This is a guest post by CYH volunteer, Dora.
Recently, there have been large scale protests against same-sex marriage in France, and even stronger protests against adoption or the conceiving of children by same-sex couples. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, despite calls for legalization of same-sex marriage and legislation for the protection of people of “different sexual orientations,” the HKSAR announced in its 2013 policy address that such actions are “highly controversial,” and decisions will require extensive public consultations, which the government do not plan to hold in the 2013 policy year.
In comparison with the enormous proliferation of academic literature by queer and ally scholars in recent decades, arguments used against same-sex marriage and adoption remain sloppily based on vague notions of “sanctity,” “nature” and “tradition,” notions whose meanings opponents of gay-marriage often find difficult to explain and defend upon contestation. Somehow, opponents of same-sex marriage and adoption feel that if they keep repeating slogans asserting that sex-same relationships are “unnatural,” marriage is “sacred,” and that children “should grow up with a father and a mother,” they can ignore all academic evidence in psychology, biology, and social sciences that suggests otherwise.
One of the cornerstone exercises in the liberal arts is the de-naturalizing what is not natural. It is all too easy to forget that the idea that marriage should be between one man and one woman, based on love, is very, very new when weighed against the lengthy course of human history. In other words, there is nothing “natural” or “traditional” about a heterosexual marriage based on love and romance. If anything, for most of the world, “traditional” marriages are polygamous and arranged by the family to provide maximum economic and social benefits for the family.
Having said that, being a product of my generation, I, too, believe in and desire a marriage and family that is a place of love and commitment. What I do not believe, however, is the idea that the presence of both a father and a mother is a requirement or a guarantee of a child’s healthy development. I was raised, not by one mother and one father, but by an entire community which consist of a whole network of family, extended family, friends, mentors, teachers, bosses, and role models of all age and gender.
When I tell my mom about the many adults who love me like a daughter, she is thrilled. “Yay,” she would say, “one more person to love my daughter. Why not? Bonus points if they are rich.” I think the world could really learn from my mother when considering the issue of gay adoption. “Yay! One more family to love this child. Bonus points if they are rich.” In the case of same-sex couples, I can almost guarantee that they will make loving parents, because their decision to have children will have been intentional and well thought out, and their financial capabilities and suitability as parents would have been guaranteed by adoption and social service agencies, with much greater scrutiny than heterosexual couples. Bonus points indeed.
Throughout the life of a child, they will meet many people, some of whom will come to love this child, and their love will enrich their life, as will the love that the child offers in return. As long as our children are growing up in a healthy, loving community, they will not lack positive adult role models with diverse interpretations of gender and ways to contribute to family and community. To deny the many children in need of loving homes the chance to be loved by single parents or same-sex couples is an act, not of protection, but of deprivation. Legislation should facilitate and not hamper the act of loving and caring between people. Can’t we all just open our hearts and minds to what marriage and family should look like and say yes to love?