Same-Sex Parenting Issues
Homosexuals are more accepted in today’s society than previously, both socially and legally. America still needs to make more improvement on same-sex parenting rights. Social acceptance has brought along legal acceptance of same-sex couples, including marriage and adoption. Many same-sex couples want to be parents just like any other couple who would want to have a child. Same-sex parenting, marriage, and adoption is constantly frowned upon by the public. Gay and Lesbian parents are treated unfairly compared to straight parents in situations such as marriage, custody cases, adoption, and accusations that same-sex couples negatively affect their children.
As same-sex marriage has become more socially acceptable, it has become more legally acceptable. Same-sex marriage was completely banned less than twenty years ago in the United States. In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage (A Brief History of Civil Rights in The United States). Since then, more states began to join the party in making same-sex marriage legal. After a long battle in court for twelve years, same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states as a result of the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case (Rosky PRG 2). The Supreme Court of the United States declares that, “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State” (PG 1). Legalizing gay marriage was huge success for LGBTQ members and it supported other issues for gays and lesbians such as court cases and adoption. The fight for LGBTQ rights did not stop with the legalization of same-sex marriage. Lesbian and gay partners want children too, but the public is full of concern and judgement towards these couples.
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Same-sex parents once heavily struggled to keep custody of their children in court cases, but it has gotten easier over the years. Judges often took custody of children away from lesbian or gay parents due to the suggestion that a parent’s sexuality could harm their children by causing them to become socially rejected (Rivers PRG 17). In 1967, Ellen Nadler was denied custody to her 5-year-old daughter exclusively due to her lesbianism (Rivers PRG 1). Custody cases today are less severe compared to those so long ago, but they still represent some prejudice against LGBTQ members. Nancy Polikoff writes, “In 2012… a lesbian mother was successful in overturning a custody award to the heterosexual father, but her ability to live with her partner remained an issue… In that case, the trial judge gave custody of three children to their father rather than continue a joint custody order with their lesbian mother” (PRG 18). Custody rights for gay and lesbian parents has expanded greatly for those in same-sex relationships. Adoption is now an option for same-sex parents, but it has its limitations.
Same-sex parents cannot reproduce a child belonging to both parents, but they can adopt children instead. The adoption process for most families is not easy and unfortunately it has been made even more complicated for parents of the same sex. It’s hard to fight for LGBTQ adoption rights and support religious rights at the same time. Daniella Diaz states that, “The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment on Wednesday that… would allow adoption agencies to refuse gay couples based on their moral or religious beliefs” (PRG 1). Mark Pocan, a gay congressman tweeted “Same-sex couples are six times more likely to foster and four times more likely to adopt. Denying kids loving parents is wrong” (Diaz PRG 8). In some adoption cases, the children are old enough to speak for themselves. In 2017 Hudson Garner, a 15-year-old boy in Mississippi, fell in love with the idea of his second mother legally adopting him (Garner PRG 4/5). His family and others gave very valid reasons in court to support the second-parent adoption, but the Governor’s lawyers fought back resulting in denial of the case (Garner PRG 7). There was no valid reason to deny this case, especially with the fact the child wanted the adoption. This was another pointless case that proved how prejudice the court can be. Adoption cases are usually denied due to the “well-being” of the child; However, studies find that homosexual parents don’t have any different effect on their children than straight parents do.
Same-sex parents are often accused of negatively affecting their children’s lives, but research shows that many of those accusations are false. There are many claims that accuse homosexual parents of influencing their children to become homosexual. Jacob Parker states that “Recent concerns regarding the development of gender identity have wrongly attributed homosexuality to early childhood exposure with a homosexual model” (PG 161). A research was also conducted by placing children in rooms with toys of traditional standards (Parker PG 162). Results showed that children with same-gender parents were less differentiated in play-behavior than children with heterosexual parents due to approaches to parenting, not the parent’s sexuality (Parker PG 162). Most children that have homosexual parents, are biological to one of the parents. This usually results from a previous divorce of the child’s biological parents. Christa Miller claims that “Determining the direct effects of gay parenting is complicated because many children of gay parents are also affected by the separation of their biological parents” (PRG 2). These studies all prove that homosexual parents are no different than heterosexual parents. Children’s behavior depends on how they were raised, not who they were raised by. Same-sex parents are just as fit to be parents as heterosexual parents.
Same-sex parents have made outstanding improvement in social and legal acceptance. There are still many prejudices that cause these parents to have problems, but same-sex parents continue to fight for their rights. Problems with homosexual marriages, custody cases, adoption, and negative rumors continue to persist, but they have evolved to become much better and easier than in previous years. Gay and lesbian marriage is now completely legal in the United States, gays and lesbians have a better standing in court cases, same-sex parents can legally adopt children, and research has proven same-sex parents to be just as fit as heterosexual parents.
- “A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States.” Georgetown Law Library. Georgetown Law. January 24, 2019. Georgetown, http://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/c.php?g=592919&p=4182201.
- Diaz, Daniella. “Adoption Agencies Could Refuse Same-Sex Couples Under Measure OK’d by House Panel.” Cable News Network. CNN Politics. July 12, 2018. CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/12/politics/house-appropriations-committee-gay-couple-adoption-amendment/index.html.
- Garner, Hudson. “My Day in Court.” Huffpost. December 6, 2017. Huffpost, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/my-day-in-court_b_8854120.
- Miller, Christa. “Gay Parents Effects on Children.” Livestrong. Livestrong, https://www.livestrong.com/article/156339-gay-parents-effects-on-children/.
- Polikoff, Nancy D. “Custody Rights of Lesbian and Gay Parents Redux: The Irrelevance of Constitutional Principles.” UCLA Law Review. 2013. UCLA Law Review, https://www.uclalawreview.org/custody-rights-of-lesbian-and-gay-parents-redux-the-irrelevance-of-constitutional-principles/.
- Rivers, Daniel. “‘In the Best Interests of the Child’: Lesbian and Gay Parenting Custody Cases, 1967-1985.” Journal of Social History, vol. 43, no. 4, 2010, p. 917. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.40802011&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Rosky, Clifford. “Same-Sex Marriage Litigation and Children’s Right to Be Queer.” Project Muse. Volume 22. No. 4. Duke University Press. 2016. P. 541. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edspmu&AN=edspmu.S1527937516400029&site=eds-live&scope=site.
- Supreme Court of the United States. “OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL.” Supreme Court of the United States. No. 14-556. Supreme Court. Decided June 26, 2015. Supremecourt, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf.