Al Franken Rebukes Conservative Group for Definition of 'Nuclear Family'

Filed under: Gay Parenting, In The News

al franken

Sen. Al Franken. Credit: AP

Children are better off and generally healthier when raised in nuclear families, according to a study published by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department last year.

So there you have it. The federal government said it. Gay parents are bad. Case closed. End of discu ...

Just a minute. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has an objection.

"I frankly don't really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways," he told Thomas Minnery of Focus on the Family July 20.

Where, in his imaginative reading of the report, did Minnery see "nuclear family" as excluding gay parents?

Focus on the Family is a conservative organization that opposes gay marriage, and Franken says it's entitled to its own opinions. The group is not, however, entitled to its own facts.

And the fact is the authors of the study don't say anything about gay parents.

"Sen. Franken is right," Debra L. Blackwell, lead author of the study, tells the website Politico. The survey did not exclude same-sex couples, nor did it exclude them from the "nuclear family" category provided their family met the study's definition.

The study defines a nuclear family as "One or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family."

Franken is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee, including Franken and Feinstein, heard testimony on the bill this week.

"I checked the study out," Franken told Minnery, "and I would like to enter it into the record, if I may, that it actually doesn't say what you said it says.

"Isn't it true, Mr. Minnery, that a married, same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?" Franken added.

"I would think that the study when it cites nuclear family would mean by a family headed by husband and wife," Minnery said.

"It doesn't," Franken responded as the audience laughed.

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