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Susan Roylance: DOMA was meant to protect children, not 'injure' them

Published: Monday, July 1 2013 10:30 a.m. MDT

DOMA wasn't meant to humiliate children, but to protect them.

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The day President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, I was in Istanbul at the United Nations conference called Habitat II. The purpose of this conference was to define international public policy as it related to the cities and towns of the world, or the condition of our places of habitation.

Each country sent delegates to Habitat II to negotiate an “outcome document” that could impact international public policy and, in some cases, “trickle down” to impact domestic policy.

I was there as a lobbyist for United Families International — to promote public policy favorable to the family unit as the basic unit of society. There were a large number of pro-gay lobbyists and delegates from Western countries that promoted public policy favoring the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage.

The delegates from the U.S. State Department were particularly active in promoting gay rights. So it was with special interest that we noted the signing of DOMA back in the U.S. while we were battling to support the natural family at the U.N. conference in Istanbul.

The final Habitat II document did represent a pro-family perspective (thanks to delegates from developing countries that still value families) and talked about a marriage in which “the husband and wife should be equal partners” (see paragraph 31). The words “husband and wife” were used to represent a marriage between a man and a woman.

So it is with special interest that I read commentaries on the “intent” of Clinton and Congress in 1996. Even as Clinton signed DOMA, we believe his State Department was quietly working to establish international policy that would eventually undo this law. Indeed, Clinton eventually publicly opposed DOMA, and the Huffington Post reported that Clinton “welcomed” the Supreme Court decision that struck down the key part of DOMA that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

It is especially sad that the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed the House 342-67 and the Senate 85-14, was used by the Supreme Court to overturn the language which defined marriage between a man and a woman. This action strikes at the very stability of life in a civil society.

Children are the losers.

While same-sex marriage proponents often cite studies to show that children can fare as well with same-sex parents as with a mother and a father, more recent social-science studies of young adults (ages 18-39) raised in different types of family arrangements tell a different story.

The New Family Structures Study clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults — on multiple counts and across a variety of domains — when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.

It is in the interest of the country and the state to support and promote the family arrangements that give children the greatest opportunity to succeed. In the Supreme Court decision, Justice Kennedy described DOMA as “a law designed to injure.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. The intent was to protect the children — the future of our society.

Susan Roylance is the International Policy and Social Development Coordinator for the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.

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