society has accepted the presence of gays and lesbians, still beneath that facade, lies intense prejudice and discrimination. Society has refused to grant them even some most basic rights such as adoption and foster-parenting. Florida and two other states have imposed strict ban on adoption by same-sex parents, assuming that, children in unconventional family settings often lack emotional and psychological stability. But several studies in this connection have contradicted such notions and have clearly indicated that children of homosexual parents are no different from children of heterosexual couples.
GAY AND LESBIAN PARENTING
The Courts in the United States have tried repeatedly to provide children with a family setting which is recognized by American Family Law. Even the societal changes, which are currently taking place in family structures, the society itself and the legal system of our country have failed to see beyond the myths and misconceptions associated with alternative family structure. Millions of gays and lesbians are now trying to become parents through adoption, insemination and surrogate procedures. No matter which method is finally chosen, it has been repeatedly proven by researchers and pediatric professionals that gay couples are absolutely capable of providing love, support and moral values required for healthy mental and emotional development of children. Thus to assume that an alternative family structure would be detrimental for child's psychological growth is certainly absurd and unreasonable. Such notions only reflect the limited and narrow thinking of the pre-dominantly heterosexual society. It is true that gay and lesbian families are not 'traditional' because it doesn't fit the definition of a family provided by American Family law but it is certainly 'traditional' if viewed from the values a family is supposed to possess and uphold. It is important to understand that society has failed to give equal respect and rights to homosexuals that it grants freely to heterosexuals because there is taboo attached to this section of the society. It is strange yet true that a society that claims to be thoroughly progressive openly discriminates against people with unnatural sexual orientation. It is widely accepted that though gays and lesbians may differ from heterosexual people as far as their sexual preferences are concerned, they possess the same capabilities and can prove to be fit and capable parents.
Lesbian & Gay Parenting: A Fact Sheet (1993) says, "There are an estimated six to 10 million lesbian and gay parents in the United States. They are the mothers and fathers to an estimated six to 14 million children throughout the country. Lesbian and gay parents, however, face many social and legal obstacles. For many years, it was nearly impossible for a person to be openly gay and raise a child, but now a growing segment of American society has recognized that sexual orientation has no bearing on the ability to be a loving and successful parent. As more empirical evidence becomes available that debunks the myths about gay parents, and as more lesbians and gay men fight for their children, those obstacles will continue to fall."
The importance of Court rulings cannot be denied in this connection. We need to understand that all past cases have some bearing on the future trends in societal acceptance of gay parenting. While Florida, Utah and Mississippi have banned adoption by gay parents, there are still some prominent Court cases, which reflect the progressive thinking of our legal system and certain organizations, in connection with the issue of gay parenting. The definition of 'capable parents' has also undergone a positive change as Courts now focus on things other than sexual orientation when deciding who is fit to bring up a child. This is commonly referred to as the nexus test, in which the Court doesn't take sexual preferences in account unless it is proven with concrete evidence that the child's mental or emotional health is at risk because of his parents' intimate relationships. In Guinan vs. Guinan (1984), the court applied the nexus test and decided in favor of the lesbian mother who was allowed to retain custody of her children. The Court found that homosexuality did not make a parent 'unfit' and since no evidence supporting the father's stand was available, the Court concluded: "Specifically, the mere fact that a parent is a homosexual does not alone render him or her unfit as a parent. A parent's sexual indiscretions should be a consideration in a custody dispute only if they are shown to adversely affect the child's welfare." (Bartlett, 1984)
There are still some instances in which Court decision reflect homophobic attitude of a certain section of the society but major organizations including the American Psychology Association have invalidated every research finding which connected homosexuality to mental illness. Some twenty years back, APA found out that homosexuality did not cause judgement defects and thus took it off its list of mental illnesses. (Charlotte J. Patterson, 1995)
APA has played a major role in advancing the cause of gays and lesbians and in providing them with equal rights where parenting is concerned. In its impartial and unbiased statements, the APA has clearly supported the view that gays and lesbians are capable of providing a stable home and family environment to children and are in no way different from heterosexual couples.
American Academy of Pediatrics has also found that children with homosexuals parents are not at any kind of risk and there is no truth in the claim that children with gay parents are not as mentally and emotionally healthy as children of heterosexual couples.
Glenn T. Stanton in his article 'Examining the Research on Homosexual Parenting' explains exactly what APA has said regarding gay and lesbian parenting. "The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced on Feb. 4, 2002, "a growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual." Based on this, the AAP states they support "legislative and legal efforts" to allow homosexuals to adopt their partner's children."
In 1993, the case of Sharon Bottoms surfaced in Virginia. Sharon Bottoms was a lesbian mother of a 2-year-old boy who had been taken away from the mother by the state. The custody of the child was granted to mother of Bottoms' and this resulted in controversial debate in which major associations participated. This case gained fame because several important organizations including the American Psychology Association had joined the debate and prepared research-based arguments in favor of Bottoms. In some other similar cases in which APA took part, the Court argued that children with lesbian mothers couldn't develop healthy positive relationships with children their age. But APA contradicted this statement and presented its own set of arguments.
The APA's briefs contained important points in favor of homosexual parenting and focused on the mental and emotional development of the child. It said that, "research to date suggests that children raised by a lesbian mother have peer relationships that are substantially equivalent to those of children raised by a heterosexual mother"... "The established body of social science research indicates, unanimously, that there are no significant differences between children raised by heterosexuals and children raised by gay men or lesbians"... "Overall, there are no findings in the research literature to date that would provide any cause for concern about the relationships of children raised by lesbian or gay parents with adults." (Paul Cameron, 1997)
APA and AAP have unanimously endorsed gay and lesbian parenting, thereby rejecting the notion that children of such couples remain confused about their sexuality. It has been noticed that gay parents encourage their children to develop relationships with heterosexuals and gays alike. Therefore the possibility of a child of gay parents adopting their lifestyle is precisely the same in magnitude as in the case of a child with heterosexual parents.
BARBARA AMIEL (2000) writes, "Since I have always believed that homosexuality is not so much a matter of choice but of nature, it's just as likely for their offspring to turn into heterosexuals as it is for the children of right-wing parents to grow up left-wingers or for clever parents to have stupid children. The accident of the genetic pool is supreme. Nor would I worry about the "trauma" of children with homosexual parents. Some children handle divorce well, for some it is a lifelong burden -- just as some handle well being made to eat their greens and others become bulimic. You can't predict these things."
The most common misconception is that children need one male and one female parent because each focuses on a different area of child's development. While on the one hand, the father would want the child to become more competitive and thus teach him survival techniques; the mother would take care of the emotional needs of the child. It is believed that this would be impossible in a family where both parents belong to the same gender. But APA has on several occasions…