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Why Marriage Matters to Families
"We want to avail of marriage as a couple, and for our sons to have two married mums. Until that day, our sons know they have two mums who love them, and that is what counts."
Denise & Paula, "It's No Joke - Civil Marriage Rights for Lesbians and Gay Men in Ireland" (Marriage Equality: 2009)
Families, including Irish families, have grown more diverse in recent decades, and researchers around the world have studied how these different family relationships affect children. It has become clear that the quality of a family's relationship is more important than the particular structure of families that exist today.
In other words, the qualities that help children grow into good and responsible adults -- learning how to learn, to have compassion for others, to contribute to society and be respectful of others and their differences -- do not depend on the sexual orientation of their parents but on their parents' ability to provide a loving, stable and happy home.
That is why research studies have consistently shown that children raised by gay and lesbian parents do just as well as children raised by heterosexual parents in all conventional measures of child development, such as academic achievement, psychological well-being and social abilities.
According to a 2001 report by the Swedish Government: "combined research shows that children with LGBT parents have developed psychologically and socially in a similar way to the children with which they were compared. No differences emerged either as regards the children's sexual development. Nor did any difference emerge from the research between the ability of homosexual and heterosexual parents to offer children good nurturing and care." (Children in Families - Summary, 2001)
More recently, a German research digest in 2009 found that:
- the sexual orientation of the parent does not affect the behaviour and development of the child;
- children of same sex parents sometimes suffer from discrimination but have the psychological strength to withstand it;
- children of same sex parents are more tolerant of homosexuality but no more likely than the national average to become gay themselves.