In light of the historic Supreme Court rulings this week, the overturning of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and the rule against California’s Proposition 8, which effectively banned gay marriage throughout the state, many families have very good reason to celebrate. On paper, the SCOTUS rulings affirm that it is unconstitutional to withhold, or vary, the rights of another group in relationship to the right to marry. This means bazillions of same-sex couples, who are currently in relationship limbo or married but not yet receiving all the benefits they are due, will be entering the fray of the wedded in the near future (if their heart desires). This has been a long fought battle, and with federal legislation is still a bit elusive, it may be a few years before this issue becomes as easy as saying “I do” but all signs point towards enormous progress and, ultimately, justice.
But those who argued against marriage equality will likely remain steadfast against the inevitability of what is coming, and continue to provide rationalization as to why it just shouldn’t be so. Such rationalization includes everything from same-sex marriage being morally reprehensible to the idea that such unions lead down a path of crazy, aberrant behavior, like fighting for the right to marry one’s pet. But one issue that really became a rallying cry for opponents of same-sex marriage was the idea that such marriages would be bad for children. The concern voiced had to do with the idea that such marriages would deny children both a mother and father, as well as such unions would promote a “gay lifestyle” to the extent that it would make the children of such parents gay. It feels important to take a look at the SCOTUS ruling, as well as the reality of these families to dispel such allegations and allay the fears of many who live in opposition to such families.
Justice Kennedy argued that denying marriage to same-sex couples does far more damage to the children of these families than sanctioning marriage would, and he went on to say, in relationship to DOMA, that it “”humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.” The American Sociological Association wrote in a briefing presented to the high court, “When the social science evidence is exhaustively examined–which the ASA has done–the facts demonstrate that children fare just as well when raised by same-sex parents … Unsubstantiated fears regarding same-sex child rearing do not overcome these facts and do not justify upholding DOMA and Proposition 8.” When considering that same-sex marriage has been a reality in Canada and many European countries for some time without incident, and studies have shown that it is the quality of family life, not the family structure, that provides the stability, it becomes apparent that same-sex marriages have just as much of a chance to produce screwed up kids as heterosexual marriages do. While there will certainly remain significant doubts among those who oppose such unions and whether or not such unions are ideal, the SCOTUS implicitly ruled that such concerns don’t rise to the level needed to overcome the harms caused to gay and lesbian married couples and their children.
What are your thoughts on this ruling? Will this validation actually provide more stability for same-sex families, or will the change not be so apparent? Do you feel that there is more value having two parents of the opposite sex, and if so, is it worth legislating against?