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Adoptive parents and the marriage equality debate

Adoptive parents and the marriage equality debate

Writing for The Politics Blog of Esquire magazine, Tom Junod says the arguments against marriage equality have placed so much emphasis on procreation that for the first time, he and his wife, who are adoptive parents, have begun to wonder whether there are people out there who believe that “the sanctity of our marriage might threaten the sanctity of other marriages, not to mention the institution of marriage itself.”

He writes:

Since my wife and I adopted our daughter, we’ve come to know many same-sex couples who are also adoptive parents, and it is exactly as proponents of “natural marriage” fear: it is their prowess as parents, rather than as pro-creators, that turns out to be persuasive. I have come to believe that they have the right to be married because I know that I have the right to be married, and I know that they are the same as me — because I know that I have more in common with gay adoptive parents than I do with straight biological ones. In my wife and in me, the self-evident biological purpose of procreation may be broken, but by God, we earn the right to be called parents because of the effort required to raise our child apart from the sacred biological bond…and so they, our friends engaged in the same effort, the same mighty and holy labor, earn the right to be called married. People wonder why public opinion regarding same-sex marriage has shifted so quickly; although I can only answer from my own experience, I can tell you that in my case my recognition of the right of same-sex couples to marry grew directly from the arguments mustered against it, because ultimately I realized they were also mustered against my wife, against me, and against the one person all the pro-marriage protestors and pamphleteers have pledged themselves to protect:

My child.

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Bill Dilworth

I was adopted, and until very recently adoption has seemed to have enjoyed a virtually unquestioned legitimacy. I’ve been very concerned to note that Junod is right when he says that the arguments against marriage equality generally apply to adoptive parents as well. But it’s somewhat worse than that – adoption itself is sometimes under attack these days, not always because of anything having to do with gay rights (not on the surface, at any rate). The atavistic proponents of the New Apostolic Reformation, for instance, teach that children are subject to “generational curses,” and that good, “saved,” Christian parents who adopt children are likely to get damaged goods in the form of a cursed child. Then you have people who seem to think that if you have problems with an adopted child that sending it back to the manufacturer is an option – witness the woman who put her kid on a plane back to Russia and which has helped lead to the Russian ban on American adoptions. I think that adoption is in need of a good deal of strengthening in the American context.

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