More deeply flawed research on effects of same-sex marriage – again!

Media Say Same-Sex Marriage Will Save 134,000 Teens Per Year From Suicide. That’s Not What The Study Says.
DailyWire 22 February 2017
Family First Comment: But that doesn’t stop the NZ media from promoting flawed research and dubious conclusions…
“The study itself acknowledges, “our analysis does not allow us to understand the mechanisms through which implementation of same-sex marriage policies reduced adolescent suicide attempts.” In other words, they say that they know that same-sex marriage policies impacted suicide attempts, but they didn’t know how. Well, then. They also fail to rule out some of the most basic confounds for any sociological study like this: socioeconomic status of the students themselves. Is it possible that the students are committing suicide at a lower rate because their parents are making more money, for example? Is it possible that socioeconomic status also has outsized impact on particular areas? Or how about the social acceptance of gays and lesbians without the legislative question? The study says they couldn’t check either of those confounds out:
“Also, the study fails to explain why non-LGBT students would see their suicide rates also DECLINE in states that approve same-sex marriage.”
“The research data shows variability in suicide rate in states over time, as well. Why would the suicide rate drop precipitously between 2005 and 2007 among states that only legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 or 2014? The study doesn’t explain.”
Double whoops!
“The study acknowledges its limitations, then draws extraordinarily strong conclusions. And the media runs with it.”
Now where’s the wheelie bin?

So, you’ve read the headlines today: a brand, spanking new study has found that doing away with traditional marriage laws has reduced suicide rates among gay teenagers by a whopping 14 percent in states that have embraced same-sex marriage! Here are just some of the glowing headlines:

  • PBS Newshour: “Same-sex marriage laws linked to fewer youth suicide attempts, new study says”
  • Washington Post: “Legalizing same-sex marriage was associated with fewer youth suicide attempts, new study finds”
  • The Guardian: “Drop in teenage suicide attempts linked to legalisation of same-sex marriage”
  • USA Today: “Study: Teen suicide attempts fell as same-sex marriage was legalized”

These headlines, which are just a tiny sampling of the blanket media coverage this study has received, obviously suggest that if conservatives would just drop their goldarned old fashioned opposition to same-sex marriage, kids would stop killing themselves.

The study, printed in JAMA Pediatrics, concludes that same-sex marriage policies “would be associated with more than 134,000 fewer adolescents attempting suicide each year.”

There is only one problem: the study doesn’t really prove that

The study shows a basic correlation between loosening of same-sex marriage law and suicide rate, but it does not show that same-sex marriage policies “reduced adolescent suicide attempts,” as the study’s conclusions state.

Can Same-Sex Marriage Really Reduce Teen Suicide?
The Public Discourse 24 February 2017
• Social stigma is real; of that I have no doubt. But I suspect it’s being overused as a convenient explanation for the gaps—the differences—between the experiences of heterosexual Americans and those of sexual minorities. Indeed, in a recent study of Swedish married couples, those in same-sex marriages continue to display elevated risk of suicide, when contrasted with persons in opposite-sex marriages. It’s hard to be more tolerant than Sweden. Something more than stigma may be at work here.
• Unfortunately, four concerns prevent me from swallowing this study’s unusual conclusion:
1. Such a massive sample size can cause problems in understanding effects.
2. The authors inexplicably ignored several similar (available) outcomes.
3. All sexual minorities are lumped together unnecessarily.
4. Stigma dominates their interpretation, bypassing other competing explanations.


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