Comments about ‘Jenet Jacob Erickson: Gay marriage debate should focus on children’

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Published: Friday, Feb. 22 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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If marriage is truly for the benefit of children, all children deserve the benefit of the option of married parents - even if those parents are the same gender.

You cannot prohibit same-sex marriage on the grounds of children's rights unless you are prepared to prohibit other relationships that are not ideal for children on the same grounds.

Ricardo Carvalho
Provo, UT

The research in this area is clearly in its infancy. The research article cited has some pretty serious limitations as does the research finding little or no differences between children reared in gay versus straight relationship homes. It seems to me that the most we can say at this point is that the research is inconclusive. The challenge is that we won't really be able to answer these questions until we have many years of experience with gay marriage in a society that is supportive of gay marriage. By then, it will be too late to reverse those rights if there are significant problems. Instead we will be left to identify any potential problems and either compensate for them or encourage certain people not to marry. Does this argue against supporting gay marriage? Probably not as it becomes a question of the rights of the parents versus the rights of the children where the rights of the children may or may not be a problem. To curtail the rights of the potential parents based on a potential but unproven harm to the children seems unlikely to carry the debate.

Durham, NC

As one who was adopted, and who in turn also has adopted children, I would agree with these comments, if "normal" families were stepping up and adopting these kids. But in the real world, this isn't happening. There are far way too many kids-in-waiting out there, looking for these "normal" families to step up, and provide them homes.

And likewise, white, normal families don't always equate to better parents, as evidenced by the white dad from Idaho on the flight hit his colored adopted infant, cursing at him while calling him the N-word. What kid of loving family is that.

So if we really are doing this for the kids, we need to realize that plan A - the best plan - just isn't available to enough kids out there that need families. I am not a big fan of gay marriage, but, telling these kids orphanages is better, or living with bad "normal" families - I think plan B is better than the status quo.

I would love that every kid had a mom and a dad... but until we stop having 50 of families end in divorce, that argument just doesn't hold up.

Ogden, UT

The author is overstating the amount of evidence that suggests the children of same-sex couples do more poorly in life than heterosexual couples. She references an article in Slate by Dr. Regnerus, who found in a single study of his that children of same sex couples have more negative outcomes in life than heterosexual couples. He admits his one study runs very much contrary to the body of evidence on this matter. He also writes that adopted children are more likely to have negative outcomes in life.

Dr. Erickson needs to be careful about the argument she is making. If children's welfare is the foremost and overriding concern, divorce should be made illegal. Couples who cannot conceive have no right to marriage. And by her logic, adoption should be very much frowned upon. If future research showed that there were an optimal family size for child welfare, say 3 kids, would she also support policies that force this family size on us? And if future research showed no clear disadvantage for children of stable same-sex couples, would she then drop her opposition?

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

I agree. There are a lot of people on both sides of the issue who using specious arguments. I visit a page on facebook that is visited by a lot of evangelicals. They will always refer to the Bible to support traditional marriage. There are good solid arguments to support the benefits of promoting traditional marriage that don't require someone to believe in the Bible. 80% of the world's cultures accept marriage as being between a man and a woman. It is even more than "from the dawn of civilization" argument. Stoneage cultures (presumably, before civilization if you define civilization as being metal tools, city states, etc) recognized that the father and the mother brought different but equal contributions into the marriage and to the children.

Marriage is society's way of promoting the rights of children to be raised by their biological parents inasmuch as possible and that fathers are responsible for their reproductive actions.

Charleston, WV


Let me reassure you: For Straight (i.e. heterosexual) couples, absolutely nothing about marriage is changing. Nothing is being redefined. Straight people will continue to date, get engaged, marry, and build lives and families together as they always have. None of that is going to change when Gay couples are allowed to do the same.

Your editorial seems to focus on the needs of children. Please keep in mind that (1) couples are no required to marry to make babies, and (2) the ability or even desire to make babies is not a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license, so parenthood is irrelevant to the issue of marriage equality for Gay couples.

Also keep in mind that there are COUNTLESS single people and couples, both Straight and Gay, who have taken unwanted children into their homes and raised them to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. It's certainly preferable to leaving children to languish in orphanages.

Permitting Gay couples to marry will not affect the number of Straight couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages. Enough with the hysteria already.

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT

I say a resounding "Amen" to all of what Jenet Jacob Erickson says in her article above.

Regarding Maudine's comment, where she says, "If marriage is truly for the benefit of children, all children deserve the benefit of the option of married parents - even if those parents are the same gender.

You cannot prohibit same-sex marriage on the grounds of children's rights unless you are prepared to prohibit other relationships that are not ideal for children on the same grounds."

What does Maudine mean? If she means "other relationships" include adultery, or other matters of sexual perversion, then I would definitely agree that society needs to ALSO prohibit such damaging relationships. However, if she is proposing that "gay marriage" should not be banned necessarily because other aberrations continue in the world, I would strongly disagree. Guaranteeing a sin safe world BEFORE one cannot guarantee children safety from all other damaging things is an impossible task, which Maudine knows full well can't be guaranteed by anyone.

Orem, UT

A wise, well-considered column. Social liberals have, for decades, have argued that diversity in gender is crucial to a healthy society ... that both men and women are essential, particularly in leadership and government. Why, then, is it suddenly irrelevant in the family, the basic unit of society? Gay marriage says that differences in gender are irrelevant ... that a woman can replace a man, or a man can replace a woman as partners and as parents, with no circumstances.

Marriage is not a "right" for anyone, even for straight people. Ask the millions of singles who want to be married but can't find someone who is right for them.

As for Maudine's comments, we know 'optimal' parenting situations are not always possible. Life takes its turns ... death and divorce frequently take a father or mother out of the picture. We certainly don't pursue such situations. We work with what we are dealt and make the best of it. It makes no sense, though, to advocate ANY 'family' situation that intentionally robs a child of a mother and a father ... which is precisely what the gay rights movement narrow-mindedly does.

Salt Lake City, UT

In 2005, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued an official brief on same-sex parenting based on 59 independent studies of children raised by same-sex couples. The APA concluded that, “Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents."

Moreover, in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger decision on Prop 8, (a must-read) the issue of whether or not same-sex parents places children at a disadvantage was examined in detail and was soundly rejected as a basis for denying marriage equality. The best available objective evidence simply does _not_ support a claim that marriage equality in any way harms children.

Given the huge natural variability in how well people, regardless of sexual orientation, raise children, is it really useful to debate marriage equality exclusively in terms of child rearing? From my own experience I see abundant evidence that among the good and bad parents I've known in my life, their sexual orientation is _way_ down the list of character traits that have an effect on parenting.

Ogden, UT

Dr. Erickson also was employed by the Heritage Foundation, the organization that currently has this message on its homepage:

"Join Rush Limbaugh and hundreds of thousands of other conservatives as a Member of The Heritage Foundation today."

So I'm sure her perspective and use of statistics are entirely unbiased.

Murray, UT

And once again we see the liberals are arguing to put the children's rights and interests behind the selfish desires of adults. (An extension of pro-fetal-murder thinking)

Jenet articulates well the side of the children, but so many adults are just too selfish to think of, or listen to the children's needs.

Thank you Jenet for spelling it out so well!

Cardston, Alberta

Consider for a moment that it REALLY does take a mother and a father to create an infant. Therefore maybe God's intent really is that any child actually have a mother AND a father. Maybe we really ought to consider God in this debate as well. After all, where does the eternal spirit originate which quickens the human body and gives it life?

Ogden, UT


"Given the huge natural variability in how well people, regardless of sexual orientation, raise children, is it really useful to debate marriage equality exclusively in terms of child rearing?"

No, it isn't useful. But that's not the point, is it? The argument against gay marriage isn't rooted in verifiable evidence and objective analysis of outcomes. It's rooted in theology and cultural tradition. That's why this editorial relies heavily on rhetoric and only brings in one carefully selected scientific study that has been criticized for using biased methodology and flawed interpretation of the results.

South Jordan, UT

This is a horrible argument. In the world view of the author, then childless people should not be married and divorce should be illegal. The argument that you will be on the wrong side of history is true.


@ qapilot: If children are going to be raised in non-optimal situations anyway, shouldn't society do what it can to offer as many benefits and protections as possible to those children?

Marriage protects children and all children should have the opportunity for their parents to be married - ideal situation or otherwise.

Charleston, WV

If marriage provides for a more stable home environment for children, would it not make sense to give Gay couples who ARE raising children the option to marry?

Alameda, CA

This article fails to address the issue that seem to be the preoccupation of the author. Marriage for a couple, is not the same as parenting by adults and children.

"Until the debate over gay marriage includes genuine concern for the rights of children—the most vulnerable and voiceless in our society—the true civil rights issue of our day will remain undefended."

It should truthfully state: Until a debate over marriage - any marriage - includes genuine concern for the rights of children ...

Not any attempt to discuss: divorce, illegitimacy, absent parents or any of the other problems inherent in some different-sex marriages, long before any same-sex couple married, or raised children.

Many marriage are childless seniors, infertile couples and couples who marry and never plan or have children. Does the author propose excluding all these adult couples from marriage?

Her mistake - children do not get married. No same-sex couple I know got married because someone got pregnant. And preventing same-sex couples from marrying does nothing to change those two facts.

Author missed her calling - child advocacy. Marriage is not her issue.

Salt Lake City, UT

Thanks for your very thoughtful and accurate explanation of the truth, Jenet.

I could not agree with you more.

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

I completely agree that the welfare of children should be a central issue in this debate. Which is why I so strongly support marriage equality. I also oppose elective abortion, as a moral issue, another reason to support marriage equality. I can't see how an increase in the numbers of highly motivated loving prospective parenting couples can have any effect except to bless the lives of children. What astonishes me is that this author opposes something as obviously beneficial as marriage equality.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT


So you agree that homosexual relationships are not ideal for children?

LOL. Me too!

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