Canada shares many of America’s cultural and historical roots with the British Empire. So it’s perfectly appropriate that Congress should study the effects of Canadian policy.
Especially relevant in public discussion today is gay marriage, which has been legal for our northern neighbors since 2005. After eight years of practice, Canada’s studies and census can show us the effects of gay marriage on adopted children.
Mark Regnerus, author of the 2012 New Family Structures Study, is one of the few sociologists in the United States to conduct population-based analyses of the socialization of the children of gay families. Writing at Public Discourse, the online publication of the Witherspoon Institute based in Princeton, Regnerus provides more proof of the differences between gay and straight parenting as evidenced by a Canadian academic study:
A study published last week in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household—analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample—reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.
Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.
The problem with many sociological studies of gay families in the United States is that they use small or non-random “convenience” samples. Many of these smaller studies then conclude that there is ultimately no difference between gay and straight parenting.
However, because of the NFSS and this recent study, the “no differences” conclusion may be up for debate once again.
There were a few limiitations to the study above: the scientists couldn’t track the household history of the children, they couldn’t establish “the circumstances of the birth of the children whose education is evaluated,” and the census did not distinguish between married and common law gay and lesbian couples.
But while this study is not definitive, it’s nevertheless important to pay attention to countries that have had legal gay marriage for a long period of time. As the privilege is relatively new in the United States, we’re risking an irrational rush into a policy that we still don’t fully understand.
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