I was filled with gratitude towards Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for their statements supporting the reality that every child needs to know and be raised in a natural family. “The only family is the traditional one,” Dolce boldly declared in an interview with the Italian Panorama magazine. The designers – one-time partners –spoke endearing common sense comments about marriage and family, focused on children’s rights and their need for their biological mother and father.
I and five others – all of us raised by gay parents – wrote a letter of support to Dolce & Gabbana for standing up for the traditional family where children know and are raised by their father and mother. You can find their names here. We said: “We know that gay parents can be loving, since we loved our parents and they loved us. Nonetheless, we have all had first-hand experience with the harsh backlash that follows when the dominant view of ‘gay parenting’ as universally positive is questioned.”
I was raised in a gay household from babyhood in Toronto, Canada. My father and a number of his partners came into our home during my upbringing among LGBT communities. I loved my father and respected his business ethic, but he did not value or love women, and that left me deeply hurt.
Children of gay parents are not just blank slates. We are a combination of both nature and nurture. Gay parenting removes one of our biological parents, creating an unrecoverable, permanent loss for us. We are silenced as dependants and cannot speak about this loss for fear of offending our parent(s) and their partner(s).
Parenting is not just about care-giving, making meals, cleaning the house, or putting on sticking plasters. A grandma or an auntie can do these things. Parenting has to do with children’s identity and security above all else, and supports complementary genders, as male and female in relationship with each other, so that children see both their biological parents being equally esteemed and loved. The children need to learn how to relate in all the various interactions a family has – mother and father, wife and husband, mother and child, and father and child.
In place of the missing biological parent, a child does not want a pseudo-mother or pseudo-father or a substitute female or male role model; rather, a child craves a secure family which consists of their biological mother and father. What child does not want to know her biological parents? Knowing our ethnicities, religious backgrounds, health issues, family trees give us time to pause. We see striking resemblances, mannerisms, personalities, quirks and hear family stories, providing the important markers which connect us and provide that sense of belonging to our natural history and roots.
In effect, same-sex marriage deprives children of their own rights to natural parentage. In expressing its opposition to gay marriage, the Church should focus on children’s rights to know and be raised by their biological mother and father, and to mediate support to single mothers and poor families, so their children are not taken into the care of the state. And the focus of adoption must be on the children who need a mum and a dad, and not on adults who want children.
Dawn Stefanowicz is the author of Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting (Redemption Press, 245 pages)