That’s the ringer from a recent Australian pro-gay marriage ad campaign. Father and mother watch the ultrasound screen as the tech tells them “what they’re having.” The commercial concludes with “Any child can be born gay. So marriage equality is every family’s issue.”
“Being gay or lesbian is not a choice… it has nothing to do with culture or parenting skills. It’s just the way you are. You’re born that way,” says Shelley Argent, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays spokeswoman says of the ad campaign.
What I love about this commercial is it demonstrates that, like every child, gay and lesbian children deserve a father and mother. How wonderful to have the same parents whose love created a child, also nurture and raise that child. The lesbian baby in the commercial is going to benefit from the myriad of advantages that come with having a mother and a father- increased social, physical, mental, academic health- the benefits go on and on. This lesbian child will be raised in the relationship model that provides the greatest statistical levels of permanence and exclusivity. The limited data on hand also indicates that a child with married, heterosexual parents is less likely to engage in homosexual behavior.
Wait, bigot. What did you say?!?
Right, you heard me. If sexuality has any amount of fluidity (which most intellectually honest social scientists will concede is true for at least a portion of the gay population) the modeling and exposure that children have to homosexual behavior can impact their sexual identity. Children with gay parents are more likely to identify as gay.
Stanton Jones writes in First Things:
The small bit of research that exists suggests increased rates of same-sex orientation among the children of such couples; my informal synthesis would be that gay parenting approximately triples or quadruples the rate of same-sex attraction. It may be technically true that “the vast majority of these children eventually grow up to be heterosexual,” but only because if being raised by same-sex parents increases the occurrence of same-sex attraction from 2 percent to 8 percent, 92 percent are still heterosexual. But a fourfold increase is still a sizable effect statistically.
And in the only study ever conducted using large, random samples which compared outcomes of children from heterosexual married couples and those of same-sex couples (among other family arrangements) the New Family Structure Study, rates of homosexual identification among children of same-sex couples increases significantly:
In concurrence with several studies of late, the NFSS reveals that the children of lesbian mothers seem more open to same-sex relationships (Biblarz and Stacey, 2010, Gartrell et al., 2011a, Gartrell et al., 2011b and Golombok et al., 1997). Although they are not statistically different from most other groups in having a same-sex relationship at present, they are much less apt to identify entirely as heterosexual (61% vs. 90% of respondents from IBFs- Intact Biological Families). The same was true of GF respondents—those young adults who said their father had a relationship with another man: 71% of them identified entirely as heterosexual. Other sexual differences are notable among Lesbian Mothers, too: a greater share of daughters of lesbian mothers report being “not sexually attracted to either males or females” than among any other family-structure groups evaluated here (4.1% of female LMs, compared to 0.5% of female IBFs). Exactly why the young-adult children of lesbian mothers are more apt to experience same-sex attraction and behaviors, as well as self-report asexuality, is not clear, but the fact that they do seems consistent across studies.
What does all this mean? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that children “choose” their sexual orientation. But in light of the ever evasive “gay gene,” neither can we say that people are simply “born gay.” Complicated, I know. But an honest look at the data seems to indicate that post-birth factors contribute significantly to a development of a homosexual orientation and identification.
It also means that, because the lesbian baby in the commercial has heterosexual parents, it’s more likely that the ultrasound tech will correctly pronounce that the parents are simply “having a girl.”