Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hilary Rosen/"Working Mom" Dust-Up Reveals Larger Conflict about Gay Adoption and Parenting

I understand why social and political conservatives are upset with CNN Democratic correspondent Hilary Rosen's comments last week and Ann Romney never working a day in her life (though considering most liberals also objected to her comments, the resulting scorn towards the President and his administration seems odd. But I digress...) What I don't understand and appreciate is the resulting attacks and disrespect towards Rosen herself as an adoptive lesbian mother, as well as other gay and lesbian adoptive parents.

It started out with Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue who predictably tweeted "Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own."

Donahue was quickly reproached by RNC communications director Sean Spicer who tweeted "The @catholicleague should be encouraging adoption, not demeaning the parents who are blessed to raise these children". Of course, he quickly revoked any sense of good will towards gay and lesbian adoptive parents (and for that matter single adoptive parents -- gay or straight -- of whom there are many) by adding "that is not what i said RT @drdigipol: Love it RNC's @Seanspicer" and subsequently "I agree w that RT @JoeyMcGoebbels @catholicleague they only believe children deserve a mother and a father!".

I've read other articles and blogs attacking Rosen's sexuality, her mental health, and her commitment as a mother. Interspersed with much of it is a general attitude that gay parenting is inferior.

I understand that Rosen messed up with what she said about Ann Romney and her status as a "working mom (AKA full-time homemaker). I understand that she is a public person with political connections to the DNC. And I understand that it is part of the political cycle that we live with that these types of stories have the tendency to blow up and live on for a while.

But I object to the broader implication of adoption parenting being less than birth parenting. I object to the notion that gay and lesbian couples, as well as single parents, are inferior choices to heterosexual couples.

I am an adoptive father. My husband and I have raised children together for over a decade. I will not bad mouth their families of origin, but I will challenge the notion that they are worse off now than they were then. And I will challenge the notion that they would be better off raised by parents other than us.

Like any other parents, we love our children and they love us. Our children have a good home and adequate financial resources. We have firm rules and consistent discipline. We laugh. We console. We sometimes get upset. We apologize and make amends, when needed. They learn about the world around them from us and we definitely learn more about the world through their questions.

Our boys don't do well despite having gay dads. They do well AND they have gay dads.

Catholic League and the RNC and every other right wing blogger can minimize the legitimize gay families all they want. The fact is that they have no clue. They have only talking points. Gay and lesbian families are assessed and studied all the time and these studies consistently reveal that the children of gay and lesbian parents are no better and no worse off than the children of heterosexual parents.

Attack Hilary Rosen all you want. She's a big girl in Washington DC with thick skin who's used to political backs-and-forths. But leave every day gay dads, lesbian moms, and our kids out of this fight. We didn't say anything about Ann Romney and our kids don't deserve political potshots from RNC operatives.


Adam KOlosik said...

Before I ask my question I want you to know I do not know any gay couples with children, and this is just a thought because I'm curious. Do you guys' end up having any sort of 'traditional' roles? Meaning, does one of you end up being the 'mom', and one of you end up being the 'dad' as you raise your children. I'm not saying you should, I'm just curious because of the gay couples I know they tend to end up having traditional roles, but both end up being biologically male or female.

Jon said...

Thanks for commenting, Adam.

I know many gay and lesbian parents, here in the Iowa City/Johnson County area as well as elsewhere. I'm assuming you're asking if somebody does the housework and the other does employment, yardwork, and repairs? Or if somebody is a traditional nurturer and the other is a traditional disciplinarian? My answer to your question is a general "no".

Most of the gay and lesbian families I know play to our strengths. One might be a better cook. One might enjoy yardwork. One might be a more dedicated cleaner. One might have the work schedule that allows for evening involvement in extracurricular activities more often. In other words, we're generally utilitarian.

In my mind -- and, I believe, in the minds of our boys -- neither of us is a mom substitute. Our boys have moms. We're not here to replace them. They also have birth dads. We're not here to replace them. These folks are significant to our boys and will always be part of their hearts and minds, even if they don't live here. But we are our kids' parent and our primary job is the raise them and help them grow into the best men they can be.

Adam KOlosik said...

That makes sense. I don't have kids myself, so I'm still in the dark on a lot of things as far as raising children goes. Thank you for your response and opening me up to your way of doing life.

Jon said...

No problem. Feel free to comment in the future. Later! :)

Katy Anders said...

Bill Donahue and the Catholic League consistently disappoint me. He seems so bitter, so uninviting, and he seems to swing at every pitch the popular culture offers.

In this case... Why would a pro-life, pro-family organization insult the dignity of adoption?

That seems as outrageous as the original statement!

I hope that in ten or twenty years, my kids don't judge me as an adoptive parent or as someone who "had" to adopt kids, but rather as a parent. The biological factor certainly hasn't changed the way I treat my family.

Questioning the legitimacy of adoptive relationships seems... weird.