Argument: Opponents of gay-adoption must prove heterosexuals make better parents

Issue Report: Gay adoption


Saletan. “Adopting Premises. The sneaky debate over legalizing adoptions by gay couples.” Feb. 7, 2002 – 2. Define the question. According to Connor, “The International Journal of Epidemiology reported that among homosexuals, there is an increased incidence of suicide, depression, multiple sexual partners, and domestic violence compared to the heterosexual population.” From this, Connor concludes that “problems endemic to the homosexual lifestyle make these relationships inherently unstable, and thus unsuitable for the raising of children.”

Supporters of gay adoptions dispute these correlations. But to repeal bans on gay adoptions, they don’t have to prove that gay couples, on average, are as parentally fit as straight couples. They just have to change the question to whether all straight couples are more parentally fit than all gay couples. Suppose, for example, there’s more suicide, depression, promiscuity, and domestic violence among blacks than among whites. Would such findings justify a ban on adoptions by blacks? If not, why would they justify a ban on adoptions by gays?

Taking this approach, the AAP cites “evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual.” Note the key word: can. “All the literature suggests that as long as a parent is providing a loving, caring environment, the parent’s sexual orientation doesn’t make a difference in the development of the child,” says a co-author of the AAP policy. Again, note the key phrase: as long as. By narrowing the comparison to parentally fit couples, the AAP bypasses Connor’s contention that straight couples, on average, are more parentally fit.