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March 3, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

I’ve read a fair amount on the subject of same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting.  To be blunt, those who oppose either have utterly failed to make their cases.  The simple truth is that marriage can only be strengthened if we allow all adults to do it.  I understand that various biblical references cast marriage as the union of a man and a woman and frown on homosexuality.  I also understand that homosexuality is every bit as much a part of human nature as heterosexuality and that the line between the two is far from bright.  I also understand that essentially no one in this country wants to live strictly according to every principle enunciated in the Bible and fewer still want to inflict that on everyone else.  I further understand that the First Amendment to the Constitution is entirely clear that the government could never do such a thing even if it wanted to.

As to gay men and lesbian women as parents, there is no evidence that they’re any better or worse at bringing up children than are heterosexual men and women.  Admittedly the social science on the subject is incomplete and inconclusive, but from what we know, lesbian women and gay men do just fine in the parenting department.  I agree with the notion that male/female parenting can create a type of synergy from the typical parenting styles of men and women.  But of course not all men and women conform to those stereotypical parenting roles.  Likewise, parents, including gay and lesbian ones, tend to conform themselves to the parenting style of their partner.  So if one tends to take the stereotypically feminine role, the other will tend to compensate by being more of a “dad.”

And of course children benefit from having two parents in their lives, even if they’re of the same sex.  That’s because two parents tend to earn more than one and therefore can provide a variety of educational and other benefits a single parent can’t manage.  They also bring twice the “social capital” that a single parent does.  That is, they have greater extended families, more aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, all of whom can offer childcare and the type of wisdom, guidance and opportunities they typically bring to their relationships with children.  Does Johnny need a summer job when he’s 15?  Uncle Jake might be able to help him, but not if Uncle Jake’s brother, Johnny’s dad, has never been part of his life.

That’s why stories like this one are at once so heartening and so sad (Local 12, 2/13/14).  Years ago, Michele Hobbs was in a relationship with another woman named Kelly Mullen.  The two decided to have a child and, with the assistance of a sperm donor, they had a daughter, Lucy, whom Mullen conceived, carried to term and gave birth to.

But because Hobbs had no biological relationship with the child, the State of Ohio’s laws ruled she could not be her parent.  Never mind that Hobbs had played the part of doting “dad” while Mullen was pregnant; never mind the two agreed to be Lucy’s parents in every way; never mind that Hobbs did exactly that; and never mind that the little girl bonded with Hobbs  and thought of her as her parent.  No, none of that mattered, because, when the two broke up, Hobbs became a legal non-person in Lucy’s life.  Mullen cut off contact between the two and there was not a thing Hobbs could do about it because, according to Ohio law, she and Lucy were strangers.  (Dickens’s Mr. Bumble was right, “the law is a ass.”)

So now Hobbs is in another relationship, this time with a woman named Amanda Broughton.  Once again, the two decided to have children and this time too, it was Hobbs’ partner who conceived and gave birth.  She had twin boys, Wyatt and Knox who are now one.

But Hobbs had learned her lesson from the debacle with Mullen.  She and Broughton decided to make sure that, even if they separated, Hobbs wouldn’t lose out and neither would Wyatt and Knox.  To both women’s immense credit, they both decided to do what was necessary to establish Hobbs not only as the boys’ actual mother, but as their legal one as well.

The only question was, “How to do that?”  Ohio doesn’t allow same-sex partners to marry or adopt, and Hobbs has no biological relationship to the two children, so what was to be done?  Well, it turns out there was a way past the obstacle Ohio laws place in the way of loving same-sex parents.

The two researched the matter and discovered that an unnamed southern state’s laws on the subject are less than clear, so they traveled there and completed the adoption of Wyatt and Knox by Hobbs.  That adoptive relationship is recognized by Ohio even though, had the pair attempted to have Hobbs adopt the boys there, she’d have been refused.

So congratulations to Hobbs and Broughton; congratulations to Wyatt and Knox.  The two women deserve it for their dogged perseverance in securing Hobbs’ parental rights against the opposition of the State of Ohio.

Hobbs and Broughton have spent thousands of dollars on the legal process for Hobbs adopting the twins.  Hobbs is still not listed as a parent on the boys' birth certificates. But, Hobbs and Broughton hope a lawsuit filed by four same-sex couples that are expecting children could lead to that. The couples have asked a federal judge to name both parents on their children's birth certificates.

Theirs is a success story of sorts, which is why I called it heartening.  But it’s also outrageous, which is why I called it sad.  The fact is that the vast majority of same-sex couples have neither the money, the time nor the education to combat the laws and bureaucracies of states that would rather open a vein than allow fit, loving same-sex parents care for children who need them.  Perhaps the wise legislators of Ohio can explain how it makes sense to stand between two little boys and one of their loving parents?  How did it make sense to deny Lucy Mullen her loving and supportive relationship with Michele Hobbs?

If they can figure that one out, I hope one of them calls me, because I certainly can’t.

Children need parents.  Everyone’s better off when children are raised by parents who love them, and that’s true irrespective of the parents’ sex.  It’s the exact same argument for keeping fathers in the lives of their children post-divorce.  There’s no way it makes sense not to.

The obvious conclusion is that states like Ohio should drop their opposition to same-sex marriage.  That way same-sex couples wouldn’t have to jump through the hoops and spend the money that Hobbs and Broughton did.  They’d have parental rights because they’re married.  In the event of divorce, neither parent would automatically lose out and neither would the children.

It’s something that’s seldom mentioned in the endless arguing about same-sex marriage.  Gay men and lesbian women can have children the same as their straight counterparts.  What happens to the children when those relationships break up?  We shouldn’t be punishing those children out of a misplaced desire to deny marriage to people of the same sex.

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National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

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#MicheleHobbs, #AmandaBroughton, #KellyMullen, #Ohio, #adoption, #same-sexmarriage

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