Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

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Diemo
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Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Diemo » Sat May 16, 2015 9:31 pm UTC

On May 22nd in Ireland there will be a national referendum on whether or not to give same-sex marriages the same legal protections as heterosexual marraiges. In particular, the clause theat will be added to the Irish constitution will be

[\quote]“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”[/quote]

One of the arguments against this is that same-sex marraige cannot give children the same advantages as heterosexual marriage (e.g. this add). Going through the Iona institute (which is anti-same-sex marriage) they quote a number of different studies which show that there is no difference between homosexual parents and heterosexual parents
(from here (pdf)):
Judith Stacey to the US Courts wrote: Specifically, the research demonstrates that children of same-sex couples are as motionally
healthy and socially adjusted and at least as educationally and socially successful as children raised by heterosexual parents.


Professor Michael Wald on assesing the claim that it is better for children to be raised
by twoopposite-sex married parents wrote:
“[T]he evidence does not support these claims.”


In 1995, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a statement indicating that, based upon the available scientific data, children raised by lesbian and gay parents are not “disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to the children of heterosexual parents.” American Psychological Association, Lesbian and Gay Parenting: A Resource for Psychologists (1995) (available at http://www.apa.org/pi/parent.html).


The American
Academy of Pediatrics wrote:
That the weight of evidence gathered during several decades using diverse samples and methodologies is persuasive in demonstrating that there is no systematic difference between gay and nongay parents in emotional health, parenting skills, and attitudes towards parenting


However, the institute also claim that:
Stephen Nock on reviewing hundreds of studies wrote:Through this analysis I draw my onclusions that 1) all of the articles I reviewed contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution; and 2) not a single one of those studies was conducted according to general accepted standards of scientific research


The Iona Institute wrote:Design flaws researchers have found in these studies include very basic limitations:
a. No nationally representative sample. Even scholars enthusiastic about unisex parenting, such as Stacey and Biblarz, acknowledge that “there are no studies of child development based on random, representative samples of [same-sex couple] families.”
b. Limited outcome measures. Many of the outcomes measured by the research are unrelated to standard measures of child well-being used by family sociologists (perhaps because most of the researchers are developmental psychologists, not sociologists).
c. Reliance on maternal reports. Many studies rely on a mother’s report of her parenting skills and abilities, rather than objective measures of child outcomes.
d. No long-term studies. All of the studies conducted to date focus on static or short-term measures of child development. Few or none follow children of unisex parents to adulthood.

But perhaps the most serious methodological critique of these studies, at least with reference to the family structure debate, is this: The vast majority of these studies compare single lesbian mothers to single heterosexual mothers. As sociologist Charlotte Patterson, leading researcher on gay and lesbian parenting, recently summed up, “[M]ost studies have compared children in divorced lesbian mother-headed families with children in divorced heterosexual mother-headed families.”

Most of the gay parenting literature thus compares children in some fatherless families to children in other fatherless family forms. The results may be relevant for some legal policy debates (such as custody disputes) but, in our opinion, they are not designed to shed light on family structure per se, and cannot credibly be used to contradict the current weight of social science: family structure matters, and the family structure that is most protective a child well-being is the intact, married biological family.

Children do best when raised by their own married mother and father.


As I am not a psychologist, I was hoping that the people here would know more about the subject. I guess the questions that I would like answered are the following:
1) Are the objections that are used to discredit the studies that have been done on people reared in same-sex partnerships as opposed to heterosexual partners valid?

2) Are there more studies which have focused on the effect of the sexuality of the parent as opposed to the effect of the family structure?

3) Are children harmed in any way, however small, by having homosexual parents? If so, can you provide proof?
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby PAstrychef » Sat May 16, 2015 10:22 pm UTC

The best thing a child can have is loving, concerned, parents. After that, everything else is optional. There are no bad side effects from having both parents the same sex. Since gay people are the products, perforce, of heterosexual relationships, the idea that homosexual parents will create homosexual kids is ludicrous on the surface. Indeed, you mention plenty of research showing just that.
Remember, kids think any sex their parents have is icky, they don't care about the mechanics.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby firechicago » Sat May 16, 2015 11:03 pm UTC

I am not familiar with the specific debate going on in Ireland, or the specific analysis done by the Iona group, but I've seen arguments of this general form many times before, so I can comment in general.

I don't doubt that the Iona critiques about the quality of studies are true, so far as they go. If you were designing a perfect study of the outcomes for children of homosexual marriages vs. those of heterosexual marriages, you would want a large, random sample of children from generally comparable households. The problem is that such a sample doesn't exist, at least in an observable form. Homosexuals are a small minority of the population, who are also less likely than usual to have children, and who do not look demographically similar to the population as a whole for a whole host of reasons. So yes, these studies are methodologically imperfect, but that's because the world is not a petri dish where scientists can set up the precise circumstances for a perfect experiment, instead they have to take the facts on the ground as they find them, and that means making all sorts of trade-offs.

It sounds like the Iona group wants to see more studies like the Regnerus study in the US from a couple years ago, which had a large, relatively well-randomized sample size comparing children from intact, mixed-sex marriages to children with at least one homosexual parent. And Regnerus' study concluded that the children of homosexual parents were almost as badly affected as the children of divorce. The problem with that approach was that it resulted in an apples to oranges comparison. If you look closely at the data, it turns out that the vast majority of the children that Regnerus classified as children of homosexual parents were actually the product of heterosexual relationships which had collapsed when one partner came out of the closet. The outcomes for these children looked like the outcomes for children of divorced parents because 95+% of them actually were children of divorced parents. You could count the children of stable homosexual marriages included in the study on both hands.

And partly this is because of the historical discrimination against homosexuals. It's very hard to study this stuff precisely because of all the shit that has been historically thrown at gays and lesbians. The simple fact is that you can't make an apples to apples comparison between a heterosexual family and a homosexual family because the simple fact of the genders of the parents heaps a whole extra pile of burdens on the family. But the point of science is not to throw up our hands when we can't get a perfect experiment and say "We can't know anything" the point of science is to make the best observations we can, and draw our conclusions from there.

Ultimately, this is an argument from uncertainty. We don't have enough information to know absolutely for sure that same-sex parenting won't harm children in some way. But we also know that denying marriage to same-sex couples is causing a real and present harm to them right now. At what point do we allow a possible future harm to override an actual harm? To my mind, the uncertainty of the research is an argument for same-sex marriage, not against. The more uncertain the harm, the more it seems to me that it can't possible outweigh the tangible harm of denying same-sex couple the rights and privileges of marriage.

But all of that is beside the point, because Iona's arguments don't actually add up to a case against same-sex marriage. The fact is that homosexuals are, right now as we speak, forming stable, loving relationships, and bringing children into those relationships either by adoption or biological parentage. Even if we accept that these children will be somehow harmed by this situation, denying their parents marriage will do nothing to rectify that. In fact, you could flip the argument on its head, and say that this harm only increases the urgency of granting their families the support and protection of governmental recognition of their relationships.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Thesh » Sun May 17, 2015 12:57 am UTC

My biggest problem with that argument, at least in the US but I assume it is the same in Ireland, is a that there is no law that requires someone be married at all to adopt children. Even if you accept it as true that same-sex marriage parents are bad for children (I do not, but, admittedly, I have not done much research), it is a completely irrelevant point when it comes to the topic of whether same-sex marriage should be legal.

In my experience, this argument also tends to come from the same crowd of people that say "See that single mother who is working 60 hours a week, and barely makes enough to keep a roof under their heads and food on their table? That slut shouldn't have gotten pregnant if she couldn't afford it, so she shouldn't be allowed my tax dollars!" so I also question how much people making that argument actually care about children and if they are just using that argument it to justify their own beliefs to themselves.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Puppyclaws » Mon May 18, 2015 12:55 am UTC

The Iona Institute, which is an institute in the same sense as the Cato Institute, is known for misrepresenting research: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-a ... -1.1442395 ; http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analy ... 65314.html

Research has not borne out that the best situation for children is 2 biological parents. Even if it did there is an obvious confound, i.e. the event(s) that resulted in a person not living with their biological parents (the exception being intentional surrogacy), and gay marriage does not mean that children will be taken from heterosexual households.

family structure matters, and the family structure that is most protective a child well-being is the intact, married biological family.


The Iona institute makes this claim with no evidence, and dismisses all evidence that says otherwise because it may not be absolutely 100% perfect (which is an impossible standard because perfect research does not exist in social science).

To answer your specific questions:

1. No, these are not valid critiques. The perfect study that they ask for in points a. and d. are not "basic" limitations, they're asking for data from a study that would be extremely costly (as getting a longitudinal, perfectly representative sample and following them for years is not cheap or easy) and have serious cohort limitations due to the rapidly changing nature of LGBT discrimination. Point b. is a misdirect at best; psychologists and sociologists are going to use different measures; the measures that developmental psychologists use generally are valid and probably more sensitive to small effects. Point c. is simply incorrect; studies have been published using parental report, child report, and objective measures.

2. There is more literature in general on family structure than on sexuality of parents. This literature has shown that where there are differences, the thing that causes different family structures is what leads to better/worse outcomes, not the family structure itself (e.g., it is a violent environment/poverty which results both in children being raised by a single grandparent and children having less great outcomes, not being raised by a single grandparent leading to less great child outcomes [although there are some complexities with both positive and negative effects related to the generation gap in those relationships but I'm drifting pretty far off point]).

3. Systematically? No. I recommend the 2008 meta-analysis Crowl, A., Ahn, S., & Baker, J. (2008) as a place to start. The Iona institute quote you post has a quote from Charlotte Patterson which is clearly taken out of context. Here is an article by Patterson: http://people.virginia.edu/~cjp/articles/ffp10b.pdf . To quote: "In this sample, regardless of whether they had one mother and one father, two mothers, or two fathers, children were thriving. Our findings are also at odds with the notion that only heterosexual adults make capable parents and that lesbian and gay parents are somehow ineffective or harmful." In addition to using teacher reports, this article looked at 2-parent families, answering two of the major critiques that Iona claims to have.

I don't find the questions very interesting, I never understand why serious people ask these things. Not everybody is going to be raised by a 2-parent bio family, so what do we care if it is better? It's just another tactic to undermine LGBT lives.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby BattleMoose » Mon May 18, 2015 2:58 am UTC

The quality of the character of the parent or parents is orders of magnitude more important than the gender/sexual orientation or coupling of the parent/parents.

Also, I wouldn't assume "give same-sex marriages the same legal protections as heterosexual marriages" to actually mean what is written there. Here in Victoria (Aus), same sex couples supposedly have the same legal protections but still cannot adopt children. So the question of raising children might actually be completely moot.

Its just a single individual he is certainly worth listening to for 3 minutes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMLZO-sObzQ

And the question can be so easily reversed. Are children harmed in any way by having heterosexual parents? I would posit that the very vast majority of homophobes come from heterosexual couples and being raised with homophobic tendencies constitutes as harming the child.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Autolykos » Mon May 18, 2015 10:28 am UTC

I might be a bit biased here because I'm poly at heart.
Either two or more persons of any gender should be able to marry, with all the legal implications that currently has, or marriage should confer no legal advantages and not be the government's business at all.
Strange combinations may or may not be slightly harmful to children, but probably way less so than things we tolerate without a second thought (like religious upbringing, especially but not only with extremist or fringe beliefs).

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 18, 2015 5:33 pm UTC

*shrug* We allow single people to keep kids, right?

I don't see why we need to measure same sex couples against some nuclear family ideal as if it's the only kind of family out there. If they're clearing the bar of "competent enough that any other couple would be permitted to have kids", then they should be treated the same. Look at minimal bars of competency, not an arbitrary ideal.

And, if we're being honest, the barrier for most folks to have and keep kids is pretty low.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Autolykos » Tue May 19, 2015 9:12 am UTC

Your argument 100% wins the debate for having kids. But the usual discussion is about adopting them, which has stricter criteria. In most countries, singles can't adopt, period. And I'm not convinced that we should lower the standards for adoption all the way to the level at which we will not yet take away kids from their genetic parents. Mostly because there already are way more parents willing to adopt that kids waiting to be adopted.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby leady » Tue May 19, 2015 10:02 am UTC

I'm hardly sold on the idea of adoption by same sex couples - it strikes me as a social cause desperately looking for a justification.

What I am sold on is that not being adopted and ending up in the foster care system basically has the worst life outcomes well ever (like 50% in prison, 80% no qualifications bad).

In my hierarchy of selection I'd place them over two fat hetro smokers (all else being equal), but below a middle class married hetro couple. But given this is only an issue for under 2 white adoptions, I doubt it ever crops up as a major issue in practice.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby elasto » Tue May 19, 2015 10:49 am UTC

Autolykos wrote:Mostly because there already are way more parents willing to adopt that kids waiting to be adopted.


Is that actually true? Maybe for white newborn babies it is, but what about for any other grouping?

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby PAstrychef » Tue May 19, 2015 11:13 am UTC

If that statement were true, the foster care system would not need to exist.
The effort required to adopt a child is huge, it takes years and loads of money and determination. The people that stick through the process are seriously interested in being parents. We should make every one who eats (wants) kids go through a similar vetting to ensure that they really want to be parents, instead of just ending up pregnant.
Of someone can get approved to adopt, let them adopt.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Thesh » Tue May 19, 2015 1:24 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:We should make every one who eats kids go through a similar vetting to ensure that they really want to be parents, instead of just ending up pregnant.


Personally, I think if you eat kids you probably shouldn't be allowed around children at all.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby BattleMoose » Tue May 19, 2015 1:53 pm UTC

There are more options of acquiring kids than just adoption. Surrogacy is a real option, has the benefits of being a biological parent and not having to deal with the adoption process. Also, I understand that the doctors are very clever these days and can make it so that the kids genetic material is actually a combination of both male parents.

But really, what does this have to do with being recognized as entering into a legal contract with state benefits?

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby leady » Tue May 19, 2015 2:29 pm UTC

Because these conditions are factored into the treatment of wards of the state. Yes there is something a little strange that the state is very tolerant of natural parents and very intolerant of adoptive parents. I suspect its a blame thing, but quite how the government gets super blamed for bad placements but gets away with the massive damage that not placing kids and "timing them out of the cute phase" incurs is another of life's mysteries.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby ucim » Tue May 19, 2015 4:35 pm UTC

leady wrote:Yes there is something a little strange that the state is very tolerant of natural parents and very intolerant of adoptive parents.
In the one case the state would be sticking its nose into the private affairs of a family. In the other case, the state would be creating a family and requiring that others respect it as such. They are fundamentally different, unless you subscribe to the notion that the state has the right to regulate the routine activities of families as a matter of course.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Diemo » Tue May 19, 2015 4:48 pm UTC

Thanks for the replies.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue May 19, 2015 11:45 pm UTC

ucim wrote:In the one case the state would be sticking its nose into the private affairs of a family. In the other case, the state would be creating a family and requiring that others respect it as such. They are fundamentally different, unless you subscribe to the notion that the state has the right to regulate the routine activities of families as a matter of course.

I'm increasingly becoming convinced that the rights that the state opts to not reserve for itself are active choices it has to make. We're ultimately holding it responsible for the smooth operation of the whole system, and that's its function. The ethical distinction of action vs. inaction that leads to a consequence is a questionable one in this context. Like leady and Pastry are saying, it seems to be more about avoiding blame in a particular case than a defensible philosophical stance.

When a child is already a ward of the state, that becomes particularly obvious. Foster care vs. two willing parents with means who happen to be of the same sex ... it's not inaction in either case, because the state is actively doing either thing.

But yeah, we're spinning quite a bit away from the original question of gay parents and into the realm of why adoption systems just suck anyway, regardless of the sexes of the parents-to-be involved. And then there's the other line of the argument leads into really unpleasant "sterilize the poor" sorts of directions.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby ucim » Wed May 20, 2015 3:11 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:When a child is already a ward of the state, that becomes particularly obvious. Foster care vs. two willing parents with means who happen to be of the same sex ... it's not inaction in either case, because the state is actively doing either thing.
That is correct. In the case of adoption, it is the state's right and obligation (to the already-existing child) to ensure decent placement. In the case of natural parenthood, it's none of the state's business (absent sufficient criminal action).

The question is whether "decent placement" has to mean "heterosexual parents", or "white middle class" or "mixed race" or whatever. I'm of the opinion that gay/straight should not be a factor, but not because adoption is none of the state's business to begin with.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby BattleMoose » Wed May 20, 2015 3:55 am UTC

leady wrote:Because these conditions are factored into the treatment of wards of the state.


I was talking about marriage, not adoption.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed May 20, 2015 4:37 am UTC

And assuming gay male parents, which led to some confusion on at least my part, as my mental image of a default representative couple was a lesbian pair, leading to some head-scratching at "surrogacy" until I worked it back.

I'm going to go ahead and guess that none of us has any idea how the Irish adoption system works. This bit seems important:

The nature and effect of an Irish adoption order is that the child becomes the child of the adopters as if born to them in marriage with all the rights and duties of parents and children in relation to each other.


Emphasis mine, obvs.

Foster care seems notably different than the US system's, incidentally.

Edit: But yeah, the larger point really stands, that a couple's being gay is really going to have a marginal bearing in comparison to a lot of other factors, and there's no reason to make it "special." It sounds like a dodge, but I don't see any way around that. The initial question isn't easily answerable or highly relevant.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby ucim » Wed May 20, 2015 4:49 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Foster care seems notably different than the US system's, incidentally.
Foster care is different from adoption, at least in the US. AFAIK, here in the US, adoption works the way it seems to in Ireland; the rights and such are as if born to the parents.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed May 20, 2015 5:04 am UTC

In marriage, though. The two concepts are legally linked.
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed May 20, 2015 9:07 am UTC

I just want to put this here (spoilered for size):
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby leady » Wed May 20, 2015 9:28 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
leady wrote:Because these conditions are factored into the treatment of wards of the state.


I was talking about marriage, not adoption.


So was I, assuming there is no cross purposes here. On the list of criteria that adoption agencies follow, one of the primary ones is that the couple is married. Why is fairly obvious if you look at the stats for child outcomes (que a massive off shoot argument about the most successful family structures...)

Copper Bezel wrote:In marriage, though. The two concepts are legally linked.


Absolutely, because basically an adopted child inherits all the legal constructs this entails too (access rights, inheritance etc etc). Redefining marriage has ripple effects based on the culture and legal system.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby BattleMoose » Wed May 20, 2015 11:15 am UTC

My point was really that considering how few adoptions occur by gay couples this really shouldn't be the major point of discussion about a legal contract between two adults. Especially when considering the outcomes for couples who are legally barred from marriage. Contrasted with the zero evidence that children of gay couples suffer worse outcomes.

And, only discovered this a few moments ago, the absolute ridiculousness of this discussion.

Gay couples in Ireland can adopt children.

On 6 April 2015, the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 passed by Parliament in March 2015 which extends full adoption rights to cohabiting couples and those in civil partnerships was promulgated by the President of Ireland.


I guess no one bothered to check...

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby leady » Wed May 20, 2015 12:17 pm UTC

I disagree, you get the benefits, you get the baggage.

Marriage amongst other things is a long term commitment to pair bonding and such a stated and legally binding situation is clearly a valid preference in all adoption scenarios in jurisdictions that allow it.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed May 20, 2015 12:34 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Gay couples in Ireland can adopt children.

On 6 April 2015, the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 passed by Parliament in March 2015 which extends full adoption rights to cohabiting couples and those in civil partnerships was promulgated by the President of Ireland.

Ha! Excellent. I do hope someone let the Iona Institute know.* = )

* Yes, I understand how fearmongering works, that is, that they don't care that it's bullshit, but it's still rather amusing to have it out, isn't it?
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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby ObsessoMom » Thu May 21, 2015 1:33 am UTC

BTW, I was just watching Nature with my daughter, and we learned that about 30% of albatross parenting pairs seem to be female-female.

Here's a National Geographic article if the concept was new to you, too.

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Re: Same-sex Marraige and it's effect on children

Postby PAstrychef » Thu May 21, 2015 2:32 am UTC

Yes, and they pull some cute tricks on the male birds, too.
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