That nasty Rick Santorum is at it again. He likes to think of himself as a culture warrior, but I see him more as the kind of infectious culture that requires a good shot of penicillin. The poisonous idea he's spreading this time around is that children with fathers in prison are better off than children of gay parents.
This notion is so offensive and counter to all that is rational that it shouldn't require demolishing. But unfortunately, in our political landscape it's the kind of junk-scientific argument that people who don't know any better (and many who do) will seize on and spread. It a notion that needs inoculating against, and I can't think of any inoculation better than this video clip of Zach Wahls testifying before the Iowa House of Representatives in opposition to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage:
Yes, Zach is only one example of a child of gay parents, but he's a powerful example, and if Santorum can misuse scientific studies to jump to unwarranted conclusions, I can generalize from this one example through a simple thought experiment to prove that gay couples are, on average, better parents than straight couples.
What I want you to think about are the barriers straight couples face in conceiving or adopting children versus the barriers gay couples face. Okay? Okay.
Straight couples have, by and large, an easy time conceiving*. They're biologically built to produce offspring. It's so easy for straight couples to conceive, in fact, that it happens unintentionally all the time. Some of these unintentional pregnancies are welcome surprises, of course, but not all of them are. Many of them result in unwanted children, and many of those end of being raised in poverty by single mothers, especially in communities where access to birth control is limited. For every child of straight parents that was brought into the world deliberately, according to plan, into a welcoming, prepared home, I think you'll have to admit that there is at least one who was not planned for and not wanted.
Gay couples, on the other hand, have a much harder time having children. Unless they're bringing kids from a previous heterosexual relationship, male couples need to either adopt or find a surrogate mother. Female couples need to adopt or find a sperm donor. Gay couples may be blocked from any of these avenues by local laws, and in any event they're going to face significant hurdles in having children. The long and short of it is, gay couples don't accidentally have kids. They have to make a conscious choice, going far, far out of their way to get it done.
I think it's only reasonable to presume, because of the difficult of clearing those hurdles, that the percentage of gay couples who end up being conscientious, responsible parents is far higher than the percentage of straight couples who become the same. It only makes sense.
Now, I'm not saying that all gay parents are better than all straight parents. But I am making the case that, as a kid, you'd have much better chances of getting a good upbringing with gay parents than straight. I think any of us would be lucky to grow up with conscientious, loving parents like Zach Wahls had, of whatever orientation. So there.
*I'm talking on average here. I don't mean to discount the difficulty some straight couples, for whatever reason, have in conceiving, nor to discount the heartache this can cause.