Firstly I want to note how little attention this whole matter has received in the media. Every day of last week from Monday I read the print edition of The Daily Telegraph and the websites of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, and I found nothing on the story. Before writing this blog post I did a Google search and, after checking out the top seventy or so results, I found only a handful of mainstream media articles—one from The Australian that I must have missed (with its content apparently reproduced in the other Murdoch papers, except, oddly, Sydney’s own Daily Telegraph) and a couple of A.B.C. news articles, and that was about it. I don’t whether the commercial T.V. networks covered the story but I strongly doubt it (let me know in the combox if they did).
Now to the written submissions that the Inquiry received. The Inquiry’s website has posted a selection of a couple of dozen out of the more than two hundred received, and I encourage you to check them out. I’ll begin by looking at those written in support of the proposal. I’ve downloaded and read a few for the proposal and a few against, and I’ll start with the submissions written by supporters of the proposal. Ranking first in infamy must surely be two organisations that are supposed to be at the front line of defending and promoting the welfare of children, the Council of Social Services N.S.W. (N.C.O.S.S.) and the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (A.C.W.A.). N.C.O.S.S.’s submission was particularly interesting. In its introductory section, providing background on the matter, it implicitly acknowledges that the promotion of children’s welfare was not the driving force behind this move—rather, it was the simple fact that, rightly or wrongly (wrongly, I contend), more and more same-sex couples are acquiring children:
There are increasing numbers of same-sex couples who have children and who want to have children in the future. Gay couples are using surrogacy to enable them to have children and lesbian couples are seeking assisted or self insemination. This means that there will be an increasing number of families where the same-sex partner will want to be recognised as their child’s parent through adoption. And, as with opposite-sex couples, there will be same-sex couples who are unable to have children and who will want to adopt a child as a couple.So clearly this whole proposal is, at least in its origins, more about the homosexuals than the children.
Offensive though it is, the support of welfare groups for same-sex adoption was, unfortunately, pretty predictable. Quite surprising, though, was what Dr. Damien W. Riggs had to say in his submission. Surprising would probably be an understatement, actually. Dr. Riggs says some incredible things, incredible even by the consistently mind-boggling standards of the Sodomite’s League. His submission is only two pages, and I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing if you want to begin to understand the thinking of the G.L.B.T. intelligentsia. (Curiously, when one goes to download the document one would infer that it is some kind of official statement from the Australian Psychological Society (A.P.S.), yet judging from the document itself it is unclear whether it offers the official position of the A.P.S. or just Dr. Riggs’ own thoughts). The submission is drawn from a book by Dr. Riggs, and the book’s title is enough to start the alarm bells ringing: it is called Becoming Parent [sic!]: Lesbians, Gay Men and Family. Furthemore, Dr. Riggs says that
Whilst empirical evidence continues to demonstrate the suitability of lesbians and gay men as parents and the positive outcomes for their children, it is also important that we question the very terms upon which existing stereotypes or myths are made.So this man is clearly some kind of positivist/constructivist. He goes on to question several of these ‘myths’, in the course of which he asks
How may lesbian or gay headed households potentially challenge gender norms or provide a space for children to develop their own relations to, or critiques of, gender norms? In this sense, lesbian- or gay-headed households may be an important place where children of a range of gender identities can develop a positive sense of self.Watch it, Riggsy—if the kids start doing their own ‘gender norm critiquing’ you might be out of a job! Dr. Riggs then goes on to examine a third ‘myth’:
Myth #3: Lesbian and gay parents are ‘radicals’ or ‘militants’ who try to recruit people, or who teach their children to be lesbian or gay. Lesbian and gay parents thus interfere with the ‘normal development’ of children.So far from allaying our concerns about radical lesbians, Dr. Riggs inflames them! It’s good of him to take his positivism to its logical conclusion though—in the face of gays and lesbians defending themselves by arguing that their sexual (dis)orientation is not of their choosing, he acknowledges that homosexuality can be a free choice. Most amazing, though, is how Dr. Riggs’ deals with his last myth:
This type of argument against lesbian and gay parents is one that encourages lesbians and gay men to decry any involvement in politics or advocacy. This can result in a denial of some of the very concrete reasons for why advocacy or ‘radicalism’ may be necessary. For example, and as research on domestic violence has long demonstrated, a significant proportion of women continue to suffer abuse in the context of heterosexual relationships. For some women, this may result in the choice of lesbianism as a viable alternative to remaining in heterosexual relationships. ...
Myth #5: Lesbians and gay men lead transient lives with multiple sexual partners and show a lack of regard for long-term monogamous relationships. As such, they are unable to provide children with stability or safety in a family environment.There are a few things to note in this nonsense. The first is the focus on lesbian parents; but what about gay male ‘co-parents’? Given that even heterosexual men have a worse reputation for infidelity than women, what of homosexual men, who are notorious for their promiscuity? Mr. Muehlenburg, in this post, noted that a recent Dutch study found “that homosexual men with a “steady partner” have 8 casual sexual partners a year.” Furthermore, it is bizarre that Dr. Riggs speaks of “specific forms of family created by lesbians”, when the mantra of the same-sex adoption advocates is supposed to be that family structure are irrelevant.
This final argument against lesbians and gay men who parent can be challenged in two distinct ways. First, we can make reference to the extensive literature on lesbian families (in particular), which shows that children raised in such families actually experience many positive outcomes that arise precisely from the specific forms of family created by lesbians that are indeed very stable and nurturing.
The second response to accusations of instability focuses on the terms employed in the accusation itself: the presumption is that having more than one partner over the life course is inherently detrimental to children. This denies the ways in which children are often very robust in their responses to change, and denies the positive benefits that children may gain from interacting with the many differing adults who come in and out of all children’s lives. Rather than focusing on presumption about what could impact upon children negatively (for which the list is endless), it is more appropriate to focus on things that do support children, namely caring relationships that respect children’s right to knowledge as active participants in the families that they are part of.
But the second paragraph is simply stunning; incredibly, Dr. Riggs speaks of
the positive benefits that children may gain from interacting with the many differing adults who come in and out of all children’s lives.So for Dr. Riggs, children having to live through a string of mummy’s or daddy’s paramours is a good thing! Far from refuting the contention that same-sex couples are more unstable than opposite-sex couples, he celebrates their instability! What planet is this man on?! Yet apparently he is in good enough standing with the A.P.S. to act as some kind of quasi-spokesman for it. I have now lost all respect for the psychological profession. What a bunch of quacks.
The topic of multiple parents brings us to the submission from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby. Now this disgraceful organisation’s very name ought to be enough to discredit it—this is a matter of children’s rights, not parents rights; indeed, N.S.W. adoption law affirms that there is no right to adopt. But let’s not shoot the messenger; let’s see what this Lobby has to say. Its submission was by far the biggest as far as I can tell, yet its effectiveness was in inverse proportion to its size. The document was, naturally, strong on the detail of exactly how the law needs to be changed in order to achieve the Lobby’s aims, yet pitifully weak on explaining why the those aims should be accepted—a mere three pages out of a total of forty-eight were devoted to making its case that same-sex parents are no worse than opposite-sex parents. I encourage you to read the three pages for yourself, pages 29-31; I fail to see how an impartial observer could find this convincing beyond reasonable doubt that same-sex parents are no worse than opposite-parents. Surely it would have benefited them to include lengthier quotations from the supposedly ‘overwhelming’ body of research in favour of same-sex parenting. The best the Lobby can do is point out the automatic materialistic benefits that would flow from recognition of same-sex parents, such as inheritance rights; the non-material side of things seems secondary to this organisation. And have a look at some of the other assertions it makes when comparing same- and opposite-sex parent families:
In some cases, children parented by same-sex couples have even demonstrated better development outcomes than those raised in other family structures. Some research suggests that children benefit from seeing a more equitable division of paid and unpaid domestic labour characteristic of same-sex partnerships. Chidlren may also develop more empathetic attitudes towards other social difference [sic]. Lesbian and gay parents have also been found to use less physical discipline than other parents.Well if division of household labour is so important (!) why stop at two parents? Why not have one to take care of the front yard, one to take care of the back yard, and one to cover each room of the house! That sounds a bit silly does it? Not necessarily, according to this Lobby:
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby wants a future inquiry called to look into its suggestions for the complete demolition of the two-parent family. No longer can my thesis about the substitutes vs. complements views of parents be dismissed—the Sodomites’ League is now openly canvassing the absurd possibility of a child having three or more ‘co-parents’. It looks like the slide into the abyss is only beginning.
22.214.171.124 Multi-parent adoption
One suggestion has been consideration of whether multi-parent adoption could be desirable. This would given an ‘opt-in’ mechanism for a third (or fourth) parent to adopt their child where the existing legal parent(s) consent. There is one reported case of a three-parent adoption being granted by the Court of Appeal in Ontario, Canada for a child with two mothers and one father. In that case, the lesbian co-mother was legally recognised as a parent to the child in addition to (rather than replacing, as in step-parent adoption) the existing biological mother and father. p . 39
As for the submissions written against the proposal to extend recognition of same-sex ‘co-parents’, the Archdiocese of Sydney’s submission was one of the biggest, and a strong one at that. It cites some interesting studies that have found that in fact children of same-sex co-parents are more likely to be homosexual, more likely to cross-dress and more likely to be promiscuous. Its brief section 17 is worth quoting in full:
17. In contrast [to the values of heterosexuals], in the first edition of his book in defence of same-sex marriage, ‘Virtually Normal’, homosexual advocate and intellectual Andrew Sullivan wrote:Other sources are also cited as evidence of the greater infidelity of homosexuals relative to heterosexuals (though I suppose that those in the G.L.B.T. intelligentsia like Dr. Riggs won’t regard this as a big deal).
“There is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman.”
One recent university study of civil unions revealed that 79 percent of heterosexual married men and women reported that they strongly valued sexual fidelity. In comparison, only about 50 percent of gay men in civil unions valued sexual fidelity.
Importantly, the Catholic submission highlights the particular importance of the role of fathers, especially for girls (though it by no means fails to acknowledge the importance of mothers); naturally, the Fatherhood Foundation’s submission points this out too, as well as drawing attention to the greater prevalence of lifestyle and health problems among homosexuals.
Perhaps most importantly, though, the Catholic submission highlights, with supporting evidence, the methodological problems that are often acknowledged to plague empirical studies that have produced results favouring same-sex co-parents. To read the Sydney Archdiocese’s submission is to be left with serious doubts about whether it is in children’s best interests ever to place them with homosexuals, even if the only alternative is the orphanage. The Australian Family Association’s submission was shorter than the Catholic one, but good for its length, supporting the Catholic position that, based on the available research, it is impossible to make firm conclusions about the desirability of same-sex parents.
I’ll conclude by mentioning something pointed out by the Children’s Rights Council of Australia, namely, the poor timing of the inquiry, with the time for submissions spanning the festive period. Was this impulse for this Inquiry really so urgent that it couldn’t wait till the new year was in full swing?