Abstinence Education, Abstinence Curriculum Resources - A&M Partnership

Scott Phelps House Testimony

Prepared Testimony for the Illinois State Legislative Hearings on HB 2675

Scott Phelps
Executive Director, Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnership
March 13, 2013  Springfield, Illinois

 (Download PDF With Attachments)

Hello.  My name is Scott Phelps.  I serve as Executive Director of the Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnership based near Chicago.  A&M Partnership exists to ensure that every teenager in the country has the opportunity to hear a clearly reasoned, positive presentation on the benefits of abstinence until marriage and instruction on a preparing for a healthy future marriage.  My purpose in coming before you today is to explain how the proposed bill on sex-education would make our mission more difficult to achieve in the state of Illinois -- to the detriment of her youth.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you on this important and sensitive topic.  It is hard to imagine a topic that generates more emotion and concern among parents and school administrators, and it behooves the state to tread lightly when seeking to mandate what school-aged youth are taught in this area.

This bill is essentially that which has been proposed year after year in this legislature without success.  Proponents have not been able to garner the necessary support, because legislators of both parties recognize that this bill amounts to a statewide mandate overriding the will of local communities.  Until now, schools have enjoyed the freedom to work with parents and teachers to determine those curricula which best meet the needs of their youth.  Schools teaching abstinence until marriage are presenting the optimal health outcome, are in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, and should not be viewed by the state as somehow inadequate.  Many teachers and parents are committed to teaching the benefits of reserving all sexual activity and child bearing for a marriage relationship and do so effectively without interference from the state.

Changes to the current statute must have a compelling argument and must be rooted in research.  Fortunately, there is now a treasure trove of data providing ample evidence of the need for a greater emphasis on abstinence and marriage education rather than less.  The sexual revolution, which began in the 1960’s with a decoupling of sex and marriage, has been an unmitigated disaster for the American family with devastating cultural consequences. Dr. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia, and Dr. George Akerlof, a Nobel-Prize winning economist at the University of California Berkeley, have documented the role of the sexual revolution in declining marriage rates, increased premarital sex, and the attendant social consequences.1 

Wilcox and Akerlof, argue that “the sexual revolution – aided in part by widespread contraception -- led to dramatic increases in non-marital childbearing.” Their research clearly shows that the sexual revolution played an important role in the nation’s retreat from marriage over the last four decades, and is indirectly responsible for the social consequences of that retreat.” Akerlof states:  “Just at the time, about 1970 that the permanent cure to poverty seemed to be on the horizon and just at the time that women had obtained the tools to control the number and timing of their children, single motherhood and the feminization of poverty began their long and steady rise.” Wilcox suggests that a number of other studies find that “the retreat from marriage is strongly linked to increases in child poverty, crime, and substance abuse since the 1960’s.” He concludes that “the erosion of the norm of premarital sexual abstinence, both in belief and behavior, appears to have played an important role in the weakening of American family life and, in turn, some of the nation’s most pressing social problems. 1

Sadly for America’s children, the values of the sexual revolution have been mainstreamed into the nation’s educational process contributing to a dramatic shift from America’s long history of marital and familial stability.  The percentage of married Americans continues to decline and now stands at an all time recorded low of 51%.  Soon, married couples will be a social minority.2 These failing marital and familial structures have social and economic ripple effects and cause harm to America’s children.  As the separation of sex and marriage has become normalized more American children are now born out of wedlock than at any other time in American history so that the non-marital birth rate stands at a record high of 41%5 on a steady march toward 50%.  Soon, most American children will be born outside of a marriage relationship.  The non-marital birth rate in the black community currently stands at 72%.  Remarkably, Daniel Patrick Moynihan saw all of this and tried to sound the alarm in 1965.15 The clear trend of increasing non-marital births is particularly troublesome because research clearly demonstrates that children born outside of a married parent home are far more likely to suffer a whole host of social consequences compared to their peers born to, and living with, their married parents.11

Sex education programs, which promote birth control for unmarried youth, are woefully inadequate to address our state’s most pressing needs.  By severing the relationship of sex and marriage these classes only serve to exacerbate our current woes, fueling the decline of marriage, the increase of fatherless children, and consequently the breakdown of the American family.

The sexual revolution has also taken a toll on our nation’s physical health.  While it is claimed that the sex-ed classes promoting contraception are necessary to combat the growing epidemic of sexually transmitted disease, it is contraceptive usage outside of marriage that is particularly responsible for the this epidemic as Wilcox and Akerlof clearly demonstrate in multiple studies.1 According to the CDC, every day in the United States there are approximately 52,000 new cases of sexually transmitted diseases.  No one practicing abstinence is contributing to this epidemic.  For this reason, the CDC Guidelines for Sexual Health reasonably suggest that schools should teach teens to:

“Abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready to establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage.” 3

And for teens that have been sexually active schools should instruct these students to:

“Stop engaging in sexual intercourse until they are ready to establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage.” 3

These CDC guidelines, which are reflected in current Illinois law, maintain the necessary and proper connection between sex and marriage.  As abstinence education has increased over the past two decades, rates of teen pregnancies, births, and abortions have fallen dramatically from their peak of twenty years ago and now stand at or near an all time recorded low.  Although the state of Illinois has eliminated state and federal funding for schools to teach abstinence, many schools continue to do so anyway, and today the rates of teen pregnancy and teen birth in Illinois are below the national average.

Specifically, over the past twenty years, the national teen birth rate has fallen by a remarkable 45%, but it has fallen by 49% in Illinois.4 The national teen birth rate is 34.5 per 1,000 girls, but it is 33 per 1,000 in Illinois.4 The national teen pregnancy rate has fallen by 37%, but it has fallen 40% in Illinois.4 Not coincidentally, rates of teen sexual activity are also on the decline.  According to the CDC, a majority of high school aged teens have never had sexual intercourse (53%) and the percentage of abstinent teens in Illinois is higher than the national average at 55%.4

This good news should be encouraged rather than hindered.  A&M Partnership is one of the leading providers of training and materials for abstinence education around the country, and is headquartered here in Illinois where over 1,200 schools and organizations around the state have used our programs, not by state mandate, but by their own free choice.  Today, the leading abstinence education programs such as ours are reviewed by the federal Department of Health & Human Services for medical accuracy and incorporate the latest data from the CDC.  However since our programs do not, and will not teach teens to use contraception, which is highly inappropriate, unnecessary, and even harmful, the current legislation will intimidate schools to stop teaching our programs and similar such abstinence education programs.

A vast majority of sexually experienced teens do not wish to continue in this lifestyle.  Approximately two-thirds of sexually active teens consistently say that they regret their decision and wish that they had waited. 6 One-third of these girls were forced or pressured in to it.7 They’re not looking for contraceptive instruction. Additionally, the CDC indicates that 98% or nearly all sexually active teen girls are already using contraception.8 

As for the specifics of the bill, the synopsis makes clear that the intent is to replace the current standard of "abstinence-until-marriage," with "abstinence."  This is no small intent.  By deleting the objective standard of "marriage," all of the associated benefits of the objective “until-marriage” standard are lost.  Beyond the more obvious benefits of pregnancy and disease prevention, there are many additional benefits of saving sex for marriage including lower poverty rates and greater academic achievement.10,11,12

Without the objective standard of marriage, abstinence becomes a flexible, subjective term meaning whatever anyone might wish for it to mean.  For example, in one of the supposedly “evidence-based” curricula supported by this bill, we find the following definition of abstinence:

“We define abstinence as… a period of at least 2 months or more; however, it could be a few months, it could be when they have found a partner that they want to have a one-on-one relationship with, it could be until they decide to get married.” 13 

As in the text of the bill, notice here that waiting until “marriage,” is presented as an option, essentially identical to waiting for “two months,” or until a “one-on-one relationship.”  This subjective definition is confusing and renders the term “abstinence” meaningless.  And while the bill contains a fig-leaf mention that abstinence is the “ensured method of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases,” the above definition puts them at risk within two months, or perhaps sooner, having no measurable benefit.

Additionally problematic is this bill’s requirement to:  “include instruction on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.”

Ironically, this bill, which requires “medical accuracy,” is itself medically inaccurate as demonstrated here. The text above links abstinence and contraception, suggesting that these are similar when in fact they are not.  In the first case, students are not having sex and in the second case they are, albeit with contraceptives.  It is not medically accurate to present these two alternatives as similar in their ability to “prevent” either pregnancy or disease.  These are opposite, not similar activities.  Either students are not sexually active or they are.  In one case, pregnancy and disease are not possible and in the other they most certainly are, contraception not withstanding.  This is a major flaw with the legislation.  It is not merely worded badly, but rather it is conceptually and fundamentally flawed in its approach to one of the most significant sociological challenges of our day, curbing non-marital births and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and strengthening future marriage and family.  The bill’s proponents have offered neither the research nor the rationale to support changing existing law, which follows CDC guidance.

Moreover, the assertion that contraception will “prevent” sexually transmitted diseases, is clearly false since contraceptive products are not designed for and do not facilitate this purpose.  The word “contraception" literally means against conception.  These products are designed to prevent fertilization of the female egg, which leads to conception, pregnancy, and birth.  They are not designed for disease prevention.  To suggest otherwise is not “medically accurate.”  Only condoms (not all “contraception”), may help reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, but this is only an ancillary effect.  In fact, many condoms still contain spermicide (sperm-killer) even though the CDC warned over a decade ago that spermicide actually increases the risk of infection for HIV.16 

The popular claim that condoms will reduce the spread of STDs is simply not supported by CDC data.  We are aware of no research showing that the increase in condom usage has consistently resulted in a reduction of sexually transmitted diseases.  Neither are we aware of any research showing that comprehensive sex education classes have ever resulted in decreases in teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, as this bill assumes they do.  We would welcome such documentation.  (Last year an Illinois State Representative claimed to have such research.  I asked for a copy, and nearly a year later, I am still waiting.) There are additional problems with this legislation and the problems it creates, but these several examples will suffice.


In summary, it is because sex is taught without reference to marriage that so many young adults have failed to appreciate the role of marriage for sexual activity or childbearing.  The great tragedy of promoting condoms to school-aged teens isn’t that condoms don’t always work but that condoms become a substitute for marriage.  Teens aren’t encouraged to save sex for marriage but rather to save sex for condoms – the results of which we now see.  To be sure, these so-called “evidence-based comprehensive sex education programs” are currently being taught in some schools here in Illinois and elsewhere in the country, but they have little if anything good to report for their efforts.  Ask proponents of this legislation for research to support their claims and note the response.  They certainly cannot point to a reduction in STD rates after all these years.  The greater concern here is that the proposed legislation seeks to codify and further institutionalize the sexual revolution which, as Dr. Akerlof has pointed out,1 separated sex and marriage with devastating results.  This legislation is irresponsible and harmful to our youth.

The fact is that most high school aged teens are abstinent and they want to get married and have a family some day.14 Abstinent teens aren’t contributing to the non-marital birth rate, aren’t having abortions, and aren’t contributing to the spread of STDs.  Abstinence is clearly and objectively the safest, healthiest path for our teens, and offers the greatest possible outcomes for our society at large.  For these reasons, I humbly request that this committee consider the accumulated weight of evidence against this proposal and rather support greater access to abstinence education programs for Illinois schools.  It should be abundantly clear that this bill would only be detrimental to our youth and further weaken our cultural fabric.  Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted, 

Scott Phelps, Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnership

1.         W. Bradford Wilcox, Ph.D., A Scientific Review of Abstinence and Abstinence Programs, Technical Assistance Module for Abstinence Education Grantees. Arlington, VA. Pal‐Tech, Inc., February 2008. pp. 6‐8.  Citing:  Akerlof, George A. 1998. “Men Without Children.” The Economic Journal 108: 287-309. And Akerlof, George A., Janet L. Yellen, and Michael L. Katz. 1996. “An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States.” Quarterly Journal of Economics CXI: 277- 317.

2.         http://www.census.gov/hhes/families/data/cps2012.html

3.         CDC Sexual Health Behaviors, School Health Guidelines

http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/sexualbehaviors/guidelines/guidelines.htm Pages 4, 9.

4.         United States Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Adolescent Health:  http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/states/il.html, accessed 3-10-13.

5. Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. Births: Preliminary data for 2008. National vital statistics reports, Web release; vol 57 no 12. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Released March 18, 2009, p17.

6.         Albert, B. With One Voice: America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 2007. (Regret for ages 12-14: 67%, ages 12-19: 60%. Year over year, the “regret” statistic for ages 12-19 is consistently in the two-thirds range. 2002: 63%, 2003: 67%, 2004: 66%).

7.         Moore KA, et al., A Statistical Portrait of Adolescent Sex, Contraception, and Childbearing, Washington DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 1998. p. 11 (7.3% non-voluntary or “forced,” + 24.1% unwanted or “pressured” = 31.4% or approximately 1 in 3.)

8.         Abma JC, Martinez GM, Copen CE. Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth 2006-2008. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 23 (30). 2010. p22.
9.         Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. MMWR June 4, 2010: 59 (No. SS-5) p. 21.
10.        Whitehead, B. & Pearson, M. (2006). Making a Love Connection: Teen Relationships, Pregnancy, and Marriage. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. pp. 17-18.
11. Robert Rector, and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., The Effects of Marriage and Maternal Education in Reducing Child Poverty, Center for Data Analysis, The Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C., August 2002. pp. 1-6.
12. Robert Rector, and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., Teenage Sexual Abstinence and Academic Achievement, Paper presented at the 9th Annual Abstinence Clearinghouse Conference, The Heritage Foundation, Washington D.C. August 2005. pp. 2-12, 20-24.
13.        From sample pages of the Horizons program, as provided by the Illinois State Senate Education Committee.  Workshop 1, p. 36.
14.        Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnston, and Patrick M. O’Malley, Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (12th-Grade Survey) 2006, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, 2008.
15.        United States Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.  The Negro Family:  The Case for National Action. Office of Policy Planning and Research United States Department of Labor, March 1965:  http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan.htm

“Indices of dollars of income, standards of living, and years of education deceive. The gap between the Negro and most other groups in American society is widening.

The fundamental problem, in which this is most clearly the case, is that of family structure. The evidence — not final, but powerfully persuasive — is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disintegrated. There are indications that the situation may have been arrested in the past few years, but the general post war trend is unmistakable. So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.

The thesis of this paper is that these events, in combination, confront the nation with a new kind of problem. Measures that have worked in the past, or would work for most groups in the present, will not work here. A national effort is required that will give a unity of purpose to the many activities of the Federal government in this area, directed to a new kind of national goal: the establishment of a stable Negro family structure.”

16. Helene D. Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., Director, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, August 4, 2000.


Phelps Sun-Times Op-Ed

Kids Don’t Need Explicit Sex-Ed 

By Scott Phelps

Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed
April 10, 2013

PDF Printable Version

Once again, members of the Illinois Legislature are trying to mandate explicit, inappropriate sex education, as they attempt to do year after year. House Bill 2675 is peddled as an attempt to reduce “teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases,” but this is a ruse. We are aware of no research indicating that contraceptive-based sex-education classes have ever shown a reduction in teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. While the bill’s supporters claim “abstinence doesn’t work,” the reality is, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most high schools students are abstinent and the trend is growing — especially in Illinois, where abstinence programs have been taught in over 1,200 schools and organizations.

Over 20 years, as abstinence programs have become more popular with schools, the national teen birth rate has fallen by a remarkable 45 percent, and in Illinois by 49 percent. The national teen pregnancy rate has fallen by 37 percent, and in Illinois by 40 percent. The CDC reports that most high school students have never had sex.

Regardless, legislators want to require all schools that teach abstinence-until-marriage as the optimal health outcome to also teach teens to use contraception. This is problematic since most students aren’t sexually active, and requiring schools to teach contraception to unmarried youth will codify the sexual revolution, which began in the ’60s with the goal of separating sex from marriage. Researchers, such as Dr. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia, and Dr. George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of California Berkeley, have documented the role of the sexual revolution in declining marriage rates, increased premarital sex, and a host of consequences. The sexual revolution has been an unmitigated disaster for the American family, increasing the poverty rate.

Wilcox and Akerlof argue, “the sexual revolution — aided in part by widespread contraception — led to dramatic increases in non-marital childbearing.” Akerlof states: “Just at the time, about 1970, that the permanent cure to poverty seemed to be on the horizon and just at the time that women had obtained the tools to control the number and timing of their children, single motherhood and the feminization of poverty began their long and steady rise.”

Sadly for America’s children, as the sexual revolution has been mainstreamed into our educational system and media outlets, America has shifted away from its long history of marital and familial stability. More American children are born out of wedlock than ever before, with a non-marital birth rate of 41 percent overall and 72 percent in the black community. This is a terrible injustice because research indicates that these children are far more likely to suffer a clearly defined set of social consequences compared with their peers born to, and living with, their married parents.

Most high-school students are abstinent, and this should be encouraged because these teens aren’t getting pregnant, aren’t having abortions, and aren’t spreading STDs. Abstinent teens do better academically. Abstinence-until-marriage is objectively, the safest, healthiest choice for our youth. Politicians should allow schools to encourage teens to reserve all sexual activity and childbearing for a marriage relationship and to do so without compromise.

Scott Phelps is executive director of the Abstinence & Marriage Education Partnership near Chicago, and co-founder of the National Abstinence Education Association in Washington, D.C.


New Survey Supports Abstinence Education

Washington, DC - October 9, 2012

A national survey released Tuesday shows that nearly 8 of 10 Democratic parents with school-aged children support abstinence education. A majority of Democratic parents also oppose President Obama's policy to eliminate federal funding of abstinence programs.

"If sex education were on the November ballot, abstinence education would win by a landslide, and not just among Republicans," said Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Foundation (NAEF), which commissioned the survey.

"Critics portray abstinence education as a religious or political issue that has no place in our public schools. But this survey shows abstinence education is a women's issue, a Hispanic issue, an African-American issue, a health issue, and a common-sense issue with strong support across ethnic groups, age demographics and political affiliation."

While other surveys have addressed opinions on sex education in general with a question or two about abstinence education, this is the most extensive poll focusing specifically on abstinence education's approach and themes.

Conducted by Pulse Opinion Research in mid-September, the survey asked 23 questions of 1,683 parents across the country with children ages 9-16. The survey's margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points.

Other findings include:

  • While nearly 8 of 10 Democrats support abstinence education, enthusiasm among Republicans is even higher with nearly 9 of 10 supporting.
  • Almost 60% of Democrats and more than 70% of Republicans oppose President Obama's efforts to eliminate all fundign for SRA Abstinence Education.
  • Democrats and Republicans alike support more equality in funding between Abstinence Education and "Comprehensive" Sex Education, which gets 16 times as much funding.
  • More than 8 of 10 parents, but especially women and African Americans, support the dominant themes of Abstinence Education.
  • Eighty-five percent of parents believe that all youth, including homosexual youth, benefit from skills that help them choose to wait for sex.
  • Nearly 9 in 10 parents strongly support their children knowing the limitations of condoms for preventing pregnancy and disease.
A full survey report is available at http://www.whattheytoldus.org.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse Testimony


Prepared remarks for the Illinois State Legislature, Hearings on SB 10
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute,
a Project of the National Organization for Marriage

February 26, 2013
Springfield, Illinois
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I am Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage. I am the mother of an adopted child, a birth child, and have been a foster parent.

I am honored to be able to address this committee, here in Springfield Illinois, the land of Abraham Lincoln. I can almost hear his voice and the voices of all the great orators of the American plains, echoing across the ages, their debates on the great issue of their day, the trafficking and enslavement of human beings. I am here to speak about the great issue of our day, the meaning and purpose of marriage, and our obligations to the children of the future.

I urge you to reject the bill before you, SB 10. I urge you to reject any other legislation that would redefine the most basic structural feature of marriage, by removing the dual gender requirement for marriage. Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. "Marriage equality" cannot be achieved. Making same sex couples the legal equivalent of opposite sex couples will introduce new and deeper inequalities into society.

Most importantly, redefining marriage creates structural injustices against children. To see this, we must ask ourselves: what is the essential public purpose of marriage, and what is owed to the child?

The essential public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another. And the child is entitled to a relationship with and care from both of the people who brought him into being. Therefore, the child has a legitimate interest in the stability of his parents’ union. But no child can defend these entitlements himself. Nor is it adequate to make restitution after these rights have been violated. The child’s rights must be supported pro-actively, before harm is done.

Marriage is adult society’s institutional structure for protecting these legitimate interests of children. Without this public purpose, we would not need marriage at all as a distinct social institution.

We often hear the objection that some marriages don’t have children. This is perfectly true. However, every child has parents. The objection that some marriages don’t have children stands the rationale for marriage on its head, viewing marriage from the adult’s perspective, instead of the child’s.

Same sex couples and opposite sex couples are obviously different with respect to this essential public purpose of marriage. And treating different things differently is not discrimination. That is why, in the few cases where courts have found opposite sex marriage to be unlawful discrimination, they have had to come up with purposes for marriage that have nothing to do with procreation or attaching children to parents.1

Thus, my first and most basic point is this: It is a structural injustice to a child, to deprive him or her of a relationship with both parents, without some compelling or unavoidable reason.

You may have heard some professional organizations claim that same sex couples make perfectly fine parents. However, we have reason to doubt the cheerful optimism that there is no difference between same sex couples and opposite sex couples as parents. The claims of the American Psychological Association have been shown to be based upon studies with seriously flawed methodology. 2

By contrast, a sophisticated study was recently performed by sociologist Mark Regnerus at the University of Texas at Austin. He used a professional polling company to take a random sample of young adults aged 18-39, who were asked a battery of questions about their current lives, their childhoods, and their families when they were growing up. The nearly 3,000 individuals came from a variety of family forms, including some whose mothers or fathers had ever had a same sex relationship.

This study is superior to previous research because it is a large, random, representative sample. It can potentially show the long term impact of childhood family structure. It asks the young adults themselves about their life experiences, rather than asking mothers about their small children as most previous research has done.3

This study finds significant differences between the outcomes for children raised in intact biological families and children whose parents ever had same sex relationships. For instance, children whose mothers had lesbian relationships were more likely to report themselves being on public assistance, being unemployed, and having had an affair.4 These young adults also are more likely to report being depressed, that they felt less secure as children, and that their current relationship is in trouble. 5 These results, while certainly not the final word on the subject, are more than sufficient to disprove the claim that "not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged."

Over the past fifty years or so, our society has been experimenting with a variety of family structures. We have accumulated mountains of data showing that children do need both their mothers and their fathers,6 and that fathers make distinct contributions to the well-being of children.7 We already know that every one of these alternative family forms poses real and lasting risks for children. It simply strains the imagination to think that same sex couples will be able to achieve what no other alternative family structure has achieved.

SB 10 will commit the state of Illinois to denying these obvious truths. In fact, some courts are already saying things like, “the traditional notion that children need a mother and a father to be raised into healthy, well-adjusted adults is based more on stereotype than anything else.”8 This statement by the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum v Brien is simply false as a general statement. Is this committee really prepared to go to neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, where children have never seen fathers, and claim that children do NOT need mothers and fathers?

But the impact of same sex parents on the children living with them is not the main problem that redefining marriage presents for children. As of 2005, a mere 4 tenths of one per cent of the total children in the US were living in households headed by same-sex couples.9 The more significant problem is how redefining marriage affects other aspects of the legal and social system.


Redefining marriage redefines parenthood

Same sex marriage redefines parenthood, as a side effect of redefining marriage. Up until now, marriage has made legal parenthood track biological parenthood, with adoption for exceptional situations. The legal presumption of paternity means that children born to a married woman are presumed to be the children of her husband. With this legal rule, and the social practice of sexual exclusivity, marriage attaches children to their biological parents.

Same sex couples of course, do not procreate together. So-called “Marriage Equality” requires a dubious move from “presumption of paternity” to the gender neutral “presumption of parentage.” This sleight of hand transforms the legal understanding of parenthood since the same sex partner is never the other biological parent. Rather than attaching children to their biological parents, same sex "marriage" is the vehicle that separates children from a parent.

A little girl known to the courts as M.C. was born to a woman in a same sex union in California during the window before Proposition 8 passed. When one woman was incarcerated and the other was hospitalized, M.C. could not be placed with her biological father, even though he was willing and a perfectly fit parent. Why? The women's same sex union required the court to do a gender neutral reading of the Uniform Parentage Act, and presume that the second woman in the union was the little girl's "other parent." She was placed in foster care, rather than with her father.10

New inequalities

This brings me to my next point: trying to create "marriage equality" will introduce a whole new set of inequalities in society. Children like little M.C. have no legally recognized right to a relationship with their fathers. Some children will want to know their missing parent, and will experience this as a great loss.11

For instance, in France recently, about one million people marched in Paris in favor of man woman marriage. In the run up to that march, a 66 year old man who had been raised by two women, told his story. He said, "I experienced the absence of my father as an amputation." 12 Hence children of same sex couples are not equal to other children.

Likewise, men who provide sperm to lesbian couples are not treated equally with other fathers. Some excluded fathers will want a relationship with their children, which they will be legally denied.13

Women who give birth to babies inside a same sex union are not treated equally with other mothers. The law treats her legal relationship with another woman as tacit consent for her to become in effect, the child’s adoptive parent.

By contrast, all other mothers who make adoption plans for their children are permitted to change their minds once the baby is born. No state in the union honors an adoption contract made before a child is born. How often do we hear new parents say things like “I had no idea how I would feel.” Up until now, the law has recognized the strength and uniqueness of the maternal bond. It is only the woman who forms a legal union with another woman who cannot reconsider after her child is born. 14

In all these cases, genderless marriage commits the state to taking sides against the natural parent and in favor of the legally constructed parent.

You have perhaps seen some attractive children of same sex couples, giving their testimony. Someday, those children will be old enough to speak for themselves. Some of them will be less enthused and more conflicted, when they can speak without pressure from the adults around them.

That is why I am reading these things into the record. You may begin to hear testimonials like the one from the French gentleman I quoted earlier. I don't want you waking up in the middle of the night thirty years from now, wondering whether you should have done more to stop the "inevitable" drive to redefine marriage.

For you see, there is nothing "inevitable" about removing the gender requirement for marriage. It is not "inevitable" for the state of Illinois making a policy decision to come between children and one of their biological parents. It is not "inevitable" that children have three legal parents on their birth certificates,15 or three or more adults arguing in court over their custody. 16 It is not "inevitable" that we do yet another round of social experimentation on children.

But all of these things ARE inevitable, if you pass SB 10 into law. Once the state of Illinois removes the gender requirement from marriage, the wheels will be set into motion for all these things to come to pass.

The clichés of today will not hold up after years of repetition. Just as "the kids will be fine as long as their parents are happy," is no longer working to excuse the massive divorce problem in this country, so too, "marriage equality" is going to be very thin indeed, as the natural consequences of redefining marriage play themselves out throughout the culture.

Please, I beg you, for the sake of the future children of Illinois, resist the pressure you face today. Vote no on SB 10.



1.               See for instance Judge Vaughn Walker's opinion overturning Proposition 8. He defined the purpose of marriage in this way: “Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents.” Finding of fact #34, on pg 67.

2.               "Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents." This quotation is from the American Psychological Association (APA) 2005 Brief on "Lesbian and Gay Parenting." Charlotte Patterson, "Lesbian and Gay parents and their children: summary of research findings," American Psychological Association 2005, pp 5-22, quote on pg 15. http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/parenting-full.pdf However, a recent comprehensive review of the 59 studies that made up the APA's report concluded that every study cited had serious methodological flaws. "Not one of the 59 studies referenced in the 2005 APA Brief compares a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children, with a large, random, representative sample of married parents and their children." Loren Marks, "Same-sex parenting and children's outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association's brief on lesbian and gay parenting," Social Science Research, 41 (2012) 735-751, quote on page 748.  To take one particularly noteworthy example of flawed methodology, consider one study by Dr. Charlotte Patterson, who was also the author of the APA Brief. "Recruitment began when I contacted friends, acquaintances and colleagues who might be likely to know eligible lesbian mothers." She recruited a grand total of 26 children. There was no control group of children raised by intact heterosexual married parents. Charlotte Patterson, "Families of the Lesbian baby boom: Parents' division of labor and children's adjustment," Developmental Psychology, 1995, Vol. 31, no. 1, 115-123, quote on page 116.

3.               Mark Regnerus, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study," Social Science Research, 41 (2012) 752-770.

4.               Ibid, Table 2. This table also shows that these young adults are more likely to report having been sexually touched by a parent or adult caregiver, that they had been forced to have sex against their will, than those who had been brought up in intact biological families. Twenty-three percent of young adults whose mothers had a same sex relationship had been touched sexually by a parent or adult care-giver, compared with 2% of those whose parents were continuously married, 10% of those whose parents were divorced or never married, and 12% of those who lived in a stepfamily. Thirty-one percent of young adults whose mothers had had a same sex relationship and 25% of those whose father had had a same sex relationship reported that they had ever been forced to have sex against their will, compared with 8% of those whose parents were continuously married, 23% of those who had been adopted, 24% of those whose parents had divorced, 16% of those who lived with stepparents and 16% of those whose parents were never married. While 90% of those whose parents were continuously married reported themselves as "entirely heterosexual," only 61% of those whose mother had a same sex relationship and 71% of those whose father had a same sex relationship reported themselves as "entirely heterosexual." Just over 80% of young adults who grew up in all other family forms, including adopted, divorced, stepfamily and never married parents, reported themselves as "entirely heterosexual."

5.               Ibid, Table 3.

6.               Among the many citations that could be given, “Why Marriage Matters: 26 Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” (NY: Institute for American Values, 2005), summarizes some of the most important research. See also the studies listed in Table 2 of Loren Marks, op. cit.

7.               See David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem, (New York: Harper, 1996) for the general overview of the issue. In one study, for instance, father involvement with children was the biggest single predictor of having fewer behavior problems, as important as higher parental education. See “Parental Involvement and Children’s Behavior Problems,” Paul R. Amato and Fernando Rivera, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Volume 61, No. 2 (May 1999), pp. 375-384.

8.               Varnum v Brien Supreme Court of Iowa, No. 07–1499, Filed April 3, 2009, pg 54, footnote 26

9.               According to the Census Snapshot, US, by Adam P. Romero, Amanda K. Baumle, M.V. Lee Badgett, and Gary J. Gates, (Los Angeles: Williams Institute, UCLA, 2007), there were approximately 270,313 children living in households headed by same sex couples. The Williams Institute specializes in demographic and economic research on gay and lesbian populations. According to the American Community Survey, “General Demographic Characteristics, 2005” there were a total of 73,131,688 persons under the age of 18 in the US in 2005. (Calculated by subtracting total number of persons over 18 (215, 246,449 from total population of 288,378,137.) http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=D&-qr_name=ACS_2005_EST_G00_DP1&-ds_name=D&-_lang=en Dividing the 270,313 children in households headed by same sex couples by the total number of children under 18 in the US, yields a figure of .00369, which is the less than 4 tenths of one percent figure quoted in the text.

10.             "Why California's Three Parent Law was Inevitable," Jennifer Roback Morse, The Public Discourse, Septemeber 10, 2012, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/09/6197/

11.             See the many blogs and websites started by Donor Conceived Persons, such as http://www.tangledwebs.org.uk/tw/, http://www.anonymousus.org/index.php,

12.             "Jean-Dominique Bunel : «J’ai été élevé par deux femmes»" First published in Le Figaro on January 10, 2013, reprinted in Chretiente, http://www.chretiente.info/201301105157/jean-dominique-bunel-jai-ete-eleve-par-deux-femmes/ English translation can be found at: http://englishmanif.blogspot.com/2013/01/le-figaro-runs-confessional-of-man.html Monsieur Bunel has a long and distinguished career of humanitarian service.

13.             See for instance, “Gay Irish sperm donor wins visiting rights to lesbian couple’s child,” Irish Central, December 11, 2009; http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Gay-Irish-sperm-donor-wins-visiting-right-to-lesbian-couples-child-79055562.html The In re M.C. case arose in part because the biological father came forward to try to care for his daughter after the birth mother went to jail for accessory to attempted murder of her former partner. "Why California's Three Parent Bill was Inevitable," The Public Discourse , September 10, 2012.

14.             This is probably a factor in the drama in the background of the in re M.C. case. It is surely a factor in the celebrated Miller-Jenkins custody dispute. “FBI arrests Tenn. Pastor in Vt.-VA custody case,” Sign On San Diego, April 22, 2011. http://www.signonsandiego.com/ news/2011/apr/22/fbi-arrests-tenn-pastor-in-vt-va-custody-case/ “Vermont: ruling in Lesbian Custody Case,” New York Times, January 22, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/23/us/23brfs-RULINGINLESB_BRF.html

15.             “Pennsylvania Court finds three Adults Can Have Parental Rights,” http://newyorklawschool.typepad.com/leonardlink/2007/05/pennsylvania_co.html (quoting Superior Court case, Jacob v Shultz-Jacob, 2007 Westlaw 1240885 , 2007 PA Super 118), “Canadian court rules boy has a dad and two moms,”

16.             For a Canadian case involving three parents see here: http://www.calgarysun.com/2011/10/19/groundbreaking-ruling-in-gay-custody-case For a British case involving four parents, see here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2047671/High-Court-judges-blast-gay-parents-fighting-little-sisters.html#ixzz1buTCawCX


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