Doctors' view: Marriage amendment harmful to health of children, adolescentsRecently the board of directors for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics voted unanimously to sign on to the coalition Minnesotans United for All Families, joining more than 600 organizations opposing a constitutional amendment that would limit the freedom to marry in Minnesota.
By: Dr. Robert M. Jacobson and Dr. Thomas R. Scott, for the News Tribune
Recently the board of directors for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics voted unanimously to sign on to the coalition Minnesotans United for All Families, joining more than 600 organizations opposing a constitutional amendment that would limit the freedom to marry in Minnesota.
You might ask why Minnesota’s pediatricians decided to take a stand on such a controversial issue. The reason is simple: It affects the patients we see every day.
In Minnesota, thousands of children are being raised by same-sex couples. As an advocate for children and their families, MN-AAP believes a marriage amendment would be harmful to the health and well-being of children and adolescents in at least three fundamental ways.
First, it would hurt and demean those parents in our practices who are in committed relationships but happen to be of the same sex. These parents love and support their children as much as heterosexual parents. However, the amendment would make it much more difficult for them to achieve society’s recognition of their vows to each other, their children and their community. This is not fair to them or their children. Every child deserves the opportunity to have the legal, financial and psychosocial security that results from having parents in a legally recognized marriage.
Second, this amendment flies in the face of evidence showing children raised by couples of the same sex in committed relationships thrive and flourish just as well as children raised by couples of the opposite sex. More than 25 years of research has documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. Rather, children’s optimal development seems to be influenced more by the nature of the relationships and interactions within the family than by the particular structural form it takes. This research is affirmed not only by our national organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, but also the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League, and the American Medical Association.
Finally, this amendment would hurt and demean our adolescent patients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender themselves. Many of them are already at increased risk of bullying, violence and suicide, and amending our state’s constitution to take away their right to marry adds to the social stigma they face every day. It also would send a chilling message to them about how their communities value them, their future, and their dreams of establishing a committed relationship.
As the debate continues over the amendment, much will be said about its impact on children. As pediatricians, we believe the amendment would harm our patients and their families, and, as a result, the communities and the state in which they live. We ask that all Minnesotans committed to the welfare of families and children vote “no” on the marriage amendment in November.
Dr. Robert M. Jacobson is a pediatrician and the president of the Minnesota Chapter of the Minneapolis-based American Academy of Pediatrics (mnaap.org). Dr. Thomas R. Scott is a pediatrician and a member of the policy committee of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. They wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.