March 24, 2006

Unfit to Parent?

It is obvious that same-sex adoption is moving alongside same-sex marriage as hot-button issues in today's society which is why I visit that again with this post.

This particular story started when a straight GLBT ally in Tennessee emailed one of her state representatives regarding the debate in that state's legislature regarding same-sex adoption. As reported by Out & About, a newspaper serving the gay community in Tennessee, the response she received was mind-boggling.

Sara Dykstra shared the e-mail reply she received from state Rep. Debra Maggart. In stating her skepticism about the wisdom of allowing same-sex adoption, she wrote Ms. Dkystra:

“I am not convinced that just because our foster children desperately need loving homes that we should just place them in homes that are available when research also shows that most homosexual couples have numerous emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues that may not be healthy for children.”

Wait a minute, did she meet my parents? My birth mommy and daddy raised me, yet I grew up with the "traditional family values" of alcoholism, infidelity, codependency, dishonesty and, worst of all, old-school hillbilly music constantly on the car radio.

To imply that gays and lesbians are the only ones with "numerous emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues" is indefensibly ignorant. Perhaps narrow-minded thought like that contributes to dysfunction within the GLBT community.

Ms. Dykstra shared her reaction to Rep. Maggert's response; "My initial reaction when I read that was both shock and anger. I was surprised to hear such one-sided, ignorant and false logic coming from someone who is elected for the common good."

I wish I had been as surprised as her when I read this story. Ignorance is a tough nut to crack, but we need to keep chipping away.


  1. I get your point, but I think it's worth noting that no state authority would allow straight parents with the "traditional family values" you listed to adopt children, nor would they consider this the optimal environment for raising one's biological children. The standards for adoption (at least in my jurisdiction) are extremely high, to the point that many straight couples who would make good parents are denied.

    I don't think Rep. Maggart was suggesting that gays and lesbians are the only ones with "numerous emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues". What she was saying is that research shows that gays and lesbians tend to have these traits, and should therefore not be allowed to adopt, just like any straight couple with these traits.

    I think what you take issue with (and quite rightly in my opinion) is the reseach Rep. Maggart alludes to. The root problem here is bad and prejudiced science, not some fanciful belief that GLBTs are the only ones with problems.

    Perhaps I'm being nit-picky but it seems to me you're arguing against a straw man here, and I felt I ought to point this out.

  2. Older research (mostly '70's and '80's) found that gays (mostly 14-18 year olds in these studies) had more problems than other teens. More depression, stress related problems, drug and alcohol adiction, more likely to seek therapy.

    Considering how gays were treated back then, and how vulnerable teens are, this should surprise no one.

    Those who provide anti-gay research reports, refer to these studies. Today, with more gays out and about and improving attitudes, we are not seeing adverse effects at these levels today.

    They then imply two false conclusions. First they over generalize and imply that these old teen studies apply to all gays in general. Not so. When gays are older and more settled in, they leave these problems behind them.

    Second, they take the results which they over generalized to start with, and then imply that since this applies to all gays (which it doesn't) this would include those who are applying to adopt children.

    What a crock! The truth is, adoption agencies do background checks and can easily eliminate anyone who has a substance abuse problem, etc. etc.

    Sure gays have the same variety of problems as everyone, and yes gay teens in the past had more problems than other teens, but that doesn't allow one to paint all gays with the same broad brush.

    The gays the adoption agency selects out would make just as good parents as anyone.

  3. It is pretty amazing that Rep. Maggart doesn't consider that the children who need foster and/or adoptive parents are in that predicament because their heterosexual parents either couldn't or wouldn't take care of them. And she must not think very highly of those who screen and train potential foster/adoptive parents if she thinks they can't weed out people with emotional problems.