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Jenet Jacob Erickson: Gay marriage debate should focus on children

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  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 4:30 a.m.

    If marriage is truly for the benefit of children, all children deserve the benefit of the option of married parents - even if those parents are the same gender.

    You cannot prohibit same-sex marriage on the grounds of children's rights unless you are prepared to prohibit other relationships that are not ideal for children on the same grounds.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 5:39 a.m.

    The research in this area is clearly in its infancy. The research article cited has some pretty serious limitations as does the research finding little or no differences between children reared in gay versus straight relationship homes. It seems to me that the most we can say at this point is that the research is inconclusive. The challenge is that we won't really be able to answer these questions until we have many years of experience with gay marriage in a society that is supportive of gay marriage. By then, it will be too late to reverse those rights if there are significant problems. Instead we will be left to identify any potential problems and either compensate for them or encourage certain people not to marry. Does this argue against supporting gay marriage? Probably not as it becomes a question of the rights of the parents versus the rights of the children where the rights of the children may or may not be a problem. To curtail the rights of the potential parents based on a potential but unproven harm to the children seems unlikely to carry the debate.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 22, 2013 5:47 a.m.

    As one who was adopted, and who in turn also has adopted children, I would agree with these comments, if "normal" families were stepping up and adopting these kids. But in the real world, this isn't happening. There are far way too many kids-in-waiting out there, looking for these "normal" families to step up, and provide them homes.

    And likewise, white, normal families don't always equate to better parents, as evidenced by the white dad from Idaho on the flight hit his colored adopted infant, cursing at him while calling him the N-word. What kid of loving family is that.

    So if we really are doing this for the kids, we need to realize that plan A - the best plan - just isn't available to enough kids out there that need families. I am not a big fan of gay marriage, but, telling these kids orphanages is better, or living with bad "normal" families - I think plan B is better than the status quo.

    I would love that every kid had a mom and a dad... but until we stop having 50 of families end in divorce, that argument just doesn't hold up.

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 6:10 a.m.

    The author is overstating the amount of evidence that suggests the children of same-sex couples do more poorly in life than heterosexual couples. She references an article in Slate by Dr. Regnerus, who found in a single study of his that children of same sex couples have more negative outcomes in life than heterosexual couples. He admits his one study runs very much contrary to the body of evidence on this matter. He also writes that adopted children are more likely to have negative outcomes in life.

    Dr. Erickson needs to be careful about the argument she is making. If children's welfare is the foremost and overriding concern, divorce should be made illegal. Couples who cannot conceive have no right to marriage. And by her logic, adoption should be very much frowned upon. If future research showed that there were an optimal family size for child welfare, say 3 kids, would she also support policies that force this family size on us? And if future research showed no clear disadvantage for children of stable same-sex couples, would she then drop her opposition?

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Feb. 22, 2013 6:19 a.m.

    I agree. There are a lot of people on both sides of the issue who using specious arguments. I visit a page on facebook that is visited by a lot of evangelicals. They will always refer to the Bible to support traditional marriage. There are good solid arguments to support the benefits of promoting traditional marriage that don't require someone to believe in the Bible. 80% of the world's cultures accept marriage as being between a man and a woman. It is even more than "from the dawn of civilization" argument. Stoneage cultures (presumably, before civilization if you define civilization as being metal tools, city states, etc) recognized that the father and the mother brought different but equal contributions into the marriage and to the children.

    Marriage is society's way of promoting the rights of children to be raised by their biological parents inasmuch as possible and that fathers are responsible for their reproductive actions.

  • PolishBear Charleston, WV
    Feb. 22, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    DEAR MS. ERICKSON:

    Let me reassure you: For Straight (i.e. heterosexual) couples, absolutely nothing about marriage is changing. Nothing is being redefined. Straight people will continue to date, get engaged, marry, and build lives and families together as they always have. None of that is going to change when Gay couples are allowed to do the same.

    Your editorial seems to focus on the needs of children. Please keep in mind that (1) couples are no required to marry to make babies, and (2) the ability or even desire to make babies is not a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license, so parenthood is irrelevant to the issue of marriage equality for Gay couples.

    Also keep in mind that there are COUNTLESS single people and couples, both Straight and Gay, who have taken unwanted children into their homes and raised them to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. It's certainly preferable to leaving children to languish in orphanages.

    Permitting Gay couples to marry will not affect the number of Straight couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages. Enough with the hysteria already.

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    I say a resounding "Amen" to all of what Jenet Jacob Erickson says in her article above.

    Regarding Maudine's comment, where she says, "If marriage is truly for the benefit of children, all children deserve the benefit of the option of married parents - even if those parents are the same gender.

    You cannot prohibit same-sex marriage on the grounds of children's rights unless you are prepared to prohibit other relationships that are not ideal for children on the same grounds."

    What does Maudine mean? If she means "other relationships" include adultery, or other matters of sexual perversion, then I would definitely agree that society needs to ALSO prohibit such damaging relationships. However, if she is proposing that "gay marriage" should not be banned necessarily because other aberrations continue in the world, I would strongly disagree. Guaranteeing a sin safe world BEFORE one cannot guarantee children safety from all other damaging things is an impossible task, which Maudine knows full well can't be guaranteed by anyone.

  • qapilot Orem, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 7:40 a.m.

    A wise, well-considered column. Social liberals have, for decades, have argued that diversity in gender is crucial to a healthy society ... that both men and women are essential, particularly in leadership and government. Why, then, is it suddenly irrelevant in the family, the basic unit of society? Gay marriage says that differences in gender are irrelevant ... that a woman can replace a man, or a man can replace a woman as partners and as parents, with no circumstances.

    Marriage is not a "right" for anyone, even for straight people. Ask the millions of singles who want to be married but can't find someone who is right for them.

    As for Maudine's comments, we know 'optimal' parenting situations are not always possible. Life takes its turns ... death and divorce frequently take a father or mother out of the picture. We certainly don't pursue such situations. We work with what we are dealt and make the best of it. It makes no sense, though, to advocate ANY 'family' situation that intentionally robs a child of a mother and a father ... which is precisely what the gay rights movement narrow-mindedly does.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    In 2005, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued an official brief on same-sex parenting based on 59 independent studies of children raised by same-sex couples. The APA concluded that, “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents."

    Moreover, in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger decision on Prop 8, (a must-read) the issue of whether or not same-sex parents places children at a disadvantage was examined in detail and was soundly rejected as a basis for denying marriage equality. The best available objective evidence simply does _not_ support a claim that marriage equality in any way harms children.

    Given the huge natural variability in how well people, regardless of sexual orientation, raise children, is it really useful to debate marriage equality exclusively in terms of child rearing? From my own experience I see abundant evidence that among the good and bad parents I've known in my life, their sexual orientation is _way_ down the list of character traits that have an effect on parenting.

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    Dr. Erickson also was employed by the Heritage Foundation, the organization that currently has this message on its homepage:

    "Join Rush Limbaugh and hundreds of thousands of other conservatives as a Member of The Heritage Foundation today."

    So I'm sure her perspective and use of statistics are entirely unbiased.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    And once again we see the liberals are arguing to put the children's rights and interests behind the selfish desires of adults. (An extension of pro-fetal-murder thinking)

    Jenet articulates well the side of the children, but so many adults are just too selfish to think of, or listen to the children's needs.

    Thank you Jenet for spelling it out so well!

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:45 a.m.

    Consider for a moment that it REALLY does take a mother and a father to create an infant. Therefore maybe God's intent really is that any child actually have a mother AND a father. Maybe we really ought to consider God in this debate as well. After all, where does the eternal spirit originate which quickens the human body and gives it life?

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    Blue,

    "Given the huge natural variability in how well people, regardless of sexual orientation, raise children, is it really useful to debate marriage equality exclusively in terms of child rearing?"

    No, it isn't useful. But that's not the point, is it? The argument against gay marriage isn't rooted in verifiable evidence and objective analysis of outcomes. It's rooted in theology and cultural tradition. That's why this editorial relies heavily on rhetoric and only brings in one carefully selected scientific study that has been criticized for using biased methodology and flawed interpretation of the results.

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    This is a horrible argument. In the world view of the author, then childless people should not be married and divorce should be illegal. The argument that you will be on the wrong side of history is true.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    @ qapilot: If children are going to be raised in non-optimal situations anyway, shouldn't society do what it can to offer as many benefits and protections as possible to those children?

    Marriage protects children and all children should have the opportunity for their parents to be married - ideal situation or otherwise.

  • PolishBear Charleston, WV
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    If marriage provides for a more stable home environment for children, would it not make sense to give Gay couples who ARE raising children the option to marry?

  • LeslieDF Alameda, CA
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    This article fails to address the issue that seem to be the preoccupation of the author. Marriage for a couple, is not the same as parenting by adults and children.

    "Until the debate over gay marriage includes genuine concern for the rights of children—the most vulnerable and voiceless in our society—the true civil rights issue of our day will remain undefended."

    It should truthfully state: Until a debate over marriage - any marriage - includes genuine concern for the rights of children ...

    Not any attempt to discuss: divorce, illegitimacy, absent parents or any of the other problems inherent in some different-sex marriages, long before any same-sex couple married, or raised children.

    Many marriage are childless seniors, infertile couples and couples who marry and never plan or have children. Does the author propose excluding all these adult couples from marriage?

    Her mistake - children do not get married. No same-sex couple I know got married because someone got pregnant. And preventing same-sex couples from marrying does nothing to change those two facts.

    Author missed her calling - child advocacy. Marriage is not her issue.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    Thanks for your very thoughtful and accurate explanation of the truth, Jenet.

    I could not agree with you more.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:33 a.m.

    I completely agree that the welfare of children should be a central issue in this debate. Which is why I so strongly support marriage equality. I also oppose elective abortion, as a moral issue, another reason to support marriage equality. I can't see how an increase in the numbers of highly motivated loving prospective parenting couples can have any effect except to bless the lives of children. What astonishes me is that this author opposes something as obviously beneficial as marriage equality.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:32 a.m.

    Maudine,

    So you agree that homosexual relationships are not ideal for children?

    LOL. Me too!

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:34 a.m.

    Erickson: “Marriage exists to ensure children's rights to be reared, as much as possible, by both their father and mother. We privilege marriage not, primarily, to nurture adults who love each other.”

    Marriage as a social policy may be primarily about parental responsibility to children, but that is not the ONLY reason. Dr. Erickson acknowledges as much in the second sentence above, but then proceeds to dismiss any other reasons as irrelevant or inconsequential. Perhaps she would like to reconcile her column with a section of Utah family law [UCA 30-1-1(f)], which makes the INABILITY to bear children a MANDATORY precondition for certain marriages. Even the overwhelmingly pro-child, traditional family values, conservative, Republican, and LDS Utah legislature has recognized that that civil marriage as a social institution is bigger than merely promoting procreation or child welfare. The legislature saw that it is within the legitimate scope of government simply to support relationships based on love and affection as a means of promoting social stability and individual happiness. There is room for multiple social policy goals within the institution of marriage.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    Dr. Erickson overlooks as irrelevant (or invisible) the many children of gay parents. I have seen the figure published that about 30% of gay households have children (sorry, I don’t remember the source, but the figure is plausible and consistent with my own experience). If gays are 3-5% of the population, then somewhere around 1-2% of all children are in gay households. Dr. Erickson acknowledges that children of unmarried parents have poorer social and economic outcomes than those of married parents. Apparently it is acceptable in her idea of child nurturing to condemn 1-2% of the children she claims to speak for to diminished lives by denying them the many documented benefits of married parents.

    Badgerbadger: “Thank you Jenet for spelling it out so well!”

    Well, except for that “undue” error in the penultimate paragraph (I’ll blame the editor, not the author).

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    Excellent article. If it doesn't matter to a child if they have two fathers or two mothers, why do most of these children seek to find their biological parent or parents. Studies have shown the different influences each parent makes in a child's development. For example: It has been shown that boys whose fathers read with them and set an example of reading makes a huge difference in the boys ability to learn to read. There are also many examples of how a mother makes a difference in the development of a child. No gender can replace the other in many of these circumstances. Also, I am married without children. I desperate wanted them. Unfortunately, I was not able to have any and my illness pretty made it impossible to adopt. Nevertheless, I am glad that I could have had a family and raised with with my wonderful husband. Instead I taught children for many years and volunteer my time to help other children. I am currently working with a child whose parents are divorcing. I know that my tutoring helps, but that young boy needs his father. He has abandoned the two little boys. So sad.

  • Clear Eyes Highland, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    In an article written by Robert Oscar Lopez, "Lessons from France on Defending Marriage", found in 'public discourse.com' of the Witherspoon Institute, he states how even the French, (which includes both gay and straight citizens) are fighting for the rights of a child vs. the right to a child.

    When we speak of civil rights, surely the rights of those most defenseless have to be taken into consideration.

  • OldDaveJersey Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    It's disturbing when a university professor produces such a transparently disingenuous article. To start in the middle, Dr. Erickson notes that most studies find that children of same-gender parents do as well as those raised by straight parents. She then cites a long history of research showing that children who've experienced significantly less stable parenting environments ("divorced, step-parent, cohabiting") don't fare as well as those raised from birth by biological parents. Then she mentions the Regnerus study, comparing children raised to adulthood from birth by biological parents with parents, one or both having had at least one same-sex experience in their lives. The latter group is not at all representative of same-gender couples in stable relationships; it also includes those in those same types of less stable parenting environments. The rest of her references have no substance at all. Basically, all she shows is that children don't fare as well in unstable parenting situations ... something that is obviously true regardless of the parents' sexual orientation. Her "evidence" is the very reason the major mental-health organizations favor same-gender civil marriage. I do hope her students have exceptionally good critical-thinking skills!!

  • OldDaveJersey Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    I would also note that the influence of same-gender marriage on children HAS been a fundamental element of the discussion for a very long time ... so Dr. Erickson's foundational premise is totally unfounded. Just because somebody doesn't like the consensus view that has developed about an issue doesn't mean that it hasn't been considered. Complete nonsense.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:20 a.m.

    A 19-year-old University of Iowa engineering student defended gay marriage in a rousing testimony in front of the Iowa House of Representatives. Zack Wahls spoke out against a resolution which would end civil unions in Iowa by describing his own experience as the son of two lesbian partners.

    "Our family really isn't so different from any other Iowa family," said Wahls. "When I am home, we go to church together, we eat dinner, we go on vacations."

    Wahls emphasized the typical nature of his upbringing, as well as his own success. He is an Eagle Scout and a small business owner. He also scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. "If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I would make you very proud," he said.

    A sixth-generation Iowan, Wahls finished his testimony on an impassioned note. "In my 19 years not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently that I was raised by a gay couple," he said. "And you know why? Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:28 a.m.

    @ricardo
    actually the research is far from being in its infancy. We have studies dating back well over 20 years including longitudinal studies (NYU) that have tracked children from the time they where young children into early their early 30's. This research is all very clear in that these children's development and well being where not negatively impacted by the genders of their parents.

  • Jazzledazzle Provo, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:32 a.m.

    @Rikkitikkitavi

    Best comment I have read yet. You are right on point!

    The argument that society is not stepping up anyway is a weak argument. Just because they are not, does not mean we still should not seek the children's best interest. It takes a man and woman to make a child, therefore it is natural that a child be raised by a man and woman. It gives them interaction and affection from both genders.

    @ Blue

    No study in the world merits any credibility. How do these "psychologist" know what does and does not affect a child?

  • 2 tell the truth Clearwater, FL
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    Re: "Gay marriage debate should focus on children"

    Why?

    Procreation is not a requirement of marriage. For anyone. We let non-procreative heterosexuals marry, do we not? The elderly, the infertile, women with total hysterectomies, men with irreversable vasectomies - they can ALL get legally married and will NEVER produce children.

    I wish people would stop conflating the institution of marriage with the institution of parenthood.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:52 a.m.

    So because children in non-traditional households score lower than average on various things (juvenile delinquency, high school GPA, etc) that's a reason to be concerned about gay marriage? Well heck, children with black families and children in poor families do worse on average too. Should we be banning them from marriage too? Seems rather absurd to consider right? Is this statistical argument only useful when you want an excuse to exclude the particular group of people you don't like?

  • observator east of the snake river, ID
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    @truth

    Procreation may not be a requirement for marriage. However, society has long recognized that only certain kinds of relationships have the potential to produce children absent the assistance of a third party. We refer to these relationships as "marriages". (Whether the relationships actually produce children is beside the point.) To refer to other adult associations as marriages ignores what should be obvious.

    I have no problem with the state recognizing other relationships between adults (though why others want the government meddling with their relationship is another question). But it is not bigoted to point out that not all relationships are identical, particularly when it comes to potential for procreation.

  • OldDaveJersey Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    @observator -- Not all straight couples who enter into civil marriage have even the "potential" for producing children. So your argument fails there. Further, your view that marriage only refers to couples with the potential to have children, even if it was true regarding civil marriage, is not "obvious" to a great many people. It is, in fact, a view that primarily is promoted by the Catholic Church. I my case, I always viewed marriage as being heterosexual only by default. Once I started to get to know some same-gender couples and their families personally, I realized NOT that the definition of marriage needed to be changed, but that the understanding I'd always had of marriage applied as strongly to them as to any straight married couples I knew. Regardless, you can't prove your argument using the result you want as a starting point.

    I have no problem with the state recognizing other relationships between adults (though why others want the government meddling with their relationship is another question). But it is not bigoted to point out that not all relationships are identical, particularly when it comes to potential for procreation.

  • OldDaveJersey Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    @observator -- I inadvertently left in a cut-and-paste of your second paragraph; unfortunately I can't go back and edit. But just to respond to that as well ... as far as civil marriage laws, and the reasons behind them go, same-gender relationships ARE essentially identical. Civil marriage exists in this country, through the granting of certain benefits and protections to couples, in order to promote the stability of families ... be they composed of just the couples themselves, the couples plus any biological children, or the couples plus kids from adoption, previous relationships, etc. The state has an interest in promoting the stability of such relationships because of long-established connections between such relationships and the health -- physical, mental, and emotional -- of both the individuals in them and any kinds they might be raising. And all of those reasons apply just as strongly to families built around same-gender couples as to those built around straight couples.

  • observator east of the snake river, ID
    Feb. 22, 2013 11:56 a.m.

    Ahh, Dave, now we are actually having a conversation. This is good, since most people just yell past each other.

    As to your points:

    1. While it is true that not all heterosexual couples will have children, it is an overly intrusive move by the state to go find out which will, which will not, which can, and which cannot. Yet, the state still has a compelling interest in having some idea where the next generation will be born and raised. Thus, it does the least intrusive option by simply requiring all heterosexual unions to register, or at least encouraging them to register, under the term marriage.

    2. Same-gender couples may raise children, this is true. However, it is impossible for, e.g., two men to receive a child without some third party assistance, via adoption, surrogate pregnancy, etc. In this case, the state already has regulations that would allow it to monitor the welfare of children. Thus, further intrusion of registering the couple isn't necessary, or use a civil union if they insist on it.

    I still submit that recognizing not all relationships are identical is prudent even if they are equal under the law.

  • OldeDaveNJ Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    @observator -- while "registration" is part of the process involved in getting married, it is not the purpose of civil marriage. The reason why this is a civil-rights issue, under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, is because the state dispenses benefits and protections based on marital status ... and so is required to do so in a way that is fair and equitable, consistent with the purposes behind civil marriage, unless there is some overriding reason based on the public good for discriminating. Again, the benefits and protections associated with civil marriage ... which represent the core issue here ... are granted by the state in order to promote family stability. And again, that is as true for families built around same-gender couples as it is for those built around straight couples ... in spite of Dr. Erickson's misrepresentations of science to the contrary. Civil marriage does NOT exist because the state needs another way to track people who may procreate.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    Feb. 22, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    Children from rich families do far better than children from low income families.

    Children with college educated parents do better than children with parents who have no degrees.

    Race, ethnicity, region, also are powerful predictors of the success of children in society.

    Nobody would suggest banning marriage or child rearing for any of these groups. We should not bad it for gays either. Let's be honest about this. Are we against gay marriage for the sake of the children, or are we against it because it offends our religious values? In view of the failure of the article to deal equally with such factors as income, education, race, ethnicity, and any number of others factor, the answer appears to be the latter.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    @observator/11:51 responding to OldDave:

    Please refer to my previous posts above. I'm trying to understand and not shout past.

    Your first response boils down to “it is administratively simpler to lump hetero couples together and let them all marry rather than have each couple demonstrate fertility.” So, family law is determined by bureaucratic efficiency and technology? Are you suggesting that if there were a simple nonintrusive fertility test the law should restrict marriage to fertile couples committing to progeny? The couples desiring to marry under the provision of Utah law I cited in my first post must demonstrate to the government that they are unable to reproduce. Is that a similarly intrusive hurdle that the state should just overlook?

    As to your second point, I see no functional or practical difference between a same-sex couple using donors, surrogacy, IVF, adoption, etc. to obtain a child and a hetero couple doing the same. If, as you say, civil unions are sufficient for gay couples with “artificial” children then the same applies to straight couples. Are you implying that marriage should be reserved for those naturally issuing children and everyone else gets civil unions?

  • OregonMan West Linn, OR
    Feb. 22, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    I so appreciate the viewpoint this article has taken. As an orphan who lost my mother, father, brother and sister in a car accident at the age of 7 years, it has been a unique experience for me the go through life not knowing my biological family. It is inherent within me to continually wonder about my parents. I know many other orphans and foster children ponder the same. Unlike children who know their living parents, I cannot answer many basic questions about my family's medical history, genealogy, mental history, etc.

    Fortunately, my situation is a not common. But, to not place value on the relationship of a child with their biological parent is extremely offensive to me. To put a priority on the rights of the parents over children turns a deaf ear and blind eye to children. Let me be clear - I am grateful the family that raised me after my family's passing and know that many people have acted in the place of my parents, thank God. But, no matter what the composition of a family is defined to be, I can state that children should be secured the right to know their biological parentage.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    There is the ideal family setting in which a child is in a household with both its biological mother and biological father. The author cites studies that show this family setting is the most advantageous for the benefit of children. This may or may not be true. What concerns me is that there are a myriad of other family structures in place right now. My spouse and I were both married previously and both with children from our previous marriages. We are now raising our children in a combined family household, with much success, I believe. Out of all the non-traditional family arrangements that exist in the country today, the only one being discriminated against is the gay marriage family. Certainly, a happy gay marriage household is a better child raising environment than a dis-functional, unhappy, straight-marriage household. I know lots of unhappy, dis-functional straight-marriage households, none of which are being threatened with discrimination.

  • observator east of the snake river, ID
    Feb. 22, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    Now, Dave, you are discussing the incentivization of marriage, not the definition, when you discuss benefits. We have tax laws and loopholes pertaining to all kinds of relationships; personal, business, and otherwise. It is not discriminatory in any way to recognize that, for instance, a partnership is a different business structure than an S-corp, a corporation, an LLC or something else. If the state wishes to incentivize personal relationships to the same degree that marriage has been during the past 100 years or so (when modern tax laws kicked in), then it can do that. A simple law stating that all the incentives that apply to marriage apply to any other relationship between registered consenting adults would take care of that. The only thing I object to is the use of the term "marriage" to define a relationship other than one that may produce children without third party assistance (not will produce--we've already been through that).

    Equal protection can be extended to all without using the term "marriage" outside of its traditional context. We don't insist on calling all business relationships by the same term...and that would be analogous to this case.

  • OldeDaveNJ Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    @OregonMan -- what does any of that have to do with same-gender marriage ... the topic at hand. Many same-gender couples raise children through adoption, due to circumstances that might be very much like yours. You don't point to anything that might be wrong with it. Some same-gender couples raise kids from previous relationships; the kids might have had to endure the pain of a divorce, but that is no different than the situation with straight couples in similar circumstances ... and generally they know both their biological parents. And as for kids conceived, for example, through IVF, that is no different than those conceived under similar circumstances by infertile straight couples ... and please don't tell me that kids raised from birth under those circumstances experience the same trauma that you did. Parental stability is the key factor, and that is true regardless of whether we're talking about straight or same-gender couples.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Feb. 22, 2013 2:28 p.m.

    @oregomman
    sorry for your loss, however, you do understand the difference between being orphaned and being raised by a sam sex couple right? Not really a logical comparison.

  • observator east of the snake river, ID
    Feb. 22, 2013 2:43 p.m.

    Thought of something else, to clarify.

    Suppose I am a member of Kiwanis. I may have the same legal protections and rights of association as a member of Rotary. That is fine. But, if I'm a member of Kiwanis, I wouldn't refer to myself as a Rotarian.

    Someone is bound to say the analogy is oversimplified. Perhaps. But the point is valid: Equal protections in relationships and associations do not require that traditional definitions be discarded.

  • David in Houston Houston, TX
    Feb. 22, 2013 2:55 p.m.

    PolishBear's comment above was perfectly said. I would like to reiterate that procreation has never been a requirement nor an obligation for those getting married. Rush Limbaugh has been married four times and has never had children. Newt Gingrich's last two (adulterous) marriages didn't involve children. So would the author still consider them married? Because the state and government do.

    I'm also not sure how you can use hypothetical children to define marriage, and not support banning divorce and adoptions. The only way children are taken away from one or more of their biological parents is either through divorce, or being put up for adoption. If the author truly believes that the only purpose for marriage is the birthing and raising of children, they should also be in favor of banning senior citizens, infertile couples, and those like Rush Limbaugh from ever getting married.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    @ Chris B: No, that is not what I said. What I said was that there are many situations that are not considered ideal (and what those situations are vary from person to person) and, if we are going to claim that marriage is for the benefit if the children, we need to extend that benefit to all children.

    How does it make sense to claim marriage is good for children but we are going to purposely disadvantage children whose patents we don't like?

    Why are we not prohibiting people in prison from getting married? Or fat people? Or people who work for minimum wage? Why do we let divorced people get remarried? Why do we let people without health insurance get married? Why do we allow people under the age of 24 to get married?

    Why, if marriage is so important to children, are we purposely disadvantaging some of those who some people think are not in ideal situations but not those who others think are not in ideal situations? Who gets to be the final arbiter of which children get their rights protected and which children don't?

  • OldeDaveNJ Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 3:26 p.m.

    @observator -- Having two sets of parallel laws for what is, legally speaking, the same thing is both inefficient and ineffective. States that have tried, for example, civil unions have found them lacking, both for legal and sociological reasons. Legal because the federal government only recognizes marriages (and that will be true even when DOMA falls), and sociological because such separate-but-equal attempts promote confusion (real or feigned) that inevitably leads to unequal treatment. (Visit the state websites of New Jersey or Vermont for reports from bipartisan Civil Union Review Commissions showing how they are fundamentally flawed.) If you want equality using a name other than "marriage," then one would need to use the term for both straight and same-gender unions. It would be much more efficient, effective, and expeditious to simply recognize the reality that civil marriage and religious marriage are two separate and distinct things ... as they have been all along. (Probably my last comment as I think this website limits how many posts one person can make.)

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 3:30 p.m.

    Jazzledazzle: "No study in the world merits any credibility. How do these 'psychologist' (sic) know what does and does not affect a child?"

    It's the way defenders of superstition and injustice so readily and proudly dismiss professional hard-earned expertise, reason and evidence that amazes and disheartens me most these days.

    If we are going to dismiss the work of professional researchers and their peer-reviewed findings, upon what are we supposed to base public policy? The person with the loudest voice or the biggest stick?

  • Stephen Kent Ehat Lindon, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    By definition a single-gender marriage necessarily discriminates on the impermissible basis of sex, excluding one of the sexes from the relationship and depriving the child of the right to be raised in a family where the home is guided by both sexes and where both parents seek to show the complementarity of the sexes.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 6:09 p.m.

    @stephen
    Not sure where you get discrimination out of that and the research clearly shows the gender of the parents is ilrelevant to the child's well being.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Feb. 22, 2013 6:39 p.m.

    Before we pass laws we'd better look at the long-term effects of the law. If gay marriage is legalized then the door is open for legalization of polyamorous (2 or more adults of each sex) families and incestuous relationships. Do we really want this? Our nation needs people of good character and the best place to develop these people is in homes where the children are raised by their biological father and mother.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 7:30 p.m.

    Clearly the author thinks that the children who are being raised by gay parents do not deserve to be married.

    Yes maam, think of the children; thou hypocrite.

  • OldeDaveNJ Trenton, NJ
    Feb. 22, 2013 7:29 p.m.

    @JSB - As noted elsewhere, the reasons behind civil marriage are just as well served by same-gender couples as by straight. It's not clear that is true for either polyamorous or incestuous relationships. Also, gay people are precluded by traditionalist marriage laws from ever entering into a healthy, successful marriage with anyone, ever; that is not the case with the other relationships you mention. In fact, it's not even clear what equal dispensation of benefits mean w/ polygamist relationships; since a polygamist is free to marry any one of their partners and get benefits on a par with any other straight married couple, it's not even clear they ARE discriminated against, as the 14th Amendment defines it. So no ... it doesn't open the door to polygamy and incest. Also, as many have noted, there is no evidence that kids raised from infancy by a same-gender couple fares significantly differently than those raised by their biological parents. Likewise, no evidence of a difference -- same-gender vs straight -- for kids who are adopted later in life ... or kids from broken homes ... or kids from surrogacy, etc. Everything you said was completely made up.

  • OregonMan West Linn, OR
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:16 p.m.

    @OldeDaveNJ

    I understand the topic it hand is children's rights with respect to gay marriage. My comments I believe are pertinent to many situations that you have named, such as adoption, divorce IVF, etc., including children raised by a gay couple. It is my hope that my real-life perspective gives credence to the author's statement that the consequences of not being raised by ones biological mother and father are real. All the situations where this is the case do not obviate the reality of my experience. In fact, I believe my post would be just as pertinent if the article we focusing on children of IVF or divorce for that matter.

    As for other children not raised by their birth parents or gone through trauma similar to mine, I cannot speak for them, that is true. Certainly parental stability is a key factor. However, that is not the only factor. Knowledge of ones one biological parents, ones own heritage, genetics, etc. is a real issue. I know of other adopted children that long to meet their biological families, in spite of being raised in another family.

  • OregonMan West Linn, OR
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:20 p.m.

    @Kalindra,

    Certainly I am not trying to equate my experience with being raised by a same-sex couple. I agree, and I am not trying to draw a parallel. Thank you. Nor am I trying to say that not being raised in a family with a mother and father is a traumatic experience. It was my hope that others might appreciate my perspective as child. The desire I have to know my biological family is real. I know of many other adopted people like me who feel the same pull, even those raised in loving families. That being said, I am a proponent of the rights of a child to know their biological parents no matter what the situation of family composition. Every human being born on this planet is indebted to a biological mother and father for their very existence. To deny a child that knowledge of that parentage I attest has real consequences.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Feb. 22, 2013 9:37 p.m.

    r.e. OldeDaveNJ. I said polyamory; not polygamy. Polyamory, as I mentioned in my comment, is where there are two or more adults living together sharing physical intimacy. There are close to 500,000 polyamorous "families" in the US today and they are looking forward to legalization of gay marriage because it will open the door for them to get their relationships legalized--after all, they love each other just as much as gay partners love each other. Imagine the social chaos when this happens. Who gets a child if there is a divorce. Who gets what part of the property? And, if one of them has as affair with someone outside of the "family," before long, everyone in the "family" has and STD. But, that's OK. They love each other just like Gays do.

    When people want to change a law, should lawmakers simply consider only the short-term gratification of some of the citizens’ wants and desires or should the lawmakers consider the long-term social ramifications of implementation of that law?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 11:13 p.m.

    If you believe in God, the debate/discussion is over. Wrong, evil, corrupt, etc. If you don't believe in God, it is useless to debate/discuss. Those who don't believe in God, must rely on historical perspective, which doesn't give them much help. Marraige for thousands of years by stable societies has relied upon marraige being between a man and women. George Gilder in his book Men and Marraige has written some great chapters, all based on respected studies and analysis, regarding the gay movement. It is worth reading. God, who rules throughout the universe, will carry the day.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    Feb. 22, 2013 11:13 p.m.

    @oregonman
    I can understand and respect that, thanks oregonman

  • Two For Flinching Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 3:44 a.m.

    @ bandersen

    Many stable societies also relied on slave labor. Things change; more often than not for the better.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 8:23 a.m.

    @observator;

    Here's a better comparison: I'm a human being, you're a human being, we're both human beings and want to participate in the rituals of humans.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Feb. 23, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    Just a couple of simple points. The argument that society has relied on a single definition of marrriage for centuries is just plain silly and meaningless. Of course it has. Even today if anyone was allowed to marry anyone else they wanted, 90% of all marriages or more, would still be between a man and a women. That's just the way the world is, so it has no bearing on the discussion of should a small minority of citiens be allowed to marry also.

    Secondly, I'd be interested to know what the percentage is of gay couples that do desire children and work towards that end. Point being that for those that don't, the whole children argument against their marriage is meaningless and to expand that argument to deny all gay couples marriage rights is faulty at best.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    @ banderson: A great many people believe in God and believe same-sex marriage should be allowed.

    @ OregonMan: I appreciate your respectful tone. While a great many people who do not know one or both of their biological parents and wish they did, many of those who were not/are not being raised by both biological parents do not have two biological "parents" - one or both may simply be donors. (As an example, look at Nadia Suleman's kids - all 12 of them.)

    Keeping in mind that these situations are just as possible without marriage as they are with marriage, we must acknowledge that prohibiting marriage to certain couples actually harms these children by removing protections while not preventing the situation.

    @ JSB: Interesting question. You should write a letter in and ask it. This discussion is about same-sex marriage, a totally different topic. Let's try to stay focused, shall we?

  • George Bronx, NY
    Feb. 23, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    @banderson
    That would be a very compelling argument if it where true, but it is not. First the idea of one man and one women is a relatively recent construct even within LDS culture let alone the world. Secondly the author you quotes research has been roundly discredited on the court. Third research sighted by every professional am organization. That studies human behavior and society shows no harm to gay marriage (including 20 plus year long longatudenal studies). Third, not all religions agree with your view. Forth history also shows your exact same argument was used to argue against interracial marriage which has also had no harm to society. So it would seem those of us that do not (and some of those that do) use no religious arguments have a great deal of help and I suppose we will see who's version of god rules the day since there seems to be some differences of opinion on that subject.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    "Suppose I am a member of Kiwanis. I may have the same legal protections and rights of association as a member of Rotary. That is fine. But, if I'm a member of Kiwanis, I wouldn't refer to myself as a Rotarian."

    So, are you saying that marriage is a club that only certain people are allowed to join?

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    Two for Flinching: Actually, most societies have crumbled. I'm just trying to plug the dike. I don't see any societies that have been built on Gay marraige. Naturally, of course, frustrated by some rather odd means of building them.

  • 2 tell the truth Clearwater, FL
    Feb. 23, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    @ Observator,

    Re: "Procreation may not be a requirement for marriage."

    There's no "may" about it. It ISN'T.

    Re: "However, society has long recognized that only certain kinds of relationships have the potential to produce children"

    The relationships I listed have NO such "potential". Saying women with total hysterectomies have the "potential to produce children" is absurd.

    Re: "absent the assistance of a third party."

    Once again, we let those who CANNOT procreate - at ALL - marry. (Two of Mitt Romney's sons used 'third party" assistance, and THEY were still allowed to marry.)

    Re: "We refer to these relationships as "marriages".

    No smarm quotes needed. They are legal marriages. Just as mine is.

    Re: "(Whether the relationships actually produce children is beside the point.)"

    It isn't "beside the point" - of this article. Those heterosexual couples that DO not, WILL not, or CAN not procreate are STILL allowed to marry. Because procreation is STILL not a requiremnt of marriage - at all - for anyone.

    Sheesh!

    Re: "To refer to other adult associations as marriages ignores what should be obvious."

    It isn't at all "obvious". We still call non-procreative heterosexual legal marriages marriages.

  • 2 tell the truth Clearwater, FL
    Feb. 23, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    @ Observator,

    As to YOUR points:

    "While it is true that not all heterosexual couples will have children, it is an overly intrusive move by the state to go find out which will, which will not, which can, and which cannot."

    The state does not DO that. Because the state does not require reproduction (neither the ability nor the intent).

    Re: "Yet, the state still has a compelling interest in having some idea where the next generation will be born and raised. Thus, it does the least intrusive option by simply requiring all heterosexual unions to register, or at least encouraging them to register, under the term marriage."

    The state requires same-gender couples to register their marriages as well. And of course, un-married heterosexual couples can ALSO procreate.

    RE: "it is impossible for, e.g., two men to receive a child without some third party assistance, via adoption, surrogate pregnancy, etc."

    So what? Having children isn't a requirement of marriage.

  • 2 tell the truth Clearwater, FL
    Feb. 23, 2013 10:20 a.m.

    A Observator,

    Re: "In this case, the state already has regulations that would allow it to monitor the welfare of children. Thus, further intrusion of registering the couple isn't necessary, or use a civil union if they insist on it."

    "Civil" unions are, for the most part, a legal fiction. They only exist in a handful of states. They are not the same from state to state. They are not portable from state to state. And they come with NONE of the 1,176 Federal "effects that flow from marriage". There is not even ONE Federal law that mentions them let alone recognizes them as any kind of legal relationship. I know of no heterosexuals who would accept the 'downgrade', and neither should any gay person. And, why should legally married couples become legal strangers when crossing a state line?

    Re: "I still submit that recognizing not all relationships are identical is prudent even if they are equal under the law."

    Submit all you want to. You still haven't made a valid case for not allowing same-gender couples to marry. All of your "points" are predicated on making babies being a requirement to marry. It isn't.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    "Jenet Jacob Erickson teaches in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University."

    Just curious, can somebody please tell me what a "School of Family Life" is? What exactly does Jenet teach, and what do scholars of family life do for a living?

  • Zachary Martinez Melbourne, 00
    Feb. 23, 2013 8:49 p.m.

    If people were serious about the idea that the justification of marriage is the rearing of biological children, then they would prohibit marriage for opposite-sex couples who are unable or unwilling to have children. And yet, if a seventy-five year old man wants to marry a seventy-five year old woman, we will let them - the odds they will raise children together is extremely low, and it is probably not a good idea even if they wanted to. Yet when people won't support banning this form of marriage, it is hard for me to take seriously their claim that marriage is about raising biological children.

    Banning same-sex marriage doesn't stop same-sex parenting. But if same-sex couples are going to have children anyway - which they do and will, even without marriage - the added stability which marriage provides can only benefit their children.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    Who doesn't think children should be central to the debate on marriage? No reasonable person would ever jeopardize the welfare of children for the sake of marriage equality. The thing is, there is no rational argument to deny marriage rights to gay couples , especially when it comes to children. The more loving, stable homes we have, the better we are for it - and this only bodes well for children, too. Denying marriage rights cannot guarantee better situations for children, no matter how hard you want to believe it will.

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2013 4:01 p.m.

    I would go one more step: adoption is all about what's best for children, not the adults who adopt them. Like all other children, adopted children need both a mother and a father. For that reason, same-sex couples should never be allowed to adopt a child. It has nothing to do with the "rights" of the same-sex couple; it has everything to do with the welfare of children.

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    Feb. 26, 2013 4:02 p.m.

    This article is just one more attempt by the religious right to find a "harm" in permitting gays to marry. The problem has always been that they can't find any. Analyis of their arguments comes down to "they should not be allowed to marry because we don't like it." The reasons that they don't like it has nothing to do with how children may or may not be affected. The reason has to do with antipathy to homosexual practices and the old slippery slope argument, if gays are allowed to marry, what other forms of marriage might be permitted? But they find it hard to be straight on the reasons for their opposition because most will not find them convincing. So lets scare everyone with a notion that there will be certain harm to children. This is an old and tired tactic, but it just might work, it just might.

  • SweetCanary Tucson, AZ
    March 6, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    As a friend of a child who was adopted by a homosexual couple, I find this article to be narrow minded, and, frankly, a little silly. Children deserve good parents. Period. No race, nor gender, nor sexual preference is any different in the respect of being a family. If we're truly thinking about the children, be sure to think about all the children waiting for a family and being bounced around between foster homes that aren't being taken in when they have every right to.

  • From Ted's Head Orem, UT
    April 19, 2013 7:53 a.m.

    I'm so tired of people who attempt to support their position with handpicked research. On religious grounds I am against same sex marriage and no amount of research one way or another will change how I view it. I believe many LDS folks (the author's religion) feel the same way. I just don't like the attempt to "prove" that belief with science or popular opinion, just as I'm not a fan of people who try and prove the truthfulness of Book of Mormon by finding artifacts or the geography where the Nephites supposedly lived. It's ok to have a belief. It's not ok to twist the "facts" to support that belief. Truly we don't have enough data to determine the impact of children in regard to the sexual orientation and relationship status of their parents. State your belief if you please...but leave it as an opinion and don't try and sell us on your facts.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    June 27, 2013 10:44 p.m.

    Actually under the fault divorce laws it was clear that procreation was a goal of marriage. things like being infertile and failure to consummate a marriage being easy grounds for divorce showed this.