The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The Kids are Definitely Alright

There’s a lot of encouraging news out about young people right now. And I’m not talking about the high school seniors who took Bush to task on torture. (I think that’s great, BTW). It’s the New York Times article about a a recent poll that underscores some trends I’ve blogged about before that are very encouraging for LGBT Americans and our families.

Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll. The poll also found that they are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion.

Forty-four percent said they believed that same-sex couples should be permitted to get married, compared with 28 percent of the public at large. They are more likely than their elders to support the legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The findings on gay marriage were reminiscent of an exit poll on Election Day 2004: 41 percent of 18-to-29-year-old voters said gay couples should be permitted to legally marry, according to the exit poll.

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I’ve pointed out before that the general trend is for marriage equality among the general population. This survey appears to echo previously mentioned research suggesting that support for marriage equality is high among young people.

There’s a simple reason for that. in the decades since Stonewall, more and more LGBT Americans have “come out” and advocated for fairness and equality, yielding results ranging from state and local anti-discrimination ordinances to marriage equality in one state and accepted legal status in others, as well as more positive portrayals in media. These kids have grown up in a world where they’re more likely to have seen positive portrayals of gay people on television and and in movies, and more likely to know someone gay because more of us are raising families right in their own neighborhoods.

Heard of the “gayby boom”? More of us are opting for parenthood these days, and even moving to the suburbs. Maybe even one near you. That means your kids will grow up next door to ours, or maybe just down the street. If they’re very young, they’ll inevitably play together because small children don’t much care who’s what color or who has gay parents. At least, not until they’ve been “carefully taught.”

They’ll probably go to each other’s birthday parties. They’ll ride the bus together in the mornings, and walk home together in the afternoon. They’ll hang out together. Who knows? Some of them might date each other, possibly even marry each other. (That means your grandchildren might also have two grandmas or two grandpas, who might also show up for family events. In your family!) And if your kid’s secretly gay themselves, they might see positive examples of the options available to them in their lives, and you’ll miss your chance to raise the next Mark Foley or Ted Haggard.

Scared yet? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. People had all of the same basic fears when schools integrated and black started moving into previously “exclusive and restricted” neighborhoods. And, yes, some people’s worst fears came to pass.

Why? Because it’s a lot more difficult to hate someone who lives next door to you, goes to your school, and maybe even dates your sister, especially after you’ve seen them go about their lives and the day-to-day business of being a family. Eventually, you realize that they don’t have horns or tails, drink the blood of Christian children, or host “Black Sabbaths” by the light of the full moon.

According to CNN, there are a lot gay parents out there.

Jackson is one of 65,000 adopted children being raised by same-sex parents in the United States, according to a March 2007 report compiled by the Urban Institute and the Williams Institute at University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

The same report estimates more than 14,100 foster children were living with one or more gay or lesbian foster parent.

… Though denied the right to marry in every state except Massachusetts, more and more same-sex couples are turning to adoption and foster care to form families, according to child adoption groups who study the issue.

Rob Calhoun and his partner, Clay Calhoun, of Avondale Estates, Georgia, have two adopted children — 4-year-old daughter Rainey and son, Jimmy, who is 18 months old. The children share the same biological mother.

“We’re not moms, we’re not heterosexual. We’re not biological parents,” Rob Calhoun said. But “we’re totally equal and just as loving as female parents, as straight parents, and biological parents.”

“Love makes a family, not biology or gender,” he added.

The article goes on to report that more people (46%) support gay adoptions than oppose them (38%). And those numbers are likely continue changing in our favor as more of us raise families in communities across America. Chances are my kids’ friends (and their friends’ parents, and their teachers, etc.) are likely to think it’s an outrage that the hubby and I could be prevented from seeing each other in the hospital, or denied any number of benefits and protections. Most people don’t want to see stuff like that happen to their friends, neighbors and family. Knowing someone who’s gay is linked to greater acceptance.

Overall, those who say they have a family member or close friend who is gay are more than twice as likely to support gay marriage as those who don’t — 55% to 25%.

The only way to stop the trend is to get rid of gay people or send us back into the closet permanently. Quite simply, that’s not gonna happen. At least not unless Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America stage a hostile takeover of the government, Republic-of-Gilead-style and we’re all hauled away on charges of “gender treachery.”

Barring that, the future looks bright, and it looks like it might include an equal place for our families.

2 Comments

  1. I certainly hope your optimism is rewarded with future progress in the same proportions. But I don’t think we can count too much on the generational difference to overcome the major obstacles facing the full and legal acceptance of the various forms of LGBT families.

    We have a tendency to become our parents. And a single headline can change poll results overnight. Countless young rebels from flower children to spiked and leather clad punk rockers have in the end (if one must consider middle-aged an end!) shed their rebellious exteriors and donned the 3-piece conventions of their parents.

    Certainly, simply existing and living openly with our families is one of the most effective tools we have. (Never forgetting relentless political and legal pressure.) Reliable statistics on the existence of our LGBT families is invaluable both from the perspective of political influence, and from the simple support and comfort found in numbers. We are not alone.

    Knowing that other families exist, survive and even flourish can and will encourage others to abandon their fears and establish the families they thought were beyond reach. The strength of those numbers will hopefully prevail.

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