The ‘Right’ to Homosexual Adoption

The Clone makes an interesting argument.

This will stir things up.

Here’s the thought today – I don’t understand the logic of homosexual couples demanding the right to adopt. It strikes me as utterly undermining their other argument that the essential nature of their relationship is, well, natural and normal.

Here’s the logic:

  1. Assumption conceded for the sake of the argument: Homosexual attraction and thus homosexual relationships are perfectly natural and normal (albeit not as common as heterosexual relationships).
  2. Homosexual relationships are, in their essence, non-reproductive.
  3. Thus, under assumption 1 and undeniable fact 2 – why the demand of a “right” to children? It is a right utterly alien to the essence of the relationship. To argue for the right is to argue against the essential nature of that relationship.

Nor is it consistent to point to the right of infertile heterosexual couples to adopt. The infertility of the heterosexual couple is recognised as contrary to the nature of that relationship and therefore something to be compensated for. This is an utterly different claim to that made on behalf of homosexual couples.

The bottom line is this – if the homosexual lobby want to argue for the “naturalness” of homosexual relationships based, not least, on their existence – then why are they not prepared to accept the natural outcomes of those relationships (or non-outcomes, as the case may be)?


25 Comments on “The ‘Right’ to Homosexual Adoption

  1. Not sure that any couple has a natural right to adopt children anymore than any couple has a natural right to have children.

    It seems to me that what is being asked for is the legal right to be considered for adoption on the same basis as any other couple, ie will they make good parents and offer a loving home to the child.

    Whatever you mean by the 'essential' reproductive state of homosexual couples they are at least 'practically' no different from infertile 'straight' couples and should be considered as adoptive parents on the same basis. To me that is to do with the productive capacity of their love for each other and their desire to share that love with a child in need of caring parents – nothing to do, in either case, with spurious concepts of 'rights'.

    I certainly don't understand those who would stand in the way of the absolute right of children to be cared for in loving homes just because the couples wanting to adopt them are homosexual – but perhaps we should spare them that terrible fate and expect them to be satisfied with ophanages and foster homes.

  2. I'm more or less with Drew_Mac on this. I certainly don't think there is such a thing as a 'right' to adopt for anyone. Nor, for that matter, do I think that there is a 'right' to reproduce at all – I am personally opposed to IVF for exactly that reason.

    However, when it comes to how a state manages adoption, it seems to me that not to consider potential adopters simply because they are in a same sex relationship is illogical – unless you are going to say that only those who are married may adopt, and exclude single people too.

  3. I just wanted to inform this debate with a basic definition. There are liberty rights and claim rights.

    In the case of liberty rights, someone has a right to do something, if there is no duty not to do it. We might debate whether homosexual couples have a duty not to adopt on the basis of the points raised.

    In the case of claim rights, someone A has a claim on B to perform C, if and only if B has a duty to A to perform C.

    It begins with the duty of the State to ensure adequate parental care for the children of all its citizens, even orphaned ones. Adoption is offered in the furtherance of that duty.

    It's not meant to be pedantic, but merely to frame the question: 'does the state have a *duty* towards homosexual couples (as citizens desirous of children) to provide those children through adoption services?'

    What factors particularly exempt the State from that duty in the case of homosexual couples?

  4. "It begins with the duty of the State to ensure adequate parental care for the children of all its citizens, even orphaned ones."

    I would disagree that the State has that duty. I think the church has it (and does it by counselling, support, education, and adoption in the case of dead parents), and whatever non-governmental groups atheists want to form could do it for their children if they wanted. The trouble is that atheists do not recognise the authority of the church (obviously) and so, if they want to take people's children away (as some do, in furtherance of this aim), they have to find another authority with the capability to do that. Hence the State. Which now, in this country, prevents the Church from doing it.

    But, if it is true, how do you go about defining "adequate"? It all comes down to basis and assumptions. If you believe that God created the family, and intended them to have one mother and one father, then you might think arrangements which did not provide this were not adequate. If you think that it's all about the pragmatic outcomes, then you can judge 'adequate' by the results. Although this may well lead to you not thinking that it's a good idea to let single parents adopt. I have no idea what the stats are for homosexual couple adoption; I suspect there's not much data.

  5. Peter, good point. There is a dissonance between many homosexual people's desire to have children and their attraction to same-sex partners. You hear about it on blogs and discussion programs every now and then – but it's usually seen as an argument for society helping lesbians to be impregnated, or gay men to adopt – rather than seen as an argument that homosexual desires are not natural. But I suspect that that has more to do with an unwillingness to think negatively about other people's sexual desires, rather than because it's not a reasonable point.. Hmm, if you were exploring that line further, you might also consider why, if homosexual sex is natural, nature provided our bodies with sex organs that work together only when one man and one woman are involved?

    • Define "work together". The majority of sex in the Conservative Christian World is recreational, not procreational, too. And of course heterosexual couples have (e.g.) oral and anal sex too, and I'm not sure that even the most fervent Natural Law advocate could offer a serious argument on why male mouths are demonstrably 'not designed' for fellatio whereas female mouths demonstrably are.

      • Perhaps, 'work together' might refer to the complementary design of the reproductive organs with the *normative* potential to reproduce.

        The kind of intimacy may vary between partners, may indeed be recreational and not always reproductive. However, committed partners with the complementary reproductive capabilities can sacramentally celebrate that reproductive potential bestowed by God on mankind in creation, regardless of the actual outcome.

        There is no such normative potential to achieve that outcome in homosexual unions. Homosexual acts *sacramentally* celebrate nothing of the reproductive power bestowed by God in creation.

        • Sounds like you agree with the Catechism of the Catholic Church? If so, then logically the supremacy of recreational over procreational sex in (e.g.) evangelical culture and the use of birth control ought to be condemned. Surely using the pill is precluding the "reproductive potential bestowed by God" not "celebrat[ing]" it?

          Gay relationships are indeed not procreational; that does not necessarily make them unholy (which of course doesn't mean that the conservative could cite many other factors that *do* make them unholy). However I thought we were talking about self-evident 'natural' and 'unnatural' relations that a secular state should appreciate, which is something different from theological arguments.

          • 1. Complementary design is a 'natural' argument.
            2. The Catholic Cathechism association is a 'straw man' (Come on, Ryan, you know it). Let's go no further than what I've said. What part of 'The kind of intimacy may vary between partners, may indeed be recreational and not always reproductive.' suggests 'logically the supremacy of recreational over procreational sex in (e.g.) evangelical culture and the use of birth control ought to be condemned.'?
            3. The use of contraception, or infertility do not preclude that *sacramental* celebration of reproductive potential, the lack of complementary gender intimacy does.
            4. Your argument strayed from 'natural' aspects that the secular state might appreciate to challenge the position of the Conservative Christian world. You can't then decry a defence of that position as 'off-topic'.

            • 1) Yes, and the "argument from plumbing" is a deservedly-ridiculed fallacy, not a self-evident truth. Again: are female lips somehow "designed" for fellatio in a way that male mouths are "not"? (we did of course evolve, which compliments the Natural Law cliches somewhat). Not to be vulgar, but anal sex is popular amongst heterosexual and homosexual couples, but the fact that the MALE experience superior orgasms via the prostate stimulation whereas woman hardly have an anal equivalent to the clitoris suggests that the same sex variety is as or more "Natural" than the female one.

              2) The CCC is not invoked as a Straw Man. One might disagree with the Catholic Church, but its positions on sex and sexuality are logical and consistent, unlike the view that gay sex is wrong for *procreational reasons* but recreational hetereosexual sex (within marriage) is not only morally acceptable but is still in some sense *about* or can celebrate "reproductive potential" even when birth control is used (!).

              There's a qualitive difference between "not always procreative" and deliberately NON procreative.

              3. Sex using birth-control as a means to CELEBRATE reproductive potential?! Good one. Choosing to preclude the reproductive potential is quite the opposite of celebrating it. Gay couples lack reproductive potential; a heterosexual couple CHOOSING to deny that potential (via birth control) are hardly celebrating the reproductive potential that makes their relationship superior to the gay ones. They are choosing to make the reproductive act as sterile as the gay one which is why the Catholic Church rightly (logically speaking) condemns birth control.

              4. I'll happily discuss both, but I did take your line:

              "Hmm, if you were exploring that line further, you might also consider why, if homosexual sex is natural, nature provided our bodies with sex organs that work together only when one man and one woman are involved?"

              that did seem to be invoking the kind of (not explicitly Christian) Natural Law arguments that can be used against homosexuality.

              • 1. We were debating was the logical outcomes of accepting the 'natural' arguments used in support of gay relationships. You have not actually tackled adoption, or furthered that discussion, except to take issue with 'work together'. What is your reasoned position on the substantive issue?

                You, again, apply the predominance of recreational sex as proof that complementary gender design is deservedly-ridiculed. That's if, as you explain, design is about achieving a superior recreational experience.

                The position: 'Homosexual attraction and thus homosexual relationships are perfectly natural and normal' only escapes ridicule on this thread because of its acceptance as a premise.

                2. I say this not to depart from the 'natural' argument, but to reply to your challenge. While the CCC position may be internally consistent, you tried to associate my argument with its conclusions. That is a 'straw man' argument.

                3. I carefully used the term *sacramental* celebration which only needs to follow the matter and form of the sacrament. For heterosexuals, matter and form can agree. In gay relationships, there is no sacrament available because matter and form don't agree.

                Christians experience the grace imparted by a sacrament in which they participate. They do not participate in the sacramental celebration at all times. Consider the other sacraments, like baptism, confirmation and penance. So, one can practice birth control and can be infertile. It is the complementary gender intimacy that is the sacramental celebration of reproductive potential.

                4. I should distinguish myself from the 'David' who posted the first comment at 6:11pm yesterday. Not the same person as me: David Shepherd. I merely responded to your reply to him.

                • 1. My reasoned position, expressed above, was that I'm certainly in favour of gay people being CONSIDERED as adoptive parents, but that talk of a "right to adopt" is somewhat inane and misleading. See also my point on feminism : I don't think it's very honest for (say) Christians to have no problem with feministised contemporary couples, including atheists et all, to be allowed to adopt but to single ought gay couple as the one group who should not.

                  2."The position: ‘Homosexual attraction and thus homosexual relationships are perfectly natural and normal’ only escapes ridicule on this thread because of its acceptance as a premise."

                  You might find "superior recreational experience" as a poor marker to define relationships (and tangentially it is I think possible for someone to believe that heterosexual marriage *is* the ideal without necessarily believing that gay relationships per se are unnatural, destructive etc) , however I am dealing with the arguments that ARE put forward (focusing on natural law, experience etc etc) to damn gay relationships and that therefore call into question the most obvious alternative premise to the one you find objectionable. I think that the evidence suggests that gay and straight relationships are comparable, and that this is reflected in the glaring weaknesses of the premise that gay relationships are intrinsically not right or not natural (for example, claiming, as used to be common, that homosexuality is not part of the animal kingdom is simply, demonstrably untrue).In contrast, you have not stated WHY gay relationships are not "natural and normal".

                  2. I think looking at your starting point, and the CCC's, and the language you both use, suggests that at the very least I'm not creating a Straw Men in comparing two line of arguments one of which appears (and of course I can be mistaken about this) to be more consistent and convincing than the other.

                  3. You'll need to elaborate on this please (I'm not, as I imagine you've noticed, a theologian :-)). If you mean sacramental in the 'like, of or pertaining to a Sacrament" sense (Marriage, not heterosexual sex, is a Sacrament) then I'd argue that not being sacramental does not make a relationship unholy per se. Surely the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage relates to its fundamental nature of being open to new life etc and that birth control "negates" or distorts? However, I would appreciate if you could elaborate on this point (not least as its odd to talk of the Sacraments whilst disagreeing with the CCC ;-))

                  4. Duly noted. Mea culpa.

                  • 1. The original argument is really, 'why not follow the self-imposed procreative limitation of the homosexual relationship and not form a parental relationship? You can't have it both ways!' The fact is that the homosexual couple are not trying to procreate, they are trying by adoption (as heterosexual couples are) to establish a non-natural parental relationship.

                    As a non-natural relationship, they do not exempt themselves from consideration, just because children are naturally formed by reproduction. Their lack of reproductive capacity does not naturally exempt them from a non-natural adoption process, not any more than it does single people.

                    2. The words 'normal and natural' are used by those who support gay relationships to establish an equivalence with the use of those words as the key moral distinction by staunch conservatives. If the heterosexual distinction really means normative, I think that the equivalence is invalid. Heterosexual relationships are normative in mammals, homosexual ones aren't.

                    However, 'normal and natural' might mean something more like consistent with its prevalence in the entire animal kingdom. So is 'survival of the fittest'. Yet, we may temper that instinct for the benefit of society. It then comes down to why it might be perfectly acceptable to temper instinct and nature in some instances, and not others.

                    3. It might be worth reviewing a few documents on sacramental matter and form. The form involve invoking the divine institution by repeating Christ's words faithfully as handed down. The matter, bread and wine in the Eucharist, water in baptism, laying on hands in comfirmation and holy orders.

                    Grace is specifically the salvific efficacy in believers. It does not preclude the broader divine providence that we can all experience.

                    4. Aren't we all? ;-)

                    • 1) Gay people per se shouldn't be automatically ruled out, I agree.

                      2) Conservatives use normal as a contrast to homosexuality per se which is viewed as not-normal i.e. pathological. Which is of course a nonsense. Accepting that if everyone "went gay" then the species would die out doesn't mean that all forms of homosexuality are 'unnatural' in a destructive sense. And of course conservatives have invoked homosexuality as a particular human vice not present in the animal kingdom. I imagine they could proof-text from Romans to attempt to support their argument so, spurious as it is, it's not strictly a straw man. Although the amount of creationist you get in the conservative Christian world suggests they're ignorant of science at the best of times ;-)

                      3. But doesn't that mean that heterosexual relationships are *potentially* sacramental not intrinsically so? Surely the matter and form agreeing doesn't in and of itself "validate" the union (as the matter and form agreeing doesn't 'make' the Mass?). So surely it's possible that heterosexual marriage could be 'sacramental' in a way gay relationships are not, but that using birth control is still sinful?

                    • 2. That may be true for some conservatives (yet no more pathological than infidelity), but even if a more liberal view is adopted, it still remains: 'Yet, we may temper that instinct for the benefit of society. It then comes down to why it might be perfectly acceptable to temper instinct and nature in some instances, and not others.' It's no use appealing to nature as our guide and then arbitrarily overruling it for the benefit of society in some cases and not others.

                      3. Yes, I agree with most of this. There are key impediments that may invalidate the union apart from the agreement of form and matter. However, the absence of that agreement also invalidates the union.

                      We should distinguish marriage (the civil institution) from Holy Matrimony (the sacrament). I may not agree with homosexuality, but the State can offer civil partnerships and a host of other remedies for those who feel that gay relationships should enjoy the same advantages as marriage.

                      What I don't agree with are attempts to dilute the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony by forcing it mirror the civil partnership ceremony. What right has the State to impose a particular mode of belief.

                      The fact remains that the sacrament affirms God's sanctifying grace on heterosexual relationships, not homosexual ones.

      • Ryan, the male sex organ, the penis, and the female sex organ, the vagina, work together in sex. As you yourself said, two penises or two vaginas have to be stimulated by something else; they can't work together.

        • David,

          Firstly, I assume you're talking about self-evidently Natural forms of *recreational* sex. Of course vaginal penetration is *usually* required for procreation. But of course, even then, we still have couples who undergo fertility treatment and who might provide both their, er, contributions separately to be whipped up in a lab; such couples, usually, attract sympathy from the heterosexist, not opprobium for violating the sanctity of the penis-in-vagina act.

          So is all sex aside from vaginal penetration somehow 'unnatural'? I think you'll find that oral sex, for example, is as common in the straight world as the gay. And of course, as feminists pointed out over 30 years ago (!), the clitoral stimulation that most women require for orgasm is not primarily – or even usually – achieved by "traditional" penetration and positions conducive to it, suggesting that the "Natural Law" arguments-from-plumbing owe a lot more to patriachal cliche than they do biological reality.

          And, not be indelicate, but vaginas very much do "work together", one of more popular – natural!- lesbian sex positions provides clitoral stimulation and orgasms for both partners without any need for external stimuli. "What do lesbians do in bed?" , and more subtle "Natural Law" elaborations of same, are a pathetic phallocentric,misogynistic schoolboy inanity, not a serious point. I could make similar points about gay sex but Peter's warning is duly noted!

          • Is it possible to avoid prudishness without resorting to a long-winded prurient review of the mechanics of sexual stimulation?

            I'm all for free speech, but in the interest of balance, was it really the focus of this particular discussion to delve into sexual mechanics interminably?

            • David S,

              I certainly wish that 'conservatives' would stop citing the entirely fallacious (and indeed phallacious ;)) argument-from-plumbing, but it is legitimate to respond when it's invoked. If the other David had not mentioned penis and vagina (replete with the scientific flourish of "sex organ" then I would not have responded).

              Beside which Peter's Theology of Sex is surely a 12A if not a risque 15 ;-)

  6. Gervase,

    While you may disagree, the UK is a co-signatory of the UN Convention on the rights of the child:

    Article 20:

    1. A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.

    2. States Parties shall in accordance with their national laws ensure alternative care for such a child.

    3. Such care could include, inter alia, foster placement, kafalah of Islamic law, adoption or if necessary placement in suitable institutions for the care of children. When considering solutions, due regard shall be paid to the desirability of continuity in a child's upbringing and to the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background.

    We may debate what 'adequate' means, but that undertaking constitutes a State duty in my book. Why not yours?

  7. It's more troubling, surely, that conservative Christians regard gay adoption as their hill to die on. Attacks on fatherhood (c.f. Harriet Harman down – or up?) are surely as contrary to biblical models of The Family as anything the gays are up to, but you will, not to riot in understatement, hear many sermons on the evils of feminism in evangelical churches.

    And of course the right to be CONSIDERED as adoptive parents is not the same thing as the 'right to adopt' (which I agree is a horrendously selfish and misleading phrase).

  8. I don't think that 'The Clone's' argument is especially strong here and I agree, essentially, with Drew and Justin. The argument on adoption is not a reproductive one and the 'rights' argument is spurious – there is no 'right' to adopt. The position is, and should be, what is in the best interests of the child? In a society where there are always more children needing to be adopted than prospective adoptive parents, it should be fairly clear that there will be some gay couples that both want to adopt and will make good parents.

    It may of course be possible that by the nature of their relationship, gay couples may be less likely to make good parents. Given the higher rates of depression, mental illness and substance abuse amongst gay people in comparison to straights, it is more likely that any gay couple taken at random is more likely to be bad parents than for straights. But unsuitable potential adoptive couples, gay or straight, should be and are sorted out by screening by social services. This does not preclude the likelihood that there are individual gay couples that will make good adoptive parents and, in my view, they should be able to adopt.

    Of course, none of the above argument affects what should happen within a Christian environment, where we respond to a higher divine mandate. As homosexuality is a sin within orthodox Christian teaching, Christian adoption agencies should not be placing children with gay couples. And the state should not be interfering with the right of these agencies to act in accordance with their Christian beliefs.

    • For what it's worth Philip, I think I agree with you. The fact that two people of the same sex evidentially cannot produce a child doesn't necessarily mean that they won't make good parents. Of course, that still opens us up to debate whether two people of the same sex, on average, achieve the same outcomes for children in their care as two people of different sexes (and the debate can also be had as to whether married parents – or parents in civil partnerships for that matter – achieve better outcomes for their children then unmarried parents) but that is a different evidential base then the biological argument.

  9. that sounds like the 50's when the common thinking was that a woman's nature was to be reliant on males for everything, and to be solely relegated to be a wife and a mother.

    what can biology have to do having a bonded relationship with someone, and out of that bonded relationship want to have children.

    the bottom line point of this argument is that homosexual bonding and homosexuals are not equal to heterosexual bonding and heterosexuals. nothing could be farther from the truth.

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