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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.
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.
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.