Not So Fast, David



On April 1, David Quinn, of the Iona Institute, above, blogged about the institute’s stance on same-sex marriages, citing a paper from US-based organisation Child Trends to support its view.

He wrote:

“That paper, called ‘Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children and What Can We Do About It, is a summary of studies which show that children tend to fare best when raised by their own biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. This same paper goes on to say: “There is thus value in promoting strong, stable marriage between biological parents. This is our position. Take this away, and it is very hard to find any reason to give marriage special status.

The Iona Institute used this paper as part of its submission against the legalisation of same-sex marriage to the Constitutional Convention.

But Dr Peter Stafford has taken a look at the Child Trends report and finds the Iona Institute may have misled the convention

He writes:

“The authors of the Child Trends report adopted best practice regarding transparency and had anticipated that their report might be used to reach such an incorrect conclusion. The following appears on the front page of their report.

“This Child Trends brief summarizes research conducted in 2002, when neither same-sex parents nor adoptive parents were identified in large national surveys. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the wellbeing of children raised by same-sex parents or adoptive parents.”

Does the Child Trend report conclude that marriage between a man and a woman is best for children? No. Why? The timing of the report meant that the data doesn’t support such a conclusion. Does the Child Care report conclude that the definition of marriage should be maintained? No. Why? That conclusion is beyond the scope of the data. The Iona Institute seem to have wilfully ignored the authors’ own acknowledgement of the limitations of their research and presented this study as evidence to support their assertion. By adopting very poor standards of research, the Iona Institute allowed the Constitutional Convention to believe that the Child Trend report concluded something which it very clearly did not claim to do so, and which the data would not allow it to do.”


On the uses of research in debates about marriage (David Quinn, Iona Institute)

Evidence-based research: Rarely pure and never simple (Dr Peter Stafford)

(Hadyn West/Photocall Ireland)