Children of gay families can help win the fight for gay marriage

Braiden Neubecker was sitting on the bed and her dad was shaving at the sink as the president made his historic remarks about gay marriage during his second inaugural address.
President Barack Obama talked about “our gay brothers and sisters,” and declared “if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” In the kitchen after the address with her dads, David and Lee Neubecker, Braiden, who is 10, had a question. “Aren’t you guys married?” she asked, confused.

Her dads, in fact, were married — in a service in California, but the marriage was nullified in 2004 after the state’s Supreme Court declared all marriages performed from February to March that year invalid. “I don’t think she realized before that gays and lesbians couldn’t marry,” David Neubecker recalled in a recent phone interview with his daughter and The Huffington Post.

“I got upset,” she agreed, singing into the phone, “everybody should be treated equally.” Plus, she continued to her father, “it’s safer to be married because when you guys aren’t married it’s easier to break up and split apart.”

Braiden is now one of a number of children, many of them raised by gay or lesbian parents, who have stepped into the spotlight to directly address the courts and public as part of a debate in which they have long been central figures, but have rarely taken part. A week after Obama’s address the Neubeckers started talking again about the speech and the laws that prevented Braiden’s dads, who live in a suburb of Chicago, from getting married. Braiden had so much to say that David encouraged her to get out her journal and write it down.

A couple of drafts later, a letter written by Braiden was included in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in time for the court’s two landmark cases on gay marriage in March. The amicus brief was from Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), meant to show how the families of same-sex parents are affected when they are not allowed to marry.

For decades, those opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage have argued that they might somehow harm the children same-sex couples raise or adopt. In court in March, Justice Antonin Scalia, arguably the court member most staunchly opposed to gay rights, offered “one concrete thing” about legalizing same-sex marriage that could harm society.

“If you redefine marriage to include same-sex couples … you must permit adoption by same-sex couples,” he said in the hearing to determine whether Proposition 8, California’s law banning same-sex marriage, was constitutional. “And there’s considerable disagreement among … sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a … single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not.”

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg pointed out that California gay couples already can legally adopt children. Sociologists, child welfare experts and pediatricians have argued that those raised by same-sex couples do just as well as their counterparts raised in heterosexual households.

“Its very surprising in many ways how uniform he results of the research have been,” said Charlotte J. Patterson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, who has been researching child development in same-sex households for more than 20 years. “What we’ve found is that what’s important is not the sexual orientation of the parents but rather the resources the parents can offer the kids and the quality of relationships with their children, and of course that’s true for gay and straight parents.”

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Article: 13th April 2013 www.huffingtonpost.com

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