Here we go again. In federal courts in both Utah and Michigan, among other places, the children of same-sex couples are being used as a rationale for discrimination. Using what have been reported to be questionable studies, opponents of same-sex marriage in Utah and Michigan maintain that children of same-sex couples do not fare as well as those raised by married heterosexuals.
This would be laughable if it did not have the potential to cause even further damage to children like me, who learn from society that their families are lesser or should be a source of shame.
Of course, there is no merit to the position advanced by the opponents of marriage equality in these legal battles around the country. As Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University, a sociologist called to testify in the Michigan suit, testified, "there is no basis" for believing that kids develop better in a household led by a man and a woman. Summarizing the research on this issue, he added, "It's clear that being raised by same-sex parents is no disadvantage to children." That view was echoed by Andrew J. Cherlin, a prominent sociologist of family issues at Johns Hopkins University.
As experts on the issue have explained, the studies relied on by opponents of same-sex marriage -- particularly one by Dr. Mark Regenerus -- are flawed because they included children who were the offspring of failed opposite-sex marriages in which a parent later engaged in same-sex behavior, and many children who never lived with same-sex parents. In sum, the study was skewed by its inclusion of unstable homes and only reinforces the logical conclusion that stability is the key to a child's well-being.
Ironically, there is some support for the conclusion that children raised by same-sex couples are advantaged by their upbringing, and I have argued that this is the case for myself. Indeed, studies have shown that while the emotional and mental health of children with heterosexual or gay parents is essentially the same, children of same-sex couples are more open-minded and empathetic, more self-aware, more adept at communicating their feelings, and, because they are typically not subjected to rigid gender roles, freer to pursue a wide range of interests. In other words, as Dr. Peggy Drexler has put it, these children "represent not the worst-case scenario, but the best."
But supporters of same-sex marriage have no obligation to prove that children of same-sex coupes are superior. It is enough that we are no less screwed up than anybody with parents. (I am silently apologizing to my own daughters as I write this.)
Just as I wish the examples set by Jason Collins and Michael Sam were enough to end the fears of professional athletes about non-straight athletes in their locker rooms, I wish that my testimony of being raised by two mothers in a loving, supportive, stable home and becoming a successful, well-adjusted adult, married with two children, was enough to resolve this issue. I understand that my tale constitutes only anecdotal evidence, but then so does that of Zach Wahls; Riley Hackford-Peer, a brave 12-year-old Utah boy with two loving moms; and Madison Ayoso and Ben Farrar, who also have two mothers and hail from Utah. Perhaps if enough of us unite, our voices we could become overwhelming dispositive evidence.
Whether or not same-sex marriage is recognized in these states, children are presently being raised by same-sex couples there. In other words, they already exist, and they matter. Preventing their families from achieving full recognition, and all the legal rights and benefits that come with it, thereby harming them legally and otherwise, is the ultimate indictment of those claiming to be looking out for their best interests.
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