Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New York Times Comes Through Again...Who's Listening?

This morning's New York Times editorial condemning Arkansas's ban on adoption and foster parenting by anyone living with a same-sex partner or unmarried different-sex partner is a welcome piece of advocacy. NYT calls the law "offensive" and urges the court to strike it down.

More than 15 years ago, I received a call from a member of the NYT editorial board. The board had decided to editorialize after a Virginia judge removed a child from the custody of his mother, Sharon Bottoms, and placed him with Sharon's mother. The Bottoms case received unprecendent press coverage. And so the New York Times published its first editorial expressing unequivocal support of lesbian and gay parents. "In deciding what's best for a child," NYT wrote, "it's fair to look at a large range of issues. But the sexual orientation of parents is not one of them. Gay parents should not have to live in fear of losing their children simply because of who they are."

In some states, LGBT parents still risk losing custody of their children to a heterosexual parent after a divorce. And gay rights advocates expect efforts to reproduce the Arkansas initiative in other states.

I was ecstatic with the 1993 NYT editorial. When the Virginia Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge in Bottoms, citing the research demonstrating no harm to children raised by lesbian mothers, I thought it was the beginning of the end of discrimination against lesbian and gay parents. But the Virginia Supreme Court overturned that Court of Appeals decision, and young Tyler never did go back to his mother.

And as for recognition of the research on the well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents, well it certainly has not received universal acceptance. Neither has the position of the New York Times. Still, today's editorial is a good read.

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