Although opponents of equal rights for gays claim to be concerned with the best environment for raising children, their policy goals in practice only harm children. There is no legitimate evidence that children are harmed by being raised in a household with same-sex parents; the assumption that two fathers or two mothers are by definition incompetent or lesser parents is nothing more than sexist, homophobic ideology.
On the other hand, opponents of same-sex marriage don’t hesitate to favor policies that, without any doubt, harm the real-world interests of children raised in same-sex households. By denying their families legal recognition, anti-equality activists deny children in same-sex households the stability and benefits of being raised by married parents.
The following passage comes from “The Need for Full Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage,” by Charlene Gomes, in the Sept/Oct 2003 Humanist.
Yet stepparents still have more rights than same-sex parents. If the noncustodial biological parent consents, stepparents may adopt children. Same-sex parents in the same situation are required extensive home visits and family studies, if the practice is allowed at all.
If the nonbiological partner is unable to establish a legal relationship with the child, the child can potentially suffer unduly should the relationship dissolve or the biological parent die. For example, the child wouldn’t be entitled to financial support from the nonbiological partner, nor will the child have inheritance rights if the nonbiological partner dies without a will.
The child will often suffer emotionally as well. Without a legal relationship, the nonbiological partner has no right to seek custody or visitation, no right to consent to medical treatment of the child in an emergency, and no right to attend parent-teacher conferences or otherwise be involved in the child’s day-to-day life and development. Needless to say, removing one parent unilaterally from a child’s life can have serious emotional repercussions when the child has come to rely on that parent’s presence and involvement. This starkly contrasts with laws recognizing a married man as the legal parent of any child born to his wife during the marriage regardless of any biological relationship between the father and the child–actual paternity doesn’t have to be proved. In addition, parents of a same sex partner can be denied legal grandparent status if their child’s relationship to a same-sex partner and nonbiological child isn’t legally recognized.
Although some state workers’ compensation programs and the federal Social Security survivor benefit program now permit minor stepchildren living with and dependent upon a stepparent to receive benefits after the stepparent’s death, this isn’t the case for children of a nonbiological gay parent.
Extending these benefits and protections to same-sex couples by legally legitimizing their relationships would ensure that their children are treated equally to children of heterosexual married couples. The present practice of denying these children protection is similar to earlier draconian laws penalizing illegitimate children for the “sins” of their parents. This nation has since recognized that children are a national treasure and hold the future in their hands; they shouldn’t be discriminated against simply because they are the children of an unpopular minority. The benefits of according these protections to all children easily outweigh third parties’ unfounded disapproval of homosexuality.