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ABC's Carrie Gann sugarcoats anti-gay study paid for by anti-gay activists

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UPDATE: ABC has changed the title of the piece to "Study of Gay Parenting Draws Criticism." The only problem is - as noted below - the study is about gay parenting. Even the author of the study admits it's not a study about parenting. I realize that it's hard to get this title right, but that's why ABC is paid the big bucks, to get it right. Find a good editor, and do it.

ABC News' Carrie Gann didn't think it important until the fifth paragraph of her story to mention that a new "study" "showing" that gay parents are bad for kids was paid for by a conservative, anti-gay think tank.

Time for a blogger ethics panel.

Oh but, as the saying goes, it gets better.

Not only does ABC bury the fact that the "study" was funded by anti-gay conservatives, but ABC's reporter Carrie Gann goes on to exonerate the conservatives and their study from any perception of bias (because, somehow, she knows it's really a good study).
The study was published Sunday in the journal Social Science Research. It was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, groups that are "commonly known for their support of conservative causes," though the organizations played no role in the design and analysis of the report, the study said. [emphasis added]
Oh, well, the study claimed it wasn't biased. Silly me.

I'm sure the conservative anti-gay group didn't do anything to try to influence the outcome of the study - they would never think, for example, of maybe trying to pick someone to do the study who might lean their way.  Because that would be dishonest, and conservative anti-gay activists are never dishonest when attacking gay and lesbian Americans.  And what do you know, the author is in fact someone with a history of taking a pretty conservative tact on sexual issues - it wasn't just random chance that the anti-gay activists came to him.  (ABC also doesn't bother mentioning the author being someone who has consistently reached sexually conservative conclusions in his research.)

(A Mormon paper with ties to NOM was the first to report on the "study."  Now there's a coincidence.)

Oh, but it gets even better.

ABC also didn't bother mentioning that the study isn't a study of same-sex parenting.  It's a study of kids in broken homes.  More from Slate:
What the study shows, then, is that kids from broken homes headed by gay people develop the same problems as kids from broken homes headed by straight people. But that finding isn’t meaningless. It tells us something important: We need fewer broken homes among gays, just as we do among straights. We need to study Regnerus’ sample and fix the mistakes we made 20 or 40 years ago. No more sham heterosexual marriages. No more post-parenthood self-discoveries. No more deceptions. No more affairs. And no more polarization between homosexuality and marriage. Gay parents owe their kids the same stability as straight parents. That means less talk about marriage as a right, and more about marriage as an expectation.
The author of the study seems to confirm that the study isn't really about gay parenting:
Q: So are gay parents worse than traditional parents?

A: The study is not about parenting per se. There are no doubt excellent gay parents and terrible straight parents. The study is, among other things, about outcome differences between young adults raised in households in which a parent had a same-sex relationship and those raised by their own parents in intact families. It’s not about sexual orientation, at least not overtly. There are many significant differences, but the study does not ascribe any causes for the differences. This can only be assessed with additional research. What is evident in the data, however, is above-average instability among households in which mom or dad had a same-sex relationship. For example, among the former only two respondents total said they lived with their mother and her partner nonstop from birth to age 18. [emphasis added]
"The study is not about parenting per se."  That's from the author of the study.  But that didn't stop ABC from making this the headline of their story:
Study: Kids of Parents in Same-sex Relationships Fare Worse as Adults
It's not about parenting, but the headline sure is.

And here's the first paragraph of ABC's story about a study that isn't about parenting:
A new study finds that adult children of parents in same-sex relationships fare worse socially, psychologically and physically than people raised in other family arrangements.
Well ABC sure seems to think the study is about parenting, and they'll be damned if they don't force you to agree with their bias.

This study isn't about kids raised by gay parents. It simply compares kids raised in a home unencumbered by divorce or adultery to kids raised in a home where mom or dad either had an affair, and/or divorced.  (Gee, you think the kids in the latter category (where a parent had an affair or divorced) might end up more troubled than the kids in the former (where the parents stayed together with no adultery?)  For all we know, kids raised in a family in which a parent had an opposite-sex relationship outside of the marriage might also show the same results.  But God forbid we look at that too - that might just ruin the anti-gay results, and ABC wouldn't have nearly as sensational a story.

This is a classic religious right tactic.  Take research that really has nothing to do with gay people and reach anti-gay conclusions, and with the help of the media make the lie true.

Seriously, ABC?  You bury the lede, and then you exonerate the bigotry, and then you fail to even mention what I pointed to above.  Heckuva day's work.

It is irresponsible and unprofessional - and I'd even say unethical - for ABC to write a he-said-she-said article claiming that "gay parents hurt kids" without doing a much more in-depth, and careful, story on this. It's like writing a he-said-she-said on whether someone's a pedophile - or worse, and more to the point - on whether African-Americans are genetically inferior (because, after all, that's what this is - a study on whether a minority class is inherently inferior).

The very act of writing the story is damaging to one's reputation, even if they're exonerated.  Thus you can't simply write the story and quote a few critics.  You have to seriously example whether you even write the story at all, and then, perhaps, if you feel you must write the story, you base the story on how the study failed UNLESS the study is so rock solid it's unimpeachable.  And that is not the case here.

What you don't do is bury the critics in the second half of the story after parroting the right-wing authors' claims that the study wasn't influenced by its right-wing funders.


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