Supreme Court: Hear the voices of our children

Yesterday Family Equality Council, along with our partners at GLSEN, COLAGE, Our Family Coalition, the Center on Children and Families and the Child Rights Project submitted an amicus curiae (friend of the Court)brief in support of Edie Windsor – who is challenging the constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), and the couples challenging Proposition 8 – which eliminated the ability of same-sex couples to marry in California.

Download the full version of the Children’s Voices brief.

All in all there have been dozens of amicus briefs filed with the Court in these two cases – on both sides of the issues.  And many of them will argue different points of the law from different perspectives.  The brief we filed with the Court, however, is unique in that it does not focus on the law – but on the all too often unheard voices of the children who are at the center of this debate on marriage.  In this “Children’s Voices” brief we attempt to lift these voices to make a compelling point – that denying same-sex couples the ability to marry and denying those that can marry equal recognition by our federal government does absolutely nothing but single out same-sex couples and their children as “different” and “inferior.”  Denial of marriage and marriage recognition to same-sex couples serves no other purpose but to harm these couples and the children they are raising. 

We have seen the data and heard about all of the studies.  More than 30 years of social science research tells us that children raised by LGBT-headed households have the same advantages and same expectations for health, social and psychological adjustment, and development as children whose parents are opposite-sex.  (Some of the more recent studies have even suggested that children raised by LGBT parents fare better than their peers.) Every major child welfare organization agrees and all of them have statements endorsing the ability of LGBT people to parent.

According to the most recent reports issued by the Williams Institute, there are at least 3 million LGBT people who’ve had children, which means there are as many as 6 million Americans who have at least one LGBT parent.  And of the 650,000 same-sex couples in the U.S., more than 125,000 of them are currently raising 220,000 children under the age of 18.  We know that these families live everywhere – in 93% of all U.S. counties.  We know that same-sex couples raising children are 4 times more likely than their different-sex counterparts to be raising an adopted child and 6 times more likely than their different-sex counterparts to be raising foster children.  We know that same-sex couples who are parents are more likely than their opposite-sex counterparts to be people of color.  And we know that all of these numbers are only going to rise in the coming years because increasing numbers of LGBT people want to be parents.

What does all of this data tell us?  It tells us that our families are everywhere.  It tells us that our children are everywhere.  And it tells us that our children are doing pretty well – very well considering that their families are so often the target of bigotry and disrespect.   It would be impossible for the U.S. Supreme Court to properly understand the issues before it in both of these cases without considering the first-hand accounts of the children at the heart of the marriage debate.