Adults of Gay Parents: A Case of Misattribution

04/06/2015 12:06 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

I just read an article posted on the Washington Times website ("Adults with Gay Parents Say Same-Sex Marriage Isn't Good For Kids" -- March 27th, 2015), in which Robert Oscar Lopez -- founder of the International Children's Rights Institute -- argues that same-sex marriage should be prohibited. He hopes the U.S. Supreme Court does not legalize same-sex marriage because, well, honestly, it appears he is a dysphoric gay man and blames having been raised by lesbian mothers for his current sexual orientation.

He has encountered other disgruntled adults who were raised by gay or lesbian parents who also oppose same-sex marriage because of their own unhappy childhoods. For example, one of Lopez' acquaintances was raised by a transgender father who allegedly fondled her as a child. Another woman reports that when she once brought home a male classmate from high school, her gay father had allegedly propositioned the boy for sex. Another "theme" coming from adults who were raised by gay or lesbian parents is having yearned, as children, for a "normal" family, including wanting to connect with their missing biological parent.

I will assume these stories are true, and with that assumption made, they indeed are tragic situations. But, to attribute these social maladies to having gay parents is rather mistaken.

Let's consider some ideas born out of my experiences, unless noted otherwise:

1. Gays and lesbians have been around forever. Until just recently (last 20 years, perhaps), a minority of gay or lesbian parents has begun having their own children. Thus, logically, it appears that the majority of gays and lesbians in the world -- historically and currently -- have been born and raised by heterosexual parents. No one is questioning heterosexual marriages because of the frequency with which some of those marriages produced gay children. If Lopez is attracted to men, it is not because he had lesbian parents. It's because he was born gay.

2. According to the literature on child development, it is not uncommon for adolescents to question their sexuality, and for those who are destined to be gay or lesbian to struggle accepting their sexual orientation -- an orientation that is fiercely condemned by much of society out of irrational prejudice. So, Lopez -- who reported that he was "emotionally confused" as a teenager over his budding orientation -- simply experienced what many adolescents, particularly gay adolescents, went through. He is confused for attributing that situation to having had lesbian mothers.

3. According to a meta-analysis (based on 22 studies in 19 countries and reported in the journal Clinical Psychology Review in 2009), the vast majority of adults who engage in sexual activity with children are heterosexual (because well over 90 percent of humans are heterosexual). When a heterosexual man sexually abuses a girl (which is the most common case of pedophilia), no one makes an issue over the man's heterosexuality. They focus -- appropriately -- on his pedophilia. But when a gay man sexually abuses a boy, people who are anti-gay focus on the perpetrator's sexual orientation as if that is relevant. A gay pedophile's sexual orientation is no more relevant to his abusive behavior than a straight pedophile's sexual orientation.

4. Finally, according to the social science literature and clinical anecdotes on single-parenting, the "yearning" for a normal family and the desire to find a missing parent are nothing new to children. In a culture where roughly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and single-parenthood is more the norm than an exception, it is not uncommon for children raised by heterosexuals to be yearning for a "normal" family and wishing to have a missing biological parent present in their lives. Moreover, adopted children often struggle with similar challenges whereby they yearn to be "normal" (i.e., with their biological parents instead of with adoptive parents) and even pass through a phase in which they resent their adoptive parents (which, by the way, is another example of misplaced blame: Their adoptive parents committed to raising them; their biological parents did not).

I hope the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are keener in logic than Lopez and those like him and recognize the fallacies of their misattributions. Sadly, there are far more adults who had unhappy childhoods than ought to be, yet, in all likelihood, other factors explain those unhappy childhoods rather than their parents' sexual orientation.