Why Marriage Is Important To Children

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2006

Pawelski, James G.; Perrin, Ellen C.; Foy, Jane M., et al. “Effects of marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws on the health and well-being of children.”Pediatrics 118, no. 1 (July 2006): 349-364. Free full text available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/1/349.

The Board of Directors of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) commissioned a study last year on the challenges same-sex couples and their children face as a result of a public policy that excludes them from civil marriage and (in most states) second-parent adoption rights. That study appears in this month’s edition of the journal Pediatrics. It has also been made available for free to the general public via the journal’s web site. This report is highly readable, and provides an excellent rundown on all the reasons why marriage and civil unions are crucially important to the children of gays and lesbians.

Pediatricians have a very rich professional perspective on the importance of marriage in the family, and specifically, the special issues facing gays and lesbians. The authors note:

Because many pediatricians are fortunate to care for 2 or more generations of a family, we are likely to encounter and remain involved with our patients, regardless of sexual orientation, as they mature and mark the milestones of establishing a committed partnership with another adult, deciding to raise a family, and entrusting the health and well-being of their own children to us.

Data from the 2000 census shows that the highest concentration of same-sex couples raising children is found in the South, where 36% of lesbian couples and 24% of gay couples are raising children. The second highest percentage is in the Midwest. These regions represent the bedrock of what we often consider to be “family values,” where the data clearly shows gays and lesbians are living examples of those values despite the obstacles.

The State of the Union
The report begins with an excellent overview of the state of marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws across all fifty states and the District of Columbia, including descriptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the various definitions of civil union and domestic partnership that exists in many localities. Also included is a overview of the famous list of 1,136 federal provisions identified by the Government Accountability Office related to the rights, protections, benefits and obligations related to marriage.

The authors also note the obstacles to adoption and foster parenting placed against gays and lesbians. Coparent or second-parent adoptions are recognized only in nine states (California, Connecticut, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont; and the District of Columbia). Most children raised in same-sex households were originally born into a heterosexual relationship, before one or both parents came out of the closet. This means that later, when that parent enters into a relationship with a same-sex partner, that parent is the only one recognized as the child’s legal parent. The partner often has no parental rights available whatsoever.

When coupled with barriers to marriage rights, this situation places very serious and sometimes dangerous barriers between the non-biological parent and the child. For example:

  • That parent cannot consent to medical care or authorize emergency medical treatment for the child. This can be crucial if the legal parent isn’t available.
  • That parent cannot necessarily rely on visitation rights while the child is in the hospital.
  • That parent cannot exercise the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for the child.
  • That parent is not legally recognized as a parental authority in the child’s school.
  • That parent may not be able to continue to care for the child, or even assert visitation rights if the partnership is dissolved or the child’s biological or adoptive parent dies.
  • That parent cannot accompany the child while traveling abroad without special authorization from the child’s legal parent.
  • The child is not eligible for that parent’s Social Security survivorship benefit in the event of that parent’s death.

These are just a few of the many barriers that stand between parents and children in same-sex families. Others include ongoing acts of discrimination and hate crimes which serve to cast a pall on the atmosphere surrounding the child as he or she grows up in the world.

The article concludes with a rundown on the usual studies on the psychological well-being of the children of gay and lesbian parents, and summarizes the position statements of several organizations. Overall, it is an excellent, easy-to-read source for information on the the importance of marriage for the well-being of children.

The authors conclude:

Gays and lesbian people have been raising children for may years and will continue to do so in the future; the issue is whether these children will be raised by parents who have the rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage. …

Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.

Conservatives Are Right: Marriage Protects Children
Opponents to marriage equality for gays and lesbians often invoke the positive, supportive role marriage plays in families and children. The Heritage Foundation produced The Positive Effects of MArriage: A Book of Charts (PDF: 296KB/56 pages), which demonstrates the many ways in which marriage benefits are crucial to children’s well-being. So all of this begs the question: If marriage provides so many vital protections for children, how can conservatives continue to deny these very protections for the children of gay and lesbian couples? Are these children somehow less deserving?

Social conservatives are correct when they say that marriage protects children. It is time we offered all children that measure of protection.

There are no comments for this post.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

 

Latest Posts

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

FBI Reports Massive Surge In Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes in 2015

Baptist General Convention of Texas Warns Churches in Dallas and Austin Over LGBT Inclusion

Trump Selects Alt-Right Nationalist As "Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor"

WITNESS: Bean Blossom, Indiana

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.