Gay Marriage Helps Families

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bans same-sex marriage. It would also give married gay couples the same federal benefits as straight couples.

We’ll likely hear the usual response from the DOMA crowd: Gay marriage hurts families.

Actually, gay marriage helps them.

Without marriage, children of gays and lesbians are not protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives parents precious job-protected time to care for a new child. These kids aren’t guaranteed child support should their parents separate, either. They may miss out on social security or inheritance if a parent dies. They may not even be allowed to visit a sick mom or dad in the hospital. Shouldn’t children of gay and lesbian couples be protected, too?

Some worry that kids with gay parents will be mocked. But don’t most kids undergo teasing? Kids are laughed at for all sorts of reasons: glasses, religion, height, weight, a crooked nose, poverty, an unusual name. I know of one African American boy who has two lesbian moms. But the first time he was taunted it was for being black, not for having lesbian parents.

A few years back a gay couple who were fostering special needs children wanted to adopt to create a real family. At the time, Florida forbade gay adoption. When the children were asked if they feared being mocked for having two dads, they said no, they just wanted to be a family.

But what about the kids’ social, emotional and intellectual health? Studies show that these children are indistinguishable from others. Some will be surprised to learn that there is no difference even in gender identity, gender role behavior, or sexual orientation.

Others worry that gay marriage will lead to higher rates of divorce. Really? I know several people who have gotten divorced because one spouse was gay, the other straight. The partnerships were unstable and the eventual breakups weren’t good for families. There are many reasons this can happen, but stigma and the illegality of gay marriage certainly factor in.

Meanwhile, gay suicide rates are four times those of their hetero peers. As gay marriage – and gayness itself – become less stigmatized, these young people will be less inclined to take their own lives. And parents will be less likely to lose their daughters and sons to these tragic deaths. And that’s good for families, too.

Gay marriage hurts families? I can’t figure out how. Unless it’s patriarchal families that are the concern. Lesbian and gay marriages both upset the dominant-husband, subordinate-wife model. So gay marriage may indeed hurt patriarchal families that promote gender inequality. I’d say that’s a good thing.

Georgia Platts

This article originally appeared in the Ms. Magazine Blog March 18, 2011

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Gays and Women with Boyfriends Shouldn’t Teach (It Limits Freedom!): The Gospel of Jim DeMint

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on March 21, 2011, in feminism, gender, LGBTQ, relationships, sexism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I agree–the only thing gay marriage hurts are the deeply entrenched patriarchal views. And this fight is nothing new–need I mention Anita Bryant?

  2. Emma Betancourt

    I loved this lecture and reading as well. Gay families don’t hurt anybody except those of “manly men” and “wives”. People are teased on a daily basis, nothing will stop it. Just because you banned something doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone. They need rights, they are humans. Love is love.

  3. The blog has brought me a new perspective in viewing gay marriage and homosexuality. Personally, I support homosexuality because of the environment I grew up in and the education that I received. I always believe they have the right, just like everyone else, to get married, to get their love recognized and acknowledged as they are the same as everyone else as a human. But the blog has touched on more practical issues that I have never thought about before, like having children and divorce. I would say gay or lesbian couples put more efforts in taking care of their children than many normal parents. They may have worries that they may not be able to provide their children enough of what they need, for instance, lacking a feminine or masculine figure. But such worries will motivate these parents to do even more, so as to compensate the lacking elements in the children’s lives, by devoting more time, attention and love to them.

    Also, the author made a good point by linking gay marriage to breaking gender inequality in traditional families. There is a possibility that people are against gay marriage and homosexuality just because they are reluctant to accept the existence of new gender roles. I also agree with the author that teenagers will become happier if homosexuality is less stigmatized in society. Gay and lesbian teenagers will feel less oppressed and are less likely to think themselves as immoral and abnormal beings. Other teenagers can struggle less on determining whether they have freedom to choose or to exercise their sexual orientation.

  4. Overall I wouldn’t think that gay parents wouldn’t be anymore benifiticial then straight parents and vise versa. I see that in gay families, there is usually a parent that seems to take the role of a mother and a parent that seems to take the role of the father. I definitely agree with the part that discusses that kids tend to get picked on more because of race and religion, then because their parents are gay because kids seem to get picked on because there is something up with the kid, but kids usually don’t get picked on because of their parents.

  5. It makes me sick that this is still even an issue. Neither of my parents are homosexual, but I’ve been raised to see homosexuality as something that is normal and accepted. I never thought anything of it until I heard kids at school throwing the words “lesbian” and “gay” around negatively. This has always offended me. I believe homosexuals are born the way they are, and I agree with the theories that it may be genetic. How can you train someone to be attracted to “the right sex”? It isn’t the fifties anymore, being gay is not a “disease”. A family I’m close to has been tense and unhappy ever since I’ve known them, which is close to twelve years. The mother and father always fight, brutal verbal fights. It turns out that they have been hiding the fact that the dad is homosexual and has affairs with men. I always knew they were unhappy, and that it was getting worse and worse, but when I found out that he was gay, everything made sense. Apparently before they were married he told her that he needed men for pleasure, but he would change. If someone who has homosexual feelings tries to change and hide their feelings they will only cause themselves and the others who they hid behind pain. These lies and secrets destroy families and have negative effects on any children involved.

    On the other hand, my aunt is homosexual and has a wonderful partner and daughter. She was married to a man before, but that ended in divorce. You can’t deny or change these feelings. My little cousin is wonderful. She’s so smart and athletic, and an all around happy fifth grade girl. She has two supportive loving moms and three big brothers who have a lot of love for her. She’s not missing out on anything by not having a father.

  6. Homosexuality is not a sin. People should try to accept it, not just pretending that they do not discriminate against homosexuals. Accepting or even supporting gay marriage is a way to show their understanding and open-mindedness. Gay marriage does no harm to people; it may only affect the patriarchic society. Why, then, should we try to oppress the homosexuals’ rights to get married only because they may influence on change in the social system? Changes are not always bad; often, it turns a new page on history. For example, African Americans were treated unequally in the past. They ought to fight for their rights, but there were others who did not support those activists because a rising position of the African Americans may take away their slaves at home, etc. If the patriarchic society we are having now is not open enough to accept different people, maybe it’s time for changes to take place. Homosexuals are only people of different sexual orientation. Still, we could not identify why exactly they did not become heterosexuals, but it is clear that they belong to our society and should never be excluded from their natural rights.

  7. It’s very interesting topic because this article shows me a source; these children are indistinguishable from others.

    I can’t say anything about Gay marriage but I know it is very complicated problem
    because it is not problem about logic, but problem about feeling. Admitting Gay marriage may dramatically change social schema about “Marriage.”

    • I’d say there’s a mix of logic and feeling. Core values will drive your perspective.

      The values of those who are for gay rights include respecting the worth and dignity of each individual and weighing where the greatest harm is caused.

      We believe gay, lesbian, bi, trans have as much human dignity and worth as everyone else. Thus, there is no need to change them or limit their rights.

      Where is the greatest harm? I don’t see trans or same-sex sex as causing any harm at all. But I do see a lot of harm occuring in gay-bashing and working to diminish the humanity of those who are a part of the LGBT community.

  8. Although it seems far from present reality, I hope that one day we look back at our laws about gay marriage as we now look at the laws that once prohibited interracial marriage. It has been a long time since the U.S. government has acted to restrict the civil rights of its citizens. This country was founded on the idea that man should be free to live however he or she chooses. It seems, we are recently taking steps backwards instead o forwards. Love is love, no matter how you look at it and it should never be restricted simply because some people practice it differently. It seems strange that (hopefully) the majority of Americans do not support the skin head movement yet, it is still allowed. However, when a smaller portion of the population does not support same-sex marriage, we force our beliefs on them, essentially preventing them from basic civil rights.

    On the subject of gay adoption, how could a child bouncing from foster home to foster home ever be more beneficial than having a real family? Before we judge the gay community and expect them to end in divorce, we should look at ourselves. Marriage does not seem to be the “holy union” it once was as a large portion of traditional marriages end in divorce. I don’t think it is right to hold a higher standard for the gay community simply because they are different.

    As humans, we will always find a reason to pick on others. Weather it be your race, parent’s sexual preference, or simply the sweater you chose to wear. I ask, has anyone managed to make it through childhood without getting teased? It is a natural part of life that although can be painful, can also help to establish a sense of humility. As many reasons as we can scrape the floor to find against gay marriage and families, they will never be worthy of preventing human beings from being happy.

  9. Gay marriage has been an issue for as long as I can remember. I have never understood the reasons for why people would want to take someone’s right to marry the one they love. Marriage is a sacred bond between two people, whether gay or straight, white or interracial. Love is love and no one has the right to turn a couple away. The marriage of a homosexual couple does absolutely NO HARM to anyone. If people can divorce, re-marry, have many wives, why can’t a gay couple marry? Gay couples are human and deserve every single right that straights do. I also do not like the fact that the main reason that people do not want gays to marry is because it is against religion. Religion shouldnt have anything to do with the laws we make in our society. Everyone has a different belief system. Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

  10. Gay marriage rights have always been an issue in our world, and I don’t see a problem with it. I was raised by two moms and they were the best influence on me, I don’t see how someone could disapprove on letting gay couples raise children. They are just as caring and capable of raising kids as any other family and provide a lot of love for their children. I wasn’t teased any more about my mom being a lesbian than of my glasses, they was teasing about different things and that’s normal. I ignored all the remarks about being raised by two moms and stood up for them, because they are still human beings and deserve to be treated the same. Seeing so many people not being able to adopt children because of laws was heart-breaking and I can personally attest that gay parents are great to their children.

  11. Homosexuality is not a sin. People should try to accept it, not just pretending that they do not discriminate against homosexuals. Accepting or even supporting gay marriage is a way to show their understanding and open-mindedness.

  12. Victor Aguirre

    I feel like gays are like the vampires in the HBO show “True Blood”. They are out in the public and being brought to the main stream and now they must undergo a series of debate for acceptance. Gay’s are people too! They are no more or less fallible then the next human being. If anything they will simply increase our nation’s assets in terms of potential leaders that god knows this country needs. That leadership, of course, should start in a home and so naturally Gays should have the same rights as other married couples. I mean it’s only fair.

  13. I’m from a country where gay marriage is legal so I can’t understand what the fuss is all about, it’s just two adults wanting to spend their life with each other! I also think it’s great that it is being discussed how children would benefit from gay marriages being legal. I think few people think of what rights are being taken from kids when they deny their parents legal right of marriage.
    It should be about two adults right to marry and raise a family, but now it’s about how do people around you feel about your partner which is ridicules! Why should people around me have a say in whom I chose to marry! No one would like to live their life like that and yet people are more than happy to judge others! I had not thought about the rights that these kids would miss out on, and I think that this is a point that should be used when arguing for gay rights which should be human rights.

  14. I found this post to be very informative and insightful. While some people may argue that families with gay parents are harmful to their children, there is no substantial evidence to prove that. I found the information about the African American boy who has two lesbian parents very interesting. The fact that he was teased for being black before he might have been teased about having two moms was powerful information. It is irrelevant to argue that the sexual orientation of a couple will be detrimental to their child’s life. Along with this, I found it interesting that when foster children were asked whether or not they cared if they were adopted by a gay couple, they responded by saying, “they just wanted to be a family.” The government should not restrict people from loving one another; they should focus on how we can stop people from hating one another!

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