Heather Barwick seems to think so. Now, a mother of four in South Carolina, Heather, a heterosexual, whose mother left Heather’s father for another woman, does not support gay marriage.
Despite being raised in a liberal community in the ‘80’s and 90’s by her lesbian mother and her partner, in a time with collapsed boundaries, Heather thinks there are drawbacks to being raised in a same-sex relationship.
She was an advocate for gay marriage into her 20’s and felt loved by both her “stepmom” and her mom, who knew she was gay before she married her Dad. Her lesbian family taught her “how to be brave, have empathy, how to listen, and how to stand up for herself.”
But, as she wrote in The Federalist as well as the Christian publication World, she’s had a change of heart. She also recently endorsed Dolce & Gabbana’s ad. Her point: “Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s the same. But it’s not.”
It Isn’t the Same
Just as adoption isn’t the same as parenting a biological child, a child of a same-sex couple does face unique challenges: for example, who’s the Dad or Mom in the relationship?, the child gets teased in school, his parent may be called a “faggot,” he may not want to have a friend home because his house is “different.” He may internalize homophobia.
Heather says she has struggled as an adult figuring out how to be in relationship with her husband. “It really wasn’t until I came to Christ that I felt the burden lifted off of me. And I’m not bitter, I’m not angry. I forgive my Dad.”
Yet, it doesn’t sound as if she does: “He left when I was two or three and didn’t bother to come around. He wasn’t a great Dad.” Abigail Garner, author of Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is, 2005, also a straight child of a divorced gay parent, who studied other families like hers, believes that Barwick “was conflating the abandonment issues she has with her father with her experience of being raised by a same-sex couple.”
For Every Cynic, There’s a Zach Wahls
Remember Zach Wahls, the nineteen year-old highly accomplished student who testified against Iowa’s gay marriage ban in 2011? Arguing in front of Iowa’s House of Representatives, Wahls, who wrote a book My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength and What Makes a Family in 2012, pointed to his own life as an example that children of gay couples turn out fine. Lawmakers, he said, shouldn’t fear that same-sex marriages will result in maladjusted kids. To Wahls, gay families are just as normal heterosexual ones.
Christian Organizations Would Have You Think Differently
In 2014, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, Mark Regnerus did an erroneous study of gay couples. Only two of his test subjects were raised by same-gender parents from birth. Yet, Regnerus’s research is used as ammunition by right-wing Christian groups even though his study was commissioned by groups affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage.
More Reliable Results
In 2014, the findings from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, released by the University of Melbourne, showed that kids of same-gender parents actually fare better than kids brought up in heterosexual families.
When measuring general health and family cohesion, the children of lesbian and gay parents scored nearly 6% higher than the general population. (in other areas such as mood, behavior, temperament and mental health, the straight parents and the lesbian and gay parents scored equally).
TIME WILL TELL
Recent polls reflect the majority approval of same-sex marriage in the United States. In the future, it will be interesting to study the effects that same-sex marriage have on the children therein.
If the children are loved, paid attention to, and raised with morals, it would be hardpressed to regard their same-sex family as inferior. Different, yes, but not inferior. However, because the LGBT population will always be a minority group, it will be criticized.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.