Letter to: Tenn Rep Debra Maggart
As a resident of Tennessee, I couldn't neglect responding to a statement made by one of our representatives as reported by Jim Johnson at his Straight not Narrow blog. Towit:
Rep. Debra Maggart,
This statement purported to be yours in an e-mail to Sara Dykstra is flying around the Internet:
“I am not convinced that just because our foster children desperately need loving homes that we should just place them in homes that are available when research also shows that most homosexual couples have numerous emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues that may not be healthy for children.”
As a fellow Tennessean, I'm embarrassed by the uproar this misinformed statement about gays is making around the blogs and Internet news sites. True, studies from decades ago found that gay teens had more problems than other teens, but knowing how vulnerable teens are and the social stigma gay youngsters had to face then, this should not be surprising. To over generalize these outdated studies as if they apply to all gays today, which they don't, and then turn around and apply these teen results to gay couples in their thirties, who are settled in and well adjusted by the time they arrive at the adoption agency, is a total misunderstanding of the available research which finds that gays make equally good parents and are especially well qualified to handle hard to place children. After all, they know what it means to be different.
The just released report (March, 2006) by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is a must read for anyone on your committee. They recommend that lesbians and gays be actively recruited to become adoptive parents, not turned away due to the prejudices and ignorance of some.
A friend of mine who also served as a pilot in the Air Force during the Vietnam era is gay. Obviously, there were no "emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues" that kept him from serving when his country called. He deserves to be respected for his service, not treated like a pariah right here at home.
There are no "emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues" that would keep gays from being good parents either. Can we tell gays they are "fit" to risk their lives for our country, but not "fit" to parent a child? Surely they deserve the respect of the State of Tennessee and our thanks for their willingness to take on the awesome responsibility of becoming an adoptive parent. Please review your position regarding gay adoption and consider treating gays with the same respect every Tennessean deserves.
William J. Ware
Update The Nashville newspaper The Tennessean has an article about the brouhaha.
BTW Rep Maggart's e-mail address is: email@example.com