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Monday, 27 September 2010

Gay Adoption: The Best Interests of Children, and the Question of Evidence (Again)

Last week's appeals court decision that threw out the Florida ban on gay adoption has once again highlighted the idiocy of attempting to promote the interests of children by arbitrarily declaring one entire class of people necessarily superior as parents to another entire class - without considering specific parents and and specific children.  The ban was rooted in simple prejudice:
Here is the basic problem with the law. The state of Florida does not want homosexuals to adopt kids because, well, just because they're homosexuals. They can be foster parents, just not adoptive parents.

If I could sum up the court's lengthy ruling in one word, it would be, "Huh?''

That's not surprising given the origin of the ban. It did not come from need or compelling evidence. It came from singer Anita Bryant, who in 1977 convinced lawmakers with this argument: "Since homosexuals cannot reproduce, they must recruit and freshen their ranks."

Anita Bryant, immediately after being pied at ...
A Fresh Pie in the Face For Anita Bryant's Prejudice

Just as in the Prop 8 trial in California, and the two recent trials showing DADT to be unconstitutional, the parties arguing for the ban were unable to produce evidence in support - and once again conceded the opposite:

The unanimous decision by three judges on Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal — Republican appointees — found “no rational basis” to the state’s approach of banning adoption by gay men and lesbians while allowing them to be foster parents.
The state had nothing credible to offer to justify the adoption ban. It presented only two expert witnesses, noted Judge Gerald Cope Jr., who wrote the main opinion. One witness undercut the state’s case by saying adoption decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. Opposing experts quickly discredited the state’s second witness, Dr. George Rekers, a Baptist minister and clinical psychologist (subsequently caught up in a sex scandal) whose pseudo-scientific research was laughable.
Yet some politicians, most notable including gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, continue to support it:
Rick Scott does not approve of the appeals court rulingthat upheld a lower court's decision that Florida's ban on gay adoption is unconstitutional.
Speaking in Jacksonville after a town hall event, Scott, the Republican candidate for governor, said he was opposed to what he termed "single sex adoption."
"Children should be raised in a home with a married man and a woman," Scott said.
Rick Scott and his ilk just don't get it. His basic premise that opposite sex couples make better parents than same sex couples is not supported by evidence, or by the professionals who really know about these things:

An overwhelming number of studies demonstrate good homosexual parents are just as competent at parenting as good heterosexual parents. That is why every organization concerned with the welfare of children — groups that include the American Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Child Welfare League of America — support gay adoption.
Even if you accept his premise, against all the evidence, there is still the problem when it comes down to specifics: not all straight couples make good parents. The kids at the centre of this case were up for adoption in the first place only because their biological parents, one mom and one pop, were abysmally incapable of responsible parenting. They were then fostered by a gay man, when heterosexual couples did not exactly rush to take on such appallingly neglected, maladjusted children.

In the face of all evidence, and sidestepping attempts at rational argument, Rick Scott stands by his opposition because, well - that's what he believes.

In this, there is a striking similarity to the Catholic bishops' collective stance on sexual ethics - and homosexuality in particular. The US bishops have responded to a thoughtful, highly acclaimed 2008 book, "The Sexual Person" by two respected lay Catholic theologians (both heterosexual and married). The book takes a careful look at the subject of sexual ethics, affecting marriage, contraception, cohabitation, homosexuality and reproductive technology. They consider evidence from a range of perspectives, historical, scriptural, medical and anthropological, and conclude that there is much in traditional teaching that needs reconsideration.

In a 24 page "response", the bishops firmly reject the book, because - well, because their conclusions are contrary to church teaching.

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