] rates of
abuse of children are
lowest in the intact married family but
six times higher in the step family,
14 times higher in the always–single
20 times higher in cohabiting–biological
parent families, and
33 times higher when the mother is
cohabiting with a boyfriend
who is not the father of her children.”
abused child dies, the relationship between
structure and abuse
gets stronger: It is
lowest in intact always-married families,
three times higher in the step family,
nine times higher in the
18 times higher in the
cohabiting–biological parents family, and
73 times higher in families where the
mother cohabits with a boyfriend.”
and social policy, the government should not penalize parents
[as for] abuse, government policy should not
encourage — either directly or in
unintended ways — single motherhood and cohabitation.”
Mothers and Fathers Both Necessary?
Association is often quoted as
supporting the contention that
children do as well raised
by a lesbian or gay parent/couple
as they do raised by their own
mother and father.
This position is summarised in the
following two “Whereases” in an
APA policy statement entitled
“Sexual Orientation, Parents, &
WHEREAS there is no scientific evidence that
is related to parental sexual orientation: lesbian and gay
parents are as
likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and
environments for their children (Patterson, 2000, 2004;
WHEREAS research has shown that the adjustment, development,
psychological well-being of children is unrelated to
orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents
are as likely
as those of heterosexual parents to flourish (Patterson,
2004; Perrin, 2002;
Stacey & Biblarz, 2001).
Patricia Casey, Professor of Psychiatry at
Dublin's Mater Misericordiae Hospital,
who is an expert in this area, refutes these findings, saying
they are “deeply flawed”.
In 2007, they were also considered by the
Irish High Court, which concluded that
the supporting evidence was “insufficient”.
According to Prof Casey, the flaws include
sample sizes are small, some have too short a follow-up
period, and many
do not use adequate outcome measures”;
the studies “frequently compare children of lesbian
single mothers with children
of heterosexual single mothers. In other words, they compare
single mothers with children of other single mothers”.
This contrasts to the (unflawed) books and
peer-reviewed studies, some listed above,
which demonstrate, via surveys which are “large in scale,
that “children, in general, do best when raised by their
married biological parents”.
Moreover, advocates of parenting by same-sex
couples “amounts to a claim that
children don't really need mothers, or that they don't really
need fathers”, which is
certainly unproven, and also contrary to “common-sense
The onus for proving this surely lies with
those advocates, before turning children into
guinea pigs in a social engineering experiment.
This study draws on 112 sources to find (in 2002) that
“The weight of evidence indicates that the traditional family
based upon a married father
and mother is still the best environment for raising children,
and it forms the
soundest basis for the wider society”
sicker and have worse interactions with their children
contact with their children,
and engage in higher-risk behaviour
without their biological fathers are
sicker, more deprived, have trouble in school and
with colleagues, more likely to be abused
without their biological fathers
likely to have sexual health problems, become
teenage parents, offend, smoke, drink, take drugs, play
get expelled, curtail their education
Young adults who
grew up not living with their biological fathers
fewer qualifications, more unemployment, lower incomes,
more homelessness, more jailing, worse health, worse
Millennium Cohort study in Britain found that
one in four
children of cohabiting parents witnessed
the break-up of their family before the age of five
one in ten children of married couples.
Two independent polls, each of a
representative samples of around a
thousand people people in Ireland, were conducted for the Iona
2007 and 2009. Although they are not in themselves evidence that
“Married Biological Parents Are Better for Children”, the
indicate that a majority of Irish people believe this statement
Irish Poll, 2007
- The main reason the State supports marriage is to
happiness and well-being of the married couple: 28 % agree
to help parents
raise children: 57% agree
No difference /
Don't know: 15%
- In most cases, the absence of a father from the home is
likely to harm a child
emotionally or developmentally
Agree: 54%, Disagree: 29%, Neither or don't know: 17%
- I believe it is better if the parents of a child are
Agree: 52%, Disagree: 29%, Neither or don't know: 19%
Irish Poll, 12th January 2009:
In general it is
better for children if their parents are married.
Agree: 61%, Disagree: 18%, No opinion: 21%
In general marriage
is better for society than couples living together.
Agree: 53%, Disagree: 23%, No opinion: 24%
In general, a child
has a right to a father and a mother where possible.
Agree: 92%, Disagree: 2%, No
Except in cases of
abuse or neglect, parents should decide what is best
for their children rather than an outside organisation.
Agree: 72%, Disagree: 15%, No opinion: 6%
President Barrack Obama, 2008
These quotations are not of themselves evidence, but given who
someone clearly of the left who was
himself raised largely by
a single mother - they are significant.
Quote, 2008: “Of all the rocks upon which we
build our lives,
we are reminded today that family is the most important.
And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every
is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They
mentors and role models. They are examples of success and
the men who constantly push us toward it.
But if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that
fathers also are missing – missing from too many lives and
too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities,
acting like boys
instead of men. And the foundations of our families
because of it.”
Quote, 2008: “We know the statistics -- that
children who grow up
without a father are five times more likely to live in
commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools
20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more
to have behavioural problems, or run away from home, or
teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our
are weaker because of it.”
Centre for Social Justice
This is an independent think tank established in 2004 to seek effective solutions
to the poverty that blights parts of Britain.
From its own research, it
on 18th December 2011,
that there are
in which marriage matters:
Marriage brings stability:
Just one in 11 married couples split before
their child's fifth birthday compared to
1 in 3 unmarried couples.
Marriage is directly linked to better mental and physical
health amongst adults:
The same benefits are not found amongst co-habiting couples,
it is specifically a
Marriage reduces the risk of violence and abuse:
Children growing up in lone parent or broken families are
between 3 and 6 times
more likely to suffer serious abuse than those growing up with
both biological parents,
and the risk of domestic violence is significantly increased for
than married women
Marriage leads to better mental health for children:
Children of lone parents
are more than twice as likely to suffer mental health problems
than children of married couples, and those of co-habiting couples are 75% more likely
health problems than their peers with married parents
Marriage leads to better life outcomes for children:
Children of married parents
are more likely to achieve at school, less likely to use
and drugs and
less likely to get involved delinquent or offending behaviour.
A British Household Panel Study found in 2010 that
75% cent of those under the age of 35 expected to marry,
80% of those
living together want to marry and
close to 90% of
all young people want to marry
In a survey-based social-science project,
15,000 Americans aged 18-39 were surveyed.
On 25 of 40 different outcomes evaluated, the
children of women who’ve had
same-sex relationships fare quite differently from those in
mom-and-pop families, displaying numbers more comparable to
those from heterosexual
stepfamilies and single parents.
Even after including controls for age, race,
gender, and things like being bullied as a youth,
or the gay-friendliness of the state in which they live,
respondents raised in same-sex
relationships were more apt to report
being more likely
to have cheated on a spouse or partner,
smoking more pot,
trouble with the law,
having more male
and female sex partners,
being subject to
more sexual victimization, and
being more likely
to reflect negatively on their childhood family life, among
Prof Regenery's full report of this survey, “How
different are the adult children of parents
who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family
appears in the July 2012 edition of the
Social Science Research journal.
paper was published in the
Adolescent Research, 14(3),
369–397 Copyright © 2004,
Research on Adolescence
It is a US longitudinal event-history
analysis, which demonstrates that a
significant consequence of fatherlessness
lies in higher rates of criminal
“Adolescents in father-absent households
... faced elevated incarceration risks. The
adolescents who faced the highest
incarceration risks, however, were those
in stepparent families ... Social policies to
support children should broaden beyond an
emphasis on marriage to address the risks
faced by adolescents living in stepfamilies
It finds that raising a boy in a
single-parent household doubles the likelihood of his
ending up in prison compared to boys raised by two parents.
Other factors, such as teen motherhood, low parent education,
and poverty add to incarcerations rates.
Rector, a Senior Research Fellow at the
DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society,
is a leading national authority on poverty, the US welfare
system and immigration,
who concentrates on, inter alia, family breakdown and America’s
various social ills.
|The “principal cause [of child poverty] is the
absence of married fathers |
in the home. Marriage remains America’s strongest
anti-poverty weapon ...
being married has the same effect in reducing poverty that
five to six years to a parent’s level of education has.”
|The poverty rate for single parents with children in
the United States |
in 2009 was 37.1%.
|The rate for married couples with children was 6.8%.
|Being raised in a married family reduced a child’s
probability of |
living in poverty by 82%.
In the US, this is giving rise to a two-caste society,
with marriage and
education as the dividing line, irrespective of race.
Moreover, the decline of marriage generates poverty in
living in single-parent homes increases the poverty of
children in adulthood by 50%,
even after adjusting for differences in family income and
of the Nation Report 2014
(ISBN 9781474111195PDF, 6.03MB, 285 pages)
Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission,
which monitors the progress of government and
others in improving social mobility and reducing
child poverty in the United Kingdom.
The SMCP Commission is an advisory
non-departmental public body, sponsored by
for Education, the Cabinet
Office and the
Department for Work and Pensions.
The UK Government’s Child Poverty
Indicators, which is an attachment to the main
“Children of lone parents and couples
who are cohabiting are at a higher risk
of poverty than those of married/civil
partnership couples. Children of lone parents have
generally been at slightly more risk of poverty
than those of cohabiting couples.”
Though the report does not distinguish between
“married/civil partnership couples”,
statistically the bulk of the data is likely to have come from
married couples. Indeed,
the report usually uses only the term
appear to be merely a politically correct add-on.
Emotional Problems among Children with Same-sex
Difference by Definition
published by the Social
Science Research Network
written by D. Paul Sullins
Department of Sociology, The Catholic University of America, USA.
19th December 2014
This reports on the results of surveys of
a representative sample in the US of
207,007 children, including
512 with same-sex parents.
(512 is ten times more
than the sample number in any other comparable study.
Moreover the 512 were randomly selected rather tan self-selected and
evaluation was objective rather than conducted by people
close to the children.)
The report states, inter alia,
“Emotional problems [are] over twice as prevalent for children
with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents”.
parentage uniquely and powerfully distinguishes child outcomes
between children with opposite-sex parents and those with same-sex
every analytical model ... the relative risk due to same-sex parents
significant and substantial”
primary benefit of marriage for children, therefore, may not be that
tends to present them with improved parents (more stable,
financially affluent, etc,
although it does this), but that it
presents them with their own parents.”
two family forms will continue to have fundamentally different,
even contrasting effects on the biological component of child
to the relative detriment of children in same-sex
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Parent Families in the United States:
published in the British Journal of
written by D. Paul Sullins
Department of Sociology, The Catholic University of
21st January 2015
This reports also draws on the
results of surveys of the
same representative sample in the US
children, including 512 with same-sex parents.
is more than twice as prevalent among children
same-sex parents than in the general population”.
“children with ADHD are over
three times more likely to be
stigmatized or bullied
(than are those without ADHD) among those
opposite-sex parents, and over seven times more
to be bullied among those with same-sex parents”.
In other words, bullying of ADHD kids doubles when they have
So same-sex parenting seems to lead to an
increase not only in ADHD
but also in the amount of ADHD-related
stigmatization and bullying.
The “no difference” theory is dead:
A US study finds
that opposite-sex parents are better than same-sex parents.
Published in Mercatornet
by Michael Cook
This article discusses the above two academic papers.
Delayed Onset Depression among Adults with Same-Sex Parents
A research article by D Paul Sullins
Department of Sociology, The Catholic University of America,
published in the
Depression Research and Treatment Journal
on 19 April 2016
One of the most compelling aspects of this study is
that it is longitudinal,
evaluating the same people (nearlyh 9,000 - see next paragraph) over
long period of time. Indeed, its data source — the
Study of Adolescent Health — is one of the most impressive,
expensive survey research efforts still ongoing.
Starting in 1995, the research was based on
interviews of a representative
sample of 20,745 American adolescents aged 13–19, and following as
as were possible, who by the time of reaching the age of 28 in 2008
amounted to 8,762 individuals.
The chart below summarises its findings: that
children of same-sex couples
encounter, in certain areas, greater problems in later life than
“The relationship of elevated depression risk
among adult persons raised by same-sex parents with possible
precipitating conditions in childhood has not previously been
This chart comes from a separate article, “The
Data on Children in
Same-Sex Households Get More Depressing”, by sociology
Mark Regnerus at the University of Texas,
which uses data from
of the primary article.
This section is more easily found/remembered at
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My Columns in the
What I've recently
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told
through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a
household lemon tree as their unifying theme.
But it's not
entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs
to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
This examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in
the Gulf of Mexico.
BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded BP through adventurous
acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless
cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term
Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in
refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in
The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that
had become poisonous and incompetent.
However the book is gravely compromised by a
litany of over 40 technical and stupid
errors that display the author's ignorance and
It would be better
to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying.
As for BP, only a
wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will
prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once
mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.
Note: I wrote
my own reports on Macondo
A horrific account
how the death
penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,
the corruption of
Singapore's legal system, and
enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship
More details on my
nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s
incredible story of survival in the Far
East during World War II.
After recounting a
childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen,
Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on
Germany in 1939.
From then until the
Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr
Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall
of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror.
After a wretched
journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless
Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in
1941, he is, successively,
part of a death march to Thailand,
a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma
railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),
regularly beaten and tortured,
racked by starvation, gaping ulcers
and disease including cholera,
a slave labourer stevedoring at
shipped to Japan in a stinking,
closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,
torpedoed by the Americans and left
drifting alone for five days before being picked up,
a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until
blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic
distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the
British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life. Only in his late 80s
is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this
There are very few
first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese
brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical
“Culture of Corruption:
Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies”
This is a rattling good tale of the web
of corruption within which the American president and his cronies
operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both
a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and
sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.
With 75 page of notes to back up - in
best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing
allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with
the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife.
Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett,
Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris
Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book.
ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community
organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine
This much trumpeted sequel to
Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment.
It is really just
a collation of amusing
little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour
and situations. For example:
Drunk walking kills more people per
kilometer than drunk driving.
People aren't really altruistic -
they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.
Child seats are a waste of money as
they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.
Though doctors have known for
centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection,
they still often fail to do so.
Monkeys can be taught to use washers
as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.
The book has no real
message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and
try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.
And with a final
anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in
its tracks. Weird.
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie
to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics.
It's chapters are
organised around provocative questions such as
Why does asparagus come from Peru?
Why are pandas so useless?
Why are oil and diamonds more trouble
than they are worth?
Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?
It's central thesis
is that economic development continues to be impeded in different
countries for different historical reasons, even when the original
rationale for those impediments no longer obtains. For instance:
Argentina protects its now largely
foreign landowners (eg George Soros)
Russia its military-owned
businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs
The US its cotton industry
comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce
The author writes
in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to
However it would
benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative
points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide
natural break-points for the reader.
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles
of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.
The author was
a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to
harass Japanese lines of
command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide
intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of
is admirably yet brutally frank, in his
descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a
prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing
in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness.
He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of
Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved
authority of the British.
The book amounts to
a very human and exhilarating tale.
Oh, and Irwin
describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF
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