U.S. pediatricians back gay marriage, adoption rights

Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:13pm EDT
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By Susan Heavey and Genevra Pittman

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gay and lesbian couples should be able to get married for the health and well-being of their children and families, the nation's leading group for pediatricians said on Thursday in a policy statement that also backs adoption rights.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, in calling on the legal right for same-sex couples to marry, said children's well-being is affected far more by other factors such as their parents' health and economic security than their sexual orientation.

"It is better that children have two parents than one parent, and assuming that these parents love each other and love the child and have economic and social security and stability, then that's the critical ingredient for the optimal growth and development of the child," said Dr. Benjamin Siegel, head of an AAP committee that studied the issue.

Siegel said the academy's board of directors voted unanimously for the organization, which represents 60,000 pediatricians, to support same-sex marriage as well as the right for gay parents to adopt or foster children.

"We need to have laws and regulations that support families to nurture children," said Siegel, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and the Boston University School of Medicine.

The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to take up two major gay rights cases next week, one on federal benefits for same-sex married couples and another on California's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Recent Reuters/Ipsos polls have found a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage and access to federal benefits such as such as tax exemptions for a surviving spouse's inheritance.

Close to 2 million American children already are being raised by gay and lesbian parents, according to the pediatric group.   Continued...

Bernie Liang and Ryan Hamachek show their rings after getting married outside Seattle City Hall in Seattle, Washington December 9, 2012. REUTERS/Cliff Despeaux