Political Animal


March 28, 2013 1:30 PM Under the Gaydar: How Gays Won the Right to Raise Children Without Conservatives Even Noticing

By Paul Glastris

A few decades ago, openly gay and lesbian Americans did not have the legal right to raise their own biological children, much less adopt. Today, more states recognize same-sex parenting rights than same-sex marriage. Yet while we’ve had a contentious, two-decade-long national debate about same sex marriage, we’ve allowed same-sex couples to adopt and co-parent children with hardly any national discussion at all. Why the difference?

The answer, explains political scientist Alison Gash in a sneak preview from the upcoming May/June Washington Monthly, is that same-sex parenting rights have successfully advanced precisely because the legal wrangling over them has remained largely below the radar—a fact highlighted by Justice Scalia’s confusion about whether California even permits same-sex adoption during Supreme Court hearings on that state’s Proposition 8. Where marriage equality advocates have engaged in open political battles and brought high profile constitutional court cases, the fight for same-sex parental rights has mostly played out in obscure family courts, with few reporters present, and with advocates consciously delaying or avoiding high court review. This below-the-radar strategy created a foundation of “facts on the ground”—tens of thousands of intact gay and lesbian-headed families with children—well before most conservative activists were even aware the phenomenon existed, making their subsequent efforts to block same-sex parenting an uphill fight.

Read “Under the Gaydar: How gays won the right to raise children without conservatives even noticing”

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly.


  • jkl; on March 28, 2013 2:27 PM:

    You are so right, Ed. And this from the study correlates.


    Plus the market is thriving, broad marketing indicators, on the 12 prior times the Dow is higher, ending on the plus side. I notice the market.

    Thank you for your many, prolific posts.

    Joanne. Formerly Hue and Cry. Not worried so much about huing and crying.


  • Bodacious on March 28, 2013 2:39 PM:

    How did this fly under the radar? Two observations not based on empirical numbers. If a woman wants to have a child, lesbian or not, she will bear a child if her body allows. No legislation's gonna touch that. Second, many of the children adopted by gay couples fall into the category of hard to place children. How could the 'moral majority' folks scream about that which they have no intention of taking on? I would be curious to see that data. Gay men adoptive families verses lesbian adopted non genetic families. (Somehow, I'm sure I stated that wrong.)

  • Tien Le on March 28, 2013 2:49 PM:

    Additionally single parent adoptions became acceptable along the way. Many Gays didn't adopt as couples, but as a single parent--then the partner later adopts the children as part of a marriage (legal or not). And yes, the high-risk children have found their way into loving homes this way.

  • Anonymous on March 28, 2013 4:29 PM:

    Last weekend I mused that if they legalize gay marriage, what is to become of all the black children and challenged children? Once it is legalized, there will be more "legitimate" married couples vying for the few white babies available and that the population of orphaned brown and/or challenged babies will sky rocket because now gay couples can adopt "real" babies legitimately. Even more white couples will be going overseas for the Russian and Chinese babies previously only available to wealthy heterosexual white people who don't want to wait.

    (kidding BTW) But I do think that this is also one of the reasons that American culture seems to have turned around so quickly. The children of gay couples go to school with children of straight couples and the parents see first hand that these children are well cared for, loved, and raised with similar values. Suddenly the "otherness" dissapates.

  • jkl; on March 28, 2013 5:13 PM:

    It turned around because this is the civil rights issue of our times. Equal protection under the law.

    No drama, just the clarity of the issue.

    I almost feel that the intent is obvious to the Supreme Court Justices, as they review the 1996 Republican Congress members' expressed ideology calling this life style immoral and degrading, which precipitated their legislation known as DOMA.
    Sounds too much like Rick Santorum?

  • Grace Alexander on April 05, 2013 3:21 PM:

    Fly under the radar? What rock is everyone hiding under? This has been a huge and publicized issue over the past few years, with right wing pundits screaming their lungs out over it.