(by Jacob D.)
A 2002 report from Child Trends, an independent, nonpartisan research group, underscores the importance to the child of having both biological parents present in the home (emphasis added):
[R]esearch clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes. . . . There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents. . . . [I]t is not simply the presence of two parents . . . but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.
In light of such an understanding, The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church speaks of “the right of the child to be born from one father and one mother who are father and mother both from a biological and a legal point of view” (CSDC §235).
Yet, this continues to be overlooked in the debate over “same-sex marriage.” In our concern to let adults act on their diverse romantic desires, we can easily ignore the needs of children. As the Compendium states, “The desire to be a mother or a father does not justify any ‘right to children,’ whereas the rights of the unborn child are evident” (CSDC §235).
We know from biology that two males or two females cannot have a marital union that is biologically open to new life. This means that, in order for a same-sex couple to conceive a child, the couple would have to take either sperm or an egg from someone who is a stranger to their relationship. So in order to conceive a child, a same-sex couple would have to overlook the child’s right to be raised by both of his or her biological parents.
In the more difficult case of adoption, what is necessary is not that same-sex couples who have adopted be married to each other, but that these couples are given the material and legal benefits necessary for the welfare of the child. To see why this is true, one needs only to consider that two biological sisters who are raising an adopted child should not be denied the assistance of the state any more than two women who are sexually involved with each other and are raising an adopted child. What is needed is not the marriage of the child’s adoptive guardians, but the material and legal support in the child’s interest. The state does not give or deny benefits on the basis of romance (For more, see: A secular argument against same-sex civil marriages).
Laws exist for the common good, not for the legitimization of romantic love. A defense of marriage is for the defense of the common good over and above the private romantic desires of individual adults. As the research from Child Trends shows, it is the presence of two biological parents that best supports a child’s development. In Catholic social teaching, children are considered to be the most vulnerable and sacred among us. We should have laws that promote and preserve their well-being.