Guest writer Stefan Simonovic explores same- gender marriage around the world looking at how far we have come in the mission towards full equality.
In recent years, more and more countries and governments are legislating for gay and lesbian marriages as LGBT groups have gained more status in society, and human rights have been on the forefront of public agendas and have been promoted globally. It’s been such a powerful movement that lobbyists for the cause have helped more and more couples to come together and become life partners, in a legal and tangible way. With same-sex marriages gaining authority, it’s natural that some of those couples would want to expand their families. That’s where the question of same-sex parenting comes into the debate, and it’s an interesting one, since it’s such a polarising issue that has many up in arms over the implications.
The Global Situation
From South to North America and Europe, there is a list of countries that have taken the plunge and legalised same-sex marriage so that same-sex couples can be legally married and receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. That list includes; Argentina (2010), Denmark (2012), Iceland (2010), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Belgium (2003), The United Kingdom, excluding Northern Ireland (2013), Ireland (2015), Portugal (2010), United States (2015), Brazil (2013), Finland (2015), Luxembourg (2014), Scotland (2014), Uruguay (2013), Canada (2005), France (2013), The Netherlands (2000), South Africa (2006), Colombia (2016) Greenland (2015), New Zealand (2013), Spain (2005), and in some jurisdictions, Mexico (2009).
All these nations have recognised the validity of a person to choose whom they want to marry, regardless of sexual orientation. I believe these countries are known for being progressive and liberal nations where human rights are respected, and so it’s natural to assume that the population would find same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting modern and important issues to address. With these laws solidly in place, and in some countries they have been so for over a decade, the next move would be to allow these couples the right to adopt children and take part in same-sex parenting.
In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau did a survey on same-sex couples across the nation, where they collected demographic data on both married and unmarried same-sex couples, including those who are raising children. There were some interesting results. They found that over 200,000 children lived with same-sex parents, and a third of those were living with married parents and in states where marriage was legal, the rate was over half. Lesbians couples were parenting three quarters of those children, and same-gender couples in general were three times more likely to adopt or raise foster children. Another interesting angle was that racial or ethnic minorities made up more than a third of these same-sex couples raising children.
Queer adoption is now a thing and it’s becoming more and more common as legally married couples look to expand their families, and rightfully so. It’s also natural that many would want to study this cultural phenomenon and study the implications that this new legal coupling. The world’s largest attempt to study how children raised by same-sex couples measured up against children raised by heterosexual couples was made in 2014. The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families was a preliminary report that studied 500 children across Australia and what the report found was that this cross-section of youth was not only thriving, but had a higher rate of family cohesion than other children in so-called normal heterosexual nuclear families.
The study was launched by Melbourne University, lead by head researcher, Dr. Simon Crouch. He found that the bullying and homophobia, that same-sex families regularly have to cope with had positive effects. They tended to relate to each other and society more openly, and thus have a more open attitude toward difficult situations and issues that may arise in their household. This willingness to communicate more honestly lends itself to promoting better family cohesion and to well-adjusted children. The study went as far as to say that children raised by same-sex couples were healthier and happier overall. The lack of gender stereotyping and profiling in same gender parenting roles promoted harmony simply not seen in heterosexual marriages.
With gay and lesbian couples being able to adopt in a world where same-sex marriages are legal, there will always be supporters and detractors. The hurtful negative rhetoric needs to be challenges as it can hurt LGBT families and have a negative impact on a child’s mental health. But the more LGBT parenting and families are accepted as the normal part and progression of same-sex marriage, this issue will hopefully be one that more societies and countries can put behind them. Since, the goal of any parent and parenting philosophy is to ultimately benefit the child; and love and support does not need to be shaded by political biases based solely on gender and sexuality.