Headlines like, “Children Do Better with Committed Parents,” excite me. I feel proud to live in a time where we’re advancing understanding and safety for children and their health–I love being a part of it. Over the past decade(s) there have been big shifts here in the US. The Pew Research Center published data today that there has been a notable change in public opinion when it comes to the nation’s support of gay marriage: more people support gay marriage (49%) than oppose it (44%). In particular, 70% of “millennials” (people age 18-32) support gay marriage. Today, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stepped forward in support of gay marriage in hopes of improving child well-being nationwide. The AAP, a group that represents 60,000 pediatricians who care for families all over the US, did so not just for politics, but for children. There are mounting piles of research that the estimated 2 million children being raised by gay or lesbian parents are doing beautifully. In fact, the AAP says,
More than 100 scientiﬁc publications over 30 years, taken together, have demonstrated that children’s well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents’ sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents
However, politics are at play here in the US regarding federal support of gay marriage. The federal Defense of Marriage Act deprives children (even those living in the 9 states that allow gay marriage) with gay parents access to federal rights and benefits other children of married parents receive. That’s things like social security, housing and food stamps, employment benefits, military benefits, and things like even taking child deductions on jointly filed federal taxes. Therefore, for the well-being of families and children everywhere, the AAP supports the position that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and should be repealed.
As the Supreme Court moves to review gay marriage legislation more meticulously, the timing of this published report is teed up for action. In the AAP policy statement and accompanying technical report (reviews data more extensively), they said this:
Laws restricting competent adults of the same gender from codifying their commitment to each other and their children via civil marriage may result not only in pain and hardship for their children but also in legal, economic, psychological, social, and health disparities that can no longer be justiﬁed.
I stand behind the AAP in its move to support children in all diverse family units. Providing structure, security, financial benefits, health benefits, and access to federal programs equally has to be what we do for children in our nation. Children and families thrive with structure. Since only 9 states in the US allow for same-sex marriage and many states don’t forbid discrimination of adoptive and foster-care parents who are gay and lesbian, all children don’t have the same rights to security around our nation. This statement is hopefully a shove in the right direction for children.
More Reading About Children and Gay Parents:
- New York Times “Pediatric Group Backs Gay Marriage Stating It Helps Children.”
- My good friend Dr Claire McCarthy’s blog post entitled, “Same Sex Marriage–Why Supporting It Is Good For Children” where she says, “The AAP is hardly a hot bed of liberals.“
- Here’s my KING5 News interview on the report.
- NPR’s report this morning on the politics, “As Gay Marriage Goes To Court, A Look At The Bumpy Ride.” Ari Shapiro reviews a congressman’s, an actor’s, a prosecutor’s, and a mother’s story. He reports, “Today, 31 states have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. It’s legal in nine states and Washington, D.C. …Next week, the Supreme Court hears challenges to California’s gay marriage ban and to the law known as the Defense of Marriage Act. These will be the next major steps on a path the country has traveled for decades. We won’t know for months which direction the steps will be.”
Stability is good for children. Things like having meals with your family, having access to a safe school and quality health care, and even living in a home that requires a regular bedtime help. Stability in rights and resources because of marriage matter to children, too.
Susannah Fox says
I’ll put in another plug for my colleagues’ work — an interactive which displays verbatim responses from the 14% of U.S. adults who have changed their mind in favor of gay marriage. Pew Research asked: What made you change your mind about same-sex marriage?
“Personally, I think there are same sex couples who make better parents than heterosexual couples.”
– Male, 56 years old
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Susannah! It’s a fascinating report and so visual…
Michelle Arensdorf says
Dr. Wendy….I am a mother of a 9month old little guy whom my wife and I have enjoyed every day, not only since the day he was born, but since March 2007 when I first met her and she took my breath away. I always knew I was gay but never wanted that lifestyle for myself until I met her. :0). When our eyes met I Knew at that moment that I would love her for the rest of my life, that I would marry her, and that we would have children together… Not everybody gets to find their true love, so I feel very fortunate to have met mine!! We got married in 2008… Made it legal in may 2009 when Iowa passed the law and had our son Cooper Benjamin in June 2012. My life is absolutely awesome every single day!!! I want that for everyone…gay,straight,or whatever….don’t settle for anything less than awesome!! True love IS worth waiting for!!! And we have a very happy little boy! :0)
Peter Elias says
This post is yet another example of why I suggest that my patients with children follow SMD.
Paul Wenthold says
I have always found it strange those opposed to gay
marriage on the grounds that it harms our children think that
unmarried parents are preferable to committed, married gay