Dr. Benjamin Siegel, co-author of the AAP policy statement, “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,” says marriage, regardless of whether it is heterosexual or homosexual, benefits children’s well-being.
“Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage,” said Siegel, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. “The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”
According to the technical report that accompanies the policy statement, widespread data from more than 30 years of research indicates that children’s well-being is mainly affected by the child’s relationship with the parents and the overall family dynamic. Sexual orientation does not correlate with the competency of the parents. Children need secure and enduring relationships in order to develop optimally, and therefore, legalizing same-sex marriage is in the best interest of the two million children currently being raised by gay and lesbian parents.
Presently, same-sex marriage is legal in only nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia. Next week, the Supreme Court will consider two same-sex marriage cases: one involves the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that defines marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman, and the other involves a California law banning gay marriage.
In the past, same-sex marriage opponents have argued that children need representatives of both genders in the family in order to develop a balanced well-being.
Dale O'Leary, author of One Man, One Woman: A Catholics Guide to Defending Marriage, argues that all children have a natural desire for a parent of each gender and that children of same-sex couples are forced to repress this desire. As a result, these children are more likely to end up “confused and hurt” since same-sex parents will not respond to the children’s needs, believing that they are the main culprits behind their children’s misery.
In a 2010 opinion piece, Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, argued that an eight-year study of girls and their families showed that a father’s strong and continuous presence in the home results in daughters reaching puberty at a later age. Jackson did not provide any specifics on the study, but such pieces coalesce with popular but unproven myths such as “gay parents produce gay kids” to fuel mass and falsely-based opposition against same-sex marriage.
The ultimate goal of the AAP, however, is to foster the development of physically, mentally, and socially capable children. According to Dr. Ellen Perrin, co-author of the policy statement and a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine specializing in the developmental behavior of children, “If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so.”