I’m a dope, a patsy, a dupe. Or at least tragically naive: Somehow, it seems, I’m once again surprised by the unabashed dishonesty of our worst anti-gay opponents.
This time it’s Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons of NARTH, writing a long piece about same-sex adoption. It has a small section titled, “The children do suffer,” with this opening:
There are strong indications that children raised by same sex couples fare less well than children raised in stable homes with a mother and a father.
He brings up two studies to support this, one of them by Seton Hall professor Dr. Theodora Sirota, and then regretfully tells us:
Not surprisingly, there are scholars who oppose this weighty evidence.
I know something that might surprise Fitzgibbons: One of those opposing scholars is — have you guessed? — Seton Hall professor Dr. Theodora Sirota, the source of his weighty evidence.
Actually, I take that back. Fitzgibbons won’t be surprised at all, because Sirota has already written to him, complaining that he has “mis-reported and misrepresented the results of my 2009 research in this blog.” Not surprisingly, Fitzgibbons has yet to correct his article.
I know this because Dr. Sirota (whom I’ve never met) contacted me herself yesterday, asking for help in exposing what he’s done.
You can read the full text of Sirota’s message here, but let me put it in a nutshell. To support his denunciation of same-sex adoption, Fitzgibbons offers this summary of Sirota’s research:
Researchers interviewed 68 women with gay or bisexual fathers and 68 women with heterosexual fathers. The women (average age 29 in both groups) with gay or bisexual fathers had difficulty with adult attachment issues in three areas: they were less comfortable with closeness and intimacy; they were less able to trust and depend on others; and they experienced more anxiety in relationships compared to the women raised by heterosexual fathers.
The problem is not with what Fitzgibbons said; it’s what he left out: The gay and bisexual fathers in Sirota’s study were married to the mothers.
Dr. Sirota’s article is about the impact of a homosexual father raising a girl in a heterosexual marriage. It has nothing to do with same-sex couples, nothing to do with same-sex adoption at all.
You’d never know that from Fitzgibbon’s piece, and that makes his piece a lie. This kind of sin-by-omission is nothing new; we’ve seen it from far more reputable scholars than this NARTHer. Here, though, we have the original researcher explaining why this is an abuse of her research and asking us for help.
Dr. Sirota’s explanation is crucial. Her data suggest the daughters’ issues were related not so much to their fathers’ sexuality, but to factors like “divorce, maternal anger/bitterness, father absence, etc.” In other words (my words, not Sirota’s), pretty much the results you’d expect when a gay man tries to follow the anti-gay advice of “choosing” to be “straight.”
That’s a provocative finding. In fact, it’s the opposite of what Fitzgibbons is trying to establish. Our opponents claim their concern is all about the kids, but how do they reconcile that with these other things they tell us:
- Bans on same-sex marriage don’t discriminate because gays can marry a member of the opposite sex, just like anyone else (recently heard from Michele Bachmann).
- The purpose of marriage is procreation.
And yet kids are hurt when gay men live by this philosophy. Given our opponents’ pure and unselfish regard for children, I eagerly await their loud and public reversal of what they’ve pushed on us for long.
So let’s do a quick recap:
- Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons presents himself as a science-based mental-health professional.
- He distorts another scholar’s work to advance his agenda.
- This scholar points out the distortion.
- Fitzgibbons fails to correct the distortion.
Two points present themselves, one minor and one major.
First (and this is the minor one), every time our opponents unrepentantly twist someone’s research, they admit they have no honest case. Always point this out — always.
More important, though, is the outrageous immorality of Fitzgibbon’s work. And there’s plenty of outrage for plenty of people: For Dr. Sirota, whose research has been abused. For same-sex parents, who’ve been libeled by that abuse. And, most of all, for Fitzgibbons’ own loyal readers, who are counting on him for the truth.
This is a moral issue, and it’s becoming clear we can better advance our cause on the grounds of morality rather than tolerance. When Ted Olson and David Boies made their case against Prop 8, they did so on a moral basis: Same-sex relationships have the same potential for moral value as opposite-sex pairings, and it is a moral wrong to deny us full citizenship and equality. In this effort, Fitzgibbons becomes our ally, a case study in the moral bankruptcy of our extreme opposition.
Dr. Sirota has asked us to help expose this corruption of her work, and it’s the easiest exposure possible, requiring nothing but a simple declaration of truth. Please help her, either by sharing this, or (even better) by using her words to craft a message of your own.