The Effect of Same-Sex Marriage on Modern Family
The first same-sex marriage took place in Canada in the year 2005, and since then, there have been many controversies surrounding these unions (Same-Sex Marriages in Canada, 2016). Additionally, when these marriages include children, it becomes a topic for heated debate and some questions such as do these couples make good parents and what is the effect of this marriage on these children in the long term (Patterson and Goldberg, 2016). However, these types of families should be viewed in the same way that traditional marriages are because they face the same challenges that the traditional one do. In analyzing these marriages, it is essential to examine its role in changing the definition of the modern family, effects on children brought into these unions and the role of society in the changing faces of modern marriages.
The Changing Definition of Modern Marriages
Families that are led by Lesbian and Gay (LG)parents have various similarities to Traditional Marriages (TM). Patterson and Goldberg say (2016), say that they are similar in the characteristics that influence them such as “race, ethnicity, education and income.” However, they are different in the way society defines them and treats them. Hunt and Holmes (2015) say that they have had to fight to gain visibility within their community, they have to” … make a space for themselves, family and partners in the context of a racist, homophobic, transphobic, and heteronormative patriarchy…”
Furthermore, they say that they have to seek ” safe space, rights and belonging…” from the community in which they live. Hunt and Holmes(2015) attribute these adverse reactions towards their families as stemming from colonialism-therefore racial prejudice, gender and sexuality, as they are both women, in a lesbian relationship. According to them, the definition of the family or home should be broader than the current definition. It should go beyond that to include the LG definition.
Valverde (2006), on the other hand, suggests that marriage killed homosexuality. She says that before LG marriages, there was a negative view of these unions that focused on the sexual aspect only. However, when these marriages became legal and common, society is focused on other matters such as the wedding preparations,just as in TM marriages. Furthermore, the view of society, in general, interprets homosexuality as an urban lifestyle. She gives an example of the Gay Parade as being ‘a community and a culture’.To Valverde( 2006) therefore, there seems to be normalcy in these unions, especially in urban areas, that is entirely devoid of sexuality.
Valverde (2006 ) and Hunt and Holmes (2015) view on LG marriage are very diverse. Hunt and Holmes say that they have to fight to be recognized and that their LG marriage is viewed through the lens of racial, gender and sexuality bias. Valverde( 2006 ), on the other hand, says that marriage has killed homosexuality and is viewed on the same basis as TM marriages.
The Effect of Lesbian and Gay Marriages on Children
One of the differences between traditional, Lesbian, and Gay marriage is the path to parenthood. For example, in an LG union, children may come from previous unions or from within the new parental identities. This is usually from donor insemination and surrogacy (Patterson & Goldberg 2018). Other methods, according to Patterson and Goldberg ( 2016), are sexual intercourse or adoption. The research done on these families is on parenting and development of children. The results from these study point to ” generally healthy and well adjusted” families. This is on the parents and children’s point of view. Patterson and Goldberg( 2016) give an example of mothers in these families who are ‘ well adjusted’ and no different from mothers in single parenting roles or traditional family roles. Specifically, there was no difference observed. As for the children, there has been no difference between the types of family that a child comes from.
Schum (2016) reports that some same-sex marriages tend to be unstable when compared to heterosexual unions. Furthermore, these unions have a ” higher dissolution risk than different-sex couples”. It is also important to note that these unstable unions are witnessed more in the lesbian union than in gay ones. Schum (2016) also says that in children usually are the cause of this instability which is opposite to what is seen in heterosexual couples where children result in stability. Additionally, older and stepchildren are a contributing factor in the disslvement of unions, just like in heterosexual marriages. However, Schum points out three critical factors to consider in these results. There is a general lack of random samples for research purposes to get the actual situation about instability and break in these relationships. Marriage dissolutions are not because of sexual orientation but from other factors and finally. Finally, LG marriages do not stop the partners from outside relationships, which might cause the relations to end. What we can infer from this is that these unions do not break because of sexual orientations but stopped because of the same factors that end most heterosexual unions. Furthermore, the costs of children are the same. Schum (2016) says the outcome of these dissolutions affect the educational outcome of children.
The findings of Bos et al. 2016 agrees with Patterson and Goldberg that the LG union does not pose any identified negative effect on children. Children in these unions are well adjusted in general, just like in heterosexual marriages. Bos et al. 2016 recognize that while these LG unions may have external stress causers, these factors do not affect the parenting skills in these couples. Bos et al. .agrees with Schum 2016 that the number of studies needs to be enhanced in this area.
The second question that comes out in LG marriages is that, will the children of these unions also come out as gays or lesbians? Schum 2016 reports that there is a universal consensus that children fro LG marriages do not necessarily grow up to be gay or lesbian any more than their counterparts from heterosexual parent families. Patterson ( 2013) and Lin(1999) both cited in Schum 2016 bit agree that this is a false narrative. Ball ( 2003), on the other hand, advises caution in giving this verdict. The argument is that there has not been enough evidence arguing either way about this aspect.
The Role of Society In LG unions
Hunt and Holmes (2016) say that they need ‘solidarity’ from the community spaces instead of from ‘visible spaces’. Additionally, they want the same rights and privileges just as the non-indigenous queers have. Hunt and Holmes ( 2016) point out that the support that they get is from far and visible spaces and they want more practical and personal support for their families and their issues. According to them, the indigenous communities in which they live in recognize and accepts them, going by the fact that they are called the ‘ Two-Spirit’ people. This means that historically there was a place for people like them in their community. However, with colonialism, the English language could not accept this diversity; therefore, choosing to either ignore them or discriminate against them.
To Hunt and Holms(2016) the solution lies with forming a community which will strengthen activism for the LG people while building existing knowledge for the culture, gender diversity and identity practices that come from the indigenous queer communities.
Peterson and Goldberg agree with Hunt and Holmes about the role of community in shaping the view and rights and well being of the LG families. They say that legal, policies climates, social conditions and attitudes vary from one neighbourhood to another. They point out that families in supportive environments tend to flourish. Another factor to consider is that children from these unions identify the stress that their parents are going through, and this may affect them. They give an EXAMPLE of a more tolerant environment producing children who are more open about their parents’ sexual identity and are consequently less discriminated upon. A supportive environment also includes the schools which have curricula and policies that are inclusive and increased the general well being in children( Patterson and Goldberg, 2016).
The community role in the LG marriage should be the same just as in the heterosexual unions. In the heterosexual community, there is a lot of support given to parents which can help the family to thrive. This kind of support is especially important in minority communities where there exist racial bias, discrimination and even non-acceptance and non-recognition. This acts only perpetuates and emphasize historical injustices, which has no place in modern society.
The support of these indigenous and minority communities should be encouraged as these communities and families bring up the next generation through the culture and knowledge handed down from generation to generation. So the preservation of culture within the family unit should be encouraged and supported.
The general misconception that children are affected by these union has been shown by evidenced-based research as not plausible. Furthermore, the controversy surrounding the question of whether children become lesbians or gays because of their upbringing has been dispelled. Research has clearly shown that the chance of this happening is roughly the same as in heterosexual marriages. It is also true that these children grow up just like in any family, who experience the same challenges in life. Furthermore, a supportive community results in a supportive family which enhances well being among children.
Finally, we should not question the impact of LG marriages on children, just as we do not question heterosexual union’s effect. What we should consider is how to support these unions to ensure that children in these unions are not discriminated upon, bullied or treated in adverse ways because of their parents’ sexuality.
Bos, H. M., Knox, J. R., van Rijn-van Gelderen, L., & Gartrell, N. K. (2016). Same-Sex and Different-Sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health. Journal of developmental and behavioural pediatrics: JDBP, 37(3), 179–187. https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0000000000000288
Hunt, S. & Holmes, C. (2015). Everyday decolonization: living a decolonizing queer politics. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 19(2),154–172. doi:10.1080/10894160.2015.970975
Patterson, C.J. & Goldberg, A.E. (2016). Lesbian and gay parents and their children. National Council of Family Relations. https://philanthropynewyork.org/sites/default/files/resources/ncfr_policy_brief_november_final.pdf
Same-sex couples in Canada in 2016. (2016). Statistics Canada. https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016007/98-200-x2016007-eng.pdf
Valverde, M. (2006). A New Entity in the History of Sexuality: The Respectable Same-Sex Couple. Feminist Studies,32(1), 155-162. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20459076
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