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NC is Wrong (Again) When it Comes to Same-Sex Issues

Thomas Whitley

A lawsuit has been filed by six North Carolina couples challenging the state's refusal to grant second-parent adoptions to same-sex couples.

Same-sex couples' lawsuit challenges North Carolina adoption law: "North Carolina's law denies children the permanency and security of a loving home simply because their parents are lesbian or gay," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina.

"This is fundamentally wrong," she said. "No parent should have to worry about what will happen to their children if something happens to their partner." A second-parent adoption is the adoption of a child by a parent in the home who is not married to the legal parent of the child, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The first parent does not lose his or her rights.

As an adoptee myself, I think I have a bit of a different perspective than many on this issue. For starters, as you all know, I wholeheartedly support equal rights for same-sex couples, but this issue goes well beyond that and infringes on adoption rights and does not have the best interest of the children or the complete family units in mind. It's time we all grew up and realized that "family" is not defined by a common blood line. If NC can recognize this fact when a heterosexual couple adopts a child, why do they forget that when the couple happens to be gay?

This is about much more than someone wanting parental rights to feel good about their family unit, as the lawsuit outlines.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU said a second-parent adoption is the only way that a family in North Carolina with gay or lesbian parents can ensure that both parents have a legal relationship with their child.

"Children who are prevented from having such a legally recognized relationship with both parents suffer numerous deprivations as a result, including exclusion from private health insurance benefits, public health benefits, veterans benefits, disability benefits, social security benefits, life insurance benefits, and workers' compensation, as well as uncertainty about their ability to continue their relationship with their second parent if something should happen to their legal parent," the lawsuit said.

Unsurprisingly, the Family Research Council (identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) opposes the lawsuit.

"We believe it's entirely legitimate for a state to give preference to married couples in adoption over unmarried couples," said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Washington-based Family Research Council.

"Children do better when they are raised by married parents than they do when they are raised by cohabitating parents," he said.

Sprigg has said the correct thing from a PR-standpoint. Since gay marriage is illegal in NC (and was recently enshrined in the state's constitution), Sprigg can be seen to not be speaking specifically about same-sex couples by only mentioning "married parents" and "cohabitating parents." What has gotten lost to Sprigg, though, is the child. What Sprigg's comment fails to address is how poorly children do when they aren't raised by either parent. Certainly, a child will "do better" (whatever this means) with "cohabitating parents" (gay or straight) than he/she will do with neither parent. Sprigg, though, doesn't seem concerned with children of same-sex couples, except insofar as he can attempt to deny them the same type of loving family unit experience afforded to heterosexually headed families without question.

This lawsuit is about same-sex rights and it is about adoption rights and it is about equal rights, but more than that it is about family.

Photo Credit: Vivirlatino