Lesbian and Gay Families with Children: Implications of Social Science Research for Policy
ABSTRACT In this paper, we provide an overview of variability across jurisdictions in family law relevant to lesbian and gay parents and their children, showing that some courts have been negatively disposed to these families. We summarize recent research findings suggesting that lesbian and gay parents are as likely as are heterosexual parents to provide home environments that support positive outcomes among children. Research findings suggest that unless and until the weight of evidence can be shown to have shifted, parental sexual orientation should be considered irrelevant to disputes involving child custody, visitation, foster care, and adoption.
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ABSTRACT: With the growing number of same-sex unions, the legal system must determine the rights and responsibilities of gay parents who decide to end a relationship. In 2005, the California Supreme Court found that a child's lesbian caregiver was a legal “parent” despite having no biological or adoptive relationship, while the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2004 concluded the opposite. Psychologists can inform this debate by presenting research demonstrating that (a) children benefit from contact with two parents, and (b) children's well-being is unaffected by their parents' sexual orientation. Psychologists can further assist the legal system by conducting future research. In order for psychologists to impact laws and policies, legal actors must utilize this expertise.Social Issues and Policy Review 01/2008; 2(1):103-126.
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ABSTRACT: One theory to explain why courts often ignore relevant social science research is that it often refutes judges' sociopolitical beliefs. Using the death penalty as the exemplar social issue, this study explored whether lawyers' sociopolitical attitudes affect their judgments about the legal relevance of social science research introduced in court cases. Law students and state court judges completed a questionnaire that presented vignette summaries of two U.S. Supreme Court death penalty cases along with descriptions of the social science evidence contained in the Court opinions, with the evidence manipulated in this study to either support or not support the death penalty. After reading each vignette, participants rated the legal relevance, admissibility, and dispositive weight of the social science evidence. They then were asked about their own attitudes about the death penalty, science and social science backgound, attitude about social science, and political attitudes. In the case where the social science evidence was used to make new law generally, there was a bias effect: participants rated the evidence higher when it matched their own beliefs as compared to when it did not match their beliefs. Participants' level of science background neither moderated nor mediated the bias effects. There was no relationship between political views and evidentiary ratings or attitude about the use of social science in law. However, there was a relationship between evidentiary ratings and attitudes about the use of social science in law, as well as between evidentiary ratings and attitudes about judicial interpretation. Implications of the results for the use of social science in law are discussed.Law and Human Behavior 01/1999; 23(1):31-54. · 2.16 Impact Factor