America's Pediatricians Give Gay Marriage a Thumbs Up

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement saying there is no scientific evidence being raised by a same-sex couple negatively affects children.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement Wednesday declaring that same-sex marriage promotes the health and well-being of children. The group concluded that the development of children of gay or lesbian couples is not affected by the sexual orientation of their parents.

The academy said a stable relationship and family life is best for children, and studies show gay marriage does not harm the nearly two million U.S. children being raised in such homes. The policy statement said the group supports diverse families "because the family has always been the basic social unit in which children develop the supporting and nurturing relationships with adults that they need to thrive.” It cited scientific studies that support the claim that sexual orientation has no bearing on a child's well-being:

There is an emerging consensus, based on extensive review of the scientific literature, that children growing up in households headed by gay men or lesbians are not disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents … If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on gay marriage.]

Yet some say that the research used by the academy isn't comprehensive enough to allow for such a claim. Experts note that the studies are limited by the fact that they have too-small sample sizes and aren't long term enough. Loren Marks, associate professor of child and family studies at Louisiana State University, said the academy's endorsement of same-sex marriage is premature:

Many studies compare wealthy, well-educated lesbian mothers to single heterosexual mothers instead of married couples … This matters, because children from married families do better on numerous outcomes including psychological and physical health and avoidance of high-risk behaviors than children of single-parent families.

[ Read the U.S. News Debate: Should Gay Marriage be Legal Nationwide?]

Opponents of gay marriage typically argue that it shouldn't be allowed because it doesn't provide an appropriate environment for having children and raising a family, a condition they say is necessary for a union to be classified as marriage.

The federal law prohibiting same-sex marriage is up for review by the Supreme Court this month, although nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized it.

Other national health groups to endorse gay marriage include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American College of Nursing.

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