By Lauren Carroll, Neelesh Moorthy, and Allison Graves
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus defended the platform of his party and presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump on the talk show circuit Sunday.
But did Priebus have his facts right?
Priebus appeared on CNN, ABC, NBC, and FOX on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to discuss the state of the presidential race and the state of his political party.
Priebus defended the 2016 Republican Party platform in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd.
While the platform isn’t yet in its final form, many observers have said the document so far leans to the right on social issues. Todd asked Priebus about the platform’s position on same-sex marriage. The Meet the Press anchor referenced one draft that says “the data, the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion that every child deserves a married mom and dad”—based on claims that children raised in a traditional household are healthier and less likely to engage in crime and substance abuse.
“It’s implying somehow that children of same-sex couples are more likely to be addicts, to engage in crime,” Todd said. “Do you mean to have it imply that?”
Priebus replied that it’s possible for children of same-sex parents and single parents to lead successful lives, but the best scenario is for children to grow up in a household with a mother and a father.
“The best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad,” Priebus said. “However, it doesn’t mean at all that single parents or same-sex parents, that any parent in America can’t love a child, can’t raise a child, and that child can’t be successful and loved. It doesn’t mean that. It just means what the facts say.”
Do “the facts say” that “the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad” as opposed to same-sex parents?
No. That claim rates False.
If anything, the scholarly consensus is that children can fare just as well in same-sex households. “The consensus is overwhelming that those children do very well in those [same-sex parent] families, and there’s no harm or bad consequence that occurs because of those parents not being opposite sex,” said Ellen Perrin, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine who has researched this question.
Researchers at Columbia Law School reviewed scholarly works about the well-being of children living with gay or lesbian parents spanning the past three decades. The researchers found 78 relevant articles, and of those, 74 concluded that children of same-sex parents fare no worse than children of opposite-sex parents.
Six of these articles were published in the last three years. The studies examine topics such as adolescent well-being, child physical and emotional health, family functioning, and the effect of homophobic stigmatization.
“Taken together, this research forms an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children,” the Columbia researchers wrote.
That leaves four articles that argue children face more risks with opposite-sex parents than they do with same-sex parents. However, the Columbia researchers say these studies are problematic because only a minority of the child subjects grew up with same-sex parents. Most subjects of these four studies grew up with opposite-sex parents but one of the parents eventually came out as gay or lesbian, often causing family breakup or turmoil.
Some of this research conflates family composition and structure with family stability and history, said Gary Gates, an expert in LGBT demography at the University of California Los Angeles. Social science research suggests marriage — and not necessarily the gender makeup of that marriage — is associated with stability.
“In other words, studies that compare children in long-term intact families with same-sex couple parents show that they generally do as well as kids in long-term intact families with different-sex parents,” Gates said.
Skipping the party
Priebus also said Sunday that he is confident the Cleveland RNC will be a success, even without a Bush in attendance.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush all declined to participate or attend the 2016 nominating convention. NBC’s Todd offered the decision of the Bush family to spurn the 2016 convention as evidence that this year’s event will be a little different.
“You’re not showcasing the best parts of your party,” Todd said to Priebus, adding “it is unusual not to have a Bush at the convention.”
Priebus responded: “It didn’t happen four years ago” at the 2012 RNC in Tampa. Priebus added after some back-and-forth that that “there was no President Bush” at the RNC in 2008.
Both claims are wrong. The statement rates False.
It’s been nearly eight years since a Bush has held national elected office, but the family has maintained a role at the nominating convention. Since 1980, a Bush has spoken at every Republican convention —often as the vice presidential or presidential nominee.
That includes the 2012 convention in Tampa, where Mitt Romney was nominated.
Jeb Bush addressed delegates at the convention. He touted his love for his brother, criticized President Obama’s record, and discussed children and education.
“If we want to continue to be the greatest nation on the planet, we must give our kids what we promised them—an equal opportunity,” he said. “That starts in the classroom. It starts in our communities. It starts where you live and it starts with nominating Mitt Romney the next president of the United States.”
Priebus also was wrong that there was no “President Bush” at the 2008 RNC in St. Paul, Minn.
President George W. Bush addressed convention delegates live from the White House. Bush told convention delegates that he remained in Washington to oversee recovery efforts related to Hurricane Gustav.
Bush praised GOP nominee Arizona Sen. John McCain. “He is ready to lead this nation,” Bush said. “From the day of his commissioning, John McCain was a respected Naval officer who made decisions on which the lives of others depended.”
First lady Laura Bush spoke live from the convention, which also included appearances by former president George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, video from the event shows.
The earliest convention we could find without a Bush speaking was in 1976, where Gerald Ford was selected as the Republican nominee.
Read the full fact-checks at PunditFact.com.