Amid the legal arguments at Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage, there loomed a social science question: How well do children turn out when they are raised by gay parents?
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is widely considered the swing vote, called the topic “uncharted waters.” Conservative Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wryly asked, “You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet?”
Indeed, gay marriage is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. It has been legal only since 2004, when Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Eight more states and the District have legalized same-sex nuptials since, but it has been banned in 35 states.
Researchers have been delving into the effects of same-sex parenting only since the 1980s and 1990s. Most of the studies involve relatively small samples because of the rarity of such families.