Pediatricians Say: Marriage Equality Helps Children

As the Supreme Court takes up the same-sex marriage battle, more and more people and organizations are jumping on the equality bandwagon. Not only have amicus briefs been filed by a wide range of groups, but public figures such as Hillary Clinton have recently come out in support of marriage equality. And now we are hearing from doctors who are concerned about the well-being of children within same-sex marriages.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has officially thrown its support behind non-heterosexual couples, declaring that allowing gay parents to wed is in the best interests of their children. When marriage isn’t an option, children shouldn’t be deprived of adoption or foster care simply because their prospective parents aren’t straight.

To back up its declaration, AAP referred to research that a child’s well-being is more affected by the strength of the relationship between parents, and by a couple’s socioeconomic resources, than by their affectional preference. There is an emerging consensus, based on extensive review of the scientific literature, that children growing up in households headed by gay men or lesbians are not disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.

Another reason same-sex couples should be allowed to marry—one many don’t consider—is that divorce law provides for legally structured custody and visitation. AAP noted that the legal system which helps protect children when married couples split is a safety net not available to non-married parents.

This latest endorsement of gay marriage gibes with what Justice Anthony Kennedy said during the recent Supreme Court consideration of same-sex marriage when he pointed out that the children of same-sex couples want their parents’ unions to be recognized. “The voice of these children is important,” he stated during the Proposition 8 hearing. He went on to talk about how upholding California’s ban on same-sex marriage would be detrimental to the 40,000 children in the state already being raised by gay couples.

Photo courtesy of LZ Creations via Creative Commons 2.0


Associate editor of Ms. magazine