Children’s needs and a new campaign against same-sex marriage

by Symon Hill

As if there weren’t enough groups already campaigning against same-sex marriage – such as the Coalition for Marriage and Keep Marriage Special – today sees the launch of another one. It’s called “Gay Marriage, No Thanks” (yes, really; that’s the organisation’s name).

In a press release that they sent out yesterday, they describe themselves as “an informal group of professionals and parents”. However, the two names given for further information are Alan Craig and Chris Sugden, both of whom are already prominent campaigners against equal rights for gay and bisexual people (in Alan Craig’s case, this makes me particularly sad, given that I have campaigned alongside him against the arms trade).

They say they want to “take some of the emotion out of the debate and help people engage with the actual evidence that shows how disruptive and damaging these changes will be for children and young people”.

The group’s focus is on the needs of children, although it remains to be seen whether it will include anyone who has not already been active in other anti-equality groups.

I agree with them about one thing: the needs of children are not often discussed in debates on same-sex marriage. But this is because adoption by same-sex couples is already legal; same-sex marriage won’t change this. Several countries have legalised same-sex marriage before, or at the same time as, legislating for equal adoption rights. Britain has done it the other way around.

This does not mean we shouldn’t talk about children’s needs. I agree with Craig, Sugden and their gang that the rights of children should be discussed and are very, very important. It is precisely because of my passion for the rights of children that I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt.

The website of “Gay Marriage, No Thanks” includes ten reasons to reject the legalisation of same-sex marriage. What it fails to do is to answer a very obvious and very important question: What do they think should happen to the children who would otherwise be adopted by same-sex couples?

They may well argue that they would like to reduce the circumstances that give rise to adoption, although you rarely see anti-equal marriage groups campaigning about poverty, sexual abuse or domestic violence. They may also say they would be happy for them to be adopted by mixed-sex couples. But what if there are none available?

To argue that same-sex couples should never adopt children is to argue that it is better for a child to grow up in an institution, or to be passed around foster carers, than to grow up in a loving, caring, healthy family home – because you think the people in that home are the wrong gender.

And no-one who advocates such a view is in any position to claim that they are championing the needs of children. 


3 thoughts on “Children’s needs and a new campaign against same-sex marriage

  1. Keith Hebden says:

    A lot of this seems to stem from a limited imagination when it comes to thinking about who brings up children. There is an African saying that “It takes a village to raise a child” but the atomisation of households into family units means that we don’t fully appreciate the possibility of other people taking responsibility.

    A friend who has stayed at our house for nearly 6 months – she’s from Togo – has been interested to see how much we has parents do of the childcare. She says in Togo the majority of the child rearing would be done by other people.

    If we had this more generous/abundant understanding of child care, the issue of whether a child is brought up by one man and one woman would be a moot point.

    Many things have made it difficult for parents to share their children’s upbringing with others; most of them stem back to capitalism.

    A more open and compassionate society – yes please!

  2. gentlemind says:

    I googled “gay marriage no thanks” and found your article about the advert.I hope you do not mind me commenting.

    Two points: first, marriage does not give the right to adopt. It gives the right to found a family. The two things are very different. Adoption is our social moral response to orphanhood. In the absence of a child’s parents, adoption gives that child the adults that the child needs. Adoption is child-centred. If two adults of the same sex are given the legal right to found a family, they have a right to acquire a child. This right is not satisfied by adoption, since adoption relies on the existence of orphans, whereas a right is unconditional. Instead, the right goes up to and includes the right to create an orphan (surrogacy) in order that that child can then be adopted. The right gives adults the children they want. It is adult-centred.

    Secondly, principles exist in relation to truth, and the truth has a digital quality (either something is true or it is not). We (and almost every other country) abide by the principle that children have a right to know and be raised by their parents. The exceptions are, of course, in the child’s best interest. The principle recognises that it is wrong to not allow a child to know that child’s parents. If we abandon that principle then, by definition, we will be abandoning it for all children, since it will no longer be recognised that it is wrong to not allow a child to know that child’s parents. All children lose protection of the right to know their parents. In actuality, most children will still be raised by their parents, but they will do so through circumstance, not through right.

    Marriage does not pretend that other forms of child-rearing do not exist, but redefining the legal institution of marriage necessarily entails legally erasing the one type of family that is physically real – the natural family unit.

  3. […] Mainstream has compared the passage of the bill to the Nazi round-up of Jews. The new group Gay Marriage, No Thanks peddled their particularly nasty message about “the needs of children” by driving round a van […]

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