Today at the Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the odious Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and allow the federal government to recognize state marriages between same-sex partners, Senator Al Franken queried witness Thomas Minnery, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at Focus on the Family the definition of “nuclear family.”

In exposing Mr Minnery’s basic error in understanding the definition of “nuclear family” in the HHS study Minnery cited, Senator Franken made clear that such a fundamental mistake in reading the report made all of Minnery’s testimony suspect and unworthy of consideration by the committee.

Franken: Mr Minnery, on page eight of your written testimony, you write quote “Children living with their own married, adoptive or biological mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to health care, were less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, and almost never live in poverty compared to children in any other family form.

Franken: You cite a Department of Health and Human Services Study, that I have right here, from December 2010, to support this conclusion. I checked this study out. [laughter] And I would like to enter it into the record, if I may. [so ordered] And it actually doesn’t say what you said it says.

Franken: It says that NUCLEAR FAMILIES, not “opposite sex married families” are associated with those positive outcomes. Isn’t it true, Mr Minnery, that a married same-sex couple that has biological or adoptive children would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?

Minnery: I would think that the study, when it refers to a NUCLEAR FAMILY, refers to a study headed by a husband and a wife.

Franken: It doesn’t. [laughter] The study defines a nuclear family as “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family.”

Franken: And I frankly don’t know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies this way.