The gay marriage issue continues to stir a surge of debate in the country and part of that debate questions the parenting skills of same-sex couples.
In his elaborate piece in the “Issues” section of the Cape Argus (Monday, October 23), Andrew Bateman of His People Christian Church, made un-supported and misinformed claims that children raised by same-sex parents “will be the losers if law is changed.”
“‘Equal status’ might relieve some hardship for homosexuals but will cause greater suffering for our youth and children,” he wrote.
However, a research report issued by Dr. Ellen C. Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Tuft University School of Medicine in Boston asserts that the “vast consensus of all studies [on same-sex parenting] shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way.”
She says, “In some ways children of same-sex parents actually may have advantages over other family structures.”
In his piece, Bateman attempts to support his biased and prejudiced statement by claiming that even the “French parliament has recognised that it may place children at risk to be raised by same-sex couples and has accordingly denied them the right to adopt or ‘marry.’”
In February of this year, the Cour de Cassation [French High Court] approved the rights of homosexual parents to extend parental rights to their partners, provided that the couple is in a stable union, the Associated Press reported.
“The court also noted that parental rights include the responsibilities for protecting children and caring for their health, welfare and education.”
Haphazard reports and statements such as Bateman’s pose a serious danger to the moral fibre of our society, as they push unbalanced agendas, mislead and unfairly influence society.
“The main causes of suffering in same-sex families emanate from prejudiced and intolerant elements of our society…”
The South African Constitutional Court considered expert advice with great scrutiny, when it decided that same-sex couples were capable of parenting and rendered irrelevant the arguments that same-sex parents are unable to raise children.
The legalisation of same-sex marriages will further provide children with a secured, stable and healthy environment for development. Some experts believe that a key factor in their development lies in the character and worth of family relationships rather than with the structure of their families.
As Dr. Perrin puts it, “if there is a problem being a child in a family made up of same-sex parents, it doesn’t come from the child or the family but from the society around them.”
Successful same-sex marriages will go a long way towards changing attitudes and normalising same-sex relationships in the eyes of mainstream society. This is one of the primary arguments for law reform in the case of unfair discrimination that marginalises or “others” a group of people; It starts to impact on the levels of prejudice experienced by those who are gay, as well as those associated with gay families.
Triangle Project supports and re-affirms that the biggest problem around this issue is social attitude. The main causes of suffering in such families emanate from prejudiced and intolerant elements of our society, such as Andrew Bateman, not from the actual structure of a stable same-sex family.
Vista Kalipa: Media Co-ordinator – Triangle Project
Cape Town based Triangle Project is the country’s oldest LGBT services organisation.