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.