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The Washington Independent

Santorum: Two-parent households are economically better unless they are gay

IOWA CITY — Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum told The Family Leader event attendees that the U.S

Madihah Walls
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | May 03, 2011

IOWA CITY — Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum told The Family Leader event attendees that the U.S. can’t have a strong economy without strong families, and that children raised by single parents have less economic opportunities than those with two-parent households. When asked if his contrast of two-parent and one-parent families included same-sex couples, however, Santorum backed away from his economic assessment.

“Strong families are necessary for a strong economy,” Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican and 2012 presidential hopeful, said during his public remarks at the University of Iowa Monday.

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/santorum_2501.jpgFormer U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum spoke on a broad range of conservative issues while appearing in Iowa on behalf of religious conservative group The Family Leader. (Photo: Lynda Waddington/The Iowa Independent)

“Of course, here in Iowa, you are on the front line of that debate. You can’t have strong families unless you have strong marriages. Can you have a good, solid family with a single parent? Yes, you can.”

The choice, he said, is like getting on an airplane when you have one flight that can get you where you need to go 95 percent of the time and another that can get you there 85 percent of the time.

“Which one would you take?” he asked. “Sure, a single parent family will get you there most of the time — lots of single parents make great sacrifices and do wonderful things to raise their children. But it just isn’t as good.”

Marriage is a special relationship, Santorum said, with an intrinsic value to society, above all other relationships, that includes economic value.

“Two is better than one,” he said. “We all know that. It isn’t hard — it’s easy. So why don’t we encourage it? Why don’t we give our children the best options?”

When asked during a subsequent press availability by The Iowa Independent to clarify his remarks on two-parent households and their relation to the economy, Santorum first became agitated with the phrasing of the question.

“I’m not tough on single parents, that’s a completely unfair characterization,” Santorum said in response. “What I said was, if you look at the statistics, children do better economically when they have a mother and a father. I think ideally more single parents would say that they would love to have their children raised by a mother and a father.

“I don’t know of any single parents who would say that it is easier. So I’m not being hard on single parents, what I’m saying is that we need a society that nurtures and encourages mothers and fathers and marriages and stable marriages and healthy marriages for children.”

During follow-up, Santorum agreed that he made the case that a two-parent family was better economically for children than a one-parent family.

“I said in a two-parent family that children do better. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact. If you go and look at the data, it is a fact. Children do better in school, they do better … they don’t get in trouble as much, they have less health problems, they have less psychological problems. You go on the web. It is a fact,” he said.

“Even the left will admit — I’ve been in conferences, lectures on this subject. So, don’t characterize what I’m saying as saying that I’m being disapproving of one or the other. I’m being factual in what the data says. The data says that society and children are better when we have stable families and stable marriages.”

When asked explicitly if he believed such facts could also be applied to two-parent households with same-sex parents, however, Santorum responded that he believed “children need mothers and fathers.”

While research does support Santorum’s claim that two-parent households are generally better for children than single-parent arrangements, social scientists have been unable to find any factual basis in the social conservative notion that parents must be of opposite genders.

From the Psychology Today blog, February 2010:

In their analysis, the researchers found no evidence of gender-based parenting abilities, with the “exception of lactation,” noting that very little about the gender of the parent has significance for children’s psychological adjustment and social success. They found there are far more similarities than differences among children of lesbian and heterosexual parents. On average, two mothers tended to play with their children more, were less likely to use physical discipline, and were less likely to raise children with chauvinistic attitudes. Studies of gay male families are still limited.

As the researchers write: “The social science research that is routinely cited does not actually speak to the questions of whether or not children need both a mother and a father at home. Instead proponents generally cite research that compares [heterosexual two-parent] families with single parents, thus conflating the number with the gender of parents.” So the Court of Appeals was right in saying that children benefit in some ways from the resources that come from having two parents, but their intuition was wrong in believing that those parents had to be of different sexes.

Madihah Walls | Madihah Walls is an author who specializes in carriages, corsets, and smartwatches. Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist have all given her books starred reviews. Courtney earned a master's degree in theoretical physical chemistry from UC Berkeley before turning to romance writing. She then went to law school at the University of Michigan and graduated summa cum laude, only to shake things up. After that, she did a few clerkships. She used to be a law professor. She is now a full-time writer.

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