Gay Parenting On Trial
More homosexuals seek custody or addoption of young children.
by John W. Kennedy
Gays and lesbians are stepping up their national battle against restrictive state regulations, conservative Christians, and others to gain the same parenting rights as heterosexuals.
||Fathering Failure: Suzanne Cook says her father's homosexual partner molested her younger brother.
"There is no doubt that homosexuals love their children," say Suzanne Cook, a Christian who was raised in part by her divorced father living with his gay lover. "But it takes more than love to raise children in an appropriate and healthy way. We shouldn't be experimenting on another generation."
The Federal Appeals Court in Atlanta will decide this year whether to uphold a Florida law that says, "No person eligible to adopt?may adopt if that person is a homosexual." Also, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will rule on a legal challenge to the state's ban on "co-adoption" by a gay or lesbian couple. Only Florida, Mississippi and Utah explicitly ban homosexuals from adoption.
Cook, a resident of Fort Worth, Texas, has an insider's perspective on homosexual parenting. Cook said that when she was seven years old her father left the family to pursue a homosexual relationship. Three years later, her parents divorced but shared custody. Cook and her younger brother spent every other weekend at the apartment of her father's partner. "They did not refrain from having sex when we were there," Cook says. "They didn't come out of the bedroom until noon."
Cook says her father's partner molested her brother for the next several years. "I had to deal with keeping my brother safe," Cook says. " I had to put on the role of a parent as a little kid. I felt the whole world on my shoulders." (Cook's father declined comment)
Confused about her sexuality as a young teenager, Cook supposed the only way to have a relationship with a man was to offer sex. Even her mother encouraged her to have sexual relations outside marriage so that she would not mistakenly wed a homosexual.
Cook's life included adultery, group sex, and an abortion. In time, her brother led Cook, now 44 and married for 16 years, to Christian faith.
Cook strongly supports a ban on gay adoptions. She says that children with homosexual parents avoid criticizing parental sexual behavior when responding to questions in research projects. (Experts say "self-presentation bias," in which those surveyed give an "overly positive picture of their family life," causes significant flaws in research.)
Civil rights, children's rights
University of Southern California researchers Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz published an article titled "(How) Does the Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?" Last year in American Sociological Review. Stacey and Biblarz examined 21 gay-parenting studies. They concluded that there is "no notable difference between children reared by heterosexual parents and those reared by lesbian and gay parents."
Stacey, 59 asserts that society should consider the desire of adults as well as the welfare of children regarding gay parenting. "It's both a civil rights issue and a children's rights issue," she says.
The progay Lambda Legal Defense Fund, in a 1997 document, notes that "the last decade has seen a sharp rise among gay people planning and forming families through adoption, foster care, donor insemination, and other reproductive technologies. Some have described the current period as a lesbian and gay 'baby boom.'"
But homosexuals should not be permitted to adopt or provide foster care, because it's not in the best interest of children, said Alan Chambers, head of Exodus North America, a Christian ministry that assists individuals in overcoming homosexuality.
Some gay advocates are more interested in expanding their own civil rights then in providing stable homes for children, claims Chambers. Courts have held there is no right to adopt.
An increasing number of individuals who contact Exodus have had homosexual parents, he said. "They were raised in gay-parent households, and it was detrimental to them, especially as they grew older."
Chambers says children raised by two men or two women are missing a role model. "It's important for a child to have a mom and dad in order to be secure in gender roles," Chambers says. "Even though a divorce situation isn't ideal, there are still significant male and female relationships patterned."
Researcher error alleged
In forming public policy and applying existing law, judges and state officials often look to doctors and social scientists to assess how homosexual parents influence young children, and what is in the best interest of a minor child who is orphaned or whose parents have divorced.
In turn, gay advocates urge politicians, doctors, and researchers to believe that homosexuals can be good parents and should be allowed to adopt or retain child custody after a divorce. Rosie O'Donnell, media celebrity and parent to three adopted children, declared on national television, "I am the gay parent."
Janet Reno, a Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, has pledged her support for overturning her state's ban on gay adoptions.
Homosexual activists have commended the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for a February statement that "a growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with one or two gay or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual." The academy urged its 55,000 members to support "second-parent" adoptions, in which a homosexual adopts a partner's child.
Conservative rejection of the AAP announcement was swift. British sociologist Patricia Morgan, author of Children As Trophies? (Christian Institute, 2002), "There's a tremendous bias in both the publishing and acceptance" of results that support homosexual parenting.
Morgan, who has written extensively on family development, says that four dozen studies cited by the AAP are in error because researchers failed to use control groups, used self-selected volunteers, and relied on nonrandom samples. Morgan, senior research fellow at London's Institute for the Study of Civil Society, says research supportive of gay parenting shows a tendency toward "extravagant claims" from sympathetic researchers. "Any critical evaluation or examination of the work?is apt to invoke furious reflex accusations about homophobia."
Researchers Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai, co-authors of No Basis: What the Studies Don't Tell Us About Same-Sex Parenting (Marriage Law Project, 1991), support Morgan's findings. Lerner and Nagai evaluated 49 studies on gay parenting, finding significant mistakes in all of them.
They particularly criticized "convenience sampling," in which investigators select whoever is available, and "snowball sampling," in which homosexual activists help researchers find volunteers willing to answer questions.
"These studies prove nothing," Lerner and Nagai wrote. They say reliance on this suspect research has strongly influenced policymakers toward a positive view of gay parenting.
Morgan believes the most reliable research clearly shows that "children reared in a home with a married mother and father do far better than children in other circumstances."
She criticizes the current tendency to tout homosexual parenting despite the evidence against it. "We can't compromise where there are moral standards or empirical standards," Morgan says. "Both have been compromised at the moment."
Reprinted by permission, Christianity Today.
See "In Their Own Words" pg 20