SAME-sex parented children do just as well as those raised by heterosexual couples, and equal rights advocates have welcomed an article, published today by the MJA, proving the point.

Senator Penny Wong, Australia’s first openly gay parliamentarian and leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate, praised the authors of the Perspective, which systematically lays out the evidence and refutes the No case that same-sex marriage equality harms children.

“One of the saddest things about this campaign is that the No case says they care about children, but spend a lot of their time denigrating families, suggesting children in same-sex families are being harmed,” Senator Wong said in a statement to MJA InSight.

“The reality is same-sex couples already have children in this country and the only people harming them are those who make these damaging and entirely false claims.

“I thank the authors, and the Medical Journal of Australia, for examining the evidence and producing this very important report which confirms that ‘children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as children raised by heterosexual couple parents’.

“It is a fact-based contribution to a debate that is sorely in need of one.”

A large group of medical practitioners and academics, led by Professor Frank Oberklaid, Foundation Director of the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, and co-group leader of Child Health Policy, Equity and Translation at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, put their name to the MJA article, and called for their colleagues to “speak up” in the last days of the current debate.

“The research tells us that children and adolescents with same-sex parents are doing well, despite the discrimination that their families endure. This will not continue for long in the face of hostile debate,” they wrote.

“The entire LGBTIQ+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer] community is at risk of harm in the current debate concerning same-sex marriage, and the most vulnerable are children and adolescents.

“We need to speak up. Opportunities exist to add our voices to the public debate, through public statements as individuals and from our professional associations and workplaces.

“Inaction is not an option when harm is the likely result.”

The authors detail Australian and international research, the consensus of which was that “children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as children raised by heterosexual couple parents”.

The latest study, a 2017 review by the Public Policy Research Portal at Columbia Law School, looked at 79 studies that investigated the wellbeing of children raised by gay or lesbian parents. The review concluded that there is “an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children”.

The MJA article also debunked a study often cited by the No campaign – the so-called Regnerus study – as being methodologically flawed.

Oberklaid and colleagues wrote that the Regnerus study “compared adults raised by a gay or lesbian parent in any family configuration with adults who were raised in stable, heterosexual, two-parent family environments”.

“When re-analysed, taking family stability and having two active parents into account, the data showed that outcomes were similar for adults regardless of their parents’ sexuality.”

Professor Kerryn Phelps, long-time LGBTIQ+ rights advocate and former president of the Australian Medical Association, also welcomed the MJA article.

“This article blows away one of the false, straw-man arguments of the No campaign,” Professor Phelps told MJA InSight.

“It is important to point out that the marriage equality question is not about children at all. The fact is many Australians have children without being married, and many are married without having children.

“This MJA article gathers together the state-of-the-art evidence as we know it, and it is irrefutable and unanimous.

“No more lame excuses.”

Ballots in the non-binding postal survey on same-sex marriage must be posted by this Friday 27 October, with votes received after Tuesday 7 November discounted. Survey results will be posted on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ website on Wednesday 15 November.

The latest Newspoll, published on Wednesday 18 October, showed that 59% of eligible Australians have already voted yes, with only 38% voting no, leaving No supporters needing three out of every four remaining votes in order to win.


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11 thoughts on “Same-sex parenting does not harm children, discrimination does

  1. Anonymous says:

    Never any mention of the boys. I cannot ask of others what I could not do myself. And neither should you! I ask the men. Would you want that? Two dads? Women have made it quite clear they couldn’t care less about boys.

  2. Andrew Watkins says:

    You have quoted very selectively, perhaps from the abstract

    The RR was indeed 2.7 for SSM males.
    The absolute risk was, however, very low ( 32/100,000 )

    The comparison made was of those in same sex and opposite sex partnerships. Given the known increase in suicide risk in same sex attracted individuals, such a comparison says nothing about the effect of SSM on suicide risk – they were already at risk regardless of marriage, probably because of a lifetime of discrimination.

    The authors, themselves Scandinavian, commented exactly to this effect, which rather goes against your premise that Scandinavia is some sort of Nirvana for same – sex attracted folk.

    Interestingly, they also noted a protective effect of having children, so one way to help this might be to encourage childbearing in SSM couples 🙂

    This fits also with the evidence that children do just as well in such arrangements, there even being adoption studies that show advantage for children adopted by same sex parents in comparison with those adopted by opposite sex partners.

    This is a serious debate which affects lives. We owe it to all to use evidence properly and to keep our own moral beliefs out of it

    KInd Regards

  3. Anonymous says:

    Same sex marriage will never make sense …
    One feels like our reality testing is getting distorted by the rapid expansion of new concepts …

  4. Peter (Melbourne GP) says:

    What about the study from Sweden demonstrating that married gay couples (in one of the most progressive countries in the world, where gay marriage is openly accepted) are almost three times as likely to commit suicide?
    (Eur J Epidemiol. 2016 Jul;31(7):685-90)

    An evidence based statment based on that might go something like this: “gay marriage and the associated lifestyle in a society that freely accepts it leads to a greatly increased risk of suicide.”

    I wonder if the MJA would publish something like that?…
    Reminds me of some modern day LGBT religious brainwashing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Like any assessment of research this latest publication needs to be scrutinised as it is at odds with previous research which seemed to have been undertaken reliably and with statically significant results.
    I find it hard to believe that the children do as well with same sex parents and other studies have not shown improvement in countries where SSM has been passed.
    Many of the now adult children have spoken out that they have missed out by not having a mum and a dad.
    I also disagree that the present debate is not also about the future children who cannot speak up for themselves if raised by same sex parents.
    Senator Wong and Kerryn Phelps are allowed have their views -despite being biased in view of their worldview, others are allowed to have a different view and not be labelled bigots for defending traditional marriage present for millennia .
    HOWEVER , a different issue is that same sex patients should be treated without impartiality or no discrimination by any medical practitioner and I don’t believe they are.

  6. Dr. Rolf Tsui says:

    This is a matter purely for the two people who are about to embark or already in a relationship to determine.
    It has nothing to do with the rest of us. It does not affect us.
    Leave people to make choices for themselves.

    I would rather they just talk about Marriage and the availability of it to all who so desire and are committed to making it work.
    With over 60% of heterosexual marriages in Australia ending up in DIVORCE, I really wonder the opponents think of that in terms of “risks to children”. This statistic is appalling and an utter disgrace. Where are the die hard conservatives batting for this situation? Double standards and shame!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Society can always construct family models for coping, and medicine – whose job it has ever been (in any specialty) to subvert nature’s intended natural history – can contribute to the production of families for those who are biologically or socially infertile.
    In the case of Penny Wong, and sadly in the case of Frank Oberklaid, it is fanciful to suggest that harm only comes to the children of such families because of the bigotry of supporters of traditional marriage.
    The children in gay families can see for themselves that there is something weird about their family, and schoolyard taunts – out of the mouths of babes – will lift the wool from their eyes if not. Again, those taunts are not under the instruction of bigoted parents around Gillian Triggs’ detestable kitchen table, and despite Safe Schools, it is not possible for the social engineers to get to kids young enough to stop them calling it out.
    The biology is irrefutable. Everyone will cope, and the parents and children can muddle along like all families do and maybe even come out with equal outcomes. But trying to pretend that it is ‘situation normal: nothing to see here’ is just delusional.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree, MJA is to be congratulated. If only more comment could be more un-selfcentred. Or is this a characteristic of your type of subscriber?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have no doubt these parents would be great parents and people, and give much love. But I’m also sure Ted Bundy’s parents loved him. It takes more than that. I imagine as a small boy having two dads, and it would be pure hell!

  10. Sue Ieraci says:

    Parenting isn’t determined by the parents’ sexuality. There are a vast number of single-parent families headed by heterosexual parents. Some re-partner, some don’t. Some re-partner with abusive partners and poor role-models, some stay single and provide role-models among family and friends. Some children living with the mothers alone are in touch with their fathers and have good relationships, or shared parenting, others don’t. Children need secure attachments to loving carers, and a supportive community around them. This can be provided by grandparents, uncles and aunts and friends – whatever the parenting arrangements.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Same for boys and girls though? I couldn’t imagine having two dads. Different for a girl. Are the adults putting themselves before children? I don’t like it. I don’t want to deny anyone their happiness but it’s not as simple as that.

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