American Academy of Pediatrics: Ban is Harmful to Children
If passed, the ban on civil unions and marriage will hurt real families. And more to the point: it will hurt real children.
That's the conclusion of a special report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The organization first analyzed 2000 census data to determine how many children stand to be harmed by such bans. After the South, the Midwest has the highest percentage of gay couples parenting children -- 34.7% of lesbian couples and 22.9% of gay male couples.
We're not talking about a handful of kids, but thousands and thousands who stand to see their families harmed.
So how would Wisconsin children be harmed by the civil unions and marriage ban? The AAP counts the many, many ways (and I'm including the entirety as a reminder of just what's at stake this November):
The report concludes with what should be the ruling judgement in this campaign: children are better off when we work to strengthen families, not when we deny them fundamental protections.
For same-gender couples and their children, enactment of marriage amendments halts the possibility of obtaining many legal and financial rights, benefits, and protections such as:
- legal recognition of the couple's commitment to and responsibility for one another;
- legal recognition of joint parenting rights when a child is born or adopted;
- legal recognition of a child's relationship to both parents;
- joint or coparent adoption;
- second-parent adoption;
- foster parenting;
- eligibility for public housing and housing subsidies;
- ability to own a home as "tenants by the entirety" (ie, a special kind of property ownership for married couples through which both spouses have the right to enjoy the entire property, and when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse gets title to the property);
- protection of marital home from creditors;
- automatic financial decision-making authority on behalf of one's partner;
- access to employer-based health insurance and other benefits for nonbiological/not-jointly-adopted children (considered a taxable benefit for same-gender couples by the Internal Revenue Service, which is not the case for married heterosexual couples);
- access to spouse benefits under Medicare and certain Medicaid benefits (spouses are considered essential to individuals receiving Medicaid benefits and, therefore, are eligible for medical assistance themselves; family coverage programs would deny coverage to same-gender partners and nonbiological/not-jointly-adopted children);
- ability to enroll nonbiological/not-jointly-adopted children in public and medical assistance programs;
- ability of both parents to consent to medical care or authorize emergency medical treatment for nonbiological/not-jointly-adopted children;
- ability to make medical decisions for an incapacitated or ailing partner;
- recognition as next of kin for the purpose of visiting partner or nonbiological/not-jointly-adopted child in hospitals or other facilities;
- ability to take advantage of the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for a sick partner or nonbiological/not-jointly-adopted children;
- ability to obtain life insurance (because of findings of no insurable interest in one's partner or nonbiological/not-jointly-adopted child);
- ability to obtain joint homeowner and automobile insurance policies and take advantage of family discounts;
- recognition as an authority in educational settings to register a child for school, be involved in a child's education plan, and provide consent on waivers and sign permission forms;
- ability to travel with a child if it will require proof of being a legal parent;
- access to spousal benefits of worker's compensation;
- ability to file joint income tax returns and take advantage of family-related deductions;
- privilege afforded to married heterosexual couples that protects one spouse from testifying against another in court;
- immigration and residency privileges for partners and children from other countries;
- protections and compensation for families of crime victims (state and federal programs);
- access to the courts for a legally structured means of dissolution of the relationship (divorce is not recognized because marriage is not recognized);
- visitation rights and/or custody of children after the dissolution of a partnership;
- children's rights to financial support from and ongoing relationships with both parents should the partnership be dissolved;
- legal standing of one partner if a child is removed from the legal/adoptive parent and home by child protective services;
- domestic violence protections such as restraining orders;
- automatic, tax- and penalty-free inheritance from a deceased partner or parent of shared assets, property, or personal items by the surviving partner and nonbiological / not-jointly-adopted children;
- children's right to maintain a relationship with a nonbiological / not-jointly-adopting parent in the event of the death of the other parent;
- surviving parent's right to maintain custody of and care for nonbiological / not-jointly-adopted children;
- Social Security survivor benefits for a surviving partner and children after the death of one partner;
- exemptions from property tax increases in the event of the death of a partner (offered in some states to surviving spouses);
- automatic access to pensions and other retirement accounts by surviving partner;
- access to deceased partner's veteran's benefits;
- ability to roll deceased partner's 401(k) funds into an individual retirement account without paying up to 70% of it in taxes and penalties; and
- right to sue for wrongful death of a deceased partner.
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.If you're interested in the history of recongizing gay families, the history of banning such recognition, and the legal landscape for gay families, the report is a tremendous, thorough resource and well worth an hour or so of reading.
H/T In Effect