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Pediatric Organization Endorses Same-Sex Marriage For Its Benefit To Children


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear two of its biggest cases of the year. In both, the justices will, for the first time, weigh arguments for and against gay marriage. In a few minutes, we'll hear about the roots of one of those cases.

BLOCK: First to a policy statement released today by the American Academy of Pediatrics supporting gay marriage.

As NPR's Alix Spiegel reports, the group says it reviewed scientific literature about how the children of same-sex couples fare and found no difference in outcomes.

ALIX SPIEGEL, BYLINE: Ellen Perrin, a pediatrician at Tufts Medical Center who helped do the review, says there's now a large number of studies on the children of same-sex couples.

DR. ELLEN PERRIN: We looked at over 60 studies to come to the conclusions that we came to in the policy report.

SPIEGEL: Now, these studies, she says, looked at the well-being of children of gay parents in a variety of ways.

PERRIN: Some studies looked at their emotional well-being. Some studies looked at their academic functioning and so forth. Different studies have approached this question in many different ways. We believe that that's a big strength of this very large - now - body of literature that because they approached the question in different ways and they all come up with the same response, which is these children do just fine, we have much more faith in the science.

SPIEGEL: In fact, of the roughly 60 studies, there were only two that suggested children of same-sex couples were disadvantaged. Two.

PERRIN: It's very low, considering how many studies have been done about this topic.

SPIEGEL: This is why the group is supporting the right of same-sex couples to wed.

PERRIN: It's quite clear in the literature that it's advantageous for children in general to have parents who are married. And so, the question revolves then around the fact that: But is it equally advantageous to have parents who are the same gender, who are married?

SPIEGEL: And since this review suggested the children of same-sex couples fare just as well as the children of heterosexual couples, Ellen Perrin says the American Academy of Pediatrics is now very, very clear.

PERRIN: It is in the best interest of children if they have two loving and capable parents, that those parents be allowed to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage in order to provide security and permanence for their children.

PETER SPRIGG: I think it reflects more political correctness than it does any actual findings of the research in terms of the well-being of children.

SPIEGEL: Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the conservative Christian public policy organization, the Family Research Council, says he has reviewed much of the same research, but not surprisingly has come to a very different conclusion. Sprigg says that the AAP is right that marriage is advantageous, but wrong about the cause of that advantage.

SPRIGG: The demonstrable benefits of being raised by married parents relate in large part to the benefits of being bonded to the mother and father whose union created you, who gave you life.

SPIEGEL: In other words, the advantage comes from the biological bond between the two parents and their child.

SPRIGG: And so it's not valid to assume that homosexual couples who are allowed to legally marry would be able to transmit the same benefits to their children.

SPIEGEL: The AAP, though, isn't alone in asserting that the children of gay parents seem to fare just as well as the children of heterosexual parents. In 2005, the American Psychological Association reviewed the research and came to the same conclusion.

Alix Spiegel, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alix Spiegel has worked on NPR's Science Desk for 10 years covering psychology and human behavior, and has reported on everything from what it's like to kill another person, to the psychology behind our use of function words like "and", "I", and "so." She began her career in 1995 as one of the founding producers of the public radio program This American Life. While there, Spiegel produced her first psychology story, which ultimately led to her focus on human behavior. It was a piece called 81 Words, and it examined the history behind the removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.