Homosexual marriage refers to legal matrimony between two individuals of the same gender and it is a phenomenon which has come under a great deal of scrutiny and debate during the last few years. As of the time of this writing nine states have legalized gay marriage, and 31 states have constitutional amendments which ban gay marriage to some extent -- a fact alone which showcases this nation's level of homophobia and a reluctance to deliver fundamental rights, like the right to pursue happiness. However, the topic of this paper is to examine the impacts of gay marriage on parenting and the kids that grow up having two moms or two dads. Even the most conservative, right-winged, and religiously literal people will admit, that if there's one thing that this nation needs; for example, the following conservative remarked: "Many studies show that single parents struggle to provide the safe environment provided by a two-biological-parent home. Bless the single parents who try, but there is a direct correlation between single homes and crimes of all types. If anything, the effects of broken homes indicate the importance of reestablishing the ideal of traditional marriage" (Balling, 2012).
However, in this case, one should interpret the idea of "traditional marriage" as not one which occurs between a man and a woman, but a marriage which "goes the distance" and does not end up in divorce, leaving children raised by one parent. Children have born the ill-effects of being raised by one parent and the statistics have shown time and again the negative impacts of divorce on kids: "Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to be physically or sexually abused, less likely to use drugs or alcohol and to commit delinquent behaviors, have a decreased risk of divorcing when they get married, are less likely to become pregnant/impregnate someone as a teenager, and are less likely to be raised in poverty" (usccb.org). In fact, children from divorced families are more likely to marry and divorce themselves (usccb.org). The legacy that divorce bears on the next generation is painful and damaging enough for us to say as a collective and as an organized society, that something needs to be done to ensure that kids get raised in better homes.
The "something" the needs to be done does not equate to banning gay marriage. Rather, what needs to be done is examine how homosexual parenting impacts children and determine if this is in fact something which can assist in helping the divorce rate to plummet, so that a generation of healthier, happier kids can be raised who grow up into well-adjusted adults that society can deeply benefit from. For example, "Massachusetts, which became the first state to legalize gay marriage on May 17, 2004, had the lowest divorce rate in the country in 2008. Its divorce rate declined 21% between 2003 and 2008" (procon.org, 2012). This fact alone compellingly demonstrates how gay marriage could have a profound impact in not only lowering the divorce rate but helping society to instill a new generation of stable parents and stable homes to raise stable kids. This is something that society will reap clear benefits from with lower crime rates, lower rates of teenage pregnancy and a new generation of well-adjusted kids who are ready to contribute to society.
Another compelling reason is that gay marriage would manifest as an upholding of the civil rights of homosexual Americans everywhere: "We should acknowledge that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people do what every other American tries to do. They want to pursue life, liberty, happiness, love and marry the person of their choice, go to work without fear of being fired, have access to health benefits and hospital visitation rights. And, like their straight friends, they also want to create families" (Chrisler, 2010). This is no small fact. Becoming a nation which does not deny people their civil rights is something that we should work for together as it will benefit the nation in its entirety as a place more open, more giving, and more accepting of the people who populate it. The attempts to deny citizens their civil rights is something that impacts everyone and in a decidedly negative fashion. For example, no one would agree that it would be better to live in American during the 1950s and 1960s when segregation was alive and well. No one would ever say that it would be better to live in an America where blacks and whites had separate seating areas on the bus, separate sections in restaurants and separate drinking fountains. When a massive chunk of the population is being discriminated against, such a phenomenon impacts everyone and in a negative way, even white people during segregation, and even straight people during this unique time in our country.
It's important to review the remarks of critics of gay marriage as their remarks are completely reflective of how the bigoted portion of the population feels. "On Jan. 6, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told a New Hampshire audience that children are better off with a father in prison than being raised in a home with lesbian parents and no father at all. And last Monday (Jan. 9), Pope Benedict called gay marriage a threat 'to the future of humanity itself,' citing the need for children to have heterosexual homes" (Pappas, 2012). It's important to examine these bigoted and fearful remarks with present research in order to demonstrate how such beliefs are based only on fear and that studies demonstrate almost with a 100% rate of consistency, how children benefit from gay parenting.
Examine the following evidence: "The Child Welfare League of America, in the business of protecting children since 1920, has been unequivocal: 'Any attempt to preclude or prevent gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals or couples from parenting, based solely on their sexual orientation, is not in the best interest of children.' The National Adoption Center, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association agree. Thirty years of research says the same, including a new 17-year study published this month in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, concluding that children raised by lesbian parents do better academically, are more confident than their peers and have fewer behavioral problems" (Chrisler, 2010). This information demonstrates without a doubt the inherent benefits of gay parenting. It's a fascinating endeavor to speculate as to why children from these families do better and seem to evolve into better adjusted adults. It could be because the traditional, heterosexual male disciplinarian has been replaced and kids simply aren't subjected to rough parenting and discipline styles; rather children are just give lots of love and sensitivity.
This is just a theory. However, another study suggests that same-sex parents make better parents for kids as a result of the fact that homosexual parents deeply want to become parents, and unlike their heterosexual equivalents, did not become parents by accident. "Gay parents 'tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents on average, because they chose to be parents,' said Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts who researches gay and lesbian parenting. Gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared with an almost 50% accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals, Goldberg said. 'That translates to greater commitment on average and more involvement'" (Pappas, 2012). Things like more commitment and more involvement are two aspects which are crucial to raising children. This researcher is essentially describing the trend that same-sex parents make better parents: they're more involved in the lives of their children: this translates to children who feel cared about and doted on and thus are less likely to act out with drugs and alcohol and other self-destructive means.
However, one recent study claims that children from homosexual parenting homes fare slightly less well than children from traditional style homes (Carey, 2012). For example, 38% of people who had a lesbian mother were on public assistance; those with gay parents reported less education and a greater number of sexual partners (Carey, 2012). However, there are compelling reasons to both ignore and discount the research done in this particular study: "About half the study participants with a gay parent, as defined in the study, were born out of wedlock and half into a traditional family that broke up. Many lived with the gay parent sporadically" (Carey, 2012). All this really demonstrates is what we already know and what research as already demonstrated for the last few decades: divorce is not an ideal outcome for kids and divorce is something which generally manifests into kids with more problems and a lower level of adjustment. This study is under a great deal of criticism and rightly so, as it says very little about gay marriage and more about the ill effects of divorce on children.