July 23, 2013
Let's Debate Prop 8
Robert Oscar Lopez
Key differences exist between the intents of the Defense of Marriage Act (passed 1996) and Proposition 8 (passed 2008). I filed an amicus brief supporting Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry, but I did not file an amicus brief defending DOMA in the Windsor case.
I am the son of a lesbian. I was raised by a lesbian with the help of her female partner between the ages of two and nineteen (1973-1990). I am also bisexual, and a father. After a lifetime in the gay community and a great deal of research beyond my own experience, including interviews with other children of same-sex couples, I had concluded by January 2013 that children have a fundamental human right to be raised by a mother and father.
It is clear that Californians, who had passed domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, passed Proposition 8 not out of animus. They passed Prop 8 out of an honorable concern for the welfare of children. Therefore, I defended Proposition 8 and call upon the state of California to treat it with respect.
In the lead-up to Hollingsworth, Americans conflated many different family circumstances into a vaguely understood umbrella term of "gay parenting," mixing divorce cases with adoption and gestational surrogacy, then raced to the conclusion that none of these practices pose any concern.
Had we engaged in more debate, more information could have come to light. The hygienic or developmental studies claiming that kids of same-sex parents had no documented disadvantages withered under scrutiny. The sources of those studies did not inspire confidence. I had many reasons to distrust the American Psychiatric Association, which had held an earlier consensus that my mother and I, like other LGBT people, suffered from mental disorders.
As the son of a lesbian and a bisexual man myself, I felt demeaned by DOMA.
I did not feel demeaned by Proposition 8, because a lot changed between 1996 and 2008. By 2008, the gay community had been subjected to over twenty years of propaganda glamorizing same-sex parenting. Gay parenting shifted too quickly. In the 1970s and 1980s, widows and divorcees, who came out of the closet after losing a heterosexual partner, raised kids by necessity. A marketing campaign, however, drove a new growth market of gay couples looking to acquire children by any means necessary, whether it be adoption or outright purchase of children through sperm banks and surrogacy.
Between 2001 and 2010, live births resulting from artificial reproductive technology jumped 60% to 62,000, and LGBTs have constituted a growing share of this expansion. There is no doubt that promoting same-sex marriage will push these practices to even greater heights, but there are serious bioethical concerns to consider. A study published in 2010 found that adults who had been conceived by sperm donors contended with serious problems. Many feel traumatized by having been "bought" from a sperm bank.
This year, a study published by Cambridge University's Centre for Family Research found that children born by surrogate mothers suffered greater levels of depression. Children born to surrogates experience more emotional problems, miss out on their mother's milk, and also contend with feelings of anger about having been abandoned and sold. Surrogacy has also raised concerns about exploitation of women.
It is my firm conviction that all Americans have a natural-born right to be raised by their biological parents, or, if this is impossible, at least a mom and a dad. Same-sex parenting violates that right.
I am an employee of a California State University and feel that Governor Brown's refusal to defend Proposition 8 contributed to a hostile environment for children of same-sex couples who wished to discuss the problems posed by same-sex parenting. Therefore, I do have standing in the Proposition 8 debate, and as a California citizen thoroughly affected by same-sex parenting, I ask that we have a full debate on the topic before dismissing it outright.