SAME-sex parented children do just as well as those raised by heterosexual couples, and equal rights advocates have welcomed an article, published today by the MJA, proving the point.
Senator Penny Wong, Australia’s first openly gay parliamentarian and leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate, praised the authors of the Perspective, which systematically lays out the evidence and refutes the No case that same-sex marriage equality harms children.
“One of the saddest things about this campaign is that the No case says they care about children, but spend a lot of their time denigrating families, suggesting children in same-sex families are being harmed,” Senator Wong said in a statement to MJA InSight.
“The reality is same-sex couples already have children in this country and the only people harming them are those who make these damaging and entirely false claims.
“I thank the authors, and the Medical Journal of Australia, for examining the evidence and producing this very important report which confirms that ‘children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as children raised by heterosexual couple parents’.
“It is a fact-based contribution to a debate that is sorely in need of one.”
A large group of medical practitioners and academics, led by Professor Frank Oberklaid, Foundation Director of the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, and co-group leader of Child Health Policy, Equity and Translation at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, put their name to the MJA article, and called for their colleagues to “speak up” in the last days of the current debate.
“The research tells us that children and adolescents with same-sex parents are doing well, despite the discrimination that their families endure. This will not continue for long in the face of hostile debate,” they wrote.
“The entire LGBTIQ+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer] community is at risk of harm in the current debate concerning same-sex marriage, and the most vulnerable are children and adolescents.
“We need to speak up. Opportunities exist to add our voices to the public debate, through public statements as individuals and from our professional associations and workplaces.
“Inaction is not an option when harm is the likely result.”
The authors detail Australian and international research, the consensus of which was that “children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as children raised by heterosexual couple parents”.
The latest study, a 2017 review by the Public Policy Research Portal at Columbia Law School, looked at 79 studies that investigated the wellbeing of children raised by gay or lesbian parents. The review concluded that there is “an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children”.
The MJA article also debunked a study often cited by the No campaign – the so-called Regnerus study – as being methodologically flawed.
Oberklaid and colleagues wrote that the Regnerus study “compared adults raised by a gay or lesbian parent in any family configuration with adults who were raised in stable, heterosexual, two-parent family environments”.
“When re-analysed, taking family stability and having two active parents into account, the data showed that outcomes were similar for adults regardless of their parents’ sexuality.”
Professor Kerryn Phelps, long-time LGBTIQ+ rights advocate and former president of the Australian Medical Association, also welcomed the MJA article.
“This article blows away one of the false, straw-man arguments of the No campaign,” Professor Phelps told MJA InSight.
“It is important to point out that the marriage equality question is not about children at all. The fact is many Australians have children without being married, and many are married without having children.
“This MJA article gathers together the state-of-the-art evidence as we know it, and it is irrefutable and unanimous.
“No more lame excuses.”
Ballots in the non-binding postal survey on same-sex marriage must be posted by this Friday 27 October, with votes received after Tuesday 7 November discounted. Survey results will be posted on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ website on Wednesday 15 November.
The latest Newspoll, published on Wednesday 18 October, showed that 59% of eligible Australians have already voted yes, with only 38% voting no, leaving No supporters needing three out of every four remaining votes in order to win.
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