Challenges Broad Assertions in Televised Debate on R74

Washington United for Marriage, the broad coalition supporting R-74 and the state’s bipartisan marriage law, unleashed its on recent assertions made by Joseph Backholm, the chair of the campaign opposing the freedom to marry, in a televised debate over the weekend on KING 5 News Up Front.

What follows is a brief marriagefactcheck on Backholm’s assertions:

Backholm Claim: Research shows that children who have a mother and father fare better than those raised by same-sex parents.

Facts: A wealth of research exists that finds the gender of parents has no impact on children’s wellbeing.  In 2010, sociologists Judith Stacey (New York University) and Tim Biblarz (University of Southern California) conducted a review of nearly every study on gay parenting. They found that “Current claims that children need both a mother and father are spurious… At this point no research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being.”

Backholm himself admitted that there isn’t enough research available to demonstrate children of same-sex parents fare worse than those of heterosexual couples, saying: “We haven’t been studying the effects of same-sex parenting long enough to have longitudinal data on this.”

Studies contending children of same-sex parents fare worse than children of heterosexual couples have been widely criticized for employing faulty methodology.

Backholm Claim: In Washington, same-sex couples in domestic partners already enjoy all the same rights provided by marriage.

Facts: States that have passed civil unions have found that they’re fundamentally unequal and harmful. [See herehere, and here.] As the Supreme Court of Connecticut wrote in 2008 when it struck down a statute that prohibited same-sex marriage, civil unions and marriage “are by no means ‘equal.’”

Backholm Claim: A tidal wave of lawsuits has been brought against private business owners who oppose same-sex marriage.

Facts: States that allow same-sex couples to marry have not experienced any discernible increase in either litigation or complaints.  As the Seattle Times wrote in February 2012: “A search of newspaper clips failed to turn up any evidence that same-sex marriage had produced a rash of suits involving businesspeople. We also checked with human-rights commissions in four of the six states where same-sex marriage is legal; the commissions said there was not an increase in discrimination findings or suits involving same-sex marriage.”

In Washington, a group of law professors wrote a letter to Governor Gregoire citing only six cases over nine years in the United States where religious organizations or groups with a particular religious belief against same-same marriage have been pulled into litigation over the issue.  Only one involved a business refusing service to a same-sex couple in New Mexico, a state that does not permit marriage for same-sex couples but does ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation along with race, religion, sex, national origin, etc.