By Ann Brasco / Parental Guidance
Gay parenting was an issue recently addressed by Republican Rick Santorum. Santorum said that he believes children are better off with a father locked up in prison than being raised in a home with lesbian parents and no father at all. I don’t know what it is worse, that Santorum believes that a murderer, rapist, or drug-dealer dad trumps a caring, involved lesbian mom, or that there are people who applaud his ideas.
Former Pope Benedict called gay marriage a threat to "the future of humanity itself." I guess genocide, starvation, inequitable world trade, drug-trafficking, terrorism and war aren’t the real threat but rather two attentive dads attending a PTA meeting together. They must be the real culprits destroying this world one financially-stable, emotionally-sound, well-decorated home at a time. Pope Francis hasn't commented on the LGBT issue since 2010. As a Catholic, I remain hopeful. I often forget, however, that regardless of progress, I should never underestimate people’s ability to judge others that sin differently than we do. And, I am not suggesting anything is a 'sin.' As people integrate their religious beliefs with scientific research, I’m certain that being born homosexual will one day be looked at the way one is born left-handed. Until that era arrives, this is an issue of civil rights.
It’s not just a political hot topic but a personal issue. Meet Jenn. Jenn and I attended high school together. Jenn has three gorgeous children. Jenn is married to Carly. They live in NJ, have been together since 2004 and married in 2008. Jenn carried their first pregnancy. They had twins, a boy and a girl. Carly carried their second pregnancy. They welcomed a beautiful baby girl into their family.
Jenn states that they have the support of friends and haven’t experienced much discrimination, yet wishes that more magazines and TV shows showed same-sex marriages. They have a loving normal family with an even stronger sense of fairness built into the relationship. Jenn explains, “We both get up with the kids at night, we both work, share in all chores, shopping, cleaning…we both were able to experience pregnancy, and we wouldn't change a thing…except win the lottery.”
When I look at Jenn and Carly and their beautiful family, I don’t see a same-sex marriage and three children. I just see a family. This is what my children see too.
It is estimated that in this country there are more than 9 million children with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender parent. Research shows that when considering mental health, academic performance, social functioning, and other measures of success, both adopted and biological kids of same-sex parents fare no differently than the offspring of straight couples. In fact, it has been suggested that the children of same-sex parents have a better ability to nurture tolerance. Theory even exists that because gay parents don’t deal with the issue of accidental parenting, in that gay parents do not accidentally conceive offspring, that children welcomed into gay families are more wanted and parents are more attentive. Kudos to the American Academy of Pediatrics for its recent policy endorsing civil marriage for same-sex couples as it helps kids thrive by providing legal, financial, and emotional security.
Opponents of same sex marriage may argue that this is just another liberal rant by a liberal writer. These opponents would be wrong. For the record, I am a fiscal conservative. Just as I believe that big government has no business micromanaging our financial institutions, corporations, small businesses, and what soda I gulp down or trans fats I ingest, government has no business in our bedrooms either.
Many opponents of gay marriage argue that it undermines the traditional family. Didn’t Elizabeth Taylor already undermine tradition and marriage with her many trips to the altar? Or was that Newt Gingrich? Nonetheless, this ‘undermining argument’ reared its ugly head back when inter-racial marriage was once in the cross-hairs, when interfaith marriages were condemned decades ago, and when divorce carried with it great social stigma.
Institutions evolve. Traditional family roles fell by the wayside long ago. Women work. Many men help child-rear. Some men even do dishes and bake. My husband is not one of these men but I have heard of their existence. The fact that I wasn’t sold to my husband’s family for a flock of sheep and a fatted calf shows that marriage has been evolving for some time now.
Common sense seems to dictate that we should celebrate other law-abiding, tax-paying, responsible citizens yearning to join the ranks of recognized, nurturing families with no deference to sexual orientation. Regardless of what end of the sexual spectrum one may fall upon, those yearning to be parents have so much in common with regard to cherishing family values and respect for our children. Perhaps it is the people who are personally fighting to attain same-sex marriage, who fight so vigorously for the right to marry and to have children of their own, will restore the very foundations that the American family is built upon. Maybe they will renew the social institutions of marriage and the family in the most radical and enthusiastic way.
Ann Brasco is a weekly Parental Guidance blogger for nj.com. She also writes on annbrasco.com. Her short stories have been published in the literary magazine, Voices in the Library. Ann attended Caldwell College where she earned a B.A. in English and criminal justice, and edited the school’s literary magazine. In college, she attended a women’s studies program at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. Upon graduation, she was presented with the English Departmental Award. She went on to At New York University, she received her Master’s Degree in clinical social work. She was awarded the prestigious Dr. Georgia L. McMurray Student Award granted to one graduating student in NYC. Ann lives in northern New Jersey with her three daughters, three rescue dogs, and husband, Joe. It is a dream come true for Ann to write about issues of social justice and the dignity of the human soul
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