Pediatrics group backs gay marriage, says it helps children - WKRN News 2

Pediatrics group backs gay marriage, says it helps children

Posted: Updated: March 21, 2013 7:05 PM

New research by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports same-sex marriages.

The AAP policy statement, titled "Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian," was published online Thursday.

"Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage," said Dr. Benjamin Siegel, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health and co-author of the policy statement.

According to the policy, scientific research by the AAP showed no cause-and-effect relationship between parents' sexual orientation and children's well-being.

Studies revealed normal development of children of same-sex couples when a child is wanted and parents are committed with strong social and economic support.

As a result of those studies, AAP supports not only civil marriages for same-sex couples, but also full adoption and foster care rights for all parents.

"If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it's in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so," said Dr. Ellen Perrin, another co-author of the policy statement

The support comes as no surprise to Nashville resident Greg Bullard.

"We can do as good, if not better than, a job of raising children in a healthy and appropriate way than most married couples out there," he said.

Bullard is raising his 18-month-old son with his spouse, Brian.

He's also a pastor as Covenant of the Cross Church and an active member with Nashville PRIDE and Nashville Gay Parent groups.

"Research that bears the fruit of 'this is really what the kids need' really helps those kids, I think," Bullard said of the AAP policy statement.

Other local gay rights advocates are also pleased to see the AAP support.

"It's always good to have a well-regarded organization like this to come out saying, 'Same-sex marriage is good if it's good for children,'" said Sam Felker.

Felker is a partner at Bass, Barry & Sims law firm and president of Stonewall Bar Association, an organization dedicated to gay and lesbian equality in the legal profession. As a litigator, he understands the timeliness of the AAP statement.

Next week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in two controversial same-sex marriage cases.

One questions the right to marry for same-sex couples (Hollingsworth v. Perry). The other questions the rights that go with same-sex marriages (United States v. Windsor).

Felker contributed to an article in Out & About Magazine to explain the two cases.

The AAP policy statement sites the need for families to be socially and economically stable for the benefit of children, suggesting homosexual couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, including marriage, parenting, and resources like health insurance and tax breaks.

"The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children," Dr. Siegel said.

The pediatric organization, made up of 60,000 doctors and specialists, is among a growing number of medical organizations to openly support same-sex marriage, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Nursing.

"If you talk to constitutional scholars, one thing they will say is that the court doesn't like to get too far out ahead of public opinion," Felker said.

The Supreme Court decision is not expected until June, and Felker admitted there are a multitude of possible outcomes. He also said Tennessee has not followed the trend when it comes to same-sex marriage legislation, but gay-marriage supporters are looking for relief from the nation's highest court.

The Tennessee Equality Project will host a vigil in Nashville following the first day of Supreme Court arguments to show support for marriage equality.

The Supreme Court hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, March 26, and Wednesday, March 27.

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