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March 21, 2013 8:48 AM American Academy of Pediatrics Comes Out in Support of Marriage Equality

By Aaron Carroll

There are moments I’m really proud to be a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their just released policy statement, “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents are Gay or Lesbian“:

To promote optimal health and well-being of all children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports access for all children to (1) civil marriage rights for their parents and (2) willing and capable foster and adoptive parents, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation. The AAP has always been an advocate for, and has developed policies to support, the optimal physical, mental, and social health and well being of all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. In so doing, the AAP has supported families in all their diversity, because the family has always been the basic social unit in which children develop the supporting and nurturing relationships with adults that they need to thrive. Children may be born to, adopted by, or cared for temporarily by married couples, nonmarried couples, single parents, grandparents, or legal guardians, and any of these may be heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or of another orientation. Children need secure and enduring relationships with committed and nurturing adults to enhance their life experiences for optimal social-emotional and cognitive development. Scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders. If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation. If
2 parents are not available to the child, adoption or foster parenting remain acceptable options to provide a loving home for a child and should be available without regard to the sexual orientation of the parent(s).

This is a follow-up to a previously published analysis, “The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-being of Children“:

Gay and lesbian people have been raising children for many years and will continue to do so in the future; the issue is whether these children will be raised by parents who have the rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage. Same-gender couples are denied the right to civil marriage in every state except Massachusetts and the right to civil union except in Connecticut and Vermont. The federal government and other state governments do not recognize those civil marriages and civil unions.
There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.

The AAP sometimes takes longer to get their policy pieces out than I’d like, and they sometimes wind up pleasing no one in an effort to please everyone. But this time they got it right. It’s thoughtful, reasoned, and evidence-based. It’s worth reading in full.

[Originally posted at The Incidental Economist]

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Aaron Carroll ,MD, is an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Childrens Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.
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