At a hearing on the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, Sen. Al Franken took issue with the testimony of Tom Minnery, the head of Focus on the Family’s political arm, CitizenLink. After Minnery cited a government study he said showed that the children of married gay and lesbian couples fared worse than married opposite-sex couples, Franken flatly stated that Minnery was wrong and called into question any further testimony from Minnery.
Franken said, “The Defense of Marriage Act is an injustice. It is an immoral and discriminatory law. Our nation is founded on the premise that all people are created equal, and that’s why I am an original cosponsor of this bill.”
He said, “Repealing DOMA will be a great day in this country, akin to the enacting of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution,” which guaranteed women the right to vote.
Franken addressed Minnery, who had testified that children raised in families with parents of the opposite sex are better off, citing a 2010 Department of Health and Human Services study.
“I checked the study out,” Franken said. “It doesn’t actually say what you said it says. It says ‘nuclear families’ not ‘opposite-sex couples.’”
He continued, “Isn’t it true, Mr. Minnery, that a same-sex couples would fall under the definition of nuclear family?”
Minnery responded, “I would assume it would mean a family with husband and wife.”
“It doesn’t,” Franken said, pausing to allow laughter in the room to subside. “I frankly don’t know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies this way.”
Franken is correct in his reading of the study (PDF). HHS defines a nuclear family as one that consists of “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all children in the family.”
The study doesn’t make a distinction regarding the gender of both partners in a marriage and never mentioned same-sex marriage.