A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post

Even when I set out to write a happy, upbeat post about something I feel good about, the universe conspires to get on my nerves.

During that blessed, blissful time of my day I call “when both of my kids are napping” I sat down to write something enthusiastic about the American Academy of Pediatrics’s recent endorsement of marriage equality.  I am quite pleased about this, of course, as both a pediatrician and a gay guy raising two children with the man he soon intends to marry.  I’ve been working at the state level for years on marriage equality on behalf of the local chapter of the AAP, and I’m delighted that the national Academy has seen fit to endorse what the Maine chapter did years ago.

So I fired up Google to find links for this post.  And damned if the first hit I got wasn’t this essay over at Huffington Post:

I want to be happy about yesterday’s news that the American Academy of Pediatrics has reaffirmed its support of gay marriage, I really do. I’m a gay dad of twin 5-year old boys, so it’s fair to say that this news resonates with me. But something about this has me bothered.

Why, universe?  WHY!??!?

So why am I so grumpy?

Because the AAP has based its policy statement on a review of 30 years of family research looking at gay and lesbian families and much of that research leaves a bad taste in my mouth. For decades, researchers have picked apart the psyches of children and parents of gay families in an effort to determine if our family structure is harmful to our children. Reading the results of these studies, with their dispassionate determinations that an “emerging consensus” among researchers that children from gay families are not “disadvantaged in any significant respect,” leaves me with two reactions.

My first reaction to these results: Duh. If kids are raised in a home with adults that love them — be it a straight couple, or two moms, or a single dad, or their grandparents, or a foster family — it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they’ll do OK.

I had no idea that I was allowed to start issuing recommendations based solely on my hunches!  That will save me so much time!  All those hours I’ve spent looking things up and trying to find out what the science says — wasted.  From now on, patients who come to me will get a healthy dose of horse sense, without all the fancy book-learnin’.

And, while I’m not familiar with the state of rocket science these days and what the folks down at NASA have to say about family stability and childhood outcomes, it appears that at least some non-rocket scientists feel that questions about how children raised by foster parents or in single-parent families fare are worth asking.  I mean no disrespect to any family when I say that it’s not quite such an intuitive stroll in the park to determine what kind of family structure really is best for children.  Which is, y’know… kind of the sort of thing pediatricians like to know.

My second reaction is more complex. On the one hand, being someone with a degree in zoology, I understand the need for quantifiable results. They’re especially important when opponents of gay marriage regularly trot out pseudo-science studies and flawed research in support of their cause. But the idea that families like mine are being studied and judgments on the fitness of dads like me are being made just rubs me the wrong way, even when the results support my family.

I don’t need anyone to weigh in on my ability to parent my kids or whether my kids are well-adjusted and emotionally healthy. To even attempt to make that kind of determination implies that the fact that I’m gay has the potential to harm my kids. What other group of parents is subjected to such scrutiny? The closest analogy I can think of is children raised in multiracial families and the research in this area practically gushes over the enriching and rewarding experience for multiracial children. In contrast, the AAP statement limits its endorsement of gay marriage to saying only that our kids don’t appear to be damaged by our same-gender family structure.

This is really just a different way of stating his first reaction — he knows he’s a good dad, and thinks it should be self-evident that he’s a good parent.  As a fellow gay dad, I understand that it doesn’t feel super awesome to think that some people would question our fitness to raise children.  But, sad to say, they do.  And we need a better answer than “because it should be obvious to you.”

As to what other group of parents is subject to such scrutiny, how about obese parents?  Or parents who smoke? Or the studies so numerous as to make embedding links superfluous that compare family outcomes based on socioeconomic status or education?  Or, if you’d prefer a population that enjoys relatively unalloyed popularity, how about military families?  Pediatricians (along with scientists of all stripes… except maybe rocket?) study families.  It’s part of what we do.

What the HuffPo article evinces, other than a lamentable unfamiliarity with how medical reports are typically worded, are the twin pitfalls of entitlement and complacency.  Are we winning this argument?  Yes, I believe we are.  But we haven’t won everyone and we haven’t won everywhere.  Arguments must continue to be made, and they have to be premised on evidence.  People need convincing still, and (speaking as a pediatrician, not as an advocate for marriage equality) the movement needs bodies like ours to weigh in, and to do so in the manner befitting our professions.  Expecting that all right-thinking people will have a priori certainty that our side is the just and correct one is a sure-fire way to lose.

Do I understand the author’s frustration at needing to prove one’s fitness when other parents don’t have to?  Yes, I understand.  (Seeing a picture at the bottom of his post showing his beautiful family makes me feel churlish and mean for criticizing him at all.)  I have expressed a similar weariness at having to come before voters, hat in hand, and ask for their approval to enjoy the same legal protections as any other committed couple.  But, as I also said at the time, needs must.  Assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t mandate nationwide marriage equality in the coming months, we’ll still need to make our case.  It may be galling, but it’s the way things are.

I am grateful, as a pediatrician and a gay man, for the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  To all of my colleagues who worked to make this happen, thank you.  We need your help, and it’s good to know we have it.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. A very interesting post, Russell. When I read the initial quote, my thoughts were similar to what yours ultimately were… the AAP is a medical organization that will make recommendations based on demonstrable medical science; anything else would seem to violate their charge.

    However, as I think more about it, I’m reminded of the complexity of of the gay marriage issue. Suppose, for a moment, that the research found something other… than the children of gay parents have worse outcomes than those of straight parents… does that mean that gay people… gay adults… gay men and women… should be denied equality under the law? I’d still argue otherwise. And I’d further argue that the AAP could simultaneously support marriage equality as a civil rights* issue while opting not to recommend the actual practice of gay couples (married or otherwise) raising children.

    For instance, I oppose the drug war and support legalization of most (if not all) recreational drugs. I think people ought to have the right to determine what they put in their body. Yet… I would not recommend anyone shoot heroin. In fact, I’d strongly advise against the practice because of its demonstrable harmful effects. Yet, I would still support its legalization.

    In reading the AAP’s statement, it appears that they made their recommendation focused on the best interests of children, wholly in line with their role and demonstrating the sort of approach I assume they’d take before making any such recommendation. Rather than making any form of political statement (though any ink spilled on gay marriage is, by default, a political statement) focused on civil rights, for which they would have no more clout than any other institution, they did what they do, which is make a recommendation based on the best interests of children. I find no fault with their methodology, and would likely criticize them if they did otherwise.

    * I realize some folks bristle at called SSM a civil rights marriage but I have no better language so I used it.

    • I’ll dispense with the housekeeping first — I assume your footnote should read “civil rights issue“? I’ll amend if you’d like.

      I think the AAP has a duty to study and report the best outcomes for kids. If they’d found that children in general do worse when placed in same-gender parent homes, they’d be ethically obligated to report it. I would be dismayed by the findings, but if the science was there then I’d have no choice but to accept it. (Which isn’t to say that I couldn’t criticize shitty science.) Which would obviously complicate same-sex couples adopting kids, a separate but related issue.

      It should be noted that, based on the evidence that children in households with same-sex parents do just as well as their peers raised in two-parent “traditional” homes, the AAP has been in favor of adoption by same-sex parents for years. Which is what I would have expected.

    • I had the same thoughts, but does that come from you and I having more than a bit of privilege in this, as we are married straight men? No one will question the idea of us having children, so we don’t have to make a case for our parenthood being in the best interests of children. But as Russell says, and we all know, there are people who are not there yet, and the case still needs to be made.

      • Aaron,

        I don’t think gay people should have to prove themselves as parents… Nor fat people nor poor people… Not anyone. Even if the science says gays fuck kids up, I’d support the right of individual gays and gay couples to adopt, provided they meet whatever non-discriminatory standards the agency has, in part because generalizations about a group tell me nothing about specific members within that group, and if we are going to start judging the merits of parents, it should be as indiviuals.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not flaunting my privilege unwittingly.

        • Even if the science says gays fuck kids up, I’d support the right of individual gays and gay couples to adopt

          Believe it or not, I would probably come down on the other side of this. (I am relieved that the issue is moot.) If there were compelling evidence that children raised by same-sex parents did not thrive to the same degree as their peers raised by opposite-sex parents, I would find it much more difficult to supporting such adoptions (and would have had significant reservations about adopting myself.)

          • I might too. IF we had enough people adopting that we were good. We aren’t. Too many kids grow up without a family, and that has to do worse things to the kids than growing up in a gay family (even if we take the hypo that gay << straight).

          • What Kim said. Even if gay families were worse than ideal, it’s not like the alternative of having kids not be adopted at all is ideal, either.

          • I gave a more nuanced reply below.

            I think it would depend a lot on exactly how kids raised by same-sex parents fared more poorly.

          • There’s lots of evidence that poorer families have worse childrearing outcomes, all things being equal, than wealthier ones. I don’t think that should bar poor families from raising their own children, or adopting the children of others. Like Kazzy said, just because poorer families have worse outcomes on average doesn’t meant that any middle class home is a better place to raise children than any poorer home.

            There’s a certain threshold of destitution that should disqualify anyone from adopting or caring for one’s own children–but that’s a level of deprivation that you don’t need fancy social science studies to detect. Everybody knows that children that are unhoused and unfed are in serious trouble.

            If being raised by gay parents were always as bad for children as being homeless, then obviously gay parents shouldn’t be allowed to adopt. But that’s a bizarro science-fiction world dreamed up by the Westboro Baptist Church. If having gay parents were subtly worse on average, like having poor parents, then prospective gay adoptive parents should still be allowed to come to the table and explain what they bring to the rearing of a someone else’s child.

            If we’re talking about gay parents raising their own bio children, or adopting their partner’s bio children, the law should be completely blind to sexual orientation. Statistically shitty parents heteros are allow to raise their own children, no questions asked.

          • If being raised by gay parents were always as bad for children as being homeless, then obviously gay parents shouldn’t be allowed to adopt. But that’s a bizarro science-fiction world dreamed up by the Westboro Baptist Church. If having gay parents were subtly worse on average, like having poor parents, then prospective gay adoptive parents should still be allowed to come to the table and explain what they bring to the rearing of a someone else’s child.

            This is pretty much where I would stand, if there were evidence that gay parents were somehow subtly worse than straight ones. I think I’ve not done a good job of stating this as clearly as you have.

          • “[I] would have had significant reservations about adopting myself.”

            As well you should. When you’re your own dad, which of you tells the other to take out the trash?

          • Lindsay,

            Thanks… that was *part* of what I was trying to say… thanks for saying it so well.

            But the other part has to do with the conflation of marriage and child rearing that SSM foes love to trot out (and I did a piss poor job of articulating this point). If gay parents were awful, flat out terrible for children… worse than orphaning them… gay people should *still* be allowed to marry, even if we make them jump through hoops to ultimately adopt. I recognize why the AAP endorsed gay marriage in concert with supporting gay adoption rights, but we should be careful to make sure we don’t predicate the argument in favor of gay marriage in such ways, lest we open the debate up to the “sterile” nature of gay relationships.

  2. What an exercise in intellectual integrity here. Without once backing down from the civil rights argument. You make me proud to share blogspace with you, Doc.

  3. Unsurprisingly, this was a topic of conversation in the ethics discussion of my policy analysis class. What sort of policy analyst do you want to be? An objective analyst, or a issue/client one?

    My argument was that objectivity in data analysis is critical. You study the data because it is there. You study the data to understand the descriptive power of the data, and the possible predictive power that may lie under it.

    But that doesn’t mean that all public policy decisions must be driven by data. Indeed, in a Constitutional Republic, you can’t base all public policy decisions on data. All the gun studies in the world could show that they were hands down, without a doubt, horrible things to own… without amending the Constitution, you can’t ban guns. Now, with a bunch of objective evidence in hand that shows that guns are bad, you can maybe convince people to repeal the second, but data analysis only tells you what the data tells you.

    It doesn’t tell you what we should, or should not, do (unless you’re categorically just a utilitarian, I suppose). Foundational principles apply, here.

    If all of the evidence overwhelmingly supported the outcome that gay people had worse parenting outcomes than straights, that (to me) would still not be enough to convince me that gay people shouldn’t have the right to get married, because marriage isn’t just about children.

    Indeed, without a reasonably supportable causal mechanism, I’d probably still be for gay adoptions because, “Well, there’s no way to tell for certain that this is because gay people are bad parents, because it could be the case that these outcomes are explained by society’s prejudice against them as bad families.” (and no matter how privileged “kids of heteros” may be over “kids of gay parents”… I’m okay with predicting that both are still going to be hugely advantageous over “kids in foster care”).

  4. Here’s my thought on a lot of this:

    Suppose that you were to find out that two gay men did ~not~ provide as stable a home as a man and a woman. Bear with me just a moment, I’m going somewhere. Then suppose that you’ve got a man who is single with a kid, (mom is totally unfit, drugged out, whatever) and he marries his partner. Okay. So now we’ve got a kid in a two dad house and we’ve got evidence that ~on average~ such a situation yields less positive outcomes.

    What do you do? Do you take the kid away? Do you spend money to support? Do you advise him to look past his gayness and find a nice woman to join the family? Do you… what?

    I think that’s what rubs me the worst with all these studies is that there seems, as a layman, no actionable consequence. Even if we know that a specific parenting group is more effective than another one, we can’t just pull kids out of a family and put them somewhere else. We can’t look at two women and say “you’d better yourselves a live in ‘dad’ or your kids are going to be in trouble.”

    It seems like what we do is what we always do which is to offer the best advice we can for the specific child to help him or her reach their best outcomes.

    Honestly I have no idea which of my students come from single parents, multigenerational households, or what. I just worry about supporting them as best as I can in my subject, providing as wide a variety of resources, and when the home situation becomes relevant I adjust what I have to match what is needed or can be used. I guess for me it is helpful to know that ~in studies~ two parent households do better than single, but on a case by case basis, it’s hard for me to share that with a single mom.

    I guess, and I’m thinking out loud here a little more, the one advantage to all these studies is that it might help flavor life choices in a bigger picture, maybe encourage people to delay children until they know they have a stable home life where the kids can get adequate support and attention. But short of that I feel like a great deal of this is more about gathering evidence for political debates….

    And for the record, I do not believe anything in my initial postulation: Adequate attention and support is what makes things work far more than the specific plumbing those caregivers come with.

    • I think it would make initial placement with same-sex adoptive families a more fraught proposition. It would depend on which outcomes were the ones in which children raised by such parents did more poorly than their peers, and if supports and interventions could be found to mitigate the disadvantages. I would not view it as a reason to impede the progress of marriage equality, and would further stipulate that plenty of opposite-sex parents make a hash of raising their kids but are allowed to do so to a great degree without interference.

      And, as I feel compelled to point out once again, it’s a happy fact that this whole conversation is academic, since kids raised in stable same-sex parenting homes do just dandy.

      • And I tend to agree that there is no evidence that suggests that same sex couples are any worse than mixed, and perhaps better given that to be a same sex partnership looking to have kids requires more work in general (ie adoption or seeking a surrogate or or…) than mixed couples do (ie just having sex).

    • Ditto. Longitutional studies kinda suck, because of this. “Hey, you guys suck” is not something that you can tell a parent. You /might/ be able to say, “Hey, more kids of two parent households read for an hour before they go to bed. Maybe you ought to give your kid a book to read before you get home from work?”

      • That’s something I think we fail as a society to talk about. There are studies that show kids do better with two parents than with one but how do you make that a practical concern? What can you do besides telling a single parent “try to work harder”?

        On the other hand, maybe there’s value into these ideas becoming part of a cultural meme, the kind of thing that ~does~ factor into family planning? “Maybe we should wait to mess around; I’m not ready for a baby on my own” kind of thing….

        • I thought the rap was that white middle aged middle class folk do fine as single parents. It’s the lower class which “sucks” (and I use that word with a wry grin).

          Having two parents provides an obvious structural advantage during times when its possible/likely for one to die or be rendered unable to parent (go to war, whatever). I think people ought to consider that.

          If we had room in our lives for more than one marriage paradigm, I might propose a “friendship marriage” where the expectation is still “till death do us part”, but it’s mostly about shared burdens, and not about sex at all.

    • One option for a rule is to maximize discretion on a case-by-case basis in the hands of some putatively neutral decision-maker (like a judge, but not necessarily a judge). Consider appointment to a political office to be something like this. This has the advantage of producing as close to optimal results as is possible but the disadvantage of relying on one person’s subjective preferences. Taken to the extreme, it winds up not being a rule at all, just a delegation of a power to an official without any restraints on the exercise of that power other than the official’s own conscience. It’s also expensive.

      Another option is to have a rule setting forth objective criteria for eligibility and then anyone who meets those criteria get the benefit. Consider eligibility for a driver’s license as an example of this. The “benefit” here being the ability to adopt a child. Such systems have the advantage of being quick and certain and predictable and understandable and inexpensive to implement. The downside being that inevitably, people who a case-by-case analysis would have denied the benefit to will get it, and people who should have gotten it won’t.

      Most of the time, we opt for something somewhere in between, picking objective criteria and other things to guide an individual decision-maker’s decision.

      The individualized, case-by-case analysis where we have data suggesting that kids in same-sex families do less well than other kinds of kids (as we’ve all noted, available data suggest quite the contrary) and the decision-maker is confronted with an absence of good choices, the question is the amount of discretion we’re going to allow that decision-maker to find the least bad option available.

      Even were we to assume, incorrectly, that kids from same-sex families do not thrive the way kids from mixed-sex families do, a decision-maker might decide that’s the best available reasonable alternative. But, if there’s a law banning adoption into a same-sex household as one of the objective criteria for adoption, then the decision-maker is denied the opportunity to select even a sub-optimal least bad choice.

      Which is why the next battle, after SSM, will not be for polygamy. It will be for adoption rights.

      • Do you mean two-parent adoption for same-sex couples? I thought that the vast majority of states allowed openly gay people to adopt, but fewer allowed them to do so jointly. Am I wrong with this? And would I be wrong to assume that, with marriage equality, there would be no legal leg to stand on to prevent joint adoption?

        • Your summary of the present state of the law is, to my understanding, correct. And I agree with your conclusion about where anticipated trends in the law will wind up.

          But don’t underestimate the creativity of the willfully crazed.

  5. It may be galling, but it’s the way things are.

    I suspect that the endgame will be gay couples eventually becoming boring. Seeing a gay couple at target bickering over this laundry basket vs. that laundry basket will be about as interesting as a guy and a gal bickering over laundry baskets.

    Given how race relations have gone for the last 100 years or so, I suspect that we are closer to finding out that little Billy’s new friend’s parents are gay being more of a surprise than if they were a guy and gal but less of a surprise than if one was white and the other was black.


        The dynamic I’m obliquely referencing there, and I hope I’m not stepping on toes because this indicates problems I’m sure… when we go to Target and we walk past a gay couple (inevitably a cute gay couple) bickering the exact same way that we bicker, there’s a moment where we think “we go to the gay Target” and feel good about ourselves in the “Stuff White People Like” way. (Or *I* do, anyway. Don’t want to tar Maribou with that brush if it doesn’t apply.)

        I suspect that I’m not the only person who gets all “Stuff White People Like” when I walk past the cute bickering gay couple at the Target and, on top of that, I’m sure that the smug that I (and others) radiate is noticeable by the gay couple.

        I’m not about to pretend that this SWPL response is a *GOOD* thing on my part. It does, however, strike me as a signpost on the road to the eventual goal of gay people (even cute gay people!) bickering at target is boring.

        • There is no warmth like the blanket of approval that envelops us when we show up at Whole Foods as the Gay Couple with Two Kids.

          • That strikes me as one of those things that is funny when you walk into the store but manages to become irritating as hell by the time you’re unloading the car.

          • Much as I respect you as a healer and an awesome blogger, Doc, now I have to check the research on parents who shop at Whole Foods. My hunch is that the numbers are not good.

          • Then again, you had to deal with shit that was a *LOT* worst in living memory. I could be misreading and this is one of those things that is downright refreshing.

          • For now, I still find it pretty enjoyable. Even though the area of the country where I live is much more progressive on gay issues that where I was raised, I still get just a teensy bit edgy when we take the Critter and Squirrel to Bugaboo Creek and it feels like Random Stranger X is glancing at our table with more frequency than seems entirely normal. (I will freely admit that it’s probably all in my head, and at least once the person doing the glancing came up to our table to comment on how cute our son was and how much he reminded her of her grandson, so…) As ridiculous and horribly insecure as this will probably make me seem, basking in the self-congratulatory warmth of approving Whole Foods patrons is a nice tonic to the mild anxiety I still get in some venues about being an Openly Gay Family.

          • It may not be a bad kind of novel but I know in our area an openly gay couple with kids would be a novel thing, and humans like to look at novel things, as a general rule.

            I don’t know if that’s a great consolation but perhaps there is solace that “just because people are looking doesn’t mean they’re judging.” I know here it’d be the kind of thing I’d take notice of because of it’s uniqueness but I don’t think (I’d hope at least) that I’d think negatively of them.

            Heck anyone who can wrangle their kids to play nice with mine is fine by me. 🙂

            Unless you admit that your 4 year old watches the Walking Dead. Then I am ~SO~ judging you, straight or gay.

          • It may not be a bad kind of novel

            Certainly it’s nothing like Atlas Shrugged.

          • Sorta OT. Our next move may involve a 30+ hour drive. I’m considering listening to “Atlas Shrugged” on the drive. Exactly how bad of an idea is that?

          • If you do, don’t drive through any long tunnels.

          • I think I’ve told this story before, but I’ll do it again anyway…

            It was Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. A friend was visiting… one of my best shopping buddies (we once spent 90 minutes in Johnston & Murphy’s while our female SO’s looked on in horror as we tried on the same pair of shoes for the 7th time)… and we were pumped to hit the Memorial Day sale at the local Brooks Brothers outlet. So pumped that we were at the store 10 minutes before it actually opened. While waiting, a pretty fabulous young gay man, also waiting for BB to open, was pushing one of those obnoxious little toy dogs around in a stroller. We were watching him, smirking at the obnoxiousness of his little toy dog.

            Before I go on, a bit of context. Where I live now, where the outlet is, is a relatively conservative area of the state. We’re close enough to Manhattan that many folks make the trip up to take advantage of the outlets, but the locals are fairly conservative, especially when you factor in the large Orthodox Jewish population, who are regular shoppers as well. But my friend and I also spent the bulk of our lives living in and around big cities. So gay folks were nothing new or particularly interesting to us… they were just folks. But toy dogs? Ugh… we both lived in areas where stupid toy dogs were the rage (me on the UWS of Manhattan, he in U St, DC)… so stupid toy dogs engendered a reaction from us.

            Anyway, back to the story… there we are… this young man “walking” his dog and the two of us eagerly awaiting rummaging through the sale items. On his third pass, the gentlemen says, “I know, I know… this must be THE gayest thing you’ve EVER seen,” with all the subtlety of Andy Dick doing an Andy Cohen impersonation. But the thing is… that WASN’T what we were thinking… we were both thinking, “What asshole walks a toy dog in a stroller?” And that felt like progress.

            I think.

          • Will, it’s not a bad idea. If you’re interested in the book, listening to it while you drive is a better choice than actually trudging through it. I’ve read one of her books and listened to the other on tape while commuting (when I had a 7 1/2 hour commute). I can’t remember which was which (not a big fan), but I know listening was less painful.

            Still, I’d strongly recommend classic John LeCarre over Rand. Those were the best to listen to.

          • If you do, don’t drive through any long tunnels.

            If your route includes long tunnels, go with The Interpretation of Dreams instead.

          • Will, don’t do it, man. Or if you do, you can stop after the first sermon, because it’s all going to be the same thing again and again after that. Only a lot of it, until you’re completely brainwashed.

            I’ll send you some Learning Company lectures instead.

          • James nailed it. LeCarre on tape is awesome. Back when I was driving to work more, I listened to the whole Quest for Karla trilogy that way. I’d also recommend Graham Greene (especially The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana).

          • Come to think of it, for me, at least, the worst books to listen to rather than read are the talky ones. Absalom, Absalom and Lord Jim are good, maybe even great books but having to listen to the narrators blather on at spoken-word speed instead of being able to skim was maddening. So a book that’s stopped dead in the middle by a 147-page speech would not be ideal.

        • For the record, and forgive me for the tangent:

          When I notice other LGTBQ people in a store, my gut-level non-rational reaction is actually to feel reassured/safer/slightly-at-home-in-a-tribal-sort-of-way. I feel that way more strongly when I’m alone; I expect based on previous experience that a significant number of people, not all friendly, will read me as lesbian and/or genderqueer [neither of which is, you know, WRONG, per se, just not quite the right point on a spectrum], and so, living in Colorado Springs, being in a very “straight-feeling” store makes me slightly anxious. I have, for example, been yelled at for using the “wrong” bathroom. (Which, on the spectrum of crappy things that can happen, is pretty low – actually not even the worse thing that’s happened to me personally – but it’s a reasonably clear-cut example of the sort of thing that I feel anxious about.) When I’m with Jay, it’s more of an attenuated, cosy feeling – more of the tribal and less of the not-anxious – because, well, I just feel safer with him around, no matter what the context is. Ah, the complications of bisexual passing privilege.

          I have teased Jaybird the requisite amount for forgetting that I don’t experience these things the same way he does. About the only time I felt the cute/charming/smug thing that he describes above was when there was a new waitress at our favorite deli and she was So Obviously Delighted with herself for waiting on that friendly, balding, gay couple (ie, us). That was a nice meta-smug, right there.

          • (And by so obviously, I mean stuff like *big smile*, “so what can I get you two gentleman today?” Noted only because I’ve occasionally been told that I must be imagining that people read me as male, that it couldn’t possibly be the case. Not Imagining It. Don’t really mind it either, but.)

          • Maribou,
            I’m straight but people sometimes read me as male.
            My husband often codes to people as gay.

  6. I can imagine the push-back on a piece suggesting that because parents are Christians, they’re not good parents, with supporting points suggesting they only teach abstinence-only sex education, they teach creationism as if it were science, intolerance of other religions.

    As if the tribe “Christian” can somehow label the how-we-parent tricks of the members comprising the tribe.

    I’d be as skeptical of that, and rightly so, even though there are Christian parents who might raise their children this way.

    We often get so confused at the metrics of things, making false equivalencies. What’s dismaying is how rarely we recognize or challenge those false equivalencies.

  7. I’ll go the other way on this and support the linked writer a bit. The conclusions drawn from other studies have quite probably already demonstrated that family structure (ie.,hetero-single parent, hetero-nuclear, hetero-extended, etc) is irrelevant wrt the mental health (or whatever) of children. At a minimum, I suppose, mental health of children will be highly correlated with things like lack of abuse, and similar types of behaviors from adults directed at young, developing beings. So the relevant causal factors cut across sexual orientation and not with it.

    Empirically, of course, science has to demonstrate that gay people aren’t inherently more abusive than heteros. And there is indeed something galling about that.

  8. I think the writer’s reaction is natural for a lay-person. Professsionals are familiar with the steps that must be taken by the relevant professional organization before it could reach a decision, especially a decision that is at least somewhat scientific in nature. It could take years, decades to reach the decision. Professionals and experts accept this as the right way to do things. For a lot of lay-people, especially those who could be potentially affected by the decision, this all seems very silly. To them, the right decision makes intuitive sense and asking them to wait for the empirical evidence to be properly studied is asking them for a delay in justice. A lot of people really don’t like delayed gratification and want thier justice and whatever could help them achieve their justice now.

  9. Your annoyance is understandable. Perhaps this Erik Botsford guy isn’t a man of science. When the military went about desegregating the military, it had to wade through all sorts of junk science to determine Negroes were every bit as good at soldiering as everyone else.

    It was just terrible, cleaning out those Augean Stables. Eugenics, all that pseudo-science surrounding the subject — it all had to be cleaned out. It simply had to be done. Merely dismissing it wasn’t enough. It had to be got rid of and replaced with meaningful studies.

    That’s the problem with junk science. If it isn’t actively rooted out and dismissed with extreme prejudice, it goes on to become something far worse. What do the Creation Science types call it? “Teaching the Controversy” — as if they still have a seat at the table and pages in the science books.

    • Which they repeated a short time ago when they lifted DADT. A friend of mine who’s a Marine Captain had to give a serious dressing down to a Seargant who decided to put on a “paperclip earring” to “celebrate” the event.

      Needless to say said Marine was told that he’d find the paperclip up his nose and out his eyesocket if he didn’t respect his fellow Marines.

  10. Excellent post, friend. As Burt said, an outstanding example of intellectual integrity.

    And frankly, the Academy of Pediatricians shouldn’t consider anything other than the well-being of children when taking a position–absent any empirical evidence one way or the other, it should remain wholly neutral as an organization. It’s not a civil rights organization after all, nor should it be one. And by limiting itself to the empirical issues, its position on those ends up carrying that much more weight, because opponents can’t easily dismiss it as, “Oh, well the kiddie doctors would say that.”

    • And by limiting itself to the empirical issues, its position on those ends up carrying that much more weight, because opponents can’t easily dismiss it

      This, too. On the question of maintaining your objectivity and sticking to your problem domain.

        • definitely manilla folder on my screen

          or we may all be seeing a slightly different shade of clotted cream

  11. Wow, I guess you can’t win with some people. Instead of being grateful that the AAP is scientifically backing him up, he’s . . . well, perhaps looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. Or he has the proverbial chip on his shoulder. Interesting post!

    • I read it more as a “Sigh. Aren’t we there YET??”

      I was telling one of my student workers about the whole Murphy Brown scandal the other day, and she was all, “WHAT? The vice president of the United States weighed in on a sitcom, to say WHAT??????????”

      I find it completely understandable that the linked poster is as frustrated as he is, while agreeing with Russell that his frustration is misdirected / showed up early.

      • The vice president of the United States weighed in on a sitcom, to say WHAT?

        That she should have had an abortion? Been more careful about birth control? Stuck to alternative sex acts?

        To be honest, I don’t know what his point was, except that it was probably misspelled.

      • I find it completely understandable that the linked poster is as frustrated as he is, while agreeing with Russell that his frustration is misdirected / showed up early.

        This is definitely becoming a thing. I read an article today about how it’s too late to change your mind about gay marriage.

        No, I don’t know when it’ll be too late to change your mind, but it’ll be some point after we’ve won. Won more than a court case and more than just a majority. Won to the point that it’s largely uncontroversial.

Comments are closed.