ABC News commentator Cokie Roberts confronted antigay religious right figures in a segment of Sunday’s edition of This Week, pointedly challenging their arguments against adoption by same-sex couples and assertions that being gay is a sin.
Roberts was on a panel with three conservative Christian activists: Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Host Martha Raddatz asked Graham about his recent remarks praising Russian president Vladimir Putin for Russia’s “gay propaganda” law and opposition to adoption by same-sex couples. Graham stood by his statements, saying Putin “thinks taking advantage of children, exploiting children is wrong for any group.”
Moore said he agreed with Graham that “a child needs both a mom and a dad” but commented that Putin “has used Russian orphans as pawns.” Then Reed chimed in, saying, “This isn’t about Vladimir Putin. This is about what’s best for children here in the United States. And the social science is irrefutable. And it is that a child who grows up in a home without the mother and father present, and they both play very unique procreative, nurturing and socializing roles, they’re nine times more likely to end up dropping out of high school. They’re five times more likely to end up in poverty. And they’re three times more likely to end up addicted.”
Veteran journalist Roberts interrupted him. “But the social science is also irrefutable that a child raised in an orphanage is in much worse shape than a child raised in a home,” she said. “And the fact that people are willing to take these children and raise them and raise them in a loving way is clearly better for these children than [being in an orphanage].” Raddatz followed up, asking Reed, “Would you rather have a child sitting in an orphanage and not have gay parents?” He responded, “I think that the social science is just simply not in yet on same-sex couples, and I think the law has every right to set an ideal. And the ideal is a mother and a father.”
As Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart points out, there actually has been much social science research that indicates children raised by same-sex couples achieve on par with those raised by opposite-sex pairs. And Reed’s comments about children having poor outcomes without a mother and father president are based on studies of kids with single parents, not those brought up by same-sex couples.
Toward the end of the panel discussion, Graham asserted that gay people can go to heaven, but only if they repent of the “sin” of homosexuality. “Franklin Graham is a sinner, and I’m no better than a gay person,” he said. “I’m a sinner. But I’ve been forgiven, and I’ve turned from my sins.” Roberts, a Roman Catholic, responded, “A lot of gay people feel that they are sinners, but not because they’re gay.”
Watch the full segment below.