Vive la France!

Yes, folks, it's another Tigger day. Last week, while I was talking about how straight people changed marriage so that same-sex couples now belong in it, the new French government announced that it will gender-neutralize the entrance requirements for marriage early next year, which will also grant same-sex couples full adoption rights. That would mean that twelve nations marry same-sex pairs, plus some states and provinces scattered hither and yon. In historical order, that would include The Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2003, in some provinces; 2005, nationally), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), and Denmark (2012). After France, I'm looking at Australia, where the debate is in full swing; the majority of Australians (62 percent) say they favor marriage equality; the relevant Senate committee has recommended that Parliament pass an equal-marriage law; and a highly active national campaign group (Australian Marriage Equality) has been pressing the issue with tremendous savvy. I don't know Australian politics inside and out, but judging how often Australian marriage equality shows up in my news feed, I'd bet on adding Australia to the marriage column within a year or two. In the United Kingdom, the Cameron government—remember, of the Conservative Party—has announced its plan to open marriage to same-sex pairs before the next general election in 2015, a plan backed by 71 percent of the population in a recent poll.

In the U.S., most states allow some adoption rights but few offer partnership recognition; the situation is the opposite in Europe, where most western European nations recognize partnerships, but the number offering parental rights to two people of one sex is smaller. The European countries offering full "stranger" adoption rights to same-sex pairs (i.e., not merely legal parenting rights over one's partner's biological child, either as a second parent or a stepparent) include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden,  Britain, and, soon, France.

I do like to say that the U.S. is behind on recognizing marriage equality, but that's not exactly fair. Some of the European countries that have done so are about the population of Vermont or Massachusetts. If the Supreme Court refuses to take Perry, the Prop 8 case, California will join the marriage-equality column—and California alone is more populous (37 million people) than either Australia (22 million) or Canada (34 million). The six American states (and Washington, D.C.) that currently perform same-sex marriages (Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa, Washington, and New York) are certainly the equivalent of some of the European countries that do so. For instance, Massachusetts (6.6 million) has more people than Denmark (5.5 million), Vermont (.6 million) has more than Iceland (.3 million), and New York state (19.4 million) has more than The Netherlands (16 million). That will change as the populous European nations like France and the UK sign up, but by then more American states will be in the equality column as well. So while Europe is ahead, we're not far behind—and if Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) does indeed fall this year, and if one or more states' voters decide this November to open marriage to same-sex pairs, we can start to brag.

Comments

Hopefully Washington State and Maryland are the added to the list after the Nov. election.

I think one has to state very clearly, that if same-sex couples were to be given the right to marry, it would nevertheless be wrong to include the right to adopt unrelated children. Marraige is one thing, but the adoption of unrelated children must automatically put the childs nterests and dignity into the spotlight. Also I believe support via IVF should remain restricted to heterosexual couples. This sounds harsh, but is easily explained with simple logic. Basically it’s all about fundamental interests of children, respect for their dignity and rights - which should, of course, always have the highest priority in society.

Same-sex couples would intentionally be depriving adopted (unrelated) children of beautifuly loving and defining relationships with both a woman (mother) and a man (father). Children of 0-4 are (apart from love) primarily interested in what their senses perceive directly. That is diverse sounds (acoustic), colours / forms / movement patterns (visual), tactile sense, to a lesser degree sense of smell and taste. At this age there is no mental activity – its about enjoying “input” directly, discovering the basics of the world via senses, not thought or concept. And the world of children of this age consists primarily of their parents, because they prefer them to everything and everybody else. Perception of the parents is prefered over all other perceptions. What ever is learnt directly from them is learnt best.

Its important to know that children recognize the difference between feminin and masculine very well from about 6 months of age. They evidently love the difference between their mum and dad and they love to interact with both as different expressions of the relationship with a parent.

The gender specific characteristics of the parents constitute the most important source of perception for a young child – simply because these are what he percieves naturally and by necessity. Gender-specific differences between mum and dad are the 1. the first, 2. the most intensly experienced, 3. the most important categorie of diversity a child of 0 – 4 can experience. And diversity is fundamentaly important: We hang nice pictures or multi-coulored objects over the cot and try to stimulate the childs senses – let him experience all sorts of diversity through his senses, but nothing is more important and interesting and defining for a child than what he percieves directly from his parents.

Watch how much a toddler enjoys first listening to his mother sing to him then the male voice of his father sing. Its excactly this kind of experience of diversity directly from his parents which makes his day.

Same-sex parents cannot offer their children this specific advantage of diversity. That’s a fact.

Adults, whether homosexual or straight, rightly take it for granted that they can have diverse relationships (friends, partner, family relations etc.) with both male and female persons as part of their freedom and children deserve the same freedom. Only if we strive to let all children grow up with a loving father and mother, will we not be responsible for depriving them of the freedom of experiencing relationship diversity in their youngest years from birth onwards regarding the most natural and necessary relationship children can have – namely that with a parent, who is nurturer, role model and friend all in one. I believe this is a matter of morality and basic human rights of children.

Try this simple experiment:

Make sure you only listen to music with male vocals. No Whitney, Morissette, Lennox, Bush and co.. Only Clapton, Presley, Daltry and co.

For two weeks. Whether radio, mp3, hifi or live – no female singing.

You will probably crave for the tender voice of a female singer after 2 weeks – simply because its acoustically different. And thats just acoustics and if you cut out female spoken word as well the deprivation would be even more apparent. Human beings love to and need to interact with and perceive both males and females on various levels of perception regularly and freely as they desire. This applies especially to very young children. Same-sex parents cannot offer this fundamental form of diversity for these children, and in my opinion it would be wrong to intentionally deprive them of it.

I wrote a very similar comment on nomblog.com not long ago. Of course this discussion also reoccurs regularly in european countries where I live at the moment, but these simple arguments, which I have stated here, and I believe they are compelling, are actually stated suprisingly rarely, so I thought I would express them here. So its not marraige (and attaining certain related rights) as such which should be the great cause of concern – its specifically concerning the right to adopt or have support via IVF (or surrogacy) where society has to stand up for the rights and dignity of children.

I know there are scientific studies which aparently show that children do well in same-sex househoulds (some say the results are questionable) . But this is not only about psychological assesment – the main goal of life is surely not to achieve good results in a psychological test! This is in my opinion very much about enjoyment, diversity, freedom and rights – for the children.

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