Commentary on social and moral issues of the day

Homosexual Parenting: Placing children at risk

Timothy J. Dailey Ph.D.

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A number of studies in recent years have purported to show that children raised in gay and lesbian households fare no worse than those reared in traditional families. Yet much of that research fails to meet acceptable standards for psychological research; it is compromised by methodological flaws and driven by political agendas instead of an objective search for truth. In addition, openly lesbian researchers sometimes conduct research with an interest in portraying homosexual parenting in a positive light. The deficiencies of studies on homosexual parenting include reliance upon an inadequate sample size, lack of random sampling, lack of anonymity of research participants, and self-presentation bias.

The presence of methodological defects--a mark of substandard research--would be cause for rejection of research conducted in virtually any other subject area. The overlooking of such deficiencies in research papers on homosexual failures can be attributed to the "politically correct" determination within those in the social science professions to "prove" that homosexual households are no different than traditional families. However, no amount of scholarly legerdemain contained in an accumulation of flawed studies can obscure the well-established and growing body of evidence showing that both mothers and fathers provide unique and irreplaceable contributions to the raising of children. Children raised in traditional families by a mother and father are happier, healthier, and more successful than children raised in non-traditional environments.

David Cramer, whose review of twenty studies on homosexual parenting appeared in the Journal of Counseling and Development, found the following:

The generalizability of the studies is limited. Few studies employed control groups and most had small samples. Almost all parents were Anglo-American, middle class, and well educated. Measures for assessing gender roles in young children tend to focus on social behavior and generally are not accurate psychological instruments. Therefore it is impossible to make large scale generalizations . . . that would be applicable to all children.1

Since these words were penned in 1986, the number of studies on the subject of homosexual parenting has steadily grown. The fact that these studies continue to be flawed by the methodological errors warned about by Cramer has not inhibited the proponents of homosexual parenting from their sanguine assessment of the outcomes of children raised in homosexual households.

Silverstein and Auerbach, for example, see no essential difference between traditional mother-father families and homosexual-led families: "Other aspects of personal development and social relationships were also found to be within the normal range for children raised in lesbian and gay families." They suggest that "gay and lesbian parents can create a positive family context."2

This conclusion is echoed in the official statement on homosexual parenting by the American Psychological Association's Public Interest Directorate, authored by openly lesbian activist Charlotte J. Patterson of the University of Virginia:

In summary, there is no evidence that lesbians and gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of gay men or lesbians is compromised in any respect...Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.3


Upon closer examination, however, this conclusion is not as confident as it appears. In the next paragraph, Patterson qualifies her statement. Echoing Cramer's concern from a decade earlier, she writes: "It should be acknowledged that research on lesbian and gay parents and their children is still very new and relatively scarce...Longitudinal studies that follow lesbian and gay families over time are badly needed."4 The years have passed since Patterson's admission of the inadequacy of homosexual parenting studies, and we still await definitive, objective research substantiating her claims.

In addition, Patterson acknowledges that "research in this area has presented a variety of methodological challenges," and that "questions have been raised with regard to sampling issues, statistical power, and other technical matters (e.g., Belcastro, Gramlich, Nicholson, Price, & Wilson, 1993)." She adds, revealingly:

Research in this area has also been criticized for using poorly matched or no control groups in designs that call for such controls. . . . Other criticisms have been that most studies have involved relatively small samples [and] that there have been inadequacies in assessment procedures employed in some studies.5

Though she admits to serious methodological and design errors that would call into question the findings of any study, Patterson makes the astonishing claim that "even with all the questions and/or limitations that may characterize research in the area, none of the published research suggests conclusions different from those that will be summarized below." But any such conclusions are only as reliable as the evidence upon which they are based. If the alleged evidence is flawed, then the conclusions must likewise be considered suspect.

One suspects that the lack of studies with proper design and controls is due to the political agendas driving the acceptance of homosexual parenting, which favor inadequate and superficial research yielding the desired results.

In a study published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, P. Belcastro et al. reviewed fourteen studies on homosexual parenting according to accepted scientific standards. Their "most impressive finding" was that "all of the studies lacked external validity. The conclusion that there are no significant differences in children raised by lesbian mothers versus heterosexual mothers is not supported by the published research data base."6 Similarly, in their study of lesbian couples in Family Relations, L. Keopke et al. remark, "Conducting research in the gay community is fraught with methodological problems."7

A careful reading of studies used to lend support to homosexual parenting reveals more modest claims than are often attributed to them, as well as significant methodological limitations:

Nearly all of the existing studies of homosexual parenting have major deficiencies in sampling: They use a small sample size; they fail to obtain a truly representative sample due to sources of sampling bias; they do not use a random sample; or they use a sample with characteristics that are inappropriate for the crucial development research question involved in the study.8

Inadequate Sample Size

Studies examining the effects of homosexual parenting are weakened by inordinately small sample sizes:

After finding no significant difference between a group of nine children raised by lesbians and a similar group of children raised by heterosexual parents, S. L. Huggins admitted, "The meaning and implications of this finding are unclear, and the small sample size makes any interpretation of these data difficult."9

A report by J. M. Bailey et al. in Developmental Psychology, commenting on studies of the children of gay and lesbian parents, notes that "available studies [are] insufficiently large to generate much statistical power."10

S. Golombok and F. Tasker admit in their follow-up study of children reared by lesbians, "It is possible that the small sample size resulted in an underestimate of the significance of group difference as a result of low statistical power (Type II error)."11 Elsewhere they caution that negative effects of children reared by lesbians "could have remained undetected because of the relatively small sample size. Therefore, although discernible trends were identified, caution is required in interpreting these results."12

In his study published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development comparing the children of homosexual and heterosexual mothers, G. A. Javaid frankly admits that "the numbers are too small in this study to draw any conclusions."13

J. J. Bigner and R. B. Jacobson state in the Journal of Homosexuality:

Those who do study gay fathers may be frustrated by the difficulties of obtaining valid and adequate sample sizes. Most often, researchers must deal with many methodological problems in locating and testing gay fathers in numbers sufficiently large to make acceptable statistical analyses of data. For this reason, what is known currently about gay fathers is weakened by these methodological problems. It is practically impossible to obtain a representative sample of gay fathers, and those studies published to date frequently utilize groups of white, urban, well-educated males for study because of convenience sampling.14

In her study of lesbian families, Patterson admits to sampling bias: Some concerns relevant to sampling issues should also be acknowledged. Most of the families who took part in the Bay Area Families Study were headed by lesbian mothers who were White, well educated, relatively affluent, and living in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. For these reasons, no claims about representativeness of the present sample can be made.15

Similarly, N. L. Wyers, in his study of male and female homosexual parents that appeared in Social Work, acknowledges that his study "cannot be considered representative" and that "therefore, the findings cannot be generalized beyond the sample itself."16

By contrast, R. Green et al. writing in Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that the few experimental studies that included even modestly larger samples (13--30) of boys or girls reared by homosexual parents: 

[Found] developmentally important statistically significant differences between children reared by homosexual parents compared to heterosexual parents. For example, children raised by homosexuals were found to have greater parental encouragement for cross-gender behavior [and] greater amounts of cross-dressing and cross-gender play/role behavior.17

Lack of Random Sampling

Researchers use random sampling to ensure that the study participants are representative of the population being studied (for example, homosexuals or lesbians). Findings from unrepresentative samples have no legitimate generalization to the larger population.

L. Lott-Whitehead and C. T. Tully admit the inherent weaknesses in their study of lesbian mothers: This study was descriptive and, therefore, had inherent in its design methodological flaws consistent with other similar studies. Perhaps the most serious concerns representativeness. . . . Probability random sampling . . . was impossible. This study does not purport to contain a representative sample, and thus generalizability cannot be assumed.18

N. L. Wyers acknowledges that he did not use random sampling procedures in his study of lesbian and gay spouses, rendering his study "vulnerable to all the problems associated with self-selected research participants."19

Golombok et al. write of their study: A further objection to the findings lies in the nature of the samples studied. Both groups were volunteers obtained through gay and single-parent magazines and associations. Obviously these do not constitute random samples, and it is not possible to know what biases are involved in the method of sample selection.20

Lack of Anonymity of Research Participants

Research procedures guaranteeing complete anonymity are necessary to prevent a source of bias as to who will consent to participate as a research subject, and ensure the truthfulness and candor of their answers.

M. B. Harris and P. H. Turner point out in the Journal of Homosexuality:

Most gay/lesbian parents who participate in such research are concerned about their parenting and their children, and most have established a public gay identity. 'Closet' gay parents are difficult to identify, and their problems may be quite different from those of more openly gay parents.21

Harris and Turner employed superior research techniques to ensure the complete anonymity of their research subjects. As a result, in contrast to other studies, they reported problems associated with being a homosexual parent that had gone unreported by earlier studies: "Perhaps the anonymity of the present sampling procedure made subjects more willing to acknowledge those problems than those in earlier studies."22

Self-presentation Bias

A lack of random sampling and the absence of controls guaranteeing anonymity allow subjects to present a misleading picture to the researcher that conforms to the subject's attitudes or opinions and suppresses evidence that does not conform to the image he or she desires to present.

In their National Lesbian Family Study N. Gartrell et al. found that eighteen of nineteen studies of homosexual parents used a research procedure that was contaminated by self-presentation bias. Gartrell mentions the methodological problems of one longitudinal study of lesbian families:

Some may have volunteered for this project because they were motivated to demonstrate that lesbians were capable of producing healthy, happy children. To the extent that these subjects might wish to present themselves and their families in the best possible light, the study findings may be shaped by self-justification and self-presentation bias.23

Harris and Turner admit, with regard to their study: There is no way of knowing how representative the sample is...The high proportion of gay subjects who indicated a willingness to be interviewed suggests that they were perhaps unusually interested in the issues raised in the questionnaire and thus willing to divulge their homosexuality to the researchers. 

Moreover, even though the questionnaire was anonymous, the gay parents may have been particularly biased toward emphasizing the positive aspects of their relationships with their children, feeling that the results might have implications for custody decisions in the future. Thus, all generalizations must be viewed with caution. . . . Because all uncorroborated self-report data are subject to biases, and because parents may deliberately or unconsciously minimize the extent of conflicts with their children, these findings cannot be accepted at face value.24

Evidence from Marmoset Monkeys?

Some advocates of homosexual parenting claim to find confirmation of the "normalcy" of homosexual parenting by observing animal behavior. Silverstein and Auerbach, for example, adopt the unusual tactic of appealing to the offspring-raising habits of a soft-furred, tree-dwelling South American monkey to support their contention that homosexual households lead to positive child outcomes: 

"Marmosets illustrate how, within a particular bioecological context, optimal child outcomes can be achieved with fathers as primary caregivers and limited involvement by mothers. Human examples of this proposition include single fathers . . . and families headed by gay fathers."25

The twenty-six species of marmosets live in family groups of up to thirty monkeys. Only the dominant female of the group gives birth, usually to twins. What Silverstein and Auerbach find so impressive about these tiny primates is that, after birth, the males as well as females of the group help carry the baby marmosets, passing them back to the mother for nursing.

It is difficult to grasp the significance Silverstein and Auerbach attach to what they readily admit is an "extreme example" of the supposed "limited parenting involvement by mothers."26 The authors contend, "Male marmosets behave like full-time mothers."

It seems there are specific chores that the male marmosets cannot perform. As the authors themselves admit, marmoset mothers perform the essential function of nursing their young, without which the baby marmosets--who must depend upon their mother's milk for the first three months of life--could not survive. In turn, the males of the group fill the vital role of watching the baby marmosets, protecting them from predators, while the nursing mother forages to replenish herself. In short, one could just as well argue, contrary to Silverstein and Auerbach, that the behavior of marmoset monkeys demonstrates that both male and female fulfill separate and important functions in the raising of young.

Psychologist David Blankenhorn, head of the Institute for American Values and author of Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem, criticized such attempts to rely upon behavioral studies of non-human primates to draw conclusions about the character of human families: 

I always appreciate critical articles, because they can focus your argument and point out weaknesses. But [Silverstein and Auerbach's] article was unusually silly. Not one thing they said was what I would call a serious insight."27 In their thorough review of homosexual parenting studies, Robert Lerner and Althea K. Nagai found little evidence to support the oft-repeated mantra that homosexual households are "just like" traditional families: "We conclude that the methods used in these studies are so flawed that these studies prove nothing. Therefore, they should not be used in legal cases to make any argument about 'homosexual vs. heterosexual' parenting. Their claims have no basis."28


The evidence demonstrates incontrovertibly that the homosexual lifestyle is inconsistent with the proper raising of children. Homosexual relationships are characteristically unstable and are fundamentally incapable of providing children the security they need.

Homosexual Promiscuity

Studies indicate that the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime, a lifestyle that is difficult for even "committed" homosexuals to break free of and which is not conducive to a healthy and wholesome atmosphere for the raising of children.

A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with five hundred or more partners, with 28 percent having 1,000 or more sex partners.29

In their study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that "the modal range for number of sexual partners ever [of homosexuals] was 101--500." In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than 1000 lifetime sexual partners.30

A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than 100 sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than 1,000 sexual partners.31

In his study of male homosexuality in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, M. Pollak found that "few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime partners."32

Promiscuity among Homosexual Couples

Even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of "committed" typically means something radically different than in heterosexual marriage.

In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison report that in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years: Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years. Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships.33 Most understood sexual relations outside the relationship to be the norm, and viewed adopting monogamous standards as an act of oppression.

In Male and Female Homosexuality, M. Saghir and E. Robins found that the average male homosexual live-in relationship lasts between two and three years.34

In their Journal of Sex Research study of the sexual practices of older homosexual men, Paul Van de Ven et al. found that only 2.7 percent of older homosexuals had only one sexual partner in their lifetime.35

Comparison of Homosexual 'Couples' and Heterosexual Spouses

Lest anyone suffer the illusion that any equivalency between the sexual practices of homosexual relationships and traditional marriage exists, the statistics regarding sexual fidelity within marriage are revealing: In Sex in America, called by the New York Times "the most important study of American sexual behavior since the Kinsey reports," Robert T. Michael et al. report that 90 percent of wives and 75 percent of husbands claim never to have had extramarital sex.36

A nationally representative survey of 884 men and 1,288 women published in Journal of Sex Research found that 77 percent of married men and 88 percent of married women had remained faithful to their marriage vows.37

In The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States, E. O. Laumann et al. conducted a national survey that found that 75 percent of husbands and 85 percent of wives never had sexual relations outside of marriage.38

A telephone survey conducted for Parade magazine of 1,049 adults selected to represent the demographic characteristics of the United States found that 81 percent of married men and 85 percent of married women reported that they had never violated their marriage vows.39

While the rate of fidelity within marriage cited by these studies remains far from ideal, there is a magnum order of difference between the negligible lifetime fidelity rate cited for homosexuals and the 75 to 90 percent cited for married couples. This indicates that even "committed" homosexual relationships display a fundamental incapacity for the faithfulness and commitment that is axiomatic to the institution of marriage.

Unhealthy Aspects of 'Monogamous' Homosexual Relationships

Even those homosexual relationships that are loosely termed "monogamous" do not necessarily result in healthier behavior.

The journal AIDS reported that men involved in relationships engaged in anal intercourse and oral-anal intercourse with greater frequency than did those without a steady partner.40 Anal intercourse has been linked with a host of bacterial and parasitical sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

The exclusivity of the relationship did not diminish the incidence of unhealthy sexual acts, which are commonplace among homosexuals. An English study published in the same issue of AIDS concurred, finding that most "unsafe" sex acts among homosexuals occur in steady relationships.41

Of paramount concern are the effects of such a lifestyle upon children. Brad Hayton writes: Homosexuals . . . model a poor view of marriage to children. They are taught by example and belief that marital relationships are transitory and mostly sexual in nature. Sexual relationships are primarily for pleasure rather than procreation. And they are taught that monogamy in a marriage is not the norm [and] should be discouraged if one wants a good 'marital' relationship.42

Violence in Lesbian and Homosexual Relationships

A study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined conflict and violence in lesbian relationships. The researchers found that 90 percent of the lesbians surveyed had been recipients of one or more acts of verbal aggression from their intimate partners during the year prior to this study, with 31 percent reporting one or more incidents of physical abuse.43

In a survey of 1,099 lesbians, the Journal of Social Service Research found that "slightly more than half of the [lesbians] reported that they had been abused by a female lover/partner. The most frequently indicated forms of abuse were verbal/emotional/psychological abuse and combined physical-psychological abuse."44

In their book Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence, D. Island and P. Letellier postulate that "the incidence of domestic violence among gay men is nearly double that in the heterosexual population."45

Rate of Intimate Partner Violence within Marriage 

A little-reported fact is that homosexual and lesbian relationships are far more violent than are traditional married households: The Bureau of Justice Statistics (U.S. Department of Justice) reports that married women in traditional families experience the lowest rate of violence compared with women in other types of relationships.46

A report by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health concurred: It should be noted that most studies of family violence do not differentiate between married and unmarried partner status. Studies that do make these distinctions have found that marriage relationships tend to have the least intimate partner violence when compared to cohabiting or dating relationships.47

High Incidence of Mental Health Problems among Homosexuals and Lesbians 

A national survey of lesbians published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that 75 percent of the nearly two-thousand respondents had pursued psychological counseling of some kind, many for treatment of long-term depression or sadness: Among the sample as a whole, there was a distressingly high prevalence of life events and behaviors related to mental health problems. Thirty-seven percent had been physically abused and 32 percent had been raped or sexually attacked. Nineteen percent had been involved in incestuous relationships while growing up. Almost one-third used tobacco on a daily basis and about 30 percent drank alcohol more than once a week; 6 percent drank daily. One in five smoked marijuana more than once a month. Twenty-one percent of the sample had thoughts about suicide sometimes or often and 18 percent had actually tried to kill themselves...More than half had felt too nervous to accomplish ordinary activities at some time during the past year and over one-third had been depressed.48

Substance Abuse among Lesbians

A study published in Nursing Research found that lesbians are three times more likely to abuse alcohol and to suffer from other compulsive behaviors: Like most problem drinkers, 32 (91 percent) of the participants had abused other drugs as well as alcohol, and many reported compulsive difficulties with food (34 percent), codependency (29 percent), sex (11 percent), and money (6 percent). Forty-six percent had been heavy drinkers with frequent drunkenness.49

Greater Risk for Suicide

A study of twins that examined the relationship between homosexuality and suicide, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that homosexuals with same-sex partners were at greater risk for overall mental health problems, and were 6.5 times more likely than their twins to have attempted suicide. The higher rate was not attributable to mental health or substance abuse disorders.50

Another study published simultaneously in Archives of General Psychiatry followed 1007 individuals from birth. Those classified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual were significantly more likely to have had mental health problems. Significantly, in his comments in the same issue of the journal, D. Bailey cautioned against various speculative explanations of the results, such as the view that "widespread prejudice against homosexual people causes them to be unhappy or worse, mentally ill."51

Reduced Life Span

Another factor contributing to the instability of male homosexual households, which raises the possibility of major disruption for children raised in such households, is the significantly reduced life expectancy of male homosexuals. A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology on the mortality rates of homosexuals concluded:

In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age twenty for gay and bisexual men is eight to twenty years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged twenty years will not reach their sixty-fifth birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.52

Concern about children placed in homosexual households who are orphaned because of the destructive homosexual lifestyle is well founded. In 1990, Wayne Tardiff and his partner, Allan Yoder, were the first homosexuals permitted to become adoptive parents in the state of New Jersey. Tardiff died in 1992 at age forty-four; Yoder died a few months later, leaving an orphaned five-year-old.53

Sexual Identity Confusion

The claim that homosexual households do not "recruit" children into the homosexual lifestyle is refuted by the growing evidence that children raised in such households are more likely to engage in sexual experimentation and in homosexual behavior.

Studies indicate that 0.3 percent of adult females report having practiced homosexual behavior in the past year, 0.4 percent have practiced homosexual behavior in the last five years, and 3 percent have ever practiced homosexual behavior in their lifetime.54 A study in Developmental Psychology found that 12 percent of the children of lesbians became active lesbians themselves, a rate which is at least four times the base rate of lesbianism in the adult female population.55

Numerous studies indicate that while nearly 5 percent of males report having had a homosexual experience sometime in their lives, the number of exclusive homosexuals is considerably less: Between 1 and 2 percent of males report exclusive homosexual behavior over a several-year period.56 However, J. M. Bailey et al. found that 9 percent of the adult sons of homosexual fathers were homosexual in their adult sexual behavior: "The rate of homosexuality in the sons (9 percent) is several times higher than that suggested by the population-based surveys and is consistent with a degree of father-to-son transmission."57

Even though they attempted to argue otherwise, Golombok and Tasker's study revealed in its results section a clear connection between being raised in a lesbian family and homosexuality: "With respect to actual involvement in same-gender sexual relationships, there was a significant difference between groups...None of the children from heterosexual families had experienced a lesbian or gay relationship." By contrast, five (29 percent) of the seventeen daughters and one (13 percent) of the eight sons in homosexual families reported having at least one same-sex relationship.58

These findings have most recently been confirmed in a study appearing in the American Sociological Review. Authors Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz alluded to the "political incorrectness" of their finding of higher rates of homosexuality among children raised in homosexual households: "We recognize the political dangers of pointing out that recent studies indicate that a higher proportion of children of lesbigay parents are themselves apt to engage in homosexual activity."

Stacy and Biblarz also reported "some fascinating findings on the number of sexual partners children report," that: The adolescent and young adult girls raised by lesbian mothers appear to have been more sexually adventurous and less chaste. . . . In other words, once again, children (especially girls) raised by lesbians appear to depart from traditional gender-based norms, while children raised by heterosexual mothers appear to conform to them.59

Incest in Homosexual Parent Families

A study in Adolescence found: A disproportionate percentage--29 percent--of the adult children of homosexual parents had been specifically subjected to sexual molestation by that homosexual parent, compared to only 0.6 percent of adult children of heterosexual parents having reported sexual relations with their parent...Having a homosexual parent(s) appears to increase the risk of incest with a parent by a factor of about 50.60


It is not the intention of homosexual activists simply to make it possible for homosexuals and lesbians to partake of conventional married life. By their own admission they aim to change the essential character of marriage, removing precisely the aspects of fidelity and chastity that promote stability in the relationship and the home:

Paula Ettelbrick, former legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, has stated, "Being queer is more than setting up house, sleeping with a person of the same gender, and seeking state approval for doing so. . . . Being queer means pushing the parameters of sex, sexuality, and family, and in the process transforming the very fabric of society."61

According to homosexual writer and activist Michelangelo Signorile, the goal of homosexuals is: To fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely, to demand the right to marry not as a way of adhering to society's moral codes but rather to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution...The most subversive action lesbian and gay men can undertake...is to transform the notion of "family" entirely.62

Signorile goes so far as to redefine the term monogamy: For these men the term "monogamy" simply doesn't necessarily mean sexual exclusivity...The term "open relationship" has for a great many gay men come to have one specific definition: A relationship in which the partners have sex on the outside often, put away their resentment and jealousy, and discuss their outside sex with each other, or share sex partners.63

The views of Signorile and Ettelbrick regarding marriage are widespread in the homosexual community. According to the Mendola Report, a mere 26 percent of homosexuals believe that commitment is most important in a marriage relationship.64 

Former homosexual William Aaron explains why even homosexuals involved in "committed" relationships do not practice monogamy: In the gay life, fidelity is almost impossible. Since part of the compulsion of homosexuality seems to be a need on the part of the homophile to "absorb" masculinity from his sexual partners, he must be constantly on the lookout for [new partners]. Consequently the most successful homophile "marriages" are those where there is an arrangement between the two to have affairs on the side while maintaining the semblance of permanence in their living arrangement.65

Even those who support the concept of homosexual "families" admit to their unsuitability for children:

In their study in Family Relations, L. Koepke et al. observed, "Even individuals who believe that same-sex relationships are a legitimate choice for adults may feel that children will suffer from being reared in such families."66

Writing in the Journal of Homosexuality, J. J. Bigner and R. B. Jacobson describe the homosexual father as "socioculturally unique," trying to take on "two apparently opposing roles: that of a father (with all its usual connotations) and that of a homosexual man." They describe the homosexual father as "both structurally and psychologically at social odds with his interest in keeping one foot in both worlds: parenting and homosexuality."67

In truth, the two roles are fundamentally incompatible. The instability, susceptibility to disease, and domestic violence that is disproportionate in homosexual and lesbian relationships would normally render such households unfit to be granted custody of children. However, in the current social imperative to rush headlong into granting legitimacy to the practice of homosexuality in every conceivable area of life, such considerations are often ignored.

But children are not guinea pigs to be used in social experiments in redefining the institution of marriage. They are vulnerable individuals with vital emotional and developmental needs. The great harm done by denying them both a mother and a father in a committed marriage will not easily be reversed, and society will pay a grievous price for its ill-advised adventurism.


Attempts to redefine the very nature of the family ignore the accumulated wisdom of cultures and societies from time immemorial, which testifies that the best way for children to be raised is by a mother and father who are married to each other. The importance of the traditional family has been increasingly verified by research showing that children from married two-parent households do better academically, financially, emotionally, and behaviorally. They delay sex longer, have better health, and receive more parental support.68

Homosexual or lesbian households are no substitute for a family: Children also need both a mother and a father. Blankenhorn discusses the different but necessary roles that mothers and fathers play in children's lives: "If mothers are likely to devote special attention to their children's present physical and emotional needs, fathers are likely to devote special attention to their character traits necessary for the future, especially qualities such as independence, self-reliance, and the willingness to test limits and take risks." 

Blankenhorn further explains:Compared to a mother's love, a father's love is frequently more expectant, more instrumental, and significantly less conditional. . . . For the child, from the beginning, the mother's love is an unquestioned source of comfort and the foundation of human attachment. But the father's love is almost a bit farther away, more distant and contingent. Compared to the mother's love, the father's must frequently be sought after, deserved, earned through achievement.69 

Author and sociologist David Popenoe confirms that mothers and fathers fulfill different roles in their children's lives. In Life without Father Popenoe notes, "Through their play, as well as in their other child-rearing activities, fathers tend to stress competition, challenge, initiative, risk taking and independence. Mothers in their care-taking roles, in contrast, stress emotional security and personal safety." 

Parents also discipline their children differently: "While mothers provide an important flexibility and sympathy in their discipline, fathers provide ultimate predictability and consistency. Both dimensions are critical for an efficient, balanced, and humane child-rearing regime."70 

The complementary aspects of parenting that mothers and fathers contribute to the rearing of children are rooted in the innate differences of the two sexes, and can no more be arbitrarily substituted than can the very nature of male and female. Accusations of sexism and homophobia notwithstanding, along with attempts to deny the importance of both mothers and fathers in the rearing of children, the oldest family structure of all turns out to be the best.

In his analysis of human cultures, the eminent Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin argued that no society has ceased to honor the institution of marriage and survived. Sorokin considered traditional marriage and parenting as the fulfillment of life's meaning for both individuals and society: Enjoying the marital union in its infinite richness, parents freely fulfill many other paramount tasks. They maintain the procreation of the human race. Through their progeny they determine the hereditary and acquired characteristics of future generations. Through marriage they achieve a social immortality of their own, of their ancestors, and of their particular groups and community. This immortality is secured through the transmission of their name and values, and of their traditions and ways of life to their children, grandchildren, and later generations.71

In the 1981 Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II summarized the importance of marriage-based families: The family has vital and organic links with society since it is its foundation and nourishes it continually through its role of service to life: It is from the family that citizens come to birth and it is within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues that are the animating principle of the existence and development of society itself.72

None of this is possible in homosexual or lesbian households, which are by definition incapable of creating progeny and contributing to the "procreation of the human race." Any children found in such households are of necessity obtained either from married couples or otherwise through the sexual union of male and female, artificially or otherwise. Thus such households are ironically dependent upon the very womb of society--the union of male and female--that they wish so fervently to deny. In It Takes a Village, Hillary Rodham Clinton refers, perhaps inadvertently, to indelible "laws of nature" when she observes that "every society requires a critical mass of families that fit the traditional ideal." Similarly, an organism needs a critical mass of healthy cells to survive, and--as every oncologist knows--the fewer abnormal cells the better.

In a democratic society, those who choose to cohabit in "alternative" familial arrangements such as same-sex unions have the freedom to do so. But toleration is one thing; promotion and "celebration" are another. To entrust children to such arrangements is wholly beyond the pale. As history shows, a society that champions such unions at the expense of traditional families does so at its own peril. But with the formidable forces of nature, culture, and history arrayed against them, such efforts to remake the most fundamental institution of society are not likely, in the end, to prevail.


1 David Cramer, "Gay Parents and Their Children: A Review of Research and Practical Implications," Journal of Counseling and Development 64 (April 1986): 506. See also Frederick W. Bozett, "Gay Fathers: A Review of the Literature," in Homosexuality and the Family (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1989), p. 152. Bozett writes: "Most studies of gay fathers are based on nonrandom small sample sizes, with subjects who are Caucasian, middle- to upper-class, well educated with occupations commensurate with their education, who come mostly from urban centers, and who are relatively accepting of their homosexuality. There is severely limited knowledge of gay fathers who vary from these demographics. Moreover, the validity and reliability of the instruments used in the studies reported are not always addressed."

2 Louise B. Silverstein and Carl F. Auerbach, "Deconstructing the Essential Father," American Psychologist 54 (June 1999): 397--407.

3 Charlotte J. Patterson, "Lesbian and Gay Parenting," American Psychological Association Public Interest Directorate (1995): 8.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., p. 2.

6 P. A. Belcastro et al., "A Review of Data Based Studies Addressing the Affects of Homosexual Parenting on Children's Sexual and Social Functioning," Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 20 (1993): 105, 106.

7 L. Keopke et al., "Relationship Quality in a Sample of Lesbian Couples with Children and Child-free Lesbian Couples," Family Relations 41 (1992): 225.

8 J. Paul Guiliani and Dwight G. Duncan, "Brief of Amici Curiae Massachusetts Family Institute and National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality," Appeal to the Supreme Court of Vermont, Docket No. S1009-97CnC.

9 S. L. Huggins, "A Comparative Study of Self-esteem of Adolescent Children of Divorced Lesbian Mothers and Divorced Heterosexual Mothers," Journal of Homosexuality 18 (1989): 134.

10 J. M. Bailey et al., "Sexual Orientation of Adult Sons of Gay Fathers,"  Developmental Psychology 31 (1995): 124.

11 Susan Golombok and Fiona L. Tasker, "Do Parents Influence the Sexual Orientation of Their Children? Findings from a Longitudinal Study of Lesbian Families," Developmental Psychology 32 (1996): 9.

12 F. Tasker and S. Golombok, "Adults Raised as Children in Lesbian Families," Developmental Psychology 31 (1995): 213.

13 Ghazala A. Javaid, "The Children of Homosexual and Heterosexual Single Mothers," Child Psychiatry and Human Development 23 (1993): 245.

14 Jerry J. Bigner and R. Brooke Jacobson, "Adult Responses to Child Behavior and Attitudes Toward Fathering: Gay and Nongay Fathers," Journal of Homosexuality 23 (1992): 99--112.

15 Charlotte J. Patterson, "Families of the Lesbian Baby Boom: Parent's Division of Labor and Children's Adjustment," Development Psychology 31 (1995): 122.

16 Norman L. Wyers, "Homosexuality in the Family: Lesbian and Gay Spouses," Social Work 32 (1987): 144.

17 Richard Green et al., "Lesbian Mothers and Their Children: A Comparison with Solo Parent Heterosexual Mothers and Their Children," Archives of Sexual Behavior 15 (1986): 167--184.

18 Laura Lott-Whitehead and Carol T. Tully, "The Family Lives of Lesbian Mothers," Smith College Studies in Social Work 63 (1993): 265.

19 Wyers, "Homosexuality in the Family," p. 144.

20 Golombok et al., "Children in Lesbian and Single-parent Households: Psychosexual and Psychiatric Appraisal," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 24 (1983): 569.

21 Mary B. Harris and Pauline H. Turner, "Gay and Lesbian Parents," Journal of Homosexuality 12 (1985): 104.

22 Ibid., p. 112.

23 Nanette Gartrell et al., "The National Lesbian Family Study: Interviews with Prospective Mothers," American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 66 (1996): 279.

24 Harris and Turner, "Gay and Lesbian Parents," p. 111, 112.

25 Silverstein and Auerbach, "Deconstructing the Essential Father," p. 400.

26 Ibid.

27 Justin Torres, "APA Fatherhood Report 'Utter Nonsense,'" Conservative News Service, July 16, 1999.

28 Robert Lerner and Althea K. Nagai, No Basis: What the Studies Don't Tell Us About Same Sex Parenting (Washington: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2001): 6.

29 A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 

308, 309; See also A. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).

30 Paul Van de Ven et al., "A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men," Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354.

31 "Sex Survey Results," Genre (October 1996), quoted in "Survey Finds  40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners," Lambda Report, January 1998, p. 20.

32 M. Pollak, "Male Homosexuality," in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, ed. P. Aries and A. Bejin, translated by Anthony Forster (New York, NY: B. Blackwell, 1985), pp. 40--61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), pp. 124, 125.

33 David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 252, 253.

34 M. Saghir and E. Robins, Male and Female Homosexuality (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1973), p. 225; L. A. Peplau and H. Amaro, "Understanding Lesbian Relationships," in Homosexuality: Social, Psychological, and Biological Issues, ed. J. Weinrich and W. Paul (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982).

35 Van de Ven et al., "A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile," p. 354.

36 Robert T. Michael et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1994).

37 Michael W. Wiederman, "Extramarital Sex: Prevalence and Correlates in a National Survey," Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 170.

38 E. O. Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994 ), p. 217.

39 M. Clements, "Sex in America Today: A New National Survey Reveals How our Attitudes are Changing," Parade, August 7, 1994, pp. 4--6.

40A.P.M. Coxon et al., "Sex Role Separation in Diaries of Homosexual Men," AIDS (July 1993): 877--882.

41 G. J. Hart et al., "Risk Behaviour, Anti-HIV and Anti-Hepatitis B Core Prevalence in Clinic and Non-clinic Samples of Gay Men in England, 1991--1992," AIDS (July 1993): 863--869, cited in "Homosexual Marriage: The Next Demand," Position Analysis paper by Colorado for Family Values, May 1994.

42 Bradley P. Hayton, "To Marry or Not: The Legalization of Marriage and Adoption of Homosexual Couples," (Newport Beach: The Pacific Policy Institute, 1993), p. 9.

43 Lettie L. Lockhart et al., "Letting out the Secret: Violence in Lesbian Relationships," Journal of Interpersonal Violence 9 (1994): 469--492.

44 Gwat Yong Lie and Sabrina Gentlewarrier, "Intimate Violence in Lesbian Relationships: Discussion of Survey Findings and Practice Implications," Journal of Social Service Research 15 (1991): 41--59.

45 D. Island and P. Letellier, Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence (New York: Haworth Press, 1991), p. 14.

46 "Violence Between Intimates," Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings, November 1994, p. 2.

47 Health Implications Associated With Homosexuality (Austin: The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, 1999), p. 79.

48 J. Bradford et al., "National Lesbian Health Care Survey: Implications for Mental Health Care," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 62 (1994): 239, cited in Health Implications Associated with Homosexuality, p. 81.

49 Joanne Hall, "Lesbians Recovering from Alcoholic Problems: An Ethnographic Study of Health Care Expectations," Nursing Research 43 (1994): 238--244.

50 R. Herrell et al., "A Co-twin Study in Adult Men," Archives of General Psychiatry 56 (1999): 867--874.

51 D. Fergusson et al., "Is Sexual Orientation Related to Mental Health Problems and Suicidality in Young People?" Archives of General Psychiatry 56 (October 1999).

52 Robert S. Hogg et al., "Modeling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men," International Journal of Epidemiology 26 (1997): 657.

53 Obituaries, The Washington Blade, July 16, 1992.

54 A. M. Johnson et al., "Sexual Lifestyles and HIV Risk," Nature 360 (1992): 410--412; R. Turner, "Landmark French and British Studies Examine Sexual Behavior, including Multiple Partners, Homosexuality," Family Planning Perspectives 25 (1993): 91, 92.

55 F. Tasker and S. Golombok, "Adults Raised as Children in Lesbian Families," p. 213.

56 ACSF Investigators, "AIDS and Sexual Behavior in France," Nature 360 (1992): 407--409; J. M. Bailey et al., "Sexual Orientation of Adult Sons of Gay Fathers," Developmental Psychology 31 (1995): 124--129; J. O. G. Billy et al., "The Sexual Behavior of Men in the United States," Family Planning Perspectives 25 (1993): 52--60; A. M. Johnson et al., "Sexual Lifestyles and HIV Risk," Nature 360 (1992): 410--412.

57 J. M. Bailey et al., "Sexual Orientation of Adult Sons of Gay Fathers," pp. 127, 128.

58 Tasker and Golombok, "Do Parents Influence the Sexual Orientation?" p. 7.

59 Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz, "(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter," American Sociological Review 66 (2001): 174, 179.

60 P. Cameron and K. Cameron, "Homosexual Parents," Adolescence 31 (1996): 772.

61 Paula Ettelbrick, quoted in William B. Rubenstein, "Since When Is Marriage a Path to Liberation?" Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Law, (New York: The New Press, 1993), pp. 398, 400.

62 Michelangelo Signorile, "Bridal Wave," Out, December 1994.

63 Michelangelo Signorile, Life Outside (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 213.

64 Mary Mendola, The Mendola Report (New York: Crown, 1980), p. 53.

65 William Aaron, Straight (New York: Bantam Books, 1972), p. 208, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, p. 125, quoted by Robert H. Knight in "How Domestic Partnerships and 'Gay Marriage' Threaten the Family," Family Research Council, Insight, June 1994, p. 9.

66 L. Koepke et al., "Relationship Quality in a Sample of Lesbian Couples with Children and Child-free Lesbian Couples," Family Relations 41 (1992): 228.

67 Bigner and Jacobson, "Adult Responses to Child Behavior and Attitudes Toward Fathering," pp. 174, 175.

68 See the following: Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandfeur, Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), p. 45; Pat Fagan, "How Broken Families Rob Children of Their Chances for Prosperity," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1283, June 11, 1999, p. 13; Dawn Upchurch et al., "Gender and Ethnic Differences in the Timing of First Sexual Intercourse," Family Planning Perspectives 30 (1998): 121--127; Jeanne M. Hilton and Esther L. Devall, "Comparison of Parenting and Children's Behavior in Single-Mother, Single-Father, and Intact Families," Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 29 (1998): 23--54; Jane Mauldon, "The Effect of Marital Disruption on Children's Health," Demography 27 (1990): 431--446; Frank Furstenberg, Jr., and Julien Teitler, "Reconsidering the Effects of Marital Disruption: What Happens to Children of Divorce in Early Adulthood?" Journal of Family Issues 15 (June 1994); Elizabeth Thomson et al., "Family Structure and Child Well-Being: Economic Resources vs. Parental Behaviors," Social Forces 73 (1994): 221--42.

69 David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America (New York: Basic Books, 1995), p. 219.

70 David Popenoe, Life Without Father (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 144, 146.

71 Pitirim Sorokin, The American Sex Revolution (Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1956), pp. 6, 77--105.

72 John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, December 15, 1981, Section 42. Quoted by Robert H. Knight in "Gay 'Marriage': Hawaii's Assault on Matrimony," Family Policy, February 1996, p. 5.

Dr. Dailey is senior fellow in culture studies at the Family Research Council. He earned his Ph.D. at Marquette University.

Published by the Family Research Council. Copyright 2002. Reprinted with permission.

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