The Republic of T.

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

Poisonous Parenting: The “Puppies” Edition

(TRIGGER WARNING: The descriptions and some of the media in this post depict extremely violent acts of child abuse. If this is an issue for you, consider yourself warned.)

I had not expected to update this series so soon after the last installment. But, via Alvin McEwen, comes the latest conservative blather on gay parents. This time, from former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

He continues to oppose any government recognition of same-sex relationships. Even civil unions are “not necessary,” Huckabee said. “I think there’s been a real level of being disingenuous on the part of the gay and lesbian community with their goal of civil unions,” he alleged, referring to LGBT activists who first claimed that their goal in several states was to enact civil unions, but subsequently launched efforts to implement full marriage rights.

Huckabee went on to draw parallels between homosexuality and other lifestyles that are considered by some to be morally aberrant. “You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal,” he said of same-sex marriage. “That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want who use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them.”

No surprise here. Nor is it all that surprising that — given the connection cemented in the conservative mind that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation or the symbolic possibility thereof. This last part makes it OK for, say, infertile or elderly heterosexual couples — who physiologically unable to procreate, or well past their reproductive primes — to marry, and to marry for a “reason” that can still be used disqualify same-sex couples (who cannot reproduce with one another).

Predictably he attacks same sex parents

He also affirmed support for a law in Arkansas that prohibits same-sex couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents. “I think this is not about trying to create statements for people who want to change the basic fundamental definitions of family,” Huckabee said. “And always we should act in the best interest of the children, not in the seeming interest of the adults.”

“Children are not puppies,” he continued. “This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?”

Where to begin? For starters, Huckabee should probably steer clear of any talk about kids and puppies.

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Of course, the facts don’t exactly agree with Huckabee. Alvin supplies plenty of them, rebutting Huckabee’s claim that same-sex parenting is some new, untried social experiment. But none of that will penetrate Huckabee’s halo. He’d never bother to check them out, because he’s one of many people for whom what one believes is more important than what one knows.

But after watching the program, and the clear connection between “Intelligent Design” and religion, I came upon my own definition of irreducible complexity. It is not the point at which a biological system is so complex that it can only have been created by an intelligent designer. It is the point at which some people simply stop thinking about that or any other biological system. It is a boundary on the map of human knowledge beyond which are written the words, “Here be dragons.” And at that boundary, some people stop asking questions. They have to, because hell yawns beyond that boundary.

When you have to believe something in order to get into heaven, and you will spend all of in hell if you don’t believe it or if you believe anything else, at some point you stop asking questions. You have to, if you don’t want to go to hell.

It is as though you are standing in a room, and at the other end of that room is the gate to hell. You arm is outstretched, and in your hand is the key to that date. Every question asked and answered by scientific inquiry is a step that takes you closer to that gate. Ask one question, and you take a step closer. Answer another one and you take another step. Keep asking and you’re walking across the room. Before you know it, the key is in the lock, and one more question may turn the key.

But not only must you stop asking questions, but you must stop others from asking questions if you believe in a “designer” that punishes entire cities and entire nations for tolerating disbelief. Because every step they take, every inquiry, every question asked takes them towards that gate that must stay locked, not just to keep out what’s on the other side, but because if the gate is ever opened, only one thing can be worse than what it unleashes, and that’s if it unleashes nothing at all.

At least if the very foundations of your reality depends on that gate staying closed and what you say is on the other side of it staying what you say it is and where you say it is.

Countless studies, nationally representative studies show that children raised by same-sex parents are not significantly different from those raised by heterosexual parents.

The 30-year search for proof that gay parents are destructive looks a lot like the hunt for WMD. The American Psychological Association has compiled abstracts of 67 studies. Some are plainly biased, and only the latest two or three have avoided the methodological flaws of earlier investigations. But, as William Saletan pointed out in slate a few years ago, after 67 tries you’d expect the harm of gay parenting to show up somewhere. Yet in study after study, on measure after measure, kids turn out the same.

One study found that straight parents “made a greater effort to provide an opposite-sex role model for their children,” but it doesn’t say whether this affected the kids. Another says children raised by lesbian couples “were more likely to explore same-sex relationships,” but it doesn’t say they turned out gay. Other studies say they seldom do.

That’s it. That’s the evidence against gay parenthood. On the other hand, three studies say lesbians share child care more equally than straight couples do. Others conclude that lesbians are more satisfied with their relationships, that they show more “parenting awareness skills,” that nonbiological lesbian moms “played a more active role in daily caretaking than did most fathers,” and that their kids are less domineering and experience “greater warmth and interaction with their mother.”

So, Huckabee almost goes another predicable route.

Such unwelcome findings haven’t chastened the antigay lobby any more than they’ve chastened the Bush administration. If the direct evidence doesn’t bear you out, look for indirect evidence. So conservatives have developed a subtler argument: On average, children do best when raised by their two married, biological parents.

Let’s take this argument a piece at a time. It’s true that two parents are better than one. It’s also true that married parents are better than unmarried ones. But those aren’t arguments against gay parenthood. They’re arguments for gay marriage.

The biological part of the argument is more serious. On average, kids do better with parents than with stepparents. Focus on the Family, a leading moralist group, concludes that gay parenthood is unhealthy because “it is biologically impossible for a child living in a same-sex home to be living with both natural parents.” Actually, that may change. Scientists recently produced a fertile adult mouse by combining, in one embryo, DNA from two females. But a lesbian who wants a genetic bond to her partner’s baby doesn’t have to wait for such technology. She can simply ask her brother to donate the sperm.

If you believe, as Focus on the Family does, that we should stop creating families in which one parent is biologically unrelated to the child, then gays are the least of your worries. By professional estimates, 40,000 babies are born each year from donated eggs or sperm. You want to stop nonbiological parenthood? Go chain yourself to a sperm bank.

Of course, Huckabee doesn’t go all the way down that road. Just like he wouldn’t want to stop infertile heterosexuals from marrying, he wouldn’t want to stop married, infertile heterosexuals from adopting. Even if they can’t reproduce, and can’t be the biological parents of their children, at least they have the symbolic possibility going for them. They could reproduce if all their parts were in working order, and thus they could be the biological parents of some children.

If it sounds convoluted, it is. But it’s necessary to avoid reaching a logical conclusion that would offend a great many people. Still, it seeps through. I’ve heard it in remarks about whether I am our sons’ “real” parent, and comments where I’ve been referred to as a “father” in quotation marks, and asked if we “created” our children. And it’s not just same-sex adoptive parents. A heterosexual friend of ours was asked once by a thoughtless co-worker how he could possibly bond with a child that wasn’t biologically his.

Nevermind that there are heterosexual parents all around who apparently haven’t bonded with their children — at least not enough to keep them safe, or even alive.

In a sense, Huckabee is right. Children are not puppies. So, you probably shouldn’t fall asleep and leave your baby alone with a pit bull puppy who chews her toes off. But that’s what Robbie Lynn Jenkins and Tremayne Spillman did.

The Jacksonville parents who slept while a pit bull gnawed of their baby’s toes have been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to child abuse charges.

Robbie Lynn Jenkins, 20, and and 23-year-old Tremayne Jerel Spillman pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony child abuse charge and a misdemeanor involving their 4-month-old son.

…Prosecutors say the dog chewed the toes off of Tremayne Jerel Spillman Jr. after the couple took sleeping medication the night of Aug. 31 while dog sitting. The child was sleeping on a foldout couch when he was attacked.

The parents’ actions amounted to a “total disregard for human life,” Assistant District Attorney Matt Silva said.

The child will never be able to run, suffers from night terrors and phantom pains, has extensive scars on both legs and has to take pain medication every day, the child’s guardian told the court.

Nor do you sit your 10-month-old on the floor with two pitbulls, and leave the room, as Carrie McKinney did. The price: the dogs chewed her son’s testicles off.

McKinney told police that she was at her friend’s apartment on Arboretum Way about 10 a.m. Saturday getting dressed to go out when the attack happened. Her friend was in the shower upstairs and her 6-month-old son was downstairs on the floor.

According to McKinney, the baby was in the carrier for a total of 10 minutes before the attack, Ganley said. She checked on the baby once and he was fine, but about three minutes later heard screaming and rushed to the room to find that one or both of her friend’s dogs — a 5-year-old female pit bull and an 8-month-old pit bull mix — had ripped off the baby’s diaper and bitten him in the groin area.

The child was taken to Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta, then transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he underwent surgery, Ganley said.

The dogs were seized and will be euthanized, animal control officials said.

Now, admittedly, I’m probably a tad overprotective as a parent. I might even hover occasionally, where Dylan is concerned, because I want to keep my kids safe. Same with Parker, if he’s playing outside with other kids in the neighborhood, I can see him through most windows on the first floor. And I can usually hear him. (Seven is a loud age.) But if I don’t see him or hear him run by or hear him for a few minutes, I’m liable to step outside and check. Usually, he’s playing in the back yard of the boys across the street. That’s fine, but we’ve given him strict instructions that he’s to come let us know before going inside anyone’s house — because we want to know where he is.

I don’t know what the full circumstances were with these parents, but I don’t think I’d leave my four-month-old sleeping on a sofa bed while I slept in the other room. And I don’t think I’d leave my kid in a room alone with a pitbull pup, no matter how well I knew the dog or the owner.

But, then, what does a non-biological gay “Dad” like me know about raising kids? right?

Much less than Amado and Patricia Ravelos. I gave up smoking over a decade ago, so I can’t offer my kids a house full of second-hand cigarette smoke. Never mind the kind of “crack fog” they created for their three month old.

Amado Ravelos , 26 , told police that he and his wife, Patricia , 23 , were addicted to crack cocaine and spent at least $5,000 a week on the habit in July while the boy stayed with them at an Econo Lodge on U.S. 290 East near Interstate 35, the arrest affidavit said. They face up to two years in state jail if convicted on the child endangerment charge.

The couple told police that they had a drug binge shortly after Amado Ravelos received a $175,000 lawsuit settlement after being hit by a vehicle, the affidavit said.

“Amado stated that for days the room would be full of crack cocaine smoke,” the affidavit said. “Amado took full responsibility for the cocaine in the victim’s system, stating he and Patricia smoked a lot of cocaine with the victim in the same room.”

For now, the boy appears to be healthy, but he could face long-term health problems, the police detective in the case said Thursday.

Of course, the natural, biological parents know where to get the necessary ingredients for a quality crack cloud. That’s the kind of think you just know, when you’re straight and can make your own babies. How could someone like me ever know a baby even needed a crack cloud, let alone how to go about making one? It’s a wonder my kids have survived…

Just yesterday, after the kids got home, I spent part of the evening running around cooking dinner. Silly me. I could have been cooking meth with the kids in the house, like Thomas Berry and Cynthia Kook.

Thomas Berry, 37, and Cynthia Kook, 34, are both charged with charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, unlawful possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and child neglect.

Deputies entered the Palm Coast home with the DCF investigator who asked Kook to show her around the residence. When Kook failed to include the garage area, the DCF worker asked her to open the door and Kook complied. At that time, Berry asked that the garage be left alone and he turned off the light. Deputies then explained that the entire house needed to be inspected and Berry then allowed the access to the garage.

Sheriff’s narcotics investigators responded to the scene after deputies found equipment in the garage area that is used for drug manufacturing. Investigators also found Berry’s wallet and the receiver portion of a nursery monitor device nearby in the garage.

Narcotics investigators field tested a white powdery substance found on a table inside the home. The substance tested positive for methamphetamine.

“The greatest tragedy of this arrest is that a baby was being exposed to the dangerous drugs and chemicals that are involved in manufacturing this very deadly substance,” said Flagler County Sheriff Donald W. Fleming.

Now I read that the DCF investigator was investigating allegations that they were producing pornography and methamphetamine. Good grief. And all I produced was mac & cheese.

What could I learn from parents like Berry and Kook? A lot, I suppose. But, I can never hope to be the parents that they — being heterosexual and “natural” parents. Of course, I could never hope to be the kind of parents they are.

Or Angela Marie Smith, for that matter. Her kids were wandering free, while I kept mine in the house.

Mohave County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Trish Carter said deputies were responding to a call of three unsupervised girls wandering the streets in the area of McVicar Avenue and N. Melody Street just before 10 a.m. when they received a second call from a neighbor who said three young girls knocked on her door asking for help.

The sisters, ages 4, 5 and 6, told the neighbor they couldn’t wake up their mom. The neighbor also told deputies that this wasn’t the first time the girls were out unsupervised.

The girls helped deputies locate their house in the 3100 block of E McVicar, where deputies found the mother, Smith, asleep on the couch. They tried to rouse her several times before she finally woke up, Carter said.

Smith allegedly told deputies that she is a hard sleeper.

Deputies found a marijuana pipe in the bedroom and a glass pipe inside Smith’s purse after she consented to a search. She was arrested and booked into the Mohave County Jail. Child Protective Services took custody of the three girls.

Geez. I even stayed awake. I even stayed home after the kids went to bed, instead of stepping out like Melanie Parada did.

Parada hadn’t been seen by anyone since putting [her 8-year-old daughter] to sleep on the night of March 11 in the family’s home at 15 Isle of Venice

Police said the child woke up the next morning and found her mother missing.

“The girl wandered out, came out and was trying to go to school and no mom, so she has a friend that lives next door so she went over there,” said Rick Schluederberg, the property manager at the family’s apartment building.

Family members reported Parada, 36, as missing on Sunday after they hadn’t heard from her.

…Neighbors yesterday said they’ve heard all sorts of rumblings about Parada’s lifestyle, which some said may have included drug abuse.

“I don’t know what to think, I’ve heard rumors of course like everybody else has, that she frequented bad neighborhoods,” neighbor Shellie Caron said.

“She has been missing before but the unusual thing about this is she’s never left her eight year old daughter alone,” said Sgt. Frank Sousa with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Parada, however, needed to go out. She had to score some crack.

The woman who allegedly left her 8-year-old daughter home alone and vanished for five days was out looking for crack cocaine and assumed neighbors would unite the child with her father, according to an arrest report released Wednesday.

…According to the report, Parada invited a drug dealer to her apartment on March 11, then left to buy more crack cocaine. Hours passed before she realized what she had done, but she assumed neighbors would get in touch with the child’s father, who was out of town, the report states.

But who am I to judge? After all, I’m just a gay guy who hasn’t reproduced, but is raising two kids, and who doesn’t go much further than the end of the driveway if they’re sleeping and I’m the only parent/adult in the house. But what do I know about parenting?

Maybe Parada should have followed the example of Henry Clay Duffey and Desiree Dawn Mangold, who took their kids bar hopping with them.

Myrtle Beach Police officers were called to Duffy’s Tavern at 112 Ninth Avenue North around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. Witnesses said Henry Clay Duffey, 32, and Desiree Dawn Mangold, 36, both of Newman, GA, were intoxicated in the bar with their 2- and 6-year-old children. The witnesses told investigators that between 7:45 and after midnight, the children left the bar unattended and played in an alley nearby Ocean Boulevard. When one witness called police, he reported the suspects strapped the 2-year-old into his best double stroller.

When officers arrived, they found Duffey and Mangold drinking at the bar, while the two children were seated at a nearby table. According to the police report, both suspects appeared drunk and were slurring their speech and unsteady on their feet. Duffey and Mangold said they were planning to walk back to their hotel, which was about 28 blocks away.

According to investigators, Duffey became belligerent with officers and began cursing, which upset the children, when Mangold grabbed the older child and began reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Officers arrested Duffey at the scene. As officers were trying to arrest Mangold, she began yelling and screaming at officers and her children and was lunging for her children, who were also yelling and crying.

Richard Labo took his kids along on a two day drinking binge, but made them wait in the car instead of the bar(s).

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department says for two days, dad and uncle drove around drinking and partying. They allegedly never fed the boys. While they binged inside the bars, they’re accused of locking the kids in the car without food and water and in unsanitary conditions.

“I couldn’t imagine it. I’m very disapointed. They love their dad, and it’s really sad,” Elizabeth Labo said.

Saturday night, we’re told a woman was leaving Summit Lanes in Summit Township when she noticed two, young boys locked in the back of a car. She sensed something was wrong and dialed 911.

When dupties arrived at Gypsy’s Dance Hall and Saloon inside the bowling alley, they found the guys bellyed up to the bar. Brandon Munson, who was working that night, remembers seeing them arrest the men and police approaching the petrified, young boys.

“They just seemed like worried (and) scared. They really didn’t want to leave the car,” he said.

I even fed my kids dinner, something Phineas Scovil didn’t do, or rarely did.

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The aunt of the two toddlers said her sister kept the kids in the basement and nearly starved them to death.

The children’s mother, 25-year-old Phineas Scovil, was arrested Wednesday night at her home on Colfax Road in Cleveland and charged with child endangerment.

The children’s aunt had a sense that something was wrong and went to check on them on March 6. She found them slumped over in their home and took them to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

The 3-year-old weighed 20 pounds and the 2-year-old weighed 23 pounds. Authorities soon became involved in the situation. A police report states that their weight is far below normal. However, the children are currently listed as being in “fair” condition at the hospital.

The aunt told NewsChannel 5 on Friday that doctors said the children would have died in a week had she not taken action.

Scovil, by the way, has a history of abuse, and had previously lost custody of her kids after she confessed to scalding her 7-month old son and — a few months later — breaking his arm. She was on probation for those crimes at the time of her arrest.

Scovil also has a history of mental problems. So did Estelle Walker, according to her defense attorney, who said Walker suffered from a “delusional disorder” that cause her to have an “overreliance on on God. ” Walker claimed would provide for her and her children. But Estelle Walker’s children were starved.

The children said their mother decided to leave their Brooklyn, N.Y., home in August 2005 because their father had drinking issues, although he never abused any of them.

The Times Square Church of Manhattan set them up in a retreat cabin owned by fellow parishioners on Lake Hopatcong, but cut off financial assistance when Walker refused to make way for ministry retreats in May 2006, witnesses said.

The children said they spent the ensuing months weak with hunger, but they did not complain to their mother or try to walk to stores, churches or delis along Maxim Drive.

“I was told we were waiting for God to provide, so I waited,” the eldest child, now 21, said. “I believed that … not anymore.”

Also on Thursday, a registered nurse from Newton Memorial Hospital testified she weighed the emaciated children after their removal from the cabin by the state Division of Youth and Family Services.

The 8-year-old girl weighed just 34 pounds, and the 9-, 11- and 13-year-olds weighed 50, 54 and 74 pounds, respectively, said the nurse, Annemarie Schlomann.

At Walker’s sentencing, the judge had this to say:

[Judge N. Peter] Conforti said Walker, who also starved herself after the church withdrew its financial aid, had the ability to provide for herself and her children. She was a college graduate who once pursued a master’s degree in social work at Columbia University and had worked as a teacher in the New York City school system from 1989 to 1994, the judge said.

“God did provide. (Walker) possessed the talents that God provided to her,” Conforti said. “She was given the talents by the Creator, but for whatever reason she chose not to use them.”

And here we are actually going to work during the week and going grocery shopping on weekends — and taking the children with us. Good grief, we even let Parker pick out a few favorite items (that is, we give him options, and he chooses between them). But we can’t be expected to know any better, can we? I mean, only a heterosexual, biological, “natural” parent like Walker would know better than to overload her kids with nutrients. We could probably learn a lot from her, even if we could never hope to be the kind of parent she is.

Not to mention Jamie and Murray Day, who not only starved their 9-year-old son, but kept him on a leash.

On Feb. 19, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office received a tip claiming Jaime Day was forcing her stepson to stay in his bedroom and was extremely thin, according to officials.

Deputy Jason Schnake found the boy tied to a door knob with a dog leash, agency spokeswoman Kim Myers said.

He weighed about 38 pounds and was lying on a foam pallet atop a box spring mattress covered in blood and human feces, she said. He was reportedly wearing a T-shirt, shorts and a diaper.

The 27-year-old stepmother was also charged with two counts of second-degree cruelty.

Her husband, Murry Dalton Day, 30, was charged with five counts of cruelty and one count of second-degree cruelty. A warrant for his arrest was issued, and he turned himself in Tuesday.

It wasn’t like he never got anywhere near food, though. According to the police report, at least he got to watch the rest of the family eat.

On February 19 the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office received a complaint from a woman living in Moss Bluff concerning the welfare of a nine year old child. When questioned by CPSO Deputy Jason Schnake, the complainant advised him the child was very thin and possibly being forced to stay in his bedroom. He also learned the child resided with his father and stepmother in south Lake Charles.

Schnake traveled to the house in south Lake Charles to check on the welfare of the child. Once inside the house he observed a dog leash that was tied from one door knob to another to keep a nine year old boy weighing 38 pounds inside the room where he was laying on the only thing in the room, a filthy foam pallet on top of box springs covered with blood. On the pallet was a bloody and urine saturated sheet. The smell of urine was very strong in the room. The boy was dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and wearing a diaper with multiple bruises to his body and face.

The boy was taken to the hospital where he stayed for 13 days. It was determined at the hospital his body temperature was 92 — which indicated he was in hypothermia due to malnutrition.

Further investigation revealed his stepmother, Jaime B. Day, 27, 2841 Southern Ridge Dr., Lake Charles, was depriving the child of food, not allowing him to eat with the family but forcing him to watch the family eat. It was also determined the boy would be so hungry at times he would eat his own feces and drink his own urine to survive.

There was a 2nd degree burn on the boy’s back caused by Day placing a sock containing rice that was heated up on his back.

Day has been charged with 25 counts of cruelty to a juvenile and 2 counts of 2nd degree cruelty to a juvenile. Judge David Ritchie set her bond at $5.5 million. She has been booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center.

The father, Murry Dalton Day, 30, same address, is being charged with 5 counts of cruelty to a juvenile; and 1 counts of 2nd degree cruelty to a juvenile. Judge David Ritchie set his bond at $2 million. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. He is expected to turn himself into the Calcasieu Correctional Center today.

After examining the child, doctors have verified the injuries and the malnutrition are consistent with child abuse. Detectives have determined this abuse occurred from late last year until present.

There are two other children in the home — a 4 year old boy who is the biological child of the Day’s, and a 6 year old boy who is Jaime Day’s child and adopted by Murry Day. Those two children do not appear to have been abused. All three children have been removed from the home.

Six years ago, the biological mother of the 9 year old boy’s parental rights were terminated when the Office of Community Service determined physical abuse had occurred. Murry Day was given custody of the boy at that time.

CPSO Detective Michael Primeaux is the lead investigator on this case. The investigation is continuing with more arrests possible.

The child was suffering from burns… there was blood and urine all over the room at the south Lake Charles home.

It’s been suggested that perhaps the other two children were spared because they were Jaime Day’s biological children, whereas the other two were not. See!? You can’t deny the strength of that biological connection after all. No “natural,” biological, and heterosexual parent would do that to a child, or allow it, right? The biological connection would kick in somehow.

Oh. Wait. The child in question was Murry Day’s biological son from a previous relationship? So, he just watched his son get this treatment? Well, maybe that’s because only one of the boy’s biological parents were living in the home. If his mother had been there… See! Just goes to show you need the biological mom and dad to keep things in order. Oh. Wait. The dad got custody after the bio mom’s parental rights were terminated, when it was determined the boy had been abused while in her custody?

Well, there’s got to be some explanation for this. I mean, you had a near ideal situation, here. They Days were (1) heterosexual, (2) clearly capable of reproducing, and (3) married. Sure the kid only had one biological parent in the house, and maybe if he’d had both his biological parents living with him, his bio mom wouldn’t have abused him and his bio dad wouldn’t have just watched.

Except that they did.

Well, this kid fared better than 2-year-old little Markquise Hood, who was starved to death by his mom and her boyfriend.

Kelly, 24, of Jackson, and his former girlfriend, Kimberly Hood, 27, of McComb, were charged with capital murder and conspiracy for the death of Hood’s 2-year-old son, Markqice. Lawmen found the child apparently starved to death at the couple’s home in May 2008.

…Assistant District Attorney Rodney Tidwell said forensic scientists Dr. Stephen Hayne, who conducted the autopsy, and Dr. Scott Benton, who reviewed the child’s medical records and autopsy report, both concluded Markqice died of starvation.

Tidwell then read a statement by Kelly in which he said Markqice was always a “skinny” child. He said he never saw Kimberly abuse Markqice, but she did discipline him with hand and belt.

A family member called the Department of Human Services, whose case worker determined Markqice was naturally small for his age, according to Kelly’s statement.

Kelly said one morning the child appeared to be sick, and he suggested Hood take Markqice to the hospital but she refused, saying she might be accused of abuse.

“I think the statement shows he allowed this to go on. The mother didn’t give adequate food to the child. He knew about it. He didn’t report,” Tidwell said.

Well, there ya go. And, silly me, I sat right at the table yesterday sharing my french fries with 2-year-old Dylan. I was actually, actively feeding my kid. Well, what do you expect? Of course a non-biological, queer dad is going to screw up by feeding his kids. Right?

Parenting must be part spectator sport, I think. After all, Day watched his own son starved and tortured, Kelly watched a 2-year-old starved to death, and Nikki Reeves watched her son beaten to death.

Actually, she didn’t watch it because she was in another room. In fact, she didn’t even hear it, because she turned up the radio to drown out the beating.

To drown out the sound of the fatal beating that her 4-year-old son was getting, Nikkie Reeves told police she turned up the radio.

The death of Lawrence King III came after an assault administered so violently by his stepfather that the boy was battered and bruised from his head to his knees, Columbus police said in court documents filed in the case yesterday.

…Nikkie Reeves, 23, is due to appear in Municipal Court this morning on a child-endangering charge. Police say she allowed the abuse to occur.

They said Nikkie Reeves told them she asked her husband to stop hurting Lawrence, but was told to go into a bedroom and shut up.

She said she heard her son being thrown against a wall, then later saw him convulsing.

“Nikkie stated at one point Lawrence hit his head and started shaking,” police said.

She said she stayed in the bedroom with her three younger children, turning up the radio so they wouldn’t hear the violence in their Far East Side town house Wednesday evening.

I could go on and on with these stories. There more of them than I can bear to read or write about. As a parent they’re heartbreaking to me, because I’ve seen in my own children the kind of vulnerability and trust these children showed to parents who either couldn’t see it or didn’t care to see it.

Perhaps some of these parents had problems of their own that blinded them to their children’s’ needs. There are, written between the lines of the stories above (in some cases just barely) stories of parents struggling with mental illness, addiction, abusive partners, and perhaps issues related to their own childhood abuse. Maybe not having taken care of their own issues made it difficult, impossible, or even dangerous for them to parent a child.

But my being gay doesn’t automatically make me an unfit parent, any more than their being heterosexual automatically makes them good parents.

Maybe it’s me, but it seems like raising a child in a safe, loving, stable home is at least as important if not more important than just getting them born. The parents above have managed to accomplish the latter, intentionally or not, and those who aren’t married at least can marry if so inclined, even after subjecting their kids to some horrific treatments and conditions. Because they can make babies, how well they actually raise and care for them notwithstanding.

The hubby and I can’t procreate with one another, but we’re raising our son in a home where he’s loved, nurtured and secure. That’s something the parents above hadn’t managed.

So, other than the set of genitals they possess and what they do with them, what exactly do they have on us?

My point is not that they’re “bad parents” or unfit because of their apparent sexual orientations. They may have other issues, related to their pasts, or simply the condition of being human.

The point isn’t that heterosexuals hurt children. The point isn’t that gay people hurt children. The point isn’t that being heterosexual automatically makes you a good or bad parent. The point isn’t that being gay automatically makes you a good or bad parent. The point isn’t that being heterosexual automatically makes you a good or bad person. It’s not that being gay automatically makes you a good or bad person.

The point is that we are equal, and that means having equal capacity for good and bad. Because we are equally human.

That’s all, really.

No, governor. Children aren’t puppies. And gay parent’s aren’t animals. (I wouldn’t treat a dog the way the children above were treated by their own parents.) We’re human, with equal capacities for love and hate. We are no better than heterosexual parents for being such. But we are no worse either.

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