Lesbian families are better for children

I should have mentioned this research before, but Rick “Frothy Feces” Santorum has motivated me by claiming the lie that a gay father is worse for children than a father in prison. Hasn’t he seen the studies? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that same-sex marriage be legalized for the good of the children. He should read the long-term research study showing that children of lesbian households are better adjusted (possible confounding factors: planned pregnancies, lots of joint custody) than of mixed-sex households, with superior marks, self-esteem, and behaviour. Then he should read the study that reported ZERO INCIDENCE of child abuse in lesbian households—if he does read, that is.

Furthermore, same-sex marriages are no worse for children than mixed-sex marriages. From the paper by the American Academy of Pediatrics comes a virtual roll call of America’s psychiatric associations endorsing gay adoption, gay civil unions, and gay marriage:

  • A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual. —American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, 2002
  • Children who are born to or adopted by 1 member of a same-sex couple deserve the security of 2 legally recognized parents. —American Academy of Pediatrics, 2002
  • The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) “encourages the adoption of laws that recognize inheritance, insurance, same-sex marriage, child custody, property, and other relationship rights for lesbians, gay, and bisexual people. NASW supports the adoption of local, state, federal and international policies/legislation that protect the rights and well-being of the children of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.” (2005)
  • The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates overwhelmingly endorsed a policy that calls on the AMA to “support legislation and other efforts to allow adoption of a child by the same-sex partner or an opposite-sex non-married partner who functions as a second parent or co-parent to that child.” (2005)
  • The American Psychological Association (APA) adopted resolutions stating that “the APA believes that it is unfair and discriminatory to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage and to all its attendant benefits, rights, and privileges … and shall take a leadership role in opposing all discrimination in legal benefits, rights, and privileges against same-sex couples.” (2005)
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians’ Congress of Delegates agreed to “establish policy and be supportive of legislation which promotes a safe and nurturing environment, including psychological and legal security, for all children, including those of adoptive parents, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.” (2006)
  • The American Psychoanalytic Association position states, “Accumulated evidence suggests the best interest of the child requires attachment to committed, nurturing and competent parents. Evaluation of an individual or couple for these parental qualities should be determined without prejudice regarding sexual orientation. Gay and lesbian individuals and couples are capable of meeting the best interest of the child and should be afforded the same rights and should accept the same responsibilities as heterosexual parents.” (2006)
  • There is no evidence to suggest or support that parents with a gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation are per se different from or deficient in parenting skills, child-centered concerns and parent-child attachments, when compared with parents with a heterosexual orientation. It has long been established that a homosexual orientation is not related to psychopathology, and there is no basis on which to assume that a parental homosexual orientation will increase likelihood of or induce a homosexual orientation in the child. Outcome studies of children raised by parents with a homosexual or bisexual orientation, when compared with heterosexual parents, show no greater degree of instability in the parental relationship or developmental dysfunction in children. The AACAP opposes any discrimination based on sexual orientation against individuals in regard to their rights as custodial or adoptive parents.” —American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)

Same-sex marriage is allowed in U.S. military

Starting Friday, September 30, U.S. military chaplains were authorized to perform same-sex marriages in geographic areas that have marriage equality for all adult couples. Howls were heard from the usual nosy parkers.

Remote marriage via Skype™

Mark Reed and Dante Walkup

A celebrant in Washington DC solemnized the marriage of two men in Texas, using the Skype video chat. While gay marriage is not legal in Texas, it is in DC, which apparently is all, since the celebrant has the authority to form a legal marriage. This neat use of technology was thought up by two law professors.

Through the power of Skype,™ a gay couple in Texas, where same-sex marriage isn’t legal, can be wed by an official in the District of Columbia, where it is. This exact situation played out earlier this week when Dallas residents Mark Reed and Dante Walkup were part of the world’s first digital gay wedding. “When we walked down the aisle, as soon as we reached the front, [Sheila Alexander-Reid, the marriage official] comes on the screen like The Wizard of Oz,” Mr. Reed told news site dallasvoice.com. The union was coordinated in part by The Legal E-Marriage Project, an initiative started by two law professors. They say Skype weddings can also be useful for couples who are separated by distance.

Read more at the Texas Voice, whence I ‘borrowed’ a smaller version of their picture.

Nine-year-old organizes gay rights rally in Denver

dhbfemThe “NOM NOM NOM” campaign would have you believe that children are confused by having two parental figures of the same sex in the same household. Considering the variety of blended families and serial monogamy that they already deal with, that seems a little strained.

In real life and without indoctrination, children are on the side of fair play: Nine-year-old child organizes gay rights rally in Denver,
Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa Supreme Court drop-kicks discriminatory law into dustbin of history

Iowa’s Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a law, on the books for 11 years, that denied the right of same-sex couples to marry. As  lawyer Michael Fox explains, the judicial opinion dismantles the discrimatory rationalizations that accompany prejudicial laws:

The Court’s decision in Varnum v. Brien (2009) is enormously significant not only because it allows same sex couples to marry in Iowa, but also because it so clearly, cogently, and conscientiously dismantles and destroys each and every one of the arguments that the anti-gay forces have made – and continue to make — against sex same marriage.”

The case was brought by six couples who  “seek to declare the marriage statute unconstitutional so they can obtain the array of benefits of marriage enjoyed by heterosexual couples, protect themselves and their children, and demonstrate to one another and to society their mutual commitment.”

The Court first asserted and defended its right and obligation to rule on the constitutionality of the anti-gay marriage statute.  Among the “basic principles essential to our form of government,” the Court explained, is that the state constitution “defines certain individual rights upon which the government may not infringe” including the right to equal protection of the law.

Certain fundamental rights, including the right to the equal protection of the law, are beyond “the vicissitudes of political controversy” and “beyond the reach of majorities and officials” to limit or deny.  Accordingly, the Court has the responsibility “to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.”

Turning to the equal protection question, the Court first noted that “equal protection can only be defined by the standards of each generation… So, today, this court again faces an important issue that hinges on our definition of equal protection…. How can a state premised on the constitutional principle equal protection justify exclusion of a class of Iowans from civil marriage?”…

The Court first emphatically rejected the claims that permitting same sex couples would undermine the institution of marriage or would harm the state’s children….

The Court next unequivocally held that “scientific research has repudiated the commonly assumed notion that children need opposite-sex parents or biological parents to grow into well-adjusted adults.” …

The Court next rejected the claim that prohibiting same sex couples from marrying would advance the legitimate governmental objective of promoting procreation…

The Court also rejected the claims that prohibiting same sex marriage promoted stability in opposite-sex relationships…. and that prohibiting same sex marriage would conserve state resources….

Based on these findings, the Court concluded that none of the purported objectives of the ban on same sex marriage “were furthered in a substantial way by the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage.”

Strikingly, and courageously, the Court then addressed the real basis for the same sex marriage ban – religious opposition to homosexuality: “While unexpressed, religious sentiment most likely motivates many, if not most, opponents of same-sex civil marriage and perhaps even shapes the views of those people who may accept gay and lesbian unions but find the notion of same-sex marriage unsettling… Whether expressly or impliedly, much of society rejects same-sex marriage due to sincere, deeply ingrained — even fundamental — religious belief. Yet, such views are not the only religious views of marriage… other equally sincere groups and people in Iowa and around the nation have strong religious views that yield the opposite conclusion… Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring government avoids them… civil marriage must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals. This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all. We are not permitted to do less and would damage our constitution immeasurably by trying to do more.”

So there you have it.

I'm totally stealing this picture!

I'm totally stealing this picture!

UPDATE: The illustration is by Mirko Ilic.

“Calling in gay”

Some opponents of California’s Proposition H8 in the U.S., which passed and thus took away the right of gays to marry the consenting adult of their choice, are organizing a protest called “Day without a gay.” They are asking gay people to take one day off work and demonstrate that they’d be missed. Naturally, some wit has named the phenomenon, “Calling in gay.”

That inevitably reminds me of the old joke, “I’ve used up my sick days so I’m calling in dead.”

Good luck to them.

“Why marriage matters” by Andrew Sullivan

I don’t get why making marriage legal for more consenting adults invalidates it. If anything dishonours marriage, it’s Hefner-like cavorting,Larry Craig’s hypocrisy, and Mormon polygyny and child marriage.

I read this a few years ago and it made clear to me the real tragedy of denying some people the right to marry those they love. I think it’s impossible to take the sugar out of the coffee but some people are agitating to do just that in California. “Proposition 8” would take away the right of same-sex couples to marry and enjoy the same legal status as heterosex couples. At the moment, they have that right. Many are married. Yet certain busybodies want to dissolve their marriages and change their legal status. I don’t know if this is a legal opinion or not, but I’ve heard the argument that it’s a principle that if some people have a right then everyone should have it. That is, if some people to marry a man or woman, then every consenting adult should be able to. And that automatically makes same-sex marriage legal.

Anyway, here’s Andrew Sullivan’s article: “Why marriage matters.”

What really mattered was family and the love you had for one another. The most important day of your life was not graduation from college or your first day at work or a raise or even your first house. The most important day of your life was when you got married. It was on that day that all your friends and all your family got together to celebrate the most important thing in life: your happiness — your ability to make a new home, to form a new but connected family, to find love that put everything else into perspective.

But as I grew older, I found that this was somehow not available to me. I didn’t feel the things for girls that my peers did. All the emotions and social rituals and bonding of teenage heterosexual life eluded me. I didn’t know why. No one explained it. My emotional bonds to other boys were one-sided; each time I felt myself falling in love, they sensed it, pushed it away. I didn’t and couldn’t blame them. I got along fine with my buds in a nonemotional context, but something was awry, something not right. I came to know almost instinctively that I would never be a part of my family the way my siblings might one day be. The love I had inside me was unmentionable, anathema. I remember writing in my teenage journal one day, “I’m a professional human being. But what do I do in my private life?”

I never discussed my real life. I couldn’t date girls and so immersed myself in schoolwork, the debate team, school plays, anything to give me an excuse not to confront reality. When I looked toward the years ahead, I couldn’t see a future. There was just a void. Was I going to be alone my whole life? Would I ever have a most important day in my life? It seemed impossible, a negation, an undoing. To be a full part of my family, I had to somehow not be me. So, like many other gay teens, I withdrew, became neurotic, depressed, at times close to suicidal. I shut myself in my room with my books night after night while my peers developed the skills needed to form real relationships and loves. In wounded pride, I even voiced a rejection of family and marriage. It was the only way I could explain my isolation.

It took years for me to realize that I was gay, years more to tell others and more time yet to form any kind of stable emotional bond with another man. Because my sexuality had emerged in solitude — and without any link to the idea of an actual relationship — it was hard later to reconnect sex to love and self-esteem. It still is. But I persevered, each relationship slowly growing longer than the last, learning in my 20s and 30s what my straight friends had found out in their teens. But even then my parents and friends never asked the question they would have asked automatically if I were straight: So, when are you going to get married? When will we be able to celebrate it and affirm it and support it? In fact, no one — no one — has yet asked me that question.

When people talk about gay marriage, they miss the point. This isn’t about gay marriage. It’s about marriage. It’s about family. It’s about love. It isn’t about religion. It’s about civil marriage licenses. Churches can and should have the right to say no to marriage for gays in their congregations, just as Catholics say no to divorce, but divorce is still a civil option. These family values are not options for a happy and stable life. They are necessities. Putting gay relationships in some other category — civil unions, domestic partnerships, whatever — may alleviate real human needs, but by their very euphemism, by their very separateness, they actually build a wall between gay people and their families. They put back the barrier many of us have spent a lifetime trying to erase.

It’s too late for me to undo my past. But I want above everything else to remember a young kid out there who may even be reading this now. I want to let him know that he doesn’t have to choose between himself and his family anymore. I want him to know that his love has dignity, that he does indeed have a future as a full and equal part of the human race. Only marriage will do that. Only marriage can bring him home.

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