The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement in support of same-sex parents’ right to wed as well as to foster or adopt children. The policy was guided by the organization’s belief in gay marriage “to promote optimal health and well-being of all children.”
About 2 million children are raised in the U.S. by same-sex parents, according to the statement. The policy evolved from two previous positions of the Academy in support of adoption by same-sex couples. The AAP has also previously stated that the data don’t support any negative impact of a parent’s same-sex orientation on children’s emotional and behavioral development.
According to the statement, which notes that married people have a groundswell of legal, economic and social support:
Scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders. If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation.
The Pediatricians Group also criticized the Regnerus study, which is often cited by opponents of marriage equality.
Not all of those studies have been conclusive as far as the developmental and health benefits of children raised in same-sex households. While many showed that children raised by gay parents were no more likely to experience behavioral or mental health issues than those raised by moms and dads in a heterosexual relationship, one much-publicized study, the New Families Structure Study (NFSS) by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus, found that children raised by gay parents were more likely than those raised in a heterosexual household to require therapy for depression or anxiety, and less likely to have a formal education or a full time job. The results have since been criticized, including by experts from the AAP, which noted that Regnerus defined gay parents as anyone who had had a same-sex relationship at one point in their lives. Rather that tracking children raised in households by parents in a stable gay relationship, many argued, the study, which took place at a time when gay unions were not as accepted legally or socially, instead documented the effects of the broken homes that resulted when gay parents left their initial, heterosexual relationships.