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Gay Marriage

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Gay Marriage: Beneficial for Children

According to the 2000 United States Census, there are approximately 594,391 homosexual couples living together in the U.S. Of those couples, 163,036, or around 27%, reported that they were raising children as a family. Their families were made up of biological, adopted, and foster children. The families are each very different in the way that they were built, but all of these families have one thing in common: they lack the protection of the children in the way that children of heterosexual unions are protected.

Over the years many stereotypes regarding gays and lesbians have been prevalent in the heated conversation regarding gay marriage. Besides the supposed "sanctity" of a traditional marriage, opponents have often used children as a way to denounce the legalization of gay marriage. Public policies regarding gays and lesbians have long been determined by politicians and judges who claim that homosexuals are mentally ill, promiscuous, and unable to provide the proper maternal or paternal necessities for children (Patterson, 2005). These beliefs still ring in the minds of many people from all walks of life even though the American Psychological Association no longer has homosexuality classified as a mental disorder, promiscuity is hard to evaluate in any single group of people, and children from gay families are increasing and are showing that they are not lacking in any sense.

Opponents of gay marriage state that the purpose of marriage is to reproduce and bring more children into this world. Opponents of gay marriage believe that because two men or two women together cannot produce a child, they should not be afforded the benefits of marriage. Some refer to biased research by conservative groups that report that a child needs both a mother and a father to be reared into healthy adulthood (Kolasinski, 2004). Because of the nature of the research, little attention has been paid to these groups by mainstream researchers.

Research into the topic of children of gay parents has gained some momentum in the last several years due to the issues of gay rights becoming far more mainstream. Many states have rewritten their state constitutions to condemn gay marriage and steps have been taken to try to rewrite the United States constitution to do the same. The research into the well-being of children raised by homosexual parents has played an important part in the gay rights movement, prompting even the most conservative states, many of which have banned gay marriage, to allow homosexuals rights when raising, adopting, or fostering children. There are many rights that remain to be given to homosexuals, but society is learning more and becoming less concerned with bigotry and stereotypes.

The research done by reputable organizations have lead to the same basic conclusion; there are no indications that children of gay parents are any less healthy, both mentally and emotionally, than the children of heterosexual parents. In her summation of recent research for the American Psychological Association, Charlotte Patterson concluded that, based on all the research to date, "there is no evidence to suggest that lesbian women or gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of lesbian women or gay men is compromised relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents. Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth." Because the children of gays and lesbians are as normal as any other child, there is no reason to assume that parenting by homosexuals should be outlaw. Gay parents are held accountable the same way heterosexual parents are by the government when it comes to the care of the children, why should they not reap the benefits that the government also provides the heterosexual couples?

To be certain, there are many legal benefits of marriage. Rights of survivorship, status as next of kin, inheritance rights, and pension and social security benefits are just a few of the over one thousand rights that are granted on the federal level to married couples (Bedrick, 1997). Many of these rights are being cited in the struggle of gays and lesbians who are fighting for the legalization of gay marriage. The question must be asked, in addition to the benefits of homosexuals and their spouses, what benefit would be provided for children if their gay parents were able to legally wed?

One surprising benefit of legalized marriage is legalized divorce. In the circumstance that a marriage does not work, divorce grants many rights to the offspring of that marriage. Children of married heterosexuals that divorce have rights to child support to maintain financial stability. In the case of a divorce, children are also granted rights of visitation with the non-custodial parent. Children of homosexuals are not given automatic rights to child support and the non-biological parent has no ties to the child further than what he or she would like. Even if the non-biological or custodial parent would want to provide for the child, there are no laws granting visitation rights to the parent (Palewski, et al, 2006).

Along those same lines, stability of a parental relationship is a benefit that would accompany legal marriage. Marriage is typically a union that is not entered into lightly and many people who are married fight divorce off because of their vows. Couples who have no legal binds to each other often find it easier to dissolve a relationship rather than putting effort into keeping it together.

In the event of a death of one parent, children are not protected. If the biological parent were to pass away, the non-biological parent would have little rights to custody of the child. If the biological parent stipulated that the non-biological parent were to have custody, the family of the biological parent could contest the will at their whim and, in many states, succeed. In the situation that a non-biological parent were to die, neither the surviving partner nor the child would have access to survivor benefits, such as social security or pensions, that would help maintain their financial security (Palewski, et al, 2006). Many partners with children of a deceased parent rely on social security and pensions to raise their children.

Another benefit to the children



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