Ask the Pediatrician

American Academy of Pediatrics supports marriage equality

In a bold move, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement this week supporting gay marriage as a healthy environment for children. The policy statement is based on research done looking at emotional and physical health outcomes of children raised in same-sex households which found that children fare at least as well when raised by gay parents.

Interestingly, gay parents tend to be higher wage earners on average than heterosexual parents and often are more likely to have made a conscious decision to have a family because of the logistics involved in conception or adoption that they face compared to heterosexual couples. Some heterosexual couples or single parents find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, not having planned to have a child at a given time. As a result of these two factors, higher socioeconomic status and conscious planning, gay and lesbian families are better prepared at the outset when a child joins the family and that is what is thought to be in part the reason that children fare at least as well in same sex parent families.

By allowing marriage, it encourages stablility in a different way for the children of these families and protects them in the event of divorce or death of one of the parents. It also allows both parents to have legal rights should the child become ill. Marriage encourages and reflects the strength of the relationship between the parents which is the most important factor in the emotional health of the family and will help create the healthiest, most secure environment for children growing up in a family.

I am so proud to be a member of the AAP as they have chosen to take this stance. It is research based but it is also a polical statement that will have some backlash I’m sure. I agree with their policy and see in the same-sex families who bring their children to me the same values and strength of union that traditional families share. It’s high time marriage be allowed to ensure a security and best outcome for the children of these families.

Dr. Molly O'Shea
Dr. Molly O'Shea is a board-certified pediatrician who cares for families in her practice Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center. She will answer your questions on babies, children, adolescents and families and address common concerns.