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December 15, 2004

Simple Facts of Homosexual Parents

As guilty of it as I may unknowingly be from time to time, I'm often amazed at the confidence that people can muster when making proclamations about matters for which both cursory and thorough investigations belie confidence. Here's Dan Kachur of Providence:

In response to Stephen Moccio's Nov. 30 letter ("Homosexual parents are confusing children"), I would simply like to point out that children of homosexual couples are no more likely to be homosexuals than children of heterosexuals, according to several studies. The same studies have shown that the only difference between children of homosexual parents and their peers is that they tend to be more open-minded.

As has come up in similar context before, there's an ambiguity in Mr. Kachur's statement about whether he means to reference studies having to do with children whom homosexuals beget or children whom homosexuals raise. It seems clear that he means the latter, but it's an important question to ask, because his assertion is therefore probably not just debatable, but incorrect.

To my experience, Kachur's assertion is more often phrased as follows: "being raised by gay or lesbian parents does not make a child substantially different from his or her peers." As I pointed out in response to that specific quotation, the speaker apparently brings an anti-judgmentalist view to the assessment of "substantial difference." Even gay activists will admit that studies suggest that children raised by homosexuals evince "a greater fluidity in their sexual expression and may in fact be more likely to identity as lesbian or gay." If one takes as an assumption that differences in orientation aren't "substantial," then the equivocal description of existing research is a handy way to allow those who disagree to misinterpret the findings.

This is — and I'll venture an "of course," here — of course the objective of the language used when discussing such things. "Kids of homosexuals" becomes "kids raised by homosexuals." A finding of "no substantial difference" transforms into "no more likely to be gay." Just about any difference, after all, can be rephrased as merely being "more open-minded."

I might have given Dan Kachur the benefit of the doubt that he was merely falling prey to the clever manipulation of language so mastered by gay activists and the larger radical movement. But then he closed his letter thus:

Massachusetts currently has the lowest divorce rate in the country, so the homosexual community's fight for equality has apparently done no damage.

The charitable option, upon reading the full letter, is that Kachur is clever enough to be deceptive. Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts came without broad debate, without a count-forcing "fight." It swept into public awareness about a year ago, and there are not yet divorce numbers capable of illustrating any effect that it might have had, let alone any effect that the post-battle reality might have. (And that's overlooking the huge logical leap from divorce rates to "no damage.")

Posted by Justin Katz at December 15, 2004 7:54 PM
Marriage & Family

As I've noted on, these studies showing "no significant difference" apparently also show no sigificant effects from the social stigmatization that the children raised by gay couples endure. Even though one of the arguments used by supporters of SSM is that it's necessary because it will bring an end to this stigmatization which is causing such psychological harm to these children. Why doesn't this harm show up in these studies as a "significant difference"?

It is not credible that the authors of these studies can have fully separated the effects of social stigmatization from the effects of same-sex parenting itself. Therefore, unless we want to argue that there is no stigmatization (which I would find hard to believe), or that it causes no psychological harm (which I also doubt), then we're left with only one conclusion: that the studies are not reliable and perhaps preordained to produce a finding of "no significant difference".

Posted by: R.K. Becker at December 16, 2004 10:42 PM

Every time I read a polemic like this, it always reads to me as
"your son would have been better off staying in foster care until he was eighteen, rather than having been adopted by you and your husband."

Either you agree with that statement (and you appear to), or you don't. I don't. And the choice was just that stark - a biracial boy, age five, in foster care three years.

As far as 'just about any difference, after all, can be rephrased as merely being 'more open-minded.'' - not all differences can be so rephrased.

Posted by: Robert Walker-Smith at December 20, 2004 4:35 PM


I have no idea how you've divined anything of my view vis-a-vis foster parents from this post. Being raised by homosexual parents can be proven less than ideal without its being the absolute worst possibility.

I'd suggest to you that the reason such "polemics" always read as if they are elaborate rephrasings of the same assertion about your personal life is that you are reading that assertion into them.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 20, 2004 6:02 PM

Justin -
in order for your comment to be an appropriate response to my admittedly strident post, you (the actual Justin Katz) would have to be willing to concede that, in some circumstances, it is acceptable and appropriate for a child to be adopted and raised by a same-sex couple (whether legally married or not).

I have seen nothing in your many posts on the subject that would lead me to believe or assume that you (the actual Justin Katz) would be willing to so concede. In light of that, my conclusion is that you believe that my son would have been better off in foster care, rather than being adopted.

If this is not, in fact, the case, please correct me.

Posted by: Robert Walker-Smith at December 20, 2004 6:59 PM

Ah, Robert, who is the actual Justin Katz? It's one of those existential questions that only actors and bad comedians dare to ask (out loud).

I've said before (somewhere in the caverns of this blog) that I don't take a hard line on homosexuals' adopting children. I do believe that preference ought to be given to opposite-sex married couples, but I also believe that stability (through adoption) is important. I've known a number of bad heterosexual parents, and some good homosexual ones.

Of course, it's a tough discussion to have in the current atmosphere, because disputants are apt to tumble over each other when the marriage aspect is thrown in.

Posted by: Justin Katz at December 20, 2004 8:23 PM

I've known some wonderful people that were foster parents that gave every foster child their utmost in loving attention. I think you do them a disservice Robert Walker-Smith to suggest through generalization that foster care would have been the absolute worst possibility.

How about this then... If you truly wanted to give the child the best situation, you would have instead adopted him into a family with parents in a heterosexual relationship. One mother and one father is the ideal. It always has been and always will be the ideal. The attempt to prove that homosexual parents provide as good as the ideal setting is misguided at best, and that doesn't even venture into the realm of moral consideration.

Posted by: smmtheory at December 20, 2004 10:59 PM

to clarify, my parenthetical emphases were intended to convey that I was referring to 'you' (the actual you) rather than 'you' (the indefinite article).
As for the hard line, in my experience with our county's Department of Social Service, opposite-sex married couples are, in fact, given preference. So, at least in my area, that concern has already been addressed.

As for Smmtheory's comment - my husband and I had to qualify as foster care parents before we could be considered as adoptive parents, so I know how important foster care is. Our son's previous foster mother did a wonderful job of raising him from the age of two, and we've made sure he's kept in touch with his 'grandma'. For her own valid reasons, she was unable to adopt him; hence, my point that the apparent alternative to our adopting him was that he remain in foster care.

As for your suggestion that we could have 'adopted him into a family with parents in a heterosexual relationship'. How, exactly? No such parents had appeared during his first three years in foster care. There are many agencies and non-profit groups working tirelessly to match adoptable children with such parents. Most such parents have specific ideas of what type of child they want, and five-year-old biracial boys do not often make their lists.

I'm not seeking to prove that we provide as good a family environment as 'the ideal'; we're trying to provide the best family environment we can, including a detail that seems important to our son - the fact that he _is our son_ and we will be there for him always.

Posted by: Robert Walker-Smith at December 21, 2004 12:15 PM

The how Robert, would have been to repent of the homosexual lifestyle before adopting him. You cannot say with any certainty that he would never have been adopted by a heterosexual couple if you hadn't adopted him first. I'm not advocating a change now since it is a done deal. All I am saying is that I think if you had really, really wanted the best for him, you would have given him the ideal situation.

My comment that "the attempt to prove that homosexual parents provide as good as the ideal setting is misguided at best" was directed at the results of the so-called study, not at you personally, unless of course you were arguing that they would.

Posted by: smmtheory at December 22, 2004 8:18 AM