Parents and Children

On Sunday I posted this link and comment on Facebook:

Major New Study Finds Kids Raised by Same-Sex Couples Are ‘Healthier and Happier’

Contrary to the right-wing funded studies in the US, such as the debunked Regnerus study, that have financing and prejudice to conclude otherwise.

Of course, all scientific studies are provisional until confirmed by follow-ups, but I find this conclusion plausible, for this reason: gay couples who have children go to considerable effort (and sometimes expense) to do so. They do not take their children for granted. They do not get pregnant by accident. There is certainly a proportion of straight couples who cannot say the same. And that contrast is likely the difference in these results.

Today, Monday, there have been numerous other online articles covering this study, including this one on Slate by Mark Joseph Stern, who identifies another factor that might explain the results: that gay parents are not as constrained as straight parents are by rigid gender roles.

These reactionaries don’t care how much your silly peer-reviewed “studies” contradict their anti-gay views, since “the factors that really matter” are their own breathtakingly antiquated (and totally unscientific) views of gender stereotypes.

And Stern goes on to expose an irony: that children of gay parents are not disadvantaged by their parents; they are harmed when their interaction with the outside world exposes them to the animus of conservatives, who debase their families.

Gay parents don’t disadvantage their children—but conservatives’ smear campaigns against gay parents do. This insidious harming of children at the hands of conservatives is pretty easy to understand. Anti-gay activists debase gay families as a whole by opposing equal rights for same-sex couples, singling them out for disfavored treatment and thus marking them as inferior or defective. Children begin to wonder why their parents are subject to such opprobrium and legal impediments, and translate legal inequality into moral deficiency. Their status as children of gay parents hangs like an albatross around their necks, impairing healthy development and fostering grief, anger, and depression.

Note the Top Comment block, which echoes my first reaction: that gay couples value their kids because they (virtually) never have them by accident….

If conservatives were really concerned about *the children* — as so many arguments against same-sex marriage focus on — then they should lighten up and accept the reality that gay people do have children, have always had children — despite laws forbidding the legal recognition of their own relationships — and are as capable of raising their children as anyone.

My own contribution to this controversy is this: It’s not about whether the parents are of the same sex or not. It’s about there being two of them. An infant or child learns about the world through the interaction with those around them. Does an infant, toddler, or child, know or care about gender? The range of personality types among males and females is so broad that they overlap substantially; it’s magical thinking that a child must be exposed to some one iconic ‘male’ and another iconic ‘female’, in order to properly develop. (Added 8jul14: And as for sex itself– the last thing a child wants to think about is their parents having sex. This has always been true, about traditionally straight parents. Kids want to discover this for themselves. In this context, it doesn’t matter whether their parents are straight or gay — kids don’t dwell on how their parents have sex, no way, no matter.)

Two parents are better than one, because that exposes the child to multiple dimensions of human interaction. And for that matter, exposure to *more* adults in early childhood is even better, I would think. (Though it’s the two who have authority over the child who matter the most.)

A final irony, on a related subject but which I don’t think I’ve had a chance to mention on this blog.

Being gay may not be strictly genetic, but there is plenty of evidence that there is a genetic component. (There is much fascinating research about why this must be so.)

Throughout much of history (at least American history), gay relationships have not been recognized, and have even been criminalized.

This has obliged many gay people to conform to societal standards and marry people the opposite sex. And have children. (I have an uncle who did exactly this.)

This propagates their genes. To the extent that homosexuality is genetically based, this introduces into the next generation a propensity to be gay.

If conservatives who disapprove of gays, in their rigid biologically-compelled view of the world in which propagation of the species, rather than individual human happiness, is the ultimate goal, want to make gays go away — then they should *approve* of gay marriage. To the extent that that reduces the number of straight marriages that result in children (that pass on the genetic potential toward homosexuality), gay marriage would reduce the incidence of homosexuality in each generation.

It’s the disapproval of gay relationships, and the social obligation toward heterosexual relationships, that has promulgated the gay gene, such as it is.

I’ve had this thought for some years, and never seen it expressed anywhere. Ironically, these days, in our advanced technological civilization, this argument is being undercut by advanced fertilization technology. Because it seems — and I have commented about this before — that being gay is entirely independent of the desire to have children. And now that these fertilization and surrogacy technologies are available, more and more of the gays are having children, one way or another. So there.

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