In the week-plus since President Obama announced his support for letting same-sex couples legally marry, we’ve seen the media take some interesting routes to cover this story, especially when dealing with the opposition. Some, like Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell from MSNBC have challenged anti-gay activists like Tony Perkins on his anti-marriage views. Others like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer have tried to challenge people like Perkins but have fallen quite a bit short of the mark.
But nobody in the national media has hosted a panel quite as brazenly anti-gay as Lou Dobbs did last night on his Fox Business Network show. (You can watch the segment here)
Tony Perkins was there, because of course he was. But joining Perkins – rather than a conservative and/or libertarian supporter of marriage equality – was Keith Ablow. A man who is even more anti-gay than Perkins, and a man who is even more dangerous because he is pretending to have the best interests of children at heart.
Now, it should be noted that Lou Dobbs himself said he is a supporter of marriage equality just last week.
Actually, it should have been noted last night, by Dobbs, instead of just now, by me. But for some reason he decided it wasn’t really important to challenge these two in any way, even by passively suggesting that he disagrees with them.
What’s most amazing about this panel is how blatant it became that the most common argument against marriage equality is actually an argument against the idea of adoption – by anyone.
Take this quote from Ablow:
“Children growing up in same-sex households, by definintion, unless the donor of sperm or ova … eggs … is known, which is unusual, unless that’s the case, these kids don’t know their biological parents. Now we don’t know the psychological impact of that, at all. And we need the data. We really do.”
Really, Dr. Ablow? We “need the data” on kids who don’t know their biological parents? How many of the millions of adoptees around the world and throughout history didn’t know their biological parents? The history of adoption is just as old – if not older – than any idea of marriage. Certainly it’s older than the idea of “one man and one woman (*who is not treated as property)” marriage.
Even Hammurabi’s Code had a section on adoption, and that’s almost four thousand years old.
But of course, Ablow went on.
“How did we decide that kids are just fine to grow up absent their biological parents? Because why?’”
Although Ablow then went off the rails and started in on polygamy, I do want to answer his question. How did we decide that kids who are raised by loving same-sex couples are “just fine?” Okay Dr. Ablow, here you go. Here’s how we decided that.
“Gay & Lesbian Parenting” (PDF - a review of the research literature by the American Psychological Association.)
“Meta-Analysis of Developmental Outcomes for Children of Same-Sex and Heterosexual Parents” (2008 metastudy from Michigan State University)
“Pychosocial Adjustment Among Children Conceived Via Donor Insemination by Lesbian and Heterosexual Mothers” (1998 research from the University of Virgina)
“Children’s Gender Identity in Lesbian and Heterosexual Two-Parent Families” (2009 research from the University of Amsterdam and New York State Psychiatric Institute)
“Nontraditional Families and Childhood Progress Through School” (2010 research by Stanford University)
“Parent-Child Interaction Styles Between Gay and Lesbian Parents and Their Adopted Children” (2007 study from Florida State University)
“U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents” (2010 study from the University of California-San Francisco, the University of California-Los Angeles and the University of Amsterdam)
We decided it by actually looking at the children from these families objectively, and believing more than a decade’s worth of scientific data that says there’s no difference between kids raised by same-sex couples and kids raised by opposite-sex couples.
Here’s the real problem. We expect this garbage from Ablow. We expect it from Perkins. But Lou Dobbs should know better. Say what you will about his politics or his hardline stances on certain issues, he’s always at least given the impression that he cares about facts. About science. About the opinions of experts.
At the end of this segment, Dobbs said he wants to invite both of these guys back to finish the conversation. When he does, I hope he’s done a little more research.
When Tony Perkins says “Studies show a child does best with a mother and a father” I hope Dobbs knows enough to tell him “But those studies compared two-parent homes to single-parent homes. All the mainstream research that has compared opposite-sex parent homes to same-sex parent homes has shown almost no difference.”
When Keith Ablow says “We don’t know how a child will grow up if they don’t know their biological parents” I hope Lou Dobbs knows enough to say “But adoption has been a very real part of human society for millennia.”
Dobbs did do one thing that many other media figures do not do when speaking with Tony Perkins, he introduced him as someone who is an Evangelical, and who “represent(s)” Evangelicals. Perkins, of course, certainly does not represent all Evangelicals any more than he represents all Republicans, but he’s often brought in to play the role of “generic conservative” without any qualifiers. However, this hardly makes up for the fact that he let these two basically just make stuff up for seven minutes. If Lou Dobbs does revisit this topic, we hope he does a little research beforehand, and we also hope he tells his viewers where he stands on the issue.