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.