Two higher-ups from the anti-gay Family Research Council distorted the results of a Harvard study on the radio show Washington Watch, finding an argument against same-sex marriage when there was none.
The study, titled “Where Is The Land of Opportunity?”, investigated which factors lead to the most absolute and relative mobility in low-income communities— how much money children raised in those communities end up making as adults, and the difference in income between rich and poor children in the same community.
The authors found that family structure has the most to do with a child’s success later in life. Children raised by single mothers were less likely to enjoy more absolute and relative mobility. Even being raised in a community with fewer single parents meant that children were more likely to end up higher up on the income ladder.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and senior research fellow Peter Sprigg twisted the Harvard study to fit their anti-gay marriage agenda on Washington Watch.
Sprigg cites the Harvard study, stating, “if a child grows up in a community with married households, that child will do better than a child raised in a community where there are many single parent households.”
According to Sprigg, the Harvard findings prove that marriage needs to be sanctified as a union between a man and a woman.
“This is exactly what I’ve been saying about the marriage issue, if you redefine marriage it’s not going to affect just those couples, it’s going to affect the whole community by setting an example,” he said.
“That study then answers that question: how does my same-sex marriage affect yours?” Perkins chimed in. “Well, it may not affect my marriage but it affects my children because it has an impact upon marriage across the board.”
The study, however, makes no mention of same-sex parents or couples— it focuses on whether children are raised by one or two parents, and not the sex of the parents.
According to Think Progress, “the trick of conflating ‘fatherless’ children is a favorite for those opposed to marriage equality, though no study has ever found parallels between having two moms and having just one.”
Studies about the effects of single parents on children’s development have been used by anti-marriage equality factions in support of their definition of marriage, while studies examining the effect of same-sex couples on the children they raise show positive outcomes.