This week, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Utah senators stating they were suspicious of a repugnant “homosexual agenda.” As a lawyer, I proudly advance the homosexual agenda. It is also the Jewish agenda, the black agenda, the Hispanic agenda, and the female agenda. It is the agenda of equal rights and increasingly the agenda of the majority of Americans. Since 1988, the percentage of Americans who thought homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal has increased from 33% to 59%.
This legislative session, Rep. Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, is sponsoring HB 318 to remove a 2000 ban on adoption by cohabitating unmarried individuals. The bill would leave in place a stated preference for married couples. The bold adoption bill would restore equal parenting rights to same sex couples. It is bold because Utah is an island alone. No other state prohibits cohabitating adults from adopting.
Adoption is a powerful legal and financial protection for children, enabling them to receive the benefits of Social Security, insurance, health care, taxation, family leave, immigration, etc. Adoption also gives societal acceptance and support. Children raised by adoptive same-sex couples benefit most from this permanent legal status.
Criticism that same-sex couples are bad role models is completely unfounded. Every mainstream health and child welfare organization has policies opposing restrictions on same-sex parenting and supporting the right of every child to the legal, financial, and psychosocial security that results from having legally recognized parents.
In fact, a recent study by the National Science Foundation shows adoptive parents are better than biological parents. The study, examining data from 13,000 households, showed families headed by adoptive parents invest more money and spend more time reading, eating, and talking with them, helping with homework and at school, exposing them to cultural activities, and attending religious services.
All the studies consistently say that what influences child development is the quality of the parenting, the quality of the relationship between the parents (if there are two) and the availability of adequate financial resources. Over the past 25 years, numerous studies looked at same-sex parenting and report uniform results. No study found any adverse effect on children's development from the parents' sexual orientation.
In fact, studies show same-sex couples parent better than single parents. Parents who raise children alone report greater stress, increased parent child conflicts, and less enjoyment of parenting than parents in a couple relationship, whether lesbian or heterosexual. Further, studies show that same-sex couples often parent better than opposite-sex couples. Studies show that children raised by same-sex parents play less aggressively, communicate feelings more freely, aspire to a wider range of occupations and score higher on self esteem scales. They are described as more tolerant, more nurturing, and demonstrate a wider range of behaviors, such as playing with dolls and trucks, or with boys and girls. The vast majority of children raised by same-sex couples grow up to be heterosexual.
Trying to keep the homosexual agenda at bay is a losing battle. The most recent census shows same-sex couples live in and raise children in every Utah county. 42% of lesbian couples in Utah are raising children. Nationwide, only 45% of married heterosexual couples are raising children. In the U.S., the number of same-sex couples has increased 427% since 1990. The biggest mover was Utah, which moved from 38th to 14th in concentration of same-sex couples per 1000 households. Utah has 6503 same-sex cohabitating couples, higher than 18 other states. The states with the largest increases in same-sex couples are those that amended their constitutions outlawing same-sex marriage, like Utah, with an increase in same-sex couples of 41% since 1996.
These numbers show that the more our legislators try to discriminate, the more people will come out to fight for equal rights. In sum, this issue is about children. Today in Utah there are 2,600 children languishing in foster care, eligible for adoption. Utah arbitrarily excludes same sex couples who could provide permanent, loving homes, all because of bigotry and discrimination.
Lauren R. Barros, P.C. is an attorney in Salt Lake City. She can be found at laurenbarroslaw.com