Think about the children! Because really, the best place for kids is with a mother and a father. Studies show!
Studies show no such thing, as Eli points out. (Here are the results of the latest study: children adopted by same-sex couples do just as well as children adopted by opposite-sex couples. "There is no scientific basis to discriminate against gay and lesbian parents," the study's author concludes.)
But there's this too: banning same-sex marriage doesn't prevent same-sex parenting. Terry and I adopted D.J. nearly fifteen years ago, before same-sex marriage was legal in Canada or any US states. Lesbians and gay men have children through informal co-parenting arrangements, donor insemination, IVF treatments, surrogacy, adoption, and in previous heterosexual relationships—we've been having children for decades (we've been having children forever—Oscar Wilde had children, Emperor Hadrian had children), and we're going to continue having children regardless of what happens on November 6. Banning same-sex marriage doesn't magically give every child a married mother and father. It only deprives some children—children with same-sex parents—of the protections and security that marriage provides.
Let’s suppose, however—just for the sake of argument—that CLASP’s claim is right, and that children, on average, do best with their own married biological parents. What would follow?
To put it bluntly, what would follow is that gay and lesbian couples should not kidnap children from their own married biological parents.
Back on Planet Earth, where gay men and lesbians are not involved in a mass-kidnapping scheme, it’s less clear what would follow. Same-sex marriage never—and I mean never— takes children away from competent biological parents who want them. I don’t mean to be glib, but from the premise
Children on average do best with their own married biological parents
to the conclusion
We should not allow same-sex couples to marry
there are a lot of missing steps. Indeed, more like entire missing staircases. I have yet to see any marriage-equality opponents fill in those missing staircases. Most do not even bother to try.
One immediate problem is that allowing people to marry is different from declaring that it would be ideal for them to raise children. Most same-sex couples don’t have children. Those who do have children usually put a great deal of thought into this decision: they do not wake up one day and say “Oops, we’re pregnant.” In that sense, they are not like the “average” parent, who may or may not have planned for the child and may or may not be prepared for its arrival.
What’s more, we allow many couples to marry who fall short of the alleged parenting ideal—as we should. Notably, we allow stepfamilies to form, even though the very same premise that opponents cite against same-sex marriage applies to them: children do best on average with their own married biological parents. We allow poor people to marry, people without college degrees to marry, people in rural areas to marry, and so on, even though research shows that children in these environments do less well on a number of factors than in the alternatives.
We even allow convicted felons serving prison sentences to marry; in fact, we allow it as a matter of constitutional right. The U.S. Supreme Court in Turner v. Safley unanimously affirmed that right, noting that “inmate marriages, like others, are expressions of emotional support and public commitment,” even given the obvious limitations of prison life. In reaching this decision the Court drew on Zablocki v. Redhail, which held that persons delin- quent on child support retain the fundamental right to marry.
So a convicted murderer serving a life sentence may marry, but Boyd and Josh may not, because “Children do best onaverage with their own married biological parents.” Do you see what I mean about missing staircases?
Indeed, there’s something quite backward about this argument. For if one really believes (against the evidence) that children in same-sex households are disadvantaged, isn’t that even more reason to provide them the support, stability, and security of marriage—especially in light of what we know about cohabiting parents versus married parents?
If your relatives won't read a whole book about same-sex marriage, maybe they'll watch a three-and-a-half minute video:
Anyone who cares about children should vote to approve R-74.