Over the pas couple of decades American society has undergone some vast changes. The concept of the family has been greatly altered. No longer is such emphasis put on the “traditional” family. A majority of children are being raised in single parent households. Single parent adoption rights have been granted. Now an entirely new sort of family is being disputed. Should gays and lesbians be granted the right to adopt a child? Today’s view of gays and lesbians is drastically differen t than it was in the past. As more people “come out of the closet” gays and lesbians are becoming more socially accepted.
They currently are battling for equality in a variety of areas. In Hawaii gays and lesbians can be granted marriage righ ts, which was a huge victory until DOMA was passed. The Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA, was a bill proposed by conservative Congressmen and Senator Bob Dole. Dole says, “DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman for a ll federal purposes (taxes, Social Security, veterans’ benefits, etc. ) and says that states don’t have to pay attention to the Constitution if they don’t want to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in any other state” (Winters 1).
President Bill Clinton, who openly expresses his opposition to same-sex marriages, signed the bill making it a law. Gays and lesbians continue to fight. Recently the fights have been centered on adoption. This new dilemma has created quite a stir in society. It is estimated that the number of children being raised by gay or lesbian parents is between 2 and 6 million. It is extremely hard to get an accurate estimation due to the fact that many gays and lesbias are not open about their family structure. These people do not want to be surveyed for fear of losing their children.
In a population where roughly 10% or 25 million people are reported to be homosexual the numbers of those raising children are outstanding (Collum 1). There are three main ways that gays and lesbians are raising children and acquiring families without the courts becoming involved. The first way, which is also the most common way, is when heterosexual marriages dissolve after one parent apparentl y “comes out. ” With this situation, as long as there isn’t a messy custody battle in court most often the child is raised by the gay or lesbia parent, and is also fully aware of his or her parent’s sexual tendencies.
The second method is lesbi ans receiving artificial insemination. Estimates of the number of children born to lesbians through artificial insemination range in the tens of thousands. Pacific Reproductive Services is a clinic in San Francisco where a growing number of lesbians are becoming clients. The clinic reports that more than a 100 lesbians use the sperm bank each month. Lastly, there is one of the newer methods: gays and lesbians going into an agreement with each other to produce a child. In some cases they share duties and custody in raising the child.
In other cases the men or women avoid any attachment with the child at all (Henry III 67-68). Lesbian and gay parents go throughout the daily routines of life no differently than heterosexual parents do. In most cases everyone just wants what is best for the child. This brings on the question if being raised in a same-sex dominated environment will have a psychological effect on the child. The fact still remains that the traumas and hardships fac ed by both the parents and the children of gay and lesbian households will be totally different from those faced by heterosexual families.
This is why many gay and lesbian families keep their family structure so secretive, to avoid the comments, teasing, and publicity surrounding their private lives. Though we all recognize the fact that the traditional view of the family has been altered significantly, can the family be altered to that much of an extent? Adoption is the only other method for gays and lesbians to acquire children. This is the most difficult, technical, and risky way to have a child. It is so risky because cases can vary depending on the judge’s personal views and opinions on this issue.
Most courts make their jurisdiction based on what they feel will be the result of a child growing up in a gay or lesbian household. Homosexual couple’s custody rights are nearly always at risk in the common jurisdictions. Continually courts rule that a child’s best interest is met in the homes of heterosexual parents. One major reasoning for this is due to the fact that though the court does acknowledge that a gay or lesbians’ sexuality is beyond their control, living with someone of the same s ex can be controlled.