Title: The Care of Children Bill Credit: Craig Young Features Sunday 3rd August 2003 - 12:00pm1059868800 Article: 92 Rights
The proposed Care of Children Bill will make it possible for lesbian or gay biological parents to name their coparent partner as a child's legal guardian after their death, and provides rights and responsibilities to lesbian partners of biological mothers who have used assisted reproductive technologies. Predictably, Peter Dunne (United Future), Muriel Newman (ACT) and Bill English (National) have condemned the measure on the basis of shallow populist rhetoric about lesbian fathers. It would be nice if the aforementioned populist conservatives bothered to inform themselves about the current status of research about same-sex parenting. In February 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a Technical Report on existing social scientific and medical research within mainstream peer-reviewed academic journals about same-sex parenting. The AAP recommended legal recognition of coparent custody, access and visitation rights as well as same-sex child support payments in the event of parental separation, and child access to survivor benefits from both coparents. It concluded that same-sex led families had the right to financial, psychological and legal security. Although the Care of Children Bill is about guardianship rights and responsibilities, several jurisdictions recognise lesbian and gay adoptive parent access. The Netherlands, Western Australia, British Columbia, New Jersey and New York state all fulfill these criteria. For a change, transgendered people got in ahead of us- the Family Court ruled that transitioning gender identity was no reason to deny guardianship to one female applicant [Re C]. Moreover, it is inconsistent to deny lesbians, gay men and transwomen guardianship rights and responsibilities when lesbians and gay men have had access to assisted reproductive technologies since National's Minister of Justice, Doug Graham, issued the Ministerial Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technologies Report (1994). More recently, Steve Maharey allowed lesbians and gay men to become CYPFS foster parents, although some child welfare agencies already permitted this. What are the actual effects of same-sex parenting? Gay dads tend to be stricter disciplinarians but also allow kids considerable cognitive independence. Children of lesbian mums had excellent interpersonal skills in general, particularly their sons, while their daughters grew up to be stroppy independent women. Interestingly, lesbian mums were keener on positive role models for their sons than divorced heterosexual women. Gay dads and lesbian mums tend to sacrifice career advances for quality parenting time. What do opponents say? Lynn Wardle was brought to New Zealand in 1999. He was a guest of the fundamentalist Maxim Institute, better known as one of the Christian Right ringleaders against prostitution law reform. Wardle relies on the discredited work of Paul Cameron, who was expelled from the American Psychological Association and denounced by the American Sociological Association for repeated violations of research ethics. Furthermore, Wardle makes illegitimate extrapolations from single-parent research literature that is not substantiated by peer-reviewed mainstream social scientific and medical research literature. Patricia Morgan is another such figure. She attacked same-sex parenting in her monograph "Children As Trophies," but the British Conservative Party found it unconvincing. Several Tory peers bolted and voted for same-sex parental adoption rights and responsibilities in the House of Lords two years ago. What about New Zealand? I'll report back about the existing status of same-sex parenting research at a later date, but Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz provided an additional overview of Western European and American social scientific and medical research in the American Sociological Review. Stacey and Biblarz concluded that same-sex parenting had no discernable negative impacts on child adjustment and development from assessment of available literature. Newman, Dunne and English should stop being kneejerk ignorant populists over queer family issues and read mainstream social scientific and medical research literature. There is no reason to discriminate against our families, and one significant pediatric group has argued against it. For Further Reading: Ellen Perrin and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health: "Technical Report: Coparent or Second Parent Adoption by Same-Sex Parents." Pediatrics 109: 2: February 2002: 341-344. Judith Stacey and Tim Biblarz "How Does Sexual Orientation of Parents Matter?" American Sociological Review 2001: 66: April: 159-183. Craig Young - 3rd August 2003    
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