Last fall, during the statewide debate over domestic partnership, I participated in several debates discussing Referendum 71. In them, we discussed whether there is any difference between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. In support of my belief that there is, I repeatedly suggested that it is preferable for children to have both a mother and a father. To me this is self-evident, but some find it very offensive.
So, what should be done if the idea that mothers and fathers should be together offends you? Eliminate it, of course. That is exactly what HB 2793 does. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Kessler and co-sponsored by nine others, amends the Uniform Parentage Act to eliminate the term "father" or "mother" from Washington state law. The forbidden words would be replaced with the more inclusive term "parent".
This bill is much more significant than the words that would be changed. The state of Washington would be taking the position that moms and dads are interchangeable and neither is essential so long as one is there. Parents are just parents, six of one half-dozen of the other. It doesn't matter if you have one, two, or six. The important thing is just that kids have someone to love them.
These arguments resonate with the committed homosexual rights activists because their paradigm requires them to believe it. The rest of us realize the emperor has no clothes. The problem is that policy is being proposed by those who insist the emperor is well dressed. If this were a matter of personal preference, I could leave it alone. But it is not.
Outside the context of homosexual rights, making policy that suggests biological parents are replaceable and individually irrelevant is completely counterproductive. Fatherlessness is already a legitimate national disaster.
A recent study by the National Fatherhood Initiative found that the federal government spends $99.8 billion on programs that support father-absent homes. Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. In 2002, 7.8 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 38.4 percent of children in female-householder families. A child with a nonresident father is 54 percent more likely to be poorer than his or her father.
In light of this reality, does it make sense to imply that fathers aren't important?
The intent of the bill is to suggest that families with "parents" are no different than families with moms and dads. But in doing so, you diminish the importance of moms and dads. Considering the tremendous social costs associated with broken families that legislators are trying to fix, it is a schizophrenic thing to do.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Children's Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002, P200-547, Table C8. Washington D.C.: GPO, 2003.
Source: Sorenson, Elaine and Chava Zibman. "Getting to Know Poor Fathers Who Do Not Pay Child Support." Social Service Review 75 (September 2001): 420-434.