Almost four years ago, when gay marriage was legal, a reporter named Christopher Katis from an LGBT publication QSALTLake,” interviewed me about whether kids of gay parents fared better than those raised by heterosexual parents. His curiosity was stoked by a study by the University of Melbourne that had released the first official results from its Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families.
The results? It showed that kids of same-gender parents do as well, if not better than their parents with straight peers. The lesbian or gay parents had no statistical differences vs. straight parents in mood, behavior treatment and mental health that were measured.
I am quoted as saying “the study puts to rest the notion that happy, emotionally stable children are the exclusive result of being raised by a straight mother and father. Because same-sex marriages are more equitable and not based on outdated stereotypes, the byproducts are children, who are happier and reap the rewards of happily married parents.”
My comments would still be relevant according to Stephanie Coontz’s article in “The Gay Secret To Better Marriage,” February 16, 2020. Coontz, author of Marriage, a History and the Director of research and public education of The Council on Contemporary Families’ reports on researchers’ conclusions about the satisfaction of marriage in three sets of legally married couples: heterosexual, gay, and lesbian. These groups kept diaries about their marriage vis-à-vis distress. The results:
- The Same-Sex marriages had the lowest distress level. Lesbians were somewhere in the middle. Heterosexual marriages had the highest level of dissatisfaction with their relationships.
- Women do a disproportionate share of housework. 74% of gay couples shared routine childcare vs. 38% of straight couples.
- Researchers John Gottman and Robert Leventhal found that gays and lesbians who didn’t see “eye-to-eye” with their partners did so in a less combative way, not domineering or fearful as in a heterosexual way.
- Husbands tend to take care work for granted and are often unaware of the care work their wife provides and commonly fail to recognize her needs for emotional support, according to Debra Umberson, a sociologist at the University of Texas.
- Lesbian partnerships have higher breakup rates than gay male couples or heterosexual couples.
- Male-female couples who share chores such as dishwashing, reporter greater intimacy, less strife than those where the wife is assigned the household duties.
Without unwanted children, and with greater income, maturity, same-sex couples have to negotiate roles that in the past had no models. They don’t rely on assumed heterosexual roles within marriage that don’t work for them or subjugate one partner. They invent their own rules.
With more gender-fluid marriages on the rise, it will be interesting to see how the institution of marriage changes and its effect on families.
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.