September 18, 1996

Day 6 Of Baehr V. Miike (September 17)

The unflappable Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a developmental psychologist from the University of Virginia, was the plaintiff's (the couples') 2nd witness in the same gender marriage court case.  Dr. Patterson's research focusses on social and personal development in children.  She is a leader in her field in for research on children raised by lesbian mothers.  Dr. patterson's  testimony was focused primarily  around her 2 studies, "Bay Area Families", a 1990-91 study,  and "Contempory Family", a 1994-95 study.

Her conclusions in the Bay Area study  were that children develop well in lesbian households and that there are few differences in their development compared to children raised by heterosexual mothers.   Children's self-esteem was comparable between the two types of homes.   Children in lesbian homes were more likely to express stress while at the same time these children were also more likely to feel a sense of well being.

In the Contemporary Family study Dr. Patterson found that children in lesbian households are developing normally as a group; none of the structural features (i.e. parental sexual orientation) can predict any significant aspect of the child's development; and family process variables (i.e. parental harmony) showed no significant difference between lesbian and heterosexual households.  Dr. Patterson noted that, while a child's biological link to a parent is 1 factor in predicting development, it is not the only nor is it the most important factor; the quality of parenting and care are more important than biology or gender of the parent.  As with all the witnesses to date, both the state's and the plaintiffs', Dr. Patterson said that

  1. Gays and lesbians can be excellent adoptive and foster parents.
  2. Same gender couples can and do have successful and committed relationships.
Furthermore, Dr. Patterson feels that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry; such marriage would benefit them and their children.

Cross-examination by Deputy Attorney General Eichor has changed from a vigorous line of questions to an aggressive, combative tone.  His sarcasm, demeaning voice inflections, and side comments loud enough to be heard but "not on the record" have changed the overall ambiance of the proceedings.  [Only Channel 2 hinted at this on TV last night, but couldn't convey the spirit of it.]  Dr. Patterson never matched Mr. Eichor's condescension; instead she returned the discussion to the research every
time.  Like Dr.  Pepper Schwartz yesterday, she maintained respect and decorum.


                        Tom Ramsey
                        h.e.r.m.p Co-coordinator


A warmest aloha to Sue Reardon whose careful notes have made this and earlier reports possible.  Her notes on Day 5 will appear soon (yes, some mysterious menehune deleted the electronic copy -- no blame!).

I could attend only the first hour of Dr. Schwartz's testimony, and she is one dynamite professor.  Her testimony was funny, if you read between the lines (and not very far).  I STRONGLY RECOMMEND INVITING HER TO ADDRESS ANY MEETING ON THE NATURE OF COUPLES.

Tidbit #1:  The couples discussed sex freely with her researchers (in her study of 12000 couples, divided into 4 types).  But NOT money.  Money touched upon power, and power is taboo.  Her researchers developed observational tricks for GUESSING which of the couple made the most money and by what ratio.  The patterns of decision making and interpersonal deference proved to predictive of income ratios.

Tidbit #2:  Lesbian couples, by dint of extraordinary ideological commitment and utter commitment to interpersonal communications, sometimes work through these power issues to an egalitarian relationship (Pepper implied but didn't say that almost no one else did).

Tidbit #3:  Lesbian sometimes process things too much.  Sometimes the sleeping dogs should be left sleeping, for the good of the relationship.  I couldn't believe she said this in court.

Overall note:  Men are similar to men, whether in married relations, heterosexual co-habiting relations, or gay relations.  Women are similar to women, regardless of the relationship.  Women value communication much more; men are more likely to let things build up until they explode.  Generally, the relationships are more similar than different, with the heterosexual co-habiting relations being the most different.

      Tom Ramsey

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