Adoption law reform

October 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Green MP has announced:

 Green MP Kevin Hague today unveiled a Bill to comprehensively overhaul law and address related surrogacy issues, which will be entered in the next Members’ bill ballot.

“This Bill is the result of considerable work, and is a much more ambitious reform than is usually attempted through the Members’ bill process,” Kevin Hague said.

“The Law Commission reviewed adoption law and in 2000 recommended the consolidation of the legislation relating to parenting and care of children. The changes they recommended are what we have based my Members Bill on.

“We have also used previous Ministry of Justice advice, and more recently had assistance from other experts with an interest in these issues. I want to thank everyone for helping us get the Bill this far.

The current Act is almost 60 years old, and has almost no relevance to what is happening today. It is primarily based on “closed” adoptions and the vast majority of adoptions today are “open”.

The Member’s Bill places adoption in the Care of Children Act, as originally intended by the Law Commission, and makes the best interests of the child the fundamental principle underpinning the law. The Bill also:

  • Ensures that all adoptions will be “open” unless exceptional circumstances mean there is a need to extinguish links with the child’s biological parents. While this has become common practice, the current law does not provide for it at all.
  • Removes unnecessary restrictions on the kinds of people who may be considered to adopt, ensuring that adoptive parents can be selected from all the options, in the best interests of the child.
  • Acknowledges, but does not regulate whāngai arrangements, which are instead controlled by traditional Iwi practice.
  • Provides for the adoption of children conceived and born through altruistic surrogacy arrangements.

I very much agree that the focus should be on the best interests of the child, and arbitrary restrictions should not be in place to restrict an adoption which is best for the child.

“Drafting a Bill of this size means that I’m sure there are further improvements that can be made. I will continue to work with interested parties to fine-tune the Bill while it sits in the ballot waiting to be drawn.

Few bills get drawn in their first ballot, and it is indeed sensible to listen to feedback and improve them for future ballots.

GayNZ has written:

Labour’s will put forward an amendment to her adoption bill at its upcoming first reading to immediately fix the basic discrimination in the current law, because the full overhaul her proposed legislation will lead to will take a long time.

The problem is you can not amend a bill at first reading. Standing orders do not allow for amendments to a bill to be considered at first reading. You can change a bill between members’s ballots before it is selected. You can have a select committee amend a bill, or you can amend a bill at the committee of the house stage. There is no provision to amend a bill at first reading.

Any MP can ask for leave to do something outside standing orders, but this requires not a single MP out of 121 to object, and have never known this to be granted for a first reading amendment that is substantive.

I blogged over four and a half months ago on the problems in Jacinda’s bill. It was resubmitted unchanged over three months later. The time for amendments was before resubmitting it. You simply can not amend a bill (without unanimous leave) at first reading. Now I’m not suggesting MPs should change their bills, just because I’ve criticised them. But the fact that Jacinda is now trying to amend her bill, indicates that many others share at least some of my concerns over her bill. Note that I believe we all want the same thing – a modern child-focused adoption law.

The challenge for an MP, is to not just write a bill, but to seek feedback on it from colleagues, from interested groups, from experts. You want to have it fit for purpose before it gets drawn from the ballot.

For those interested the Hague bill is here. I’m sure Kevin would welcome feedback on improvements to it (that are consistent with its aim).

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53 Responses to “Adoption law reform”

  1. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    I seem to recall a provision to deduplicate where there are similar bills in the ballot. Any chance that Jacinda and Kevin’s bills would be seen to be the same? Any chance that Jacinda would just replace hers with Kevin’s?

    My only concern given the description is the strong presumption in favour of open adoption. I wonder whether just allowing both would be better.

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  2. David Farrar (1,895 comments) says:

    Jacinda’s bill is no longer in the ballot – it got drawn. It is on the order paper. Her bill can’t be replaced by Kevin’s. Once it is drawn, it is not amendable until the select committee stage. And the bills are very different – one is 36 pages of detailed law changes, and the other is a instruction to the Law Commission to draft a bill.

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  3. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    “Removes unnecessary restrictions on the kinds of people who may be considered to adopt, ensuring that adoptive parents can be selected from all the options, in the best interests of the child.”

    That raises a red flag straight away!

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  4. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Why/

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  5. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    @Johnboy. Shouldn’t be a red flag. It’s exactly what you think. Gay couples will be allowed to adopt. Adoptions will be decided considering all factors. A gay couple in a stable relationship with blood ties to the birth parents might be preferable to a straight couple with marital issues and no blood relationship. Nobody is defined by just one dimension.

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  6. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    As I said. A red flag!!!!!! :)

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  7. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    Acknowledges, but does not regulate whāngai arrangements, which are instead controlled by traditional Iwi practice

    Only Maori are allowed to get a reprieve from this homosexual agenda driven social engineering.

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  8. iMP (2,385 comments) says:

    Gay people can already adopt, its just that their sexuality is not the criteria. Hague is a good considered MP but I suspect this is about promoting the Rainbow Agenda politically; and I’m tired of marriage, human rights, adoption and other social legislation being used in this way. Why not be more transparent and just put up a massive Super Gay Bill asking for everything ON THE BASIS of sexuality?

    This is screwy insecure nonsense about gays getting mentioned in dispatches and creating legislative clubs to beat up people with whom they disagree. We don’t need to redefine every legislative bill that moves so that “gay” is attached to everything. Sex and sexual preferences are only a tiny part of our whole humanity.

    What next, specifically describing “gay” within a right to euthanasia bill?

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  9. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    Were do fafafini ‘fit in’ so to speak in Hague’s grand plan? :)

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  10. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    Ardern is an overbite with a soundbite. No skills, no life experience, no clues.
    The problem for her of course is that as she has been singled out for that particular kiss of death in being touted as a future leader you can guarantee that all her mates will do their best to poofinger her at every turn. Case in point.. Trying to get law enacted with a crayon.
    Not one adult in Labour offered to help her fix it.

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  11. Inky_the_Red (759 comments) says:

    The current law disallows unmarried couples from adopting within NZ. When my wife and I were trying to adopt I found that grossly unfair.

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  12. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    But she is the most glamorous MP Liarbour have got BBill…surely she has a future?? :)

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  13. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    You should have tried harder with the wife Inky and then you would not have felt so hard done by! :)

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  14. Barnsley Bill (983 comments) says:

    Johnboy.
    The one eyed man is king in the land of the blind.

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  15. kowtow (8,475 comments) says:

    Red flag?
    Nah, it’s pink.

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  16. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    I think first they will need to find some babies to be adopted. Try finding one that is for adoption – its like finding hens teeth.

    Just a PR stunt and they couldnt give a rats arse about the adopted or the adoptees or the adopters.

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  17. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    They are looking towards cloning barry. :)

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  18. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    There is little point trying to amend a bill at the first reading. A SOP can be presented to the select committee that would be a better process. I can see some circumstances where it might be desirable to have the parents secret such as incest or rape but having open adoptions is much preferred. The days are long gone when middle class women found themselves “in trouble” and wanted to keep the whole thing secret. I have known adoptees who have longed to find out their real background which I think is a human right if they want to now.

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  19. Andrei (2,652 comments) says:

    It is never in the best interests of a child to place it with an unrelated sexual deviant – if homos want to screw each other fine, if they want to raise a family they should marry an opposite sex individual and procreate in the time honoured manner.

    [DPF: Okay take this example, which is not unknown. Husband and wife have a baby. Husband dies. Wife, who is bisexual, falls in love with a woman and for next eight years they raise the child. The partner of the mother has no legal rights over the child, but if she could adopt would be a step-parent.

    Now let's say the mother dies. Your idea of christian compassion is the eight year old gets sent to CYFS, a foster family, or some distant aunt and uncle they barely know - rather than be with the woman who has helped bring her up for the last eight years, and she treats as a parent?

    I believe in doing what is best for the child. You seem to think fuck what is best for the child]

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  20. KH (695 comments) says:

    There is a problem with adoption processes and the more pointy headed socual workers are the problem. They don’t believe in it and for some decades have virtually put a stop to it.
    Number of actual adoptions in this country is very low. It’s a fraction of what it should be.
    I have absolutely no problem with gay couples adopting. But that is not the point of this post.
    In my personal experience the commonest scenario is couple who have long term foster children. But are prevented from adoption. The theory is the birth parents (usually ferals) have the absolute right to stop it. The theory is the ferals might suddenly shape up, ( unlikely) and then the kids will go back to them. The foster parents and the foster kids are given no consideration at all. Tragic.
    What about the warfare on international adoptions that the ‘system’ has waged for about 30 years now. Another tragedy for those kids and would be parents.
    We need to have much more adoption. Kids need to have security. It’s denied to them.
    And if gay parents are adopting. Whats the problem – compared to the other atrocities in this system already.

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  21. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    Modern science may one day allow babies to be procreated in the lower bowel Andrei. What would the Popes position be then? :)

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  22. RF (1,398 comments) says:

    tvb….. I know a dear old lady who lives in fear that her son she adopted out years ago will try and make contact. She never told anyone, even her husband who was not the father. I hope there will be protection for this situation.

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  23. rdc (3 comments) says:

    Don’t forget that it is the birth parents who decide the adoptive parents, all Jacinda’s bill (haven’t looked at Kevin’s) will do is make civil unioned couples (gay de-facto can allready adopt, or as gay individuals) eligible to adopt.

    Andrei, no whats most important is that kids grow up in a loveing and supporting enviroment, I would more question your abilities in this area

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  24. Steve (North Shore) (4,562 comments) says:

    Adoption is ok, adoption is needed.

    But why does it always flip over to what the rainbows think and want?
    How about forgeting the gays, queers, lesbians and think about the kids who need a mum and dad? Not two dads, or two mums.

    I think the ranibow crowd should just fuck off. They want this for no other reason than to tell the world that they wish they were NORMAL.
    :) that should make them scream lol

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  25. Andrei (2,652 comments) says:

    Modern science may one day allow babies to be procreated in the lower bowel Andrei.

    All this shows is how fucked in the head the Green Party is – create a super duper pest resistant onion in the lab and they go into outrage mode but fuck around with the very essence of humanity to provide designer babies for well to do pansies by using “reproductive technology” and they are all for it.

    Bizarre people and that’s a fact

    .

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  26. Longknives (4,746 comments) says:

    Seems timely-

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  27. rdc (3 comments) says:

    Andrei, please find me one piece of evidence that the Green Party supports these designer babies

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  28. big bruv (13,894 comments) says:

    I was unsure about allowing gays to adopt, however having read the naked hatred and bigoted rant from the bible bashing Andrei I am now all in favour.

    Kids should be adopted out to the best available couples. That means that white couples should be allowed to adopt Maori babies and that gay couples (if they are the best available) should be allowed to adopt any child.

    We simply cannot allow religious bigots to force their stupid beliefs upon the rest of us.

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  29. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    “All this shows is how fucked in the head the Green Party is”

    I’m not sure that procreation in the head is on the cards for a few years Andrei.

    Not till the lower bowel is sorted first anyway! :)

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  30. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    Are there that many white couples wanting a share of the water/taniwha’s BB? :)

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  31. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    I have no problem with gays. However I take the side of nature on the kids issue. It is not a natural situation to have gays raising kids. If they think it is natural, they can knock themselves out trying to make their own kids.

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  32. Scott (1,800 comments) says:

    Once again our government has been hijacked by back bench opposition MP’s. The rainbow faction is setting the agenda. When will John Key actually lead. No to gay adoption. I can think of very few more morally hazardous situations than giving a young child to two unrelated men who are in a homosexual relationship.

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  33. Steve (North Shore) (4,562 comments) says:

    “I can think of very few more morally hazardous situations than giving a young child to two unrelated men who are in a homosexual relationship.”
    Or two unrelated women Scott, let’s be fair.
    The adopted kid dont want two mums or two dads

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  34. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    Of course from the court cases we read of, letting two brown folks of the opposite sex look after their own sprog is fraught with danger for the poor little bugger.

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  35. Reid (16,457 comments) says:

    A child needs the whole of humanity to make themselves whole. Gay couples offer only half of that. A healthy psyche consists of both ying and yang, change that, and you get faltered development. This is why we see such social destruction today, because many kids aren’t getting both. So why do we want to add yet another factor which will make it even worse, by allowing gay adoption?

    No civilisation in history, no matter how gay, has ever implemented this practice. Not even the Greeks.

    This is not about the adoptive parents at all, it’s about the kids, so step out of the discrimination hysteria for a second, and consider your own childhood. Regardless of what it actually was, what would have been ideal, for you? Both a mum and a dad?

    I’d suggest very few would say otherwise. If they did it would be because they have a grudge against one or the other of their parents or because they’re gay themselves and they think that not agreeing with that proposition would be a betrayal of “their cause” which means of course, they’re not thinking of the kids, they’re thinking of themselves.

    But that’s the answer, isn’t it. And everyone knows it, because we are all connected and we all innately know what’s right and what isn’t.

    So I’d just recommend to the pwogwessives out there who think that gay adoption is such a weally neaty idea, to consider themselves as a kid in a gay parent relationship, vs a kid in a normal parental relationship, and make an honest assessment, from a kid’s perspective.

    And yes, I use “normal” because that’s what it is, FFS. If you think the use of that term discwiminates, you’re totally missing the entire point of everything and I suggest you look at the entire history of mankind’s civilisation because if that doesn’t define “normal” in terms of this practice, then what does?

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  36. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    Bloody well said Reid and every bit of it true. It wont of course make the slightest difference to folk with their own agenda!

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  37. Shunda barunda (2,983 comments) says:

    Reid, my kids actually got hassled at school for having a mum AND a dad, apparently it is ‘gay’ to have both :)

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  38. Shunda barunda (2,983 comments) says:

    I got hassled for staying at home and watching movies with my wife: “what a faggot, he wants to hang out with the wife instead of playing grab arse and drinking with the boys

    Yes, I am sooo gay…………….

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  39. Reid (16,457 comments) says:

    No it won’t Johnboy and even worse, the pricks will pretend that anyone who doesn’t agree with them does so because they’re anti-gay. Me? I’m not anti-anything, I’m pro-kid and that’s all that counts in this issue. The kid’s interest is the only voice which requires to be heard, no-one else needs to have a say, especially not gay advocates. I look forward to the debate, I hope it’s particularly vehement since I’ve got a lot of new adjectives I want to test.

    Shunda: :)

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  40. Shunda barunda (2,983 comments) says:

    I’ve got a lot of new adjectives I want to test.

    Ooooo!!!

    Couldn’t get a sneak preview could we?!

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  41. Griff (7,710 comments) says:

    “The kid’s interest is the only voice which requires to be heard,”
    And who is not This law change is more the effect of recombined family’s than adoption of strangers as all the conservonutters well know
    Two dads or two mums may not be ideal but nether is two drunks or two druggies or a violent dad and a submissive mum etc etc etc

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  42. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    A violent Mum and a submissive Dad cant be much of a role model situation for a young future skinhead kid. :)

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  43. Griff (7,710 comments) says:

    Funny you should say that JB I was working with a skin head last year and he was bleating about his daughter running off the rails.The poor nut could not work out why. :lol:

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  44. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    Obviously the missus’s fault! :)

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  45. Reid (16,457 comments) says:

    Unless they’re a girl Johnboy.

    Seriously Griff, let’s not conflate adoption with foster parenting in this debate shall we? It’s going to have quite enough conflation without people like you trying to confuse the issue by pretending bad vs good parenting has anything whatsoever to do with it.

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  46. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    The government should not be in the business of arranging adoptions. They should legalise commercial surrogacy and adoption, which would greatly increase the number of babies available for infertile couples, and greatly reduce the number of abortions. They should regulate to ensure that criminals and deviants cannot adopt, but otherwise leave things well alone. It’s a private contract between biological and adoptive parents, and if the government acknowledged this, it would allow gay couples to adopt anyway, so the whole theatre of “legalising it” would be unnecessary.

    As an adopted child myself I am appalled at the idea of making open adoptions the default situation. Parents should be free to make whatever arrangement they choose, and I think having a biological parent with legislated continued rights in the child’s upbringing is a very dangerous situation. The adoptive parents should be able to seek a closed adoption if they want it (I personally think this is best for the child). The right of an adoptive parent to bar a biological parent from contact with a child is an important one which should be preserved.

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  47. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    No RF the little old lady needs to get over her problem and let the child know if the child wants to know. These things can be managed. The little old lady told you, she could tell others including her husband. It is not the child’s fault and the little old lady is punishing the child. It is a human right to know. I just hope this Bill does not become part of a gay agenda, the issue is far far wider than that just to satisfy a rare couple who are same sex and want to adopt.

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  48. Manolo (13,774 comments) says:

    Another Greens’ attempt at social engineering.

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  49. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    All right. Let’s add some balancing evidence-based references to same-sex parenting to counter the above ruminations:

    To reiterate the most common research findings- marriage equality and same-sex parenting do not affect the educational attainment or future employment prospects of such children, and same-sex parents have excellent levels of spousal communication, parent-child communication and disciplinary boundary setting.

    If boys are brought up in lesbian-led households, they have excellent interpersonal skills and take gender equality for granted when it comes to any heterosexual relationships that they might have in the future. As for girls, they tend to become assertive and independent young women and usually undertake employment in non-traditional and lucrative employment areas. They don’t end up dropping out of school early and truncating their education because they have higher self-esteem.

    The above are why a range of mainstream child health, welfare and development organisations support marriage equality and same-sex parenting within the United States and elsewhere- the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the US National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, Barnados and the Canadian Psychological Association. When it comes to research, that is published within peer reviewed journals. There is now enough such rigorous research to ground the public policy positions cited above. Indeed, the Florida Supreme Court recognised this when it came to striking down Florida’s Anita Bryant era prohibition against adoption for eligible same-sex parents several years ago.

    There’s also a recent highly dodgy piece of junk science doing the rounds at present, defended by the Christian Right and no-one else:

    In his longitudinal/long-term study, Regnerus compared a children of straight couples control group and a ‘children of divorce’ reference group. There is no seperate category for lesbian and gay parents in this project.

    Unfortunately, this is where the trouble began for critics of his project. The latter sample of ‘same-sex parents’ was miniscule and did not rely on self-described lesbians and gay men, but labels applied to them by their offspring. There was no seperate research category for same-sex couples. Instead, the project relied on anecdotal perceptions of respondents (18-39) and did not differentiate whether the parents had stable or established lesbian or gay identities, or whether they were in continuous relatonships, episodic and non-cohabitating casual relationships or one night stands with the same sex. The study does not deal with same-sex parenting within stable and established couples. As is noted below, this is where numerous mainstream professional child health, welfare and development organisations have objected to the research design and findings.

    The latter is significant because such sampling bias means that there is no guarantee that the parents of respondents themselves identified as lesbian or gay. If they did not, the study therefore does not evaluate whether the latter had access to same-sex parenting resources and social networks available within organised LGBT communities. Moreover, the study does not cover LGBT family structures where childbirth and childrearing occur within the context of the relationship. These have been shown to be the results of painstaking deliberation and negotiation, as well as preparation for the responsibilities and rewards of parenting ahead in successive mainstream work.

    While Regnerus and the University of Texas have defended the propriety of his study, it has been dogged by persistent questions about funding and research design bias as well as poor execution. To begin with, Regnerus received $US750, 000 toward his study from the antigay Witherspoon Institute, one of whose board of directors is conservative Catholic marriage equality opponent Robert George. Then there’s the matter of the journal that he submitted the finished research paper to- Social Science Research.

    there are troubling questions about whether or not the “blind’ peer review process was transparent and objective in Regnerus’ context. These have centred on editor James Wrights’ prior professional association with Regnerus over a previous publication, and the affiliation of another member of Social Science Resarch’s Board of Directors, Wilcox, with the anti-SSM “Marriage Law Project” at the University of Virginia.

    While the University of Texas has cleared Regnerus of apparent wrongdoing in this context, criticisms have continued apace from such sources as fellow Carbondale University sociologist Darren Sherkat, who has severely criticised Social Science Research’s peer review processes within a previous audit. The Chronicle of Higher Education has published numerous other criticisms- and more significantly, there have been objections from numerous professional associations.

    The American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, US National Association of Social Workers, American Psychoanalytic Association, California Association of Social Workers, American Academy of Pediatrics and California Psychological Association have all contributed an amicus curiae detailing the defects in Regnerus’ research project and design.

    Reference:

    Karen Golinski versus US Parent Office of Personnel Management, John Berry and Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the US House of Representatives: Amicus Curiae Criticism of Same-Sex Parenting and Regnerus Study: http://tinyurl.com/7g55hzt

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  50. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    Please do not let this much needed reform of adoption law become the gay parents human rights bill.

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  51. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    Why not, given the considerable case that can be made for such reform? The United Kingdom did this a decade ago.

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  52. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Who really cares – except the Rainbow faction.
    Just continued indoctrination of minority views – highly prevalent in New Zealand. Minority shouts – and get their own way – like a spoilt child does.

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  53. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    No, minority presents view in calm, evidence-based manner and then tiresome populist wannabes cite junk science in ‘defence’ of their selective claims about ‘tradition’ as if ‘tradition’ were coterminous with inherent virtue, rather than something to be critically analysed…

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