Same-Sex Family Values
Monday, June 1st was the fourth annual “Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2009.” Though I missed my opportunity to blog for LGBT families on that day, I still wanted to contribute. The following post is adapted from a 2006 column in my college newspaper, The Daily Kent Stater, and is reprinted with permission from the editorial staff.
When I was younger and my friends found out my favorite aunt was a lesbian, their one common question always floored me.
“Aren’t you afraid she’ll hit on you?” they asked.
“No,” I replied. “Are you afraid your uncle’s going to hit on you?” My answer reflected the sheer stupidity in the question’s logic: that homosexuality should generate fear.
Fast forward to the here and now, where this illogical trepidation continues to translate into various pieces of legislation at the state level that threaten to limit American gay and lesbians’ rights – namely their opportunity to adopt and foster children.
In the United States, somewhere between 6 million and 14 million kids are being raised by at least one gay or lesbian parent, according to research compiled by the Family Equality Council, where I spent a summer internship in 2006. Because same-sex couples cannot biologically create a child with each other, many choose to adopt or foster one of our country’s 568,000 parentless children.
Time and again, well-respected professional organizations have issued statements in support of same-sex couples’ ability to parent. This includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the Child Welfare League of America - definitely not small potatoes in the world of children’s health. Still, homophobes present a host of arguments as to why same-sex couples should be forbidden from parenting.
Prohibiting would-be gay parents from adopting or fostering children can only harm these already deprived children. Approximately 117,000 kids in the United States’ foster care system are available for adoption; banning same-sex couples from the parenting pool puts these children at further disadvantage by lessening their chances of being adopted.
Critics of same-sex adoption argue that gay and lesbian couples are unable to raise stable, well-adapted children and that kids should be raised by one parent of each gender. What, then, of families in which the mother has died, or the father has abandoned his children? If a child raised by a single parent can grow up psychologically sound, there’s no reason a child raised by two parents of the same gender couldn’t do the same. Furthermore, absolutely no scientific research suggests that children of same-sex couples grow up to be psychologically damaged.
Another argument is that same-sex couples are more likely to raise gay children than are heterosexual couples. In truth, a 1992 study found that the incidence of homosexuality among children of same-sex couples is virtually identical to that of homosexuality within the general population. Just as straight parents often produce gay children, gay parents can – and do – raise straight kids.
Family is composed of the people who care for you the most, who look out for your best interests. That’s why so many of us call family friends “aunt” or “uncle,” and why so many people don’t differentiate between step-relatives and blood relatives. Your family members are the people who love you the most.
That’s the bottom line here. Love, not sexual orientation, is at the core of familial values, and same-sex couples are just as capable of love as straight people are, no matter what critics may argue to the contrary.
Straight, gay, bisexual, or transgender, most parents, no matter their sexual orientation, exhibit one common characteristic: They only want what’s best for their children. Who among us would argue in opposition of parental love?
It’s shouldn’t be about gay or straight – it should be about family.