I want you to know that I think my family is great, so why don't you people just stop all this hate? I know that love comes right from the heart. My parents taught me love from the start."-Hannah Jurs-Allen, fifth-grader, daughter of lesbian parents.
The November 2008 election saw the decimation of the rights of gays to marry and adopt. Although a few states since then have legislated gay marriage, the final decision on Proposition 8 (the ban against gay marriage passed during that election) will be determined this June, falling between Mother's Day and Father's Day. It couldn't be more timely. First, because it is exactly one year after the Court decided the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Second, one of the greatest fallacies Protect Marriage has leveraged against gay marriage is the detrimental effect gay parenting would have on our children. However, personal stories and scientific research invalidates this misconception and illustrate why love and compassion are factors that are greater in the health of a child rather than the gender and sexual orientation of his/her parents.
Last year when the gay marriage ban was overturned I was moved by an interview I heard with a nineteen-year-old on KPCC's Airtalk. This teenager shared that her two mom's right to marry was based on love, not religion or politics. She stated emphatically that those who still oppose same-sex marriage lack a full understanding of the power of love, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. The mature sentiment of this nineteen-year-old was a clear indication that children being raised by same sex parents are well provided for and grow up to be loving, empathic, compassionate, and well-adjusted.
Gays and lesbian parents living authentically allow people to see that their love and joy does not threaten the families of those who hold different values.. I believe as more people come to know this as truth we will see allies growing in their support of the unfettered right to love and care for children. The argument that same-sex marriage erodes traditional standards that have been entrenched since the time of the Bible is erroneous. This same argument adds that gay marriage will distort children's views of sex and love. What they fail to acknowledge is that society does not evolve out of a rigid adherence to tradition. Our country and society itself was founded out of radical departures from oppression and stifled expression.
Gay men and women have been adopting / birthing children and creating families for years. Children will continue to have same sex parents regardless of whether marriage is sanctified or not. In the United States alone, 10 million people have at least one gay or lesbian parent. It would be healthier for individuals and society for all children to be raised in environments where the love his or her gay parents share is legally and socially recognized.
Research cited from an article in the journal of the American Sociological Association by Laura Hamilton, et.al (Indiana University) illustrates that the commitments by gay and lesbian parents are naturally more intensified due to the often arduous roads to adoption. Gay parenting "accidents" are a rarity. I personally know gay parents who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and received more intensified scrutiny in the adoption process. The same study of 13,000 parents including 161 adoptive families shows in some cases that adoptive parents actually rate better on activities including helping with homework, parental involvement in school, exposure to cultural activities and family. Also, the study specifically states that gay and lesbian parents may go the extra mile to ensure children's welfare in response to stigma and less social acceptance.
In addition, a review of 21 research studies over the past 20 years by Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz at University of Southern California, also published in the journal of American Sociological Association illustrates that children of lesbian or gay parents have more empathy and less attachment to rigid gender roles. Sons tend to be more nurturing and affectionate and daughters tend to feel comfortable pursuing traditionally masculine occupations. There are opponents to same-sex marriage who actually question whether or not these differences are healthy. I find it ludicrous to think that raising children with a healthier balance of masculine and feminine energy is undesirable. My friend and colleague Scott Molluso now in his thirties and raised by Gay and Lesbian parents has this to say
Growing up with two gay parents allowed me the blessing of exploring both the Masculine and the Feminine energies. I have spent most of the past 20 years exploring my own sexuality and validating that I was indeed straight. I have learned how to live my life as an authentic, compassionate, and strong man who embodies both of the masculine and feminine energies in balance. I received the gift of compassion towards myself and others, healing judgments towards both of my parents and the ones I had placed on myself.
The APA published journal "Gay and Lesbian Parenting" addresses the typical questions regarding sexual abuse. It illustrates that the overwhelming cases of sexual abuse are of adult males abusing young females. Longitudinal studies of lesbian mothers showed zero signs of sexual abuse. There is no evidence that indicates children of gays and lesbians are at risk.
Is it fair that children of gay parents are under a microscope? It seems any typical developmental challenge a child of a gay parent may have will contain default blame like: "See, gay men and lesbians shouldn't be married or be parents!" There are an abundance of people in prisons and jails in our society. It is highly likely that these children have all had parents that are heterosexual. I would like to ask these heterosexual parents how they would react if their right to marry was based on the often uncontrollable outcome of the health of their children?
It is apparent that the argument that gay marriage is detrimental to society because of its potential effect on children is erroneous. My assumption is that those who claim that gay marriage is unhealthy for children have not taken the responsibility to comprehensively explore the research available that proves otherwise. This leads me to ponder if a society of hate has blindly become a money making institution. If not, then organizations that claim to be invested in the interest of children might consider taking the millions upon millions of dollars raised to spread hate and fear and use it to feed and clothe the plethora of hungry children living far below the poverty line right here in California.
I call upon each of us gay, straight, black, white, mother, father, mormon, atheist, Christian, Muslim, Jew, to stand steadfast in the love and compassion that resides in our hearts. As we do, I am confident that we can resolve intolerance, and that our love, compassion, and care for our children will become the qualifiers for marriage and parenthood rather than the sex of those we love.
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