Same-Sex Marriage: Not in Kids' Interest

GEORGE A. REKERS

A recently published review of the scientific literature compiled by George A. Rekers, professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral science at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine lends strong support to the Church's objection to homosexual parenting, adoption, and foster parenting.

Notice to Reader: "The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."




Spain and Canada are steadily moving toward the legalization of same-sex "marriage." In past months the bishops' conferences in both countries have issued numerous declarations assailing the attempts to put heterosexual marriage and same-sex unions on the same level.

This opposition, explained the Spanish episcopal conference in a declaration April 21, does not mean that homosexuals should be discriminated against or maltreated. As individuals they have the same rights and dignity as all other persons, the bishops said. Yet, this does not mean that two persons of the same sex have any right to contract matrimony, the episcopal statement cautioned.

Opposition has been equally firm in Canada. "Because the relationship of a man and woman committed in a marriage is the strongest core of the family, and because the family is the most vital unit in society, we run great risks in tinkering with the definition of marriage and the family," explained a note published March 16 by the Canadian bishops' conference.

Of particular concern to the Church, and other groups, is that the proposed laws in Spain and Canada would allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

Adoption, insisted the Spanish bishops in a statement Oct. 1, should be about looking after the good of children, and not "supposed" rights of those who wish to adopt. Two people of the same sex do not constitute an adequate point of reference for adoption, the bishops stated.

Compelling empirical evidence supporting the Church's objection on the issue of adoption was published earlier this month in the United States by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The organization was founded in 1992 to provide psychological understanding of the cause, treatment and behavior patterns associated with homosexuality.

On May 6 NARTH published a study titled, "Review of Research on Homosexual Parenting, Adoption, and Foster Parenting." The paper was written by George Rekers, professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral science at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

The study, accompanied by extensive documentation and bibliographical references, was prepared for use in U.S. legal proceedings on the question of whether homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children.

  

Harmful stresses

Rekers explains that the inherent nature of a household formed by homosexually behaving adults "uniquely endangers foster children by exposing them to a substantial level of harmful stresses that are over and above usual stress levels in heterosexual foster homes."

The professor observes that adopted children are "among the most vulnerable of all citizens," as by the time they arrive at their new home they have already gone through a series of difficulties, often involving separations, neglect, and traumas such as the death of parents. Added to this is the stress of adjusting to a new home and neighborhood.

He then goes on to cite a number of studies that detail how, even when adopted children are placed in favorable family circumstances, they already suffer from substantially higher rates of psychological disorders.

Citing a wide variety of academic studies from countries around the world, Rekers explains that homosexual adults suffer from significantly higher rates of psychological disorders such as suicide, conduct disorder and substance abuse. Living with a parent who suffers from a mental disorder or has problems with drug or alcohol abuse will only trigger further stresses and problems for adopted children, he contends.

"The logical conclusion from these findings would be that heterosexual adults generally have significantly and substantially better health, more energy, and better emotional stamina to devote to foster children," argues Rekers.

  

Instability

Another factor that militates against homosexuals being given the possibility to adopt children is the well-demonstrated fact that same-sex partner relationships are significantly less stable and more short-lived on the average compared to a marriage of a man and a woman.

For adopted children this will lead to a substantially higher rate of household transitions in foster homes for youngsters placed with a homosexually behaving adult. Foster children have already suffered one or more traumatic transitions, notes Rekers, and more-frequent transitions result in greater psychological harm and psychosocial maladjustment.

Rekers observes that a longitudinal study based on population registers in Norway and Sweden, which included legally registered same-sex partnerships in the latter nation, reported that homosexual male couples were 1.5 times as likely to break up as married heterosexual couples.

Breakup rates were even higher for homosexual female couples, who were found to be 2.67 times as likely to split as heterosexual married couples. Rekers goes on to explain that according to this study, when controls for demographic characteristics associated with increased risk of divorce were added to the analysis, male homosexual couples were 1.35 times as likely to divorce, and lesbian couples were three times as likely to divorce as heterosexual married couples.

  

Needing a mom and dad

Another series of problems arises from the lack of role models, normally present in a household headed by a father and a mother. A household with one or more homosexually behaving members "deprives foster children of vitally needed positive contributions to child adjustment," Rekers states.

Lacking is the mother/father relationship and model as related to child rearing. Also absent is the model of a husband/wife relationship "which is significantly healthier, substantially more stable socially and psychologically, and is more widely approved compared to homosexual lifestyles," the professor writes.

Rekers notes that openly identified homosexual researchers frequently argue that an adult's sexual orientation has no bearing on whether they can carry out important parenting functions. He admits that this capability is necessary in a foster home, but it is not the only condition needed.

Adopted children not only require parents who can carry out basic parental functions. They also need parents who provide a family structure where there is an environment that is propitious for a child's development. In fact, for this reason, he notes, the state already puts restrictions on those who can adopt, and normally excludes, for example, newly married or elderly couples, and recently arrived immigrants.

Children placed for adoption have normally already lost a positive role model of a married mother and father, and placing them in a household headed by two persons of the same sex will leave them still bereft of this model.

Marriages that consist of both a man and a woman provide special advantages in raising children, Rekers explains. Children see and experience the innate and unique abilities and characteristics that each sex possesses and contributes to their combined endeavor. As well, children learn lessons for later life by seeing both parents working together in child rearing.

Reker argues that a heterosexual marriage provides a child with four models that provide strong advantages to a child who grows up to become a married adult:

A heterosocial role model of a stable married male/female relationship.

A heterosocial role model of mother and father coordinating co-parenting.

A parenting role model of father-child relationship.

A parenting role model of a mother-child relationship.

The study observes that the best child adjustment come about when they live with a married man and woman. "It is clearly in the best interests of foster children," Rekers states, "to be placed with exclusively heterosexual married-couple foster families because this natural family structure inherently provides unique needed benefits and produces better child adjustment than is generally the case in households with a homosexually behaving adult." Whether such arguments impress legislators in Canada and Spain remains to be seen. ZE05052101

  

A pdf version of "Review of Research on Homosexual Parenting, Adoption, and Foster Parenting"
by George A. Rekers is available here.

 


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