To the Honorable Commissioners and Delegates,
This letter is in response to Joint Resolution 817-11, which was meant to “reaffirm the special status of marriage in America.” The members of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Westminster-Carroll County chapter are disappointed and dismayed by this resolution. The resolution mixes personal opinion with scientific evidence to a point where we believe the facts must be accurately portrayed.
The resolution claims that “[s]cientific evidence confirms that when the marriage tie[sic] frays, children suffer.” Members of our organization were left scratching our heads, because not one scientific source is cited in the resolution and not a single one was mentioned at the public hearing on June 16, 2011. We can only assume that the source the Commissioners and Delegates meant to cite was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study entitled Family Structure and Children’s Health in the United States: Findings From the National Health Interview Survey, 2001–2007. After examining the CDC study it is clear why it and no other scientific sources were referenced.
According to the CDC Study, “A nuclear family consists of one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all children in the family.” The CDC definition of “nuclear family” makes no distinction about the sex of the parents in the families they interviewed, and families had self-identified their family structure status to the researchers. The correlative data in the CDC study does suggest that children raised in nuclear families experience a whole host of benefits including increased health care access and lesser occurrence of emotional and learning disabilities. This only suggests that lovingly committed two parent families, be they male/female, male/male, or female/female are preferential to other family structures. Having two parents seems to be the important factor here, rather than the gender of the parents. Our many successful, loving PFLAG families headed by same sex couples are living proof of this fact. We agree that marriage is a positive social institution that promotes healthy families and positive outcome for children. This is why it is vitally important that families headed by same sex couples be allowed to participate in the institution as well.
While the CDC Study on Family Structures paid no attention to, and made no comment on the gender of the parents they surveyed, there are numerous medical professionals and experts who have examined families where children have been raised by same-sex couples. For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics (who represent and make advisory policy for over 60,000 pediatricians nationwide), last year re-affirmed their policy regarding children with same-sex parents. The AAP recognized that “…a considerable body of professional literature provides evidence that children with parents who are homosexual can have the same advantages and the same expectations for health, adjustment, and development as can children whose parents are heterosexual.” The CDC study does not disprove this statement, nor do any peer-reviewed sources we have encountered.
PFLAG Westminster- Carroll County includes “education” as part of our mission statement. We feel that Resolution 817-11 blurs the line between fact and opinion, and leaves readers with a false impression of the scientific consensus regarding family structures and raising children. Readers of the resolution may not be aware that the Commissioners’ and Delegates’ well-articulated opinions about “marriage between a man and a woman” have very little to do with the scientific consensus about what is actually good for children and families. PFLAG Westminster-Carroll County believes that Resolution 817-11 could have been a positive one, had it affirmed the importance of loving marriage for all, as the CDC study suggests, and the American Academy of Pediatrics prescribes. The members of PFLAG Westminster-Carroll County looks forward to a day when the personal liberty to enter into a legally recognized marriage contract is available to all Marylanders. Our membership would be happy to meet with and to work in partnership the Commissioners and Delegates on this matter of legitimate public concern and welfare.
Kelley Rainey, President of the Westminster Carroll County PFLAG Chapter & the PFLAG Westminster Carroll County Steering Committee
Video of Hearing June 16, 2011 available here: http://carrollcountymd.iqm2.com/citizens/Default.aspx
Definition of nuclear family and study methodology found on page 2.
Study and policy statement: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;109/2/339