Banning gay adoption an assault on families

By Katie Dunne

My best friend, Erin, swears she will never have kids. It’s not the diapers or drooling that bugs her; she’s probably the best babysitter I know. She takes issue with the mental, physical, and financial demands of parenting. The idea of a lifelong commitment just isn’t her style . for now. Luckily, if she changes her mind at some point after getting married and before menopause (which she probably will), she can have a kid. Or, if she and her future-hubby want, they can provide a home for a child through adoption. Some of her fellow-citizens are not so lucky.

On election day, voters in Arkansas banned adoption by unmarried couples, blatantly excluding gay couples from the adoption process. They join two other states, Mississippi and Utah, that have similar laws and similar antiquated attitudes toward homosexuality.

Marriage as a standard for adoption is problematic in and of itself. It is understandable to strive for stability when placing children in permanent homes, but marriage is in no way synonymous with stability. Roughly half of all first-time marriages end in divorce. Only 63 percent of kids grow up in a household with both of their biological parents.

According to the Family Council Action Committee of Arkansas, the purpose of this measure goes far beyond barring unmarried couples from adopting; it is a direct attack on homosexuals. It attempts “to blunt a homosexual agenda that’s at work in other states and that will be at work in Arkansas unless we are proactive about doing something about it.” The “agenda” that the Family Council Action Committee condemns is an ongoing battle for civil liberties by homosexuals and their allies. It is an attempt to gain equality in the eyes of the law regardless of sexuality.

Preservation of the “traditional family unit” is often used as a justification for banning homosexuals from adopting children. I have met a lot of people in the last three years, and I guarantee that there is no such thing as a “traditional” family. Families are defined by a plethora of factors – race, culture, geography, death, disease, divorce, and sometimes, homosexuality. An attempt at familial perfection is impossible because an ideal does not exist. The American image of family has moved past Pleasantville and into the 21st century, leaving behind absurd requirements for uniformity and embracing the uniqueness of each household.

So, if gays should not have kids, and marriages are falling apart at an alarming rate, who should be allowed to adopt? According to Focus on the Family, the nation’s champions of moral superiority and self-appointed experts on adoption, an ideal adoptive family meets the following standards: they make a commitment for life, they accept that adoption is a walk by faith, and they embrace a fearless love. If we remove the religious implications, which is not totally impossible, many gay couples would far exceed these standards.

Homosexual parents are just as capable as heterosexuals of making a lifelong commitment to a child, and to each other (even though most states will not recognize this commitment). A homosexual couple is as likely to practice religion, have faith in a God, or have faith in the human race, as any other couple. The final standard, an ability to love fearlessly, is exemplified by gay people each and every day. They unapologetically face a condescending world (full of Focus on the Family members) with their heads held high.

In the long run, these policies harm the very children they attempt to protect. Rather than placing kids in warm, loving families that may be “non-traditional,” they are forced to remain in the system, bouncing from one foster home to another, until a more “suitable” family can be found.

Arkansas’ attack on homosexuals, which deprives them of the ability to raise a family, is nothing short of persecution. It is the epitome of social regression. This country’s children deserve more. It’s time for government officials to remove themselves from the private bedroom and start assessing parents based on real standards: the quality of life they can provide a child, their emotional and financial stability, and their ability to love, none of which is determined by sexuality.

Katie is a senior in Spanish and political science, and she’s praying for a snow day.