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Queer/marriage news from all over


Article from the Sunday Times (UK) says: "Lesbian parents better at raising children." I'm always leery of any claim that some particular kind of person or family is "better" at raising children, but given how often people attempt to spread FUD about queer parents being bad for children, I figure it can't hurt to toss in a counterargument backed by scientific research; anyway, the claim in the article is narrower than the vague "better" claim in the headline. Specifically, according to the article:

[E]xperts [...] have found, over years of research, that children brought up by female couples are more aspirational and more confident in championing social justice. They show no more tendencies towards homosexuality than the offspring of heterosexual parents.

Of course, there's more FUD about gay male couples raising kids than about lesbian couples. But still, nice to see a major British government agency giving credence to the notion that lesbian couples can be good parents.

Meanwhile, in Argentia, a gay couple has been granted a marriage license:

Their request was granted by Judge Gabriela Seijas, who said that laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman violated the constitutional rights of equality.

The ruling sets no precedent beyond this case, but other gay and lesbian couples may cite it in court if their requests for marriage licenses are denied.

Meanwhile, Austria will soon allow civil partnerships for gays. "But the new law will continue to ban adoption or artificial insemination for gay couples." Feh. Still, a good first step.

Here's an interview with Equality California's executive director, Geoff Kors, about lessons we can learn from Question 1 in Maine. A couple of key bits:

We have to keep telling our stories, we have to keep out-organizing the other side, and we have to keep out-fundraising the other side, and if we keep doing this over the next few years, we're gonna start winning marriage ballot measures.


[...O]ur main lesson from California [and] Maine, is you don't move people['s opinions] on an issue like marriage equality, which is more cultural than it is political, during the heat of an election, when both sides are flooding people with TV and different messages.

You move them in the years before the election.

Of course, Kors has an agenda; he's taken a lot of criticism over EQCA's handling of Prop 8, and he's taking a lot of criticism over advocating waiting until 2012 to go back to the ballot in CA. But I think his points here make a lot of sense.

Here's what I think is one of the most important things from that interview, something I haven't seen many others else saying, about the evil "OMG! think of the children! what if school tells them Teh Ghey is okay?" scare tactics that the opposition successfully used in California and Maine:

[...O]ne of the things that's gonna be most critical is doing the work to educate Californians about why diversity education is a good thing. Children know that there are gay people, and teaching them to respect everyone is important, and that equality is a bedrock of our society, and to start doing that work ahead of time, so that when they use the scare tactics about schools it's not effective.

Maybe I'm too idealistic about this, but I think that's likely to be more effective in the long run than the "Don't worry, we're not going to teach your kids anything about gays!" defense that we've tried in CA and ME.

Here's Andrew Sullivan in a related vein, also talking about kids learning about the existence of gay people:

[...C]ivil marriage for gay couples [...] cannot be made invisible or unmentionable in the present, let alone the future. Unless you try to seal your kids off from the world they live in—a world where several states and many countries treat gays and straights identically—a conversation with kids is simply unavoidable on this topic[....]

[...] Homosexuality is now unavoidable as a public issue. Explaining homosexuality to your kids is much more salubrious and PG if you can place it in the rubric of straight life—"they just marry someone of the same sex"—rather than in the rubric of dark and unmentionable sexual acts. In my experience, children get this instantly. Certainly my own nieces and nephews do. The younger generation sees it clearly. But adult fears and phobias keep getting in the way.

Steve Singiser at the Daily Kos provides an anecdote about talking with his son about same-sex marriage. Good stuff. He also discusses an interesting chart that's been making the rounds, estimating support for same-sex marriage for each age group in each state.

According to that chart, there are eight states where over 50% of people under age 45 support same-sex marriage. There are almost forty states where over 50% of people under age 30 support same-sex marriage. If current trends continue, it really is only a matter of time. I know that's scant comfort to those who want to get married now. But at least our kids will inherit an America in which same-sex marriage is an accepted and normal part of life.

That chart, btw, is one of several interesting charts from a paper by Jeffrey Lax and Justin Phillips: "Gay Rights in the States: Public Opinion and Policy Responsiveness" (PDF).


Although it is true that younger voters support same-sex marriage, it is also, unfortunately true that people get more conservative as they age. This means that same-sex marriage may, unfortunately, be further off than we would like. After 33 election defeats it might be time for a new strategy for achieving same-sex marital rights. http://nationalmarriageequality.blogspot.com

Thanks for the comment, and your points are good ones.

But I recommend following my "several interesting charts" link. The first chart on that page is called Same-Sex Marriage: Explicit Support Over Time. Over the past twelve to fifteen years, support has increased significantly in every single state. Over the past four to six years, support has increased significantly in every state but Utah. (I can't quite tell whether the Utah line shows support dropping in recent years or not.) The amount of change in the past four (or so) years is roughly the same as in the previous eight (or so) years, in most states.

And popular support is now approaching 50% (or higher) in about fifteen states.

So, yes, it's true that people get more conservative as they age—but in this case the trend toward support for marriage is very clear. And in this case, it's not a question of conservatism about an abstract idea; we're talking about kids growing up in a world in which marriage equality is real in several states.

What we're really talking about, imo, is acceptance of homosexuality. And I think it's clear that the trend over the past several decades has been toward greater acceptance.

So, yeah, we have a long way to go. It might be twenty or thirty more years before the majority of Americans are in favor of marriage equality. There's a lot of work to do. But this is an area where I don't see the "get more conservative as they age" thing being a significant issue.

As for your strategy in your blog, my impression from a quick glance is that your general approach is to say we should be fighting for equal rights, not for the word "marriage." I used to believe that. In 2004, I said that it was too soon to fight for marriage, that there would be a backlash, that we needed to go slow and be cautious and not offend anyone.

And then I stood outside City Hall in San Francisco and watched the newlyweds come out of the building, and the joy was palpable. I could no longer convince myself that this was something we needed to hold off on.

I have no interest in marriage for myself. But separate is not equal. (See the New Jersey report on civil unions for more on this theme.)

Note, however, that I fully support efforts toward equal rights. Strong domestic partnerships/civil unions that are marriage in all but name are a great interim goal to work toward. Those will be accepted in many places that aren't yet ready to call it marriage, and although all-but-name DPs are not equal, they're a whole lot closer to equal than we've had before. They're absolutely worth fighting for, which is one reason R-71 was so important in Washington.

So I'd say we need a multi-pronged approach. We need to fight for the practical goal of equal rights. We need to fight for the social goal of acceptance of homosexuality. And we need to fight for the long-term ideal goal of full marriage equality.

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