In the debate over gay marriage, strikingly little attention has been paid to the impact on children. Some question the wisdom of having children raised by two homosexuals, but the best they can seem to argue is that serious flaws vitiate the literature defending it.
Almost no attention has been devoted to what may be the more serious political question of who will supply the children of gay “parents,” since obviously they cannot produce children themselves. A few will come from sperm donors and surrogate mothers, but very few. The vast majority will come, because they already do come, from pre-existing heterosexual families. In Massachusetts, “Forty percent of the children adopted have gone to gay and lesbian families,” according to Democratic state Sen. Therese Murphy.
Sen. Murphy seems totally oblivious to the implications. “Will you deny them their rights?” she asks. With some 3 percent of the population, gay couples already seem to enjoy a marked advantage over straight ones in the allocation of supposedly superfluous children.
But whose rights are being denied depends on how deeply we probe and what questions we ask. Granting gay couples the “right” to have children by definition means giving them the right to have someone else’s children, and the question arises whether the original parent or parents ever agreed to part with them.
Not necessarily. Governments that kind-heartedly bestow other people’s children on homosexual couples also have both the power and the motivation to confiscate those children from their original parents, even when the parents have done nothing to warrant losing them.
Sen. Murphy formulaically asks us to take pity on “children who have been neglected, abandoned, abused by their own families.” But this is far from the whole picture.
Ever since the federal government became involved in the child-abuse business some 30 years ago, governments nationwide have had the means and the incentive to seize children from their parents with no due process finding that the parents have actually abused their children. The 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, also known as the Mondale Act) provides generous financial incentives to states to remove people’s children under the guise of protecting them. In the aftermath of CAPTA, the foster-care rolls exploded, as children were torn from their parents and federal funds poured into state coffers and foster-care providers. According to the Child Welfare League of America, “There were many instances then, as now, of children being removed unnecessarily from families.” Many foster homes were far more abusive than the families from which the children had been removed.
But the federal government, ever ready to create a new program to address the problems created by its existing programs, had a solution. The 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act provided more federal money to transfer children from foster care into adoption, enlarging the client base of stakeholders with a vested financial interest in available children. Gay marriage expands this client base still further.
Among the states that have taken fullest advantage of this gravy train is Massachusetts. A typical case is that of Neil and Heidi Howard, whose children were seized by the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) with no charge of abuse against either parent and no evidentiary hearing. DSS tried to put the children up for adoption and were prevented only by lengthy court proceedings and extensive publicity in the Massachusetts News. Other families are not so fortunate.
This traffic in children has been in full flow since well before gay marriage. Belchertown attorney Gregory Hession alleges a “child protection racket” rife with “baby stealing and baby selling.” Hession describes courts where the hallways are clogged with parents and children being adopted. “You could hardly walk. You had never seen such mass adoptions before.” Reporter Nev Moore of the News describes the auction blocks for children operated by DSS:
If you prefer to actually be able to kick tires instead of just looking at pictures you could attend one of DSS’s quaint “Adoption Fairs,” where live children are put on display and you can walk around and browse. Like a flea market to sell kids. If one of them begs you to take him home you can always say, “Sorry. Just looking.”
This is the bureaucratic milieu – largely hidden from all but those who must endure it – into which gay marriage advocates want to inject millions of new couples in search of children to adopt.
The number of truly abused children cannot begin to fill this demand without government help. We know that statistically child abuse in intact two-parent families is rare, and two-thirds of reports are never substantiated. Yet even in those instances of confirmed abuse, a little digging reveals the pernicious hand of the government generating business (and children) for itself.
Child abuse is overwhelmingly a phenomenon of single-parent homes. Government and feminist propaganda suggest that single-parent homes result from paternal abandonment. In fact, they are usually created by family court judges, who have close ties to the social service agencies that need children. By forcibly removing fathers from the home through unilateral or “no-fault” divorce, family courts create the environment most conducive to child abuse and initiate the process that leads to removal of the children from the mother, foster care, and adoption. Gay adoption is simply the logical culmination in the process of turning children into political instruments for government officials.
What this demonstrates is that same-sex marriage cannot be effectively challenged in isolation. Opponents must bite the bullet and confront the two evils that pose a far more serious and direct threat to the family than gay marriage: the child protection gestapo and the even more formidable “no-fault” divorce machine.
Failure to grasp this nettle will leave social conservatives exposed to ever more contempt from a public that is crying out for leadership to rescue the family but which has been led to view social conservatives, however unjustly, as puritanical bigots who want to deny equal rights to homosexuals – rights that entail powers of totalitarian dimensions, undreamed of before the sexual revolution.
Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D., is Charlotte and Walter Kohler Fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society and president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. The views expressed are his own.