Because this is a sensitive subject, and one that tends to run over the same old ground again and again, before we get to the heart of my post, I feel
compelled to add a few disclaimers first. Hopefully this will allow us to sidestep the same tired arguments that get tossed out over and over.
(Probably not, but we can always hope.)
1) I don't harbor any ill will towards homosexuals, don't object to their practices, and I certainly don't "hate" them. But even if I did,
none of that would have any bearing on the topic of this thread.
So any arguments based on trying to paint me, personally, as a "hater" are
totally irrelevant. Please don't even bother.
2) I'm not a homosexual in denial about my own sexuality. But even if I were, none of that would have any bearing on the topic of this thread.
So any arguments based on trying to paint me, personally, as a closeted gay are totally irrelevant. Please don't even bother.
3) I'm not at all religious and I don't care what it says in the Bible, or the Bhagavad-Gita, or any other supposedly sacred text. But even if I
did, none of that would have any bearing on the topic of this thread.
So any arguments based on trying to paint me, personally, as a fanatic
fundie are totally irrelevant. Please don't even bother.
Now with tha out of the way, hopefully we can proceed logically and calmly to the next step. Unfortunately, we aren't done with the disclaimers yet.
Some of you have read the title of this thread and will be ready to leap into attack mode. Please read the following CAREFULLY before doing so.
I am not claiming that gays are unfit parents.
I am CERTAINLY not claiming that gays would be any more (or less) likely to abuse children than straights.
I am not claiming that growing up with 2 same-sex parents would be necessarily worse than growing up with a male and a female as parents
So again, let's avoid straw-men arguments along those lines, shall we?
So what are you claiming then?, the patient reader asks.
My point is this: To date, most if not all serious discussion of gay marriage has revolved around the rights of gay people. There has been very
little talk about how it might impact children. It may turn out that it would not impact them at all. But before we go tinkering with the fundamental
structure of the family, its a question that needs to be asked, and a debate that needs to be had. The glaring silence on this issue is the
proverbial "elephant in the room."
The traditional one-man-one woman family is the most ancient building-block of society. It is found all over the globe, albeit with some variation.
Sometimes it is in an extended family pattern, sometimes not. There are cases such as polygamy among the upper classes in some cultures, but by and
large these are exceptions rather than the rule.
What could possibly be a more vital social issue to debate than a possible change to the most foundational building block of society - the
And why aren't we having this debate more vigorously?
Like I said, it may turn out that same-sex marriage is a perfectly fine way to raise kids. But we need to INVESTIGATE and ask difficult questions
first, not just shove the question under the carpet. And this means acknowledging that the issue may be about more than the rights of individual -
especially where kids are involved.
Let me give you a somewhat-related example. In the 1960s and 70s, single motherhood, formerly a rare thing, became much more common. The debate at the
time was framed in terms of the rights of feminist women, rather than possible obligations to children. Then as now, the issue of the long-term
effects on children (and society by extension) was shoveled under the carpet. But after a time, it became clear that children were being deeply
impacted by this "lifestyle choice":
...as a social scientist, I can also say that the academic research paints a much more complicated picture of the impact of family structure on
children than does my life story...Hetherington, who like Roiphe embraces changing family structures, also was honest enough to admit that divorce
tends to double a child’s risk of a serious negative outcome. Specifically, she found that “twenty-five percent of youths from divorced families
in comparison to 10 percent from non-divorced families did have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems.” Other research suggests that
the children of never-married single parents tend to do somewhat worse than children of divorced single parents.
Take two contemporary social problems: teenage pregnancy and the incarceration of young males. Research by Sara McLanahan at Princeton University
suggests that boys are significantly more likely to end up in jail or prison by the time they turn 30 if they are raised by a single mother.
Specifically, McLanahan and a colleague found that boys raised in a single-parent household were more than twice as likely to be incarcerated,
compared with boys raised in an intact, married home, even after controlling for differences in parental income, education, race, and ethnicity.
Research on young men suggests they are less likely to engage in delinquent or illegal behavior when they have the affection, attention, and
monitoring of their own mother and father.
But daughters depend on dads as well. One study by Bruce Ellis of the University of Arizona found that about one-third of girls whose fathers left the
home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5 percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood.
This dramatic divide was narrowed a bit when Ellis controlled for parents’ socioeconomic background—but only by a few percentage points. The
research on this topic suggests that girls raised by single mothers are less likely to be supervised, more likely to engage in early sex, and to end
up pregnant compared with girls raised by their own married parents.
It’s true that poorer families are more likely to be headed by single mothers. But even factoring out class shows a clear difference. Research by
the Economic Mobility Project at Pew suggests that children from intact families are also more likely to rise up the income ladder if they were raised
in a low-income family, and less likely to fall into poverty if they were raised in a wealthy family. For instance, according to Pew’s analysis, 54
percent of today’s young adults who grew up in an intact two-parent home in the top-third of household income have remained in the top-third as
adults, compared with just 37 percent of today’s young adults who grew up in a wealthy (top-third) but divorced family....
More at Source (Slate)
(I have purposely chosen Slate, a left-leaning news source, for the above example, which was written by a woman brought up by a single mom. But
similar statistics can be found in many places).
Don't we owe it to the children to debate this social issue beyond the framework of "individual rights of gays?"