Much of the purported concern of the pro-marriage amendment (defining marriage as between one man and one woman) community seems to revolve around the impact same-sex marriage will have on children. How will we explain two moms or two dads to our children? A marriage ought to be between the biological mom and the biological dad, they argue. Once there’s same-sex marriage, they’ll teach our kids about it in school. And so on. The closer to the election, the more emphasis on scare tactics.
But the facts and our experiences in everyday life belie these concerns. I know a half dozen neighbors, acquaintances and friends who are same-sex couples raising children. The children go to school and play on athletic teams with my children. From everything I observe about these families and their children, I am hard pressed to argue their parenting skills aren’t as good or better than the dozens of heterosexual couples I know. I can in no way say their love for their children is not as great. I can’t tell you that their children somehow are suffering or not developing or maturing.
That’s my anecdotal observation. But there is also strong medical and scientific research that says that children raised in same -sex households are not adversely affected.
Dr. Alan Goldbloom, president and CEO of the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, recently wrote on the Strib op-ed page that “more than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any adverse measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial and behavioral adjustment. It is on the basis of this quarter-century of research that the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced its opposition to the amendment.”
Those are pretty strong words from a well-respected medical professional. And they certainly back up what I have observed among my neighbors and friends.
I find the constant harping by the pro-amendment side about “biological” parents insulting. My wife and I and thousands of other Minnesota couples are parents to adopted children. Are we less than adequate because we aren’t the biological parents? Are gay parents who adopt children less than adequate for the same reason? I think not. In fact, people who adopt, whether gay or straight, are enriching their lives and the lives of their children, many of whom would have fewer opportunities in life had not these new families been created.
As for this fear about teaching about gay marriage in school, I would argue that we want our children to know about life, love and the variety of families who live in our community. I have news for those concerned about gay marriage: our kids are way ahead of us. It is not a big issue for them. They have friends and classmates who are gay. If this vote were taken five or 10 years from now, it wouldn’t be a close call.
I have been impressed by the stand many in the business community have taken on this issue, arguing that passage of the marriage amendment would send the wrong signal not only to potential employees from out of state who are gay, but to straight ones as well. When the state is concerned about the business climate, it makes no sense to present ourselves as narrow-minded and anti-freedom.
And some of the courageous testimonials in interviews and advertisements from parents whose children are gay and involved in committed relationships have been heart-warming.
At the end of a long, drawn-out campaign, it really comes down to a question of freedom. Should people who love each other and who are in a committed relationship be able to marry and raise a family? Should the government discriminate against same-sex couples who want to marry? Should the strongly held religious beliefs of some determine for the rest of the community who can marry and who can’t?
In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Loving case, outlawed the ban on interracial marriage that existed in a number of states including Virginia. That was hailed as a landmark ruling.
Minnesotans can make a similar statement on Nov. 6 by voting against the so-called marriage amendment and sending a signal to the rest of the country that here on the prairie freedom still matters.