Gazette allowed Swalm to mislead on same-sex parenting

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In an article about a bill that would allow same-sex couples and unmarried partners to adopt children, The Gazette of Colorado Springs uncritically reported Republican state Rep. Spencer Swalm's misleading comment that studies have shown "traditional two-parent families" to be healthiest for children. In fact, no studies have found the children of lesbians and gays to be "disadvantaged," according to the American Psychological Association.

In a March 9 article about House Bill 1330, which would "allow same-sex couples and unmarried partners to adopt" children, The Gazette of Colorado Springs uncritically reported the comments of Rep. Spencer Swalm (R-Centennial), an opponent of the bill, who "argued that studies and historical accounts have shown traditional two-parent families are the healthiest environment for a child." Swalm's dubious assertion echoed Focus on the Family founder James Dobson's equally dubious contention that "the majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father." In fact, as Colorado Media Matters has noted (here, here, and here), a study of lesbian and gay parenting research by the American Psychological Association (APA) concluded there is no evidence to support the claim that children of lesbian and gay parents are worse off than children of heterosexual parents.

According to the Gazette article by Ed Sealover, "A bill to allow same-sex couples and unmarried partners to adopt kids sped through a House committee Thursday without a single witness testifying against it. Republican legislatures in 2003 and 2004 killed similar bills, but with Democrats in charge, the bill appears speeding toward passage." Although The Gazette noted the bipartisan support for the bill and included Republican Rep. Ellen Roberts' (Durango) statement that "she thinks [same-sex couples] are as good at parenting as anyone else and deserve the rights," it nevertheless uncritically reported Swalm's unsubstantiated remark about "traditional two-parent families." The article also quoted Swalm as saying, "I don't think it's an accident that traditional family structure has served not just our society but civilization well for eons."

Swalm's remarks, like Dobson's, are contradicted by the findings of the APA's meta-study of lesbian and gay parenting, which concluded that "[n]ot a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents." The APA also found that "the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth."

Also, as Colorado Media Matters has pointed out, the American Academy of Pediatrics noted in a 2002 report on the psychosocial development of children raised by same-sex parents:

A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. Children's optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family unit than by the particular structural form it takes.

The report concluded "[P]arents' sexual orientation is not a variable that, in itself, predicts their ability to provide a home environment that supports children's development."

From the article "House panel OKs gay adoption," by Ed Sealover, in the March 9 edition of The Gazette of Colorado Springs:

DENVER -- A bill to allow same-sex couples and unmarried partners to adopt kids sped through a House committee Thursday without a single witness testifying against it.

Republican legislatures in 2003 and 2004 killed similar bills, but with Democrats in charge, the bill appears speeding toward passage.

One reason the opposition might not have been present is that Democratic leadership sprang the bill just three days ago.

It was placed on the calendar of the House Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday and passed by an 8-3 vote.

Jim Pfaff, president of Colorado Family Action, promised traditional-family advocates will try to fight House Bill 1330 on the House floor. He blamed a scheduling conflict and the Democrats' "ramrodding" of the bill for his missing the committee hearing.

But five supporters, including adoption workers and lesbians who have adopted children with their partners in other states, showed up to testify that Majority Leader Alice Madden's bill helps strengthen families and makes more secure homes for children.

"When two adults partner in parenting a child, we deserve the serenity that comes with legal recognition," said Debra Johnson of Denver, who shares two children with her partner. "Public policy needs to recognize a broad definition of family."

Colorado law allows married couples or single individuals to adopt a child.

[...]

Republican Rep. Ellen Roberts of Durango said that after planning estates for a number of same-sex couples, she thinks they are as good at parenting as anyone else and deserve the rights.

Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, said voters who rejected the pro gay-rights Referendum I last year already spoke on the subject.

Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, argued that studies and historical accounts have shown traditional two-parent families are the healthiest environment for a child.

"I don't think it's an accident that traditional family structure has served not just our society but civilization well for eons," Swalm said.

The bill moves now to the House floor.

If it passes and gets Gov. Bill Ritter's signature, Colorado would become the 25th state to allow adoptions by same-sex couples.

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