Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is normally a big fan of pregnancy and child-rearing – unless a same-sex couple is involved.
Dobson and several other Religious Right leaders went ballistic in December when Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, announced that she is pregnant and plans to raise the child with her partner, Heather Poe.
“With all due respect to Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, 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,” Dobson wrote in a Time magazine column. “That is not to say Cheney and Poe will not love their child. But love alone is not enough to guarantee healthy growth and development.”
Dobson called same-sex parenting an “untested and far-reaching social experiment” and insisted, “The traditional family, supported by more than 5,000 years of human experience, is still the foundation on which the well-being of future generations depends.”
In his column, Dobson cited the work of two researchers, Kyle Pruett of Yale Medical School and educational psychologist Carol Gilligan of New York University School of Law, to buttress his point of view.
Both researchers, however, accused Dobson of distorting their data.
Pruett, author of the book Fatherneed: Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, wrote to Time, asserting that Dobson had “cherry-picked” quotes and used them out of context. Gilligan also insisted that Dobson had distorted her findings. Both asked Dobson to stop citing their work.
Gilligan told gay-rights activist Wayne Besen that she was “stunned” and “mortified” to see Dobson use her work to argue against same-sex parenting.
In her letter to the FOF head, she charged, “Not only did you take my research out of context, you did so without my knowledge to support discriminatory goals that I do not agree with.”
Gilligan was so upset she took the step of making a video outlining her views that Besen posted on the internet-based video-sharing service You Tube.
Pruett also wrote directly to Dobson, telling him, “You cherry-picked a phrase to shore up highly, in my view, discriminatory purposes. This practice is condemned in real science, common though it may be in pseudo-science circles. There is nothing in my longitudinal research or any of my writings to support such conclusions (about same-gender families).”