BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Christian Examiner) – A federal judge on Friday, January 22, struck down Alabama's voter-approved (81 percent) "Sanctity of Marriage" amendment to the state's constitution that prohibited the government from recognizing or performing same-sex marriages or civil unions.
In her ruling, Judge Callie V. Granade wrote "the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama."
But testimony provided to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which took up a case January 9 to decide whether to strike down same-sex marriage bans in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, offers a different view. Four grown children of gay parents testified via amicus curiae briefs that same-sex marriage is harmful to children, in part because of harmful behavior they were exposed to, but mainly because they were not allowed to experience a natural biological relationship with a father and a mother:
-- Robert Oscar Lopez said his experiences resulted in a compulsion to have sex with older men as compensation for not having a relationship with his biological father.
Although he considers civil unions acceptable, and perhaps even some forms of foster care, he said same-sex marriage and gay adoptions are wrong "because the state is using its power to force unwilling children into emotional relationships with people who are not their parents—and this coercion is permanent, hurtful, and discriminatory, insofar as all children have a mother and father but children placed in same-sex-couple homes are stripped of one of these two figures without their consent."
"We must honor the universal relationship between children and their father and mother. We must respect the fact that children are 'born that way' with a mother and father, always. Lastly, we must not tell children that they have to love adults who are not their parents simply because these gay adults say they love them and want to have custodial powers over them," he said.
-- Katy Faust was raised by her biological mother and lesbian partner since she was 10 when her parents divorced, and says the two women "were deeply involved in my childhood and adolescence, and I have fond memories" of their involvement in her life even now, as she and her husband "began to raise our children."
"I have remained in close contact with my mother and her partner. They continue to be a loving and supportive fixture in my family."
But she says she opposes gay marriage on the basis of the rights and well-being of children.
"With the redefinition of marriage, we are not simply allowing people to form relationships of their choosing," she said. "They have been doing so for decades."
"Now we are normalizing a family structure where a child will always be deprived daily of one gender influence and the relationship with at least one natural parent. Our cultural narrative becomes one that, in essence, tells children that they have no right to the natural family structure or their biological parents, but that children simply exist for the satisfaction of adult desires," she testified.
"This is truly human trafficking: manipulating children into existence to satisfy the desires of adults."
-- B.N. Klein describes herself as a woman who was raised by her biological mother and her lesbian partner "in an atmosphere in which gay ideology was used as a tool of repression, retribution and abuse. I lived with gay abuse for years."
She also found "the gay community had an obsessive unhealthy invasive preoccupation with their children's sexuality. They in fact encouraged sexual activity—because 'they were open,'" she said. "My mother told me often that being a virgin was for the stupid."
Despite the abuse she said she experienced and saw in other gay parent families, she makes her points not because there is more abuse in gay parent homes, but because "in the gay world, abusers are protected and the victim punished."
In fact, she says, gay parenting can work but added the stipulation that "Everything works sometimes. But that does not mean it is in the best interest of the child. It means it serves the adults interest first."
-- Dawn Stefanowicz asked the Court to respect "the original definition of marriage as between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others" emphasizing she had a special perspective from her 30 years of experiences with her "father, his same-sex sexual partners" and LGBT "subcultures" she encountered.
She also felt the need to speak up because of "the (mostly flawed) same-sex parenting research and social science research."
Stefanowicz testified she loved her father "absolutely," despite his sexual abuse of her and her brothers, and, having been "exposed to overt sexual activities like sodomy, nudity, pornography, group sex, sadomasochism and the ilk"—and despite the constant turnover among her father's partners, each of whom she was forced to obey as a parent, her "rights and innocence" violated in the process. The bottom line for her: The same-sex home she was raised in "was not a safe place for children."
Overall, the point of each of the four "friends of the court" briefs was not to suggest all gays are bad parents, but to argue that marriage has always been about raising children and any decision regarding same-sex marriage should put the interests of children first and the wants of adults second.
Klein summarized it this way: "The gay community has never in my lifetime put children first as anything other than a piece of property, a past mistake or a political tool to be dressed up and taken out as part of a dog-and-pony show to impress the well-meaning."
But Faust addressed the point from her own experience of becoming a parent.
"My kids need both of us," she said of herself and her husband. "Marriage law should always encourage and promote that ideal of mothers and fathers parenting their children together."
In the Alabama case, Justice Granade used the argument of children's rights to support her ruling against traditional marriage, saying the state's "prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children."
"Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents," she continued. "Yet Alabama's Sanctity laws harms [sic] the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples."
Yesterday, she stayed her ruling for 14 days to give the state time to appeal her decision to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. However, she stipulated that if "no action is taken" by them "to extend or lift the stay within that period of time, this court's stay will be lifted," making same-sex marriage legal on February 9.
The 11th Circuit turned down a request by Florida to extend a stay in December--in effect affirming a federal judge's ruling that the state's voter-approved constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage was invalid.
Granade was appointed a judge to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in 2002 after being nominated by President George W. Bush in 2001. She was recommended by Alabama's U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, both Republican conservatives.