The Unexpected Harm of Same-sex Marriage: A Critical Appraisal, Replication and Re-analysis of Wainright and Patterson’s Studies of Adolescents with Same-sex Parents
Aims: To critique, replicate and re-analyze Wainright and Patterson’s three studies of adolescents with same-sex parents, which conclude, based on representative population data, that such children suffer no disadvantages.
Methodology: After replicating Wainright and Patterson’s sample and analyses using the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, Wave I, (n = 20,745), re-examination of the same-sex parent sample finds that 27 of the 44 cases are misidentified heterosexual parents; they did not adjust for survey design and clustering; and ignored 99 percent of the baseline by using a small matched sample for comparison. Outcomes are re-analyzed after correcting these problems, using OLS, logistic regression and Firth (bias-adjusted) regression models.
Results: The adolescents with same-sex parents experience significantly lower autonomy and higher anxiety, but also better school performance, than do adolescents with opposite-sex parents. Comparing unmarried to (self-described) married same-sex parents, above-average child depressive symptoms rises from 50% to 88%; daily fearfulness or crying rises from 5% to 32%; grade point average declines from 3.6 to 3.4; and child sex abuse by parent rises from zero to 38%. The longer a child has been with same-sex parents, the greater the harm.
Conclusion: Children with same-sex parents experience significant disadvantages, but also some advantages, compared to those with man-woman parents. Although opposite-sex marriage is associated with improved outcomes on a wide range of child well-being measures, same-sex marriage is associated with lower outcomes. Further work is needed to determine the relative influences of instability, duration, and marriage to these findings.
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