Mark Regnerus has published the first results of his New Family Structures Study, the first study to allow comparisons with a representative sample of adults raised by lesbian and gay parents. The controversy is already hot. Up until now, the conventional wisdom has been that there is no difference between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by their natural parents. However, that conventional wisdom was based on non-representative samples of same-sex parents - who are pretty rare, and hard to find in even the largest representative surveys.
To get a taste of the differences Regnerus found, each of these comparisons between the young adult children of intact biological families and lesbian-couple families is statistically significant. They show percentages of the children of intact biological families first, then of lesbian couples second:
Currently cohabiting: 9 vs 24
Received welfare growing up: 17 vs 69
Currently on welfare: 10 vs 38
Currently employed full time: 49 vs 26
Currently unemployed: 8 vs 28
Voted in last presidential election: 57 vs 41
Identifies as entirely heterosexual: 90 vs 61
Had an affair while married/cohabiting: 13 vs 40
Ever touched sexually by a parent or other adult (as a child): 2 vs 23
Ever forced to have sex against your will: 8 vs 31
Clearly, there are some differences between the children of lesbian couples and of intact biological families. What exactly causes those differences will be the subject of much further debate.
I was struck though, by the next comparison in the table: between the children of intact biological families and gay-couple parents. Here are all the statistically significant differences:
Received welfare growing up: 17 vs 57
And that is it.
What might account for the difference between lesbian-parent effects and gay-parent effects? This is a complex question, not answerable from this evidence. But I have a hunch: involved fathers.