When Love Wins, Children Win Too: Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage – Forbes
Itâ€™s the best kind of historic day, the kind where you canâ€™t stop reading the news because the news is so good for a change, so full of love. The Supreme Courtâ€™s 5-4 decision to make marriage officially and legally a right for all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, is a victory for human rights, a victory for love, and a victory for families.
So many have already written about the momentousness of today, often with personal stories and eloquent comparisons to Loving v. Virginia, but I want to add an angle that I have not seen discussed much yet: that of children. Since 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics has supported the adoption of children by a parentâ€™s same-sex partner. It has taken 13 years for those children to have the right to live in any state in the country with two parents who are legally married as well. The AAP updated their policy statement, â€œPromoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,â€ two years ago to support â€œaccess for all children to (1) civil marriage rights for their parents and (2) willing and capable foster and adoptive parents, regardless of the parentsâ€™ sexual orientation.â€
Did the AAP do this to be politically correct? No. They did it for the same reason they issue any policy statement: the evidence supports that this is the most appropriate policy for their highest priority, â€œthe optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being of all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.â€ As you read about anti-marriage equality conservatives melting down over todayâ€™s decision, keep in mind that they are not promoting family values by denying childrenâ€™s parents the right to marry. Those who oppose same sex marriage are not on the right side of history, the right side of morality, the right side of ethics, the right side of humanity, the right side of love, or, as of today, the right side of the law.
They are also not on the right side of science. The comprehensive technical report that accompanied the AAPâ€™s policy statement provides extensive data from more than 30 years of social science research revealing â€œthat children raised by gay and lesbian parents have demonstrated resilience with regard to social, psychological, and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma.â€
Itâ€™s time for that stigma to end, not just legally but socially in every corner of the U.S. This ruling will convey to those children that not only their parents love and accept them but also that their government respects their families and the right of their parents to love one another. There is no question that the modeling of a healthy, loving relationship between two parents is the best way to teach children how to develop healthy relationships themselves.
As the AAP states, â€œBecause marriage strengthens families and, in so doing, benefits childrenâ€™s development, children should not be deprived of the opportunity for their parents to be married.â€ At last, no parents in any state will continue to be denied that opportunity should they choose to marry. But the law and the way society responds to the law are different. Will all Americans step up to create a society in which children feel loved, accepted, nurtured and respected, which requires loving, accepting and respecting their parents, regardless of gender or sexual orientation?
As has been liberally quoted elsewhere, Justice Anthony Kennedyâ€™s final paragraph in the majority opinion beautifully demonstrates the importance and reasoning for the decision:
â€œNo union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilizationâ€™s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.â€
Letâ€™s give that dignity as well to our future generations by showing through our words and actions that this is the right decision in every way that it matters to be right.