I told a story in passing to my new doctor the other day about how I broke the website and how it took two long and arduous days to fix it. At the end he said, “Well, it’s a story to tell the grand kids, isn’t it?” My first thought was, “I guess that means it’s time to come out again”, and that I would have to say, “I’m gay, I don’t have children”. And then I realised that it wasn’t really, that the world had changed, that it would be conceivable to have grandchildren down the line.
It has been legal for same-sex couples to adopt in England and Wales since 2005 (and in Scotland since 2009). The issue is more complicated in the US, as there is no overarching federal law about same-sex adoption, and it varies from state to state. Full adoption rights are legal in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Indiana, Maine, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Florida. In fact, full adoption rights have been legal in DC since 1995. It was estimated in 2007 there were 270,000 US children living with same-sex couples, 65,000 of whom were adopted. In Australia, a same-sex couple joint petition for adoption is only legal in the Capital Territory, Western Australia and New South Wales.
Of course, it’s not just about adoption rights. There is more than one way to be a gay dad. Or a dad, in fact, as there’s no real need to differentiate. Interestingly, JC Penney, again on the cutting edge of LGBT rights, ran a Father’s Day ad that showed real-life dads Todd Koch and Cooper Smith with their children, Claire and Mason. The ad reads, “First Pals: What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver — all rolled into one. Or two.” There is no “gay dad” label. And it’s extremely cute, unless of course you are a little twisted and think there is something wrong with two gay men wanting to be fathers.
There is an array of fiction flying around when it comes to the issue of same-sex parents. Bristol Palin, single mother, thinks it’s wrong because a child needs a mother and a father. Thrice married Newt Gingrich thinks children need a stable home life, that marriage is sacred, and that same-sex couples can provide neither. Scottish bishops think it is “gravely wrong”, with Jim Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, adding that there is a “giant conspiracy” going on as the “homosexual lobby … create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution”. There is no discernible logic at work here. It is the baying of sheep.
What really matters is that children have loving parents. And so it’s happy Father’s Day to all dads. Perhaps one day I’ll join you.