(Myths That Will Not #$%&@*# Go Away)
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’
On January 15, 2020, the Tennessee legislature passed a law that would allow agencies to deny adoption to gay and lesbian couples. The bill had been proposed in the House in 2019. It was the very first act of business taken up in 2020. It passed 20 to 6, with several members voting “present.” The governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee (R), has indicated that he will sign the bill into law. According to Alex Bollinger, nine other states currently have similar laws in place. They include: Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
This. Is. Unacceptable.
To be clear, the law does not ban adoption for same-sex parents, but it paves the way for adoption agencies to discriminate. Under the new law, adoption agencies can deny adoption to those couples, and it would not jeopardize their license or funding. Furthermore, it indemnifies the agencies from lawsuit for denying adoption on the grounds of sexuality.
What are the myths that surround these laws? What do the politicians (and their supporters) argue?
First, they argue that living with gay and lesbian parents will make the children gay or lesbian. The first response has to be: so what? You love your kids regardless. But beyond that, that idea is pure myth. No evidence supports this. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy:
Most research studies show that children with two moms or two dads fare just as well as children with heterosexual parents. In fact, one comprehensive study of children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers concluded that children raised by same-sex parents did not differ from other children in terms of emotional functioning, sexual orientation, stigmatization, gender role behavior, behavioral adjustment, gender identity, learning and grade point averages. Where research differences have been found, they have sometimes favored same-sex parents.
Second, they fear that living with gay and lesbian parents will undermine the moral character of the children. They believe that homosexuality is a psychological disorder. Indeed, it used to be listed as such by the American Psychological Association. No longer. But while doctors no longer consider homosexuality a mental disease, many politicians and citizens still do. Sexuality is not a disorder. We all have one.
Third, they contend that it goes against the politicians’ religious teachings. One hardly knows where to start with that one. The laws of this country cannot and should not be based in, or predicated upon, the teachings of one religion. The Separation of Church and State makes that clear. Furthermore, more and more churches are fully accepting gays and lesbians into their congregations, and here we have politicians making decisions contrary to their own clergy.
Finally, they just don’t like gays and lesbians. It’s simple. They’re just homophobic. And we don’t need that in a government meant to represent ALL members of society.
I recently read of an incident in a medical college. A student asked the professor what they should do if their faith meant that they were not comfortable treating a trans or gay patient. The professor responded, “Get a different profession.” And that’s it. If you are not comfortable representing ALL constituents, then get another profession.
Studies have shown that children do better (in all measures) in a home with parents. The data show that children are safer in a home than in foster care or in a group home or on the streets. The data show that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are no more, and no less likely to be straight or gay or lesbian or trans.
The times are changing. If the 2000-year-old institution of the church can wrap its head around that fact, then it’s time that politicians and the public do, too.
Ritch Calvin is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SUNY Stony Brook. He is the author of Feminist Epistemology and Feminist Science Fiction and editor of a collection of essays on Gilmore Girls.