News in Brief: Is there an “anti-same-sex parenting” movement?

I’ve blogged in the past about various attempts, via legislation or initiative process, to prevent lesbians and gay men, either singly or in pairs, from becoming parents.   I wanted to do add a brief thought on that topic.

First  I really probably should more specifically say this is about efforts to prevent lesbians and gay men from becoming adoptive/foster parents.   A lesbian who becomes pregnant and gives birth will be a mother (unless she happens to be in a surrogate in  a state that does not recognize surrogates as mothers, I suppose).  I’m not aware of any efforts to declare her to be not a mother simply because she is a lesbian.

Similarly, where fatherhood is determined by genetic linkage, a gay man whose genetic material is used to create a child will be a father, just as any other man would be.   This is what is sometimes meant by “natural father.”  

It is obviously easier for a lesbian to use this route to parenthood than for a gay man.  (She only needs to find sperm.  He needs to find a woman willing to become pregnant.)  But it’s important to notice that there are paths to parenthood that (so far) have remained largely outside political turmoil.  (Whether or not lesbian mothers and gay fathers are allowed to raise their children without interference from the state is a different question.)

But back to the point I wanted to make.   Here is an recent article that discusses general trends around legislative efforts to curtail adoption/fostering by lesbians and gay men.   I’m not convinced that the headline suits the article.   It’s true that an anti-lesbian/gay parenting initiative was enacted in Arkansas this past November, of course.  And those two Florida cases will be making their way through the courts for a while, even as efforts at legislative change there  move along.

But I think the real story might be that there is not a national trend in these areas.   In 2004 anti-same-sex marriage initiatives really did sweep the nation.  Dozens of states enacted laws, initiatives or constitutional amendments that denied same-sex couples access to the right to marry.   If memory serves me correctly, not one was defeated.

By contrast, as the article referenced notes, in 2006 16 states considered anti-lesbian/gay adoption measures one how or another.   The vast majority of these failed.   Indeed, though I cannot tell this for sure from the article, I think they may have all failed.

I don’t mean to suggest that it is easy for a lesbian or a gay man to adopt a child in all states.   But it is striking to me that where the anti-marriage movement has had stunning success, the anti-adoption movement has not.   That seems to me to be worth thinking about.

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3 responses to “News in Brief: Is there an “anti-same-sex parenting” movement?

  1. I am a family lawyer in the UK & have just done a post on the Family Law Week blog on a related topic. In the UK there is now a legal expectation that adoption agencies must not discriminate against people on the grounds of sexuality including in the area of adoption. This has led to some Christian run agencies from pulling out of adoption work. You may already be familiar with the work of Stephen Hicks in the UK which I mention. Might be fun to exchange views on the different approaches across the water? Jacquig

  2. There is pending legislative action on this front in Tennessee: http://outandaboutnewspaper.com/article.php?id=3270

    Interesting to note that at least last year (as I assume will be the case this year) there is a fiscal note attached to the bill–and actual dollar cost of the anti-lesbian/gay/unmarried parent policy.

  3. My partner and I are currently adopting from our (southern Midwest) state’s foster care system. While legally only one of us will be able to adopt and there’s no second-parent adoption option, the public social workers we work with are uniformly supportive of placement with same-sex couples like ours.

    While in our state at large there probably is a large number of folks who’d say that lesbians shouldn’t be adopting, I have a feeling they’d be much less likely to say that lesbians like us shouldn’t be adopting older children of color with special needs. If it were cute white babies, maybe they’d think otherwise, though that may be baseless speculation on my part.

    I think part of the outcry against the ridiculous restrictions in Florida and Arkansas is that it’s cutting off the one mode of queer parenting a lot of people do find marginally acceptable, that of taking care of kids who are also stigmatized. I do wonder what the professionals working in the foster/adoption trenches think about this political maneuvering, though. I can’t imagine they have much if any support for it. I think the political trend will definitely be against these measures too.

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