“Marriage is society’s way of bringing a man and a woman together so that children can be raised by—and cared for—their mother and father, the people responsible for bringing them into the world.”
– Joseph Backholm, Family Policy Institute of Washington
I was conceived by a young, poor woman who lived with her mother and stepfather. I am the result of a short-term fling with her stepbrother, about which she always felt guilt and shame. My biological father denies my existence. I was adopted as an infant by a committed, stable, loving couple who deeply wanted to raise children, but was infertile.
I resent the implication that my family is somehow less authentic than it would be if I had been raised by my biological parents—that the love, care, and volition of my adoptive parents is illegitimate because they are not “the people responsible for bringing [me] into the world”. I’m personally offended that Joseph Backholm insinuates that my dysfunctional and ill-prepared natural parents could have better raised and cared for me than the family that provided a caring and nurturing childhood for me.
My family is every bit as genuine, every bit as healthy and successful as one in which the children are related to the parents. To me, it seems like such an obvious statement that it shouldn’t require saying. Of course there’s no substantive difference between adoptive parents and biological parents when it comes to providing happy, safe environments for children. If anything, I’d expect research to show that adoptive families are statistically more likely to be successful by tangible measures, since they will not have the stress of being unplanned or unwanted.
But of course, I know the game that’s being played here. It’s not my family Joseph Backholm is intending to insult and delegitimize—it’s someone else’s. In fact, it’s quite likely that in another context the Family Policy Institute of Washington would be the first to suggest that a woman with an unwanted pregnancy consider adoption.
What I’m saying is that I don’t believe Joseph Backholm believes the words coming out of his mouth. His opposition to marriage equality has nothing to do with the biological relatedness of a family. I’d wager that he would recognize that argument as absurd if challenged on it. His words have no empirical, legal, moral, or historical backing—they are pure specious rhetoric, designed to give post hoc rationalization to a predetermined, unexamined prejudice.
Whether he recognizes it or not, Joseph Backholm insults my family—and thousands of other families—including but by no means limited to families with two mothers or two fathers.