And the government has also come to accept this phenomenon, although there are still debates whether gay marriage, or same-sex marriage, should be legalized and accepted. Gay marriage has been one of the critical issues still not resolved and still plagued lots of people today. There are debates and protests whether this should be legalized or accepted in the society. Many are strongly against gay marriage because of their various beliefs about marriage itself. On the other hand, many are also for gay marriage because they think that marriage is all about equality and freedom to choose and decide.
However, we must look at what gay marriage does to the children, because they are also adversely affected by this. This paper will show that gay marriage (the term will be used interchangeably with same-sex marriage in this paper), has a negative impact on children. In 1989, Denmark granted registered partnership to same-sex couples; Norway, in 1993; Sweden, in 1994; and Iceland, in 1996. Other countries in Europe, such as France, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Belgium also did the same (Lee Badgett 2). Meezan and Rauch reported that gay marriage (or same-sex marriage) is a reality in the United States and other parts of the world.
They added that for the advocates of same-sex marriage, it is a civil rights issue. For the opponents, it is a matter of morality. Both sides are correct, but most importantly, it is a family-policy issue which has not been regarded with the right amount of attention in the American scene (97). The most important question to be considered is: How will same-sex marriage affect the well-being of children? The statistics showed significant trends. In 2007, Craft reported that in 1976 alone, there were about 300,000 to 500,000 gay and lesbian parents. In Bahamas alone, the number of homosexuals is increasing.
Many of these, who keep their homosexuality secret, have positions in companies and in governments. The Rainbow Alliance of The Bahamas showed that gay individuals makes up five percent while bisexuals make up 29 percent of The Bahamas population (see Chart 1). Additionally, there are about eight to 10 million children living in gay and lesbian households. It is estimated that the number of gay and lesbian people who are interested to adopt children is nearly two million. The highest concentration of adopted children living with homosexual parents could be found in California.
These children tend to be younger. Gates, Lee Badgett, Chambers and Macomber estimated that there were about 65,000 adopted children living in a gay or lesbian household. Moreover, out of the estimated 3. 1 million gay and lesbian households in U. S. , 1. 6 percent includes an adopted child under the age of 18 (7) (see Table 1). In the Frequently Asked Questions article by The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) marriage is all about love, commitment, sharing and compromise. It should not be denied to couples just because of their sex; marriage is a personal choice.
However, many believed that the purpose of marriage is procreation; producing children is the natural end of marriage (Cline). Since gay marriage is unnatural (it cant produce children), Cline said that it would violate this very idea. It would undermine marriage because it is a moral institution for promoting and protecting procreation. Although this paper posits that gay marriage has positive impact on children, it is still important to look at both views about the same-sex marriage in order to make light of the things which are significant for the welfare of the children. Impact on Children
Why should the children be considered when it comes to same-sex marriage? Children are helpless, according to Kurts. They rely upon adults. They need the society to provide them with institutions that keep them safe from chaos. Additionally, they cannot articulate their needs and cannot even vote. But, they are society. They are the future of the world. These are just some of the reasons why childrens well-being must be supported and encouraged. Baskerville is right in saying that the impact of gay marriage on children wasnt paid much attention because the focus was on the debate over gay marriage.
It is important to recognize the needs of the children because they deserve to grow in an environment where they have two legally recognized parents (Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health). Their relationship with their parents, the Committee furthered, must be stable and recognized. This must apply to all, whether the parents are of the opposite or of same sex. For those who advocate gay marriage, they said that gay marriage will have positive impact on the children. In an article by Sara Miles, she argued that banning gay marriage will deny children justice since marriage is good for kids.
It is true that marriage is good for kids. Most of the literature about marriage would indicate that marriage brings positive outcomes for the children as it provides them with warm, close relationships with their parents. Advocates of gay marriage believe that these reasons must be taken into consideration and let someone marry whoever he wants to marry. Cline reported that those who oppose gay marriage will do anything to keep it from being legalized. However, there will come a time when gay marriage will be legal and recognized. In fact, there were actions taken in other countries to make this possible.
With the rise of the issue of gay marriage in America, other areas were also considered, such as adoption of children. Baskerville quoted what Democratic state Sen. Therese Murphy. She believed that almost half of all adopted children in Massachusetts live in households with homosexually-behaving adults. Baskerville added that allowing gay couples to have children, or to give them the right to adopt, is nearly the same as granting them the right to claim the children of a couple. The question here is whether the biological parents will agree to be separated from their children.
This is made easy by the governments initiative to give other peoples children to gay or lesbian couples. The government also has the power to take back the children from their biological parents even though the parents did not do something that would make the government take back the children. This is because the government now had the incentive and the means to take children from their parents with no due process. Baskerville reported that the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) gives financial incentives to the states to remove children from their original parents.
As a result, CAPTA became instrumental in tearing children away from their parents. Additionally, the federal funds went to the foster-care providers. Even now, there are still children removed from their families despite the fact that foster homes were more abusive than the childrens original families. This problem existed for a long time until the government thought of another program. The government provided another program to solve the problem created by CAPTA, which is the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act.
It provided more financial assistance to transfer children from foster care to adoption. This expanded the client base of stakeholders who had vested financial interest in available children. Gay marriage, it seemed, made this even worse. Baskerville reported that through having kids adopted by gay couples, the government officials can take advantage of the adoption. These government officials can very well benefit through the funds that are set for the Act. Rekers provided three reasons on why Arkansas has prohibited homosexually-behaving adults from being given license to be foster parents.
First: The inherent nature and structure of households with a homosexually-behaving adult uniquely endangers foster children by exposing them to a substantial level of harmful stresses that are over and above usual stress levels in heterosexual foster homes. (Rekers 2) This means that those children entering foster care usually have high incidence of psychological disorder. Rekers explained that if homosexual parents adopted those children, they (the children) are likely to be at risk of psychological harm and maladjustment.
This happens when the children are exposed in greater stress brought upon them by the mere presence of a homosexual in a foster home. Moreover, Rekers believed that the children are affected in such a way that they are at risk of depression or psychological disorders (2). Second, Rekers reasoned out the relationships between homosexually-behaving adults tend to be less stable and short-lived, unlike the relationship between a married man and woman. Therefore, this would not be appropriate for children because they will be easily influenced.
Furthermore, Rekers believed that suicidal attempt, substance abuse, psychological disorders and breakups happen most often with homosexual partners. Thus, they are incapable of providing a secure and stable home that foster children needed. And if children are to be adopted by these homosexually-behaving adults, it would mean that children will be removed and transfer to another home. Sometimes the transition is traumatic for these children. Third, the household structure of foster-parents consisting of one or more homosexually-behaving members denies children their needs for adjustment that can be found in heterosexual foster homes.
Rekers backed this third reason by explaining that unlike heterosexual households, a household with homosexually-behaving adults lack the concrete role of a mother and a father, which is necessary for the growth and development of children. Additionally, homosexual households lack the role of a mother and a father in raising children. Also, the children have no chance to witness a husband/wife relationship, which the society thinks is socially stable and healthier for the children.
Rekers said that the children who live with a married man and woman are better adjusted compared to those who live in households with homosexually-behaving adults. Children in foster care must be placed with heterosexual married couple because this will provide them with their needed benefits and leads to better child adjustment. A study presented by Jacobs in her article showed that nearly all 50 studies done on the children of gay and lesbian couples (between six and 14 million in the United States) showed no significant difference between children raised by heterosexual or homosexual couples.
However, those who oppose gay marriage argued that most of the studies done were small, there were methodological flaws, and mostly were politically biased. Jacobs reported a study which showed that theres no significant difference whether a child is raised by a gay or lesbian parents. In short, a child with gay or lesbian parents does not necessarily make him different from his peers. However, Jacobs presented some interesting findings from other researches regarding these differences. She mentioned that in 2001, Judith Stacey, a sociologist, and her colleague, Timothy Biblarz, found out that there are, in fact, some differences.
They said that although gay and lesbian parenting is not harmful for children, those who have gay parents differ in some ways from those who have heterosexual parents. For instance, a study headed by Susan Golombok concluded that having homosexual parents does not encourage their children to become homosexuals. However, the daughters of lesbians were more open to the idea of being attracted to the same gender than the daughters of heterosexual mothers. Another finding was that out of the 25 children of lesbians, six of them had had relationship with someone of the same gender.
The 21 children of heterosexual mothers did not have a relationship with the same gender. Kurts countered that gays have special case because the difficulties and challenges they experience are not from discrimination of marriage. The challenges and difficulties are due to the problem of sexual difference. He added that marriage is just a consolation for the challenges that are usual in situations faced by gays. Although gays are much tolerated in the United States, using marriage for the wrong purpose will not change the situations of gays.
Instead, it will be the end of marriage, and the protection it provides for the children who are helpless. Gay marriage will also have an effect on heterosexual marriage. Supporting gay marriage, according to Gallagher (qtd. in Darby), would mean that the courts will not fully support the views of those who advocate heterosexual marriage. Moreover, if heterosexual marriage is confirmed as a special institution that must be protected and upheld, the number of fatherless children will decrease.
Heterosexual marriage will prevent the incidences of children born outside marriage. Kotulski (qtd. in Darby) contradicted this by saying that there will still be fatherless children. There will be factors that would continue to break families, such as poverty and violence. Other Effects Pawelski et. al have noted some other effects of same-sex marriage to children. These effects, as noted, were experienced at different levels. In the psychosocial level, gay and lesbian individuals usually undergo peer rejection, harassment, depression or isolation. In fact, Pawelski et.
al reported that almost half (47%) of gay and lesbian teens have thought about committing suicide while 36% actually attempted. Oftentimes, these individuals experience rejection from their loved ones, maltreatment in schools, homelessness, and violence. As adults, they experience discrimination, marginalization and violence. Various debates over the issue of same-sex marriage intensified the unstable environment for the homosexuals in the society. Lack of support and acceptance for them and their children will have effects on their physical and psychosocial health and safety.
The children of gay or lesbian couples may, in the same way, experience marginalization and discrimination by those who do not approve of gay or lesbian parenting. More often, these children do not know how or where to find support. Even alliances in schools that admit straight gays can make the situation worse. Pawelski et. al reported that children are brought into long-term partnerships with gay and lesbian parents through surrogacy, adoption and alternative insemination. Their study also delved into the attitudes and behavior, personality and adjustment of parents when it comes to parenting.
The authors found out that there were only few differences recorded regarding the comparison between lesbian and heterosexual mothers psychological adjustment, self-esteem and attitudes about child rearing. Lesbian mothers, the study showed, passed the psychological assessments and interviews. Furthermore, the study showed that the attitudes of lesbian mothers did not differ much from those of heterosexual mothers. In the same way, gay fathers did not differ much from nongay fathers. In fact, there are more similarities than differences.
However, there is concern over the effect of the parents sexual orientation on the children because this might lead to embarrassment and thus keep the children from interacting with their peers. It was found out that the children of divorced lesbian mothers experienced more teasing from peers during childhood than the children of divorced heterosexual mothers. It is of interest that Pawelski et. al mentioned that the children who grew up with gay or lesbian parents were more tolerant of diversity and more nurturing than those children with heterosexual parents.
Pawelski et. al mentioned another study which showed that children of heterosexual parents considered themselves more aggressive. Their parents and teachers regarded them as more domineering, bossy and negative. On the other hand, the children of lesbian parents considered themselves as more lovable. Their parents and teachers regarded them as more responsive, affectionate and protective of other younger children. Another study showed that the self-esteem, aggressiveness and sociability of children with lesbian parents and those with heterosexual parents have similarities.
There were also studies conducted which showed that children of lesbian parents who were satisfied with their relationships have fewer behavioral problems and were better adjusted. There was also a study by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health wherein the population consisted of 12105 adolescents in the United States. The authors found out that 44 adolescents, ranging from 12 to 18 years old, who were living with two women, were similar to others who have heterosexual parents when it comes to measures of anxiety, depression, self-esteem and school success.
There were also similarities regarding family relationships, care from others, neighborhood integration, regardless of whether the children come from opposite-gender or same-gender families (Pawelski et. al). Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts back in 2004, researches today showed that it may have positive impact in strengthening the ties between couples, their children and extended families. It is interesting to note, however, that a large number of young people in America seemed to support gay and lesbian issues.
Olander, Kirby and Schmitt mentioned a survey done by the Council for Excellence in Government (CEG) and CIRCLE which asked young people from 15 to 25 years old their perspective about the rights of homosexuals. The survey found out that youths supported gay and lesbian issues such as protection in housing, employment and hate crime, legal partnerships or civic unions and the ability to adopt children (2). There are others who view gay marriage on a positive note. Carpenter believed that gay marriage helps children.
He said that gay parenting nowadays is very common in the United States, and that there are children in every gay and lesbian household. He did not seem to agree that children are better raised by a married man and woman. He furthered that gay marriage will not take away children from their biological parents. Although there is no reported shortage of children, the number of married couples is not enough to raise these children. And this is the reason why singles and unmarried couples are allowed sub-optimal parenting.
Carpenter thought that this arrangement is better than foster care where the effects on children are unfavorable. Brinkmann countered Carpenters views. She believed that if a child is exposed to both sexes in a household, it will have positive effects on his developmental needs. She explained that this aids them in forming their sexual identity. Since the breakdown of marriage in the country had negative effects especially on children, it must be considered that a heterosexual marriage will provide the children stability with regards to family relationships.
Brinkmann furthered that without heterosexual marriage, the society will disintegrate. Times have changed and more changes will manifest in the future. Amidst these changes, the welfare of children who are affected by gay marriage must be the utmost consideration. This means that supporting heterosexual marriage will be beneficial for these children. The government and families must make sure that every step of the way, these children will be encouraged and supported. Their needs must be met in order for them to grow as responsible citizens in our society.