Marriage amendment would harm children

I received the following press release and thought I would share.

VIRGINIA’S PEDIATRICIANS SAY “MARRIAGE AMENDMENT” WOULD HARM CHILDREN

The “Marriage Amendment” will be harmful to Virginia’s children, said Dr. Colleen Kraft, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Virginia Chapter today. “The Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is asking Virginians to critically evaluate the consequences of the Marriage Amendment on the rights of children in our Commonwealth. This Amendment clearly, albeit unintentionally, divides children’s rights based on the marital status of their parents.”

Dr. Kraft announced the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has approved the following statement:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics, Virginia Chapter, firmly believes that the family is the principal caregiver and center of strength and support for children.

Children do not choose their parents or their families.

Many children in Virginia have been and will continue to be raised in nontraditional families, regardless of laws prohibiting or recognizing these families. The issue at stake is whether these children will benefit from being raised by parents who have the rights, benefits, and protections that are considered crucial to all other parents.

Children in nontraditional families often experience economic and legal insecurity as a result of the absence of legal recognition of their relationship to nonbiological parents.

By approving a marriage amendment to the Virginia constitution, legal recognition of nontraditional families will be denied and children will risk:

  • losing legal recognition of their relationship to both of their parents
  • losing health insurance and other benefits from their parents
  • losing the right to have both parents present for their care and comfort in hospitals and other medical settings
  • losing the protection that comes from both parents’ ability to be involved in medical and educational decisions
  • losing their ability to travel with a nonadoptive parent
  • losing the right to stay with their surviving parent and if their other parent dies
  • losing inheritance rights and benefits from a deceased parent

Discriminatory practices against these children are based on the assumption that their parents are different from other parents in ways that are detrimental to their well-being.

For the sake of children, it is important that all Virginians support the important link between the health and well-being of all children, the support and encouragement of all parents, and the protection of strong family relationships.

The Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urges all Virginians to vote “NO” on Amendment #1.

Beverley Bayes, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician in Northern Virginia, comments, “Twenty five years of research has shown that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial and behavioral adjustment. Restrictions on the civil rights of children in non-traditional families, such as not allowing visitation in a hospital ICU by the non-adoptive parent, or the right to remain with the surviving mother or father in the case of death can result in devastating loss and incredible anguish for these children.”

The data supporting this statement can be found in an article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the July 2006 issue of PEDIATRICS, “The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-Being of Children”. This article concludes that “Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.”

The Virginia Chapter of the Academy has distributed a one-page summary of the harmful impact of the amendments to all pediatricians in Virginia and has encouraged them to discuss the amendment with the parents of their patients.

Senator Janet Howell (32nd District), the American Academy’s National 2006 Child Advocate of the Year, urged all Virginians to vote against the amendment. “The so-called ‘Marriage Amendment’ is really an Anti-Child Amendment. Until today, the impact on children has been overlooked. All Virginia’s children deserve legal protections. No child should suffer because a poorly worded constitutional amendment takes away their rights and protections. Virginians are kind and want to help all children. For the sake of children, please vote “NO” on November 7.”

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29 thoughts on “Marriage amendment would harm children

  1. Jack, with all due respect, repeating the same statements over and over does not really constitute a well developed argument. You are not a lawyer. I am not a lawyer. Neither one of us is really qualified to “dissect” a legal memo, so please spare us the pomposity.

    What I do know is:

    1) An amendment to the constitution trumps existing law, so any argumentation that involves claims about the rights that unmarried people currently have is laughable. What we are discussing is what would happen after the amendment passed.

    2) When there is such broad disagreement among lawyers over the interpretation of something that is purportedly so “simple,” we can look forward to years and years of taxpayer financed litigation, uncertainty for families, and risk for the business community. Not good. This does not belong in any constitution.

  2. TO: Jack

    Consider an unmarried couple, gay or straight, that decides in Virginia that they want to approximate the rights and benefits of marriage and who go to an attorney and pay untold amounts of money to have wills, contracts, visitation rights, declarations concerning life sustaining procedures, child custody, etc. etc. drawn up.

    “This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage”

    Legal experts are already having opposing views on whether or not these documents are prima facie evidence of a violation of the marriage amendment. When there is anything at stake: property, children, emotions, etc, you can be sure there will be endless litigation.

  3. David and Bill:

    Legal experts have been arguing for two hundred years over the meaning of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be imfringed,” as well as the freedom of religion and freedom of speech clauses. Should they not be in a Constitution because lawyers cannot agree on their meaning?

    David — we have argued the legal memo on your blog, as I noted earlier. Vivian’s readers can go there, if they wish to see that analysis. If Vivian wants the argument redone here, then she will post an entry on the memo.

  4. No, Bill, I’m saying that lawyers disagreee because they are paid to disagree. So lawyers’ disagreeing is no reason to say something is ambiguous. Lawyers will ALWAYS dissagree.

  5. Bill — I’ve been trying to find the paragraph you quoted over on the National Association of Social Workers website, but I cannot find it. (I looked under “Child Welfare” and “Civil Rights.” Can you post that link. please?

  6. Jack seems to be making the argument that, because lawyers can theoretically challenge anything, that means we can’t differentiate between clearly written and ambiguously written law. I agree, Bill – that’s lame.

  7. Again twisting words. What is it with you, anyway? Are you a lawyer?

    Let’s see whether I can make this so clear that even David can understand. Lawyers disagree about everything, including things so clear as our 2nd Amendment. Therefore, one cannot say that something is ambiguous simply because lawyers disagree about it.

    Got it?

  8. Jack – You don’t need to be a lawyer, you just need to use some common sense. A high school student could have written a better amendment. And if it weren’t so poorly written, this topic wouldn’t be the subject of debate and discussion all across the Commonwealth.

    Just using words like “approximate” and “qualities . . . of marriage” for example — these words mean something different to every one who reads them.

    At least, you will have to admit that for a constitutional amendment to our Bill of Rights, this language is far from ideal. And more importantly is not easily and consistently communicated to the general populace.

    But why tiptoe around this. Robert Marshall has admitted in interviews and debates that he seized onto this quest after Lawrence v. Texas and his homophobia and obsession with sodomy (overlooking that oral sex within heterosexual couples is sodomy – and studies indicate it is rather common).

    And taking advantage of the fact that homosexuality is a closeted concept for Virginians and something they are uncomfortable with and embarrassed to discuss, and with the general negative bias and prejudice in our society against homosexuals, he sponsored legislation.

    He didn’t have to break new ground, this initiative had precedence in other states, and the Republican good ole boys, slyly winked knowing this would help propel their base into the polls.

    And overlooking the importance of the first change to our Bill of Rights, the heart of our constitutional body, he rammed the legislation through committee, at the dawn of the legislative session, with little notice, and less than an hour of debate (I was there). And then essentially dared anyone to vote against in the legislature or be painted as pro-queer. Talk about the tyranny of the majority.

    This was not a rational debate based on facts, or based on our historical notion of extending rights. This was based on political opportunism, and homophobia. And on lies that homosexuals are bad, homosexual couples are unnatural, homosexuals can not appropriately raise children, and that homosexuals somehow threaten marriage and are somehow part of the problem with disintegrating family values.

    In other words the 250,000 homosexuals in Virginia are being made scapegoats for the ills of society and inability and lack of political courage to face up to the real issues of rampant divorce and attendant effects on children, children out of wedlock, and difficulties of one parent families in raising children.

    Now, Jack, please tell me where you disagree with the above.

  9. Actually, I don’t disagree with any of it.

    The language is NOT ideal, but nothing’s perfect.

    Marshall’s reasons are, of course, quite irrelevant now. What you need to deal with is the reasons people are going to vote for it.

  10. David — I cast my votes based on the facts that I have and on my own reasoning. I’m sure you do the same; we all do. I do not really care who votes with me or against me, if their facts are wrong or their logic is flawed. Let me give you an example. If someone voted for Bill Clinton because he looked good, we can agree that their logic is flawed. But that certainly would not have compelled you to vote against Clinton.

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