By Brad Cooke
What does more damage to our society: gay weddings and adoptions or the hateful literature of the religious right who would move to prevent them? An interesting question to be sure, and one that was foremost in my mind this past week while I watched arrogant fundamentalist Christians expound on the "damage" to our children that gays represent.
The American Civil Liberties Union cites that between 6 and 14 million children in the U.S. have at least one gay parent and that simultaneously there exists an adoption crisis wherein hundreds of thousands of children remain without homes; 21 states have granted second parent adoption rights to gay and lesbian couples and, using "best-interests-of-the-child" criteria, 22 states have allowed adoption by gay men or lesbians through state-run and private agencies. However, due mostly to religious stigma, many states continue to deny adoption rights to gay and lesbian parents.
Not a single reputable study has shown a child to be disadvantaged due to the sexual orientation of his or her parents. Indeed, there is no evidence to support the claim that gays and lesbians are unfit parents; no evidence to show that good parenting is influenced by sexual orientation; nothing showing that children raised by gays and lesbians are less intelligent, suffer from more problems, are less popular, or have lower self-esteem than the children of heterosexual parents. There is, however, much evidence that children who are subjected to long-term foster care suffer increased emotional problems, delinquency, substance abuse and academic problems. It is indeed disturbing that the same arguments that were used by the religious right to deny adoption rights to interracial parents in the past are being used to deny the rights of homosexuals today.
I am rather disturbed by the sheer number of people in the university community–one that has traditionally been the testing-ground for the breaking of societal stigmas–who would have the civil rights of people denied in the name of their god. There are good reasons why we should not let religion influence our decisions as a society when it comes to issues of civil liberty. The bible itself is a brutal piece of literature, calling for the death of non-Christians [Dt. 13:6-10, Dt. 17:2-7, et cetera], homosexuals [Lev. 20:13, 1 Kg. 22:43, 46, Gen. 19:4-5, 24-25, etc.] and witches [Ex. 22:18], among others. Through literal interpretation of the bible, religious organizations such as the Westboro Baptist Church [www.godhatesfags.com] and the American Family Association [www.afa.net] promote hateful and outdated values, respectively.
We maintain no place in society for racial hatred, no matter how benign it may seem, so why do we continue to foster these attitudes towards gays and lesbians–in our universities, no less? Is it healthy for children to grow up in a society where we wish to deny the civil liberties of some people? I think not.