Noting that children thrive in stable families that provide permanent security, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has become the latest medical organization to issue an official policy statement endorsing same-sex civil marriage. It also reaffirmed its position that same-gender couples, as well as single parents regardless of sexual orientation, should have the right to adopt children.
“A great deal of scientific research documents there is no cause-and-effect relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and children’s well-being,” the AAP statement points out. “In fact, many studies attest to the normal development of children of same-gender couples when the child is wanted, the parents have a commitment to shared parenting, and the parents have strong social and economic support.”
The AAP statement, titled “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,” emphasizes that the key factors that have a major impact on a child’s normal development and mental health are “parental stress, economic and social stability, community resources, discrimination, and children’s exposure to toxic stressors at home or in their communities—not the sexual orientation of their parents.”
“If a child has two living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” the AAP says.
Its statement also addresses adoption. “If two parents are not available to the child, adoption or foster parenting remain acceptable options to provide a loving home for a child and should be available without regard to the sexual orientation of the parent(s).”
The AAP is also urging pediatricians to advocate “for public policies that help all children and their parents, regardless of sexual orientation, build and maintain strong, stable, and healthy families that are able to meet the needs of their children.”
Daniel Hicks, M.D., president of APA’s Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Caucus, applauded the pediatricians’ statement, saying that “research has shown the damage caused by laws that disallow recognition of same-sex marriage and the legal and financial stability that allowing same-sex couples to marry brings to them and their families. It is important that that academy issued its statement during a time in which the Supreme Court is weighing important cases affecting the health and future of gays and lesbians and their families.”
In July 2005, the APA Board of Trustees approved a position statement supporting the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage, focusing on the link between mental health and legal, economic, and civil-rights issues. The APA statement says that “state-sanctioned discrimination” against same-sex couples “can adversely affect the stability of their relationships and their mental health.” It concludes that, “In the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health, the American Psychiatric Association supports the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage with all the rights, benefits, and responsibilities conferred by civil marriage and opposes restrictions to those same rights, benefits, and responsibilities.” ■