Do Children Need Fathers and Mothers?

According to a press release published by the Baptist Press, the Obama Administration and the House of Representatives differ over whether kids need a mom and a dad.  Below is an excerpt taken from the press release:

WASHINGTON (BP)–In remarkably different court filings that highlight America’s cultural divide on marriage’s definition, the U.S. House and the Obama Justice Department have come to opposite conclusions as to whether children need a mother and a father in the home.

At issue is the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law which defines marriage in federal law as between a man and a woman and gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s gay “marriages.”

In its legal briefs arguing that the law should be upheld, the legal team hired by the U.S. House says DOMA, as it’s often called, is naturally tied to procreation and children benefit from having both a mother and father in the home. The Justice Department has discounted the procreation argument and argued that the gender of parents does not matter.

The view that prevails at the Supreme Court — which has yet to take up the issue — could determine the future of gay “marriage” in America.

Gay groups view the law as a major obstacle to redefining marriage nationwide and are hoping the federal courts or Congress overturn it.

The Justice Department is tasked with defending the nation’s laws, but President Obama earlier this year ordered the department to stop defending DOMA, forcing the Republican-led House to step in. In at least one legal case, the Justice Department is actually opposing DOMA.

The House team is led by Paul Clement, U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush. Clement’s team quotes research stating that “the optimal situation for the child is to have both an involved mother and an involved father.”

“[T]he experience of a child raised by a man and a woman may differ from that of a child raised by same-sex caregivers,” reads the House brief defending DOMA in a U.S. District Court case in New York. The brief asks the court to dismiss the DOMA suit. “The federal courts that have upheld DOMA all have recognized that encouraging child-rearing by a married mother and father is a legitimate governmental interest, and that DOMA furthers that interest…. Congress rationally could conclude that each child will benefit from having a role model of his or her own sex as a parent, and from being exposed within the family to how that parent relates to an adult of the opposite sex.”

The brief then affirmingly quotes a 2004 remark by former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent: “One thing that two people of the same sex cannot give children” is “a mom and a dad.”

The House attorneys further said that while same-sex couples “may prove capable parents in many other regards, children raised by them inevitably will miss out on one or both of these benefits” — either having a mother or a father.

The House’s legal arguments, contrasted with the Justice Department’s filings opposing DOMA, provide a dramatic moment in the legal battle over marriage’s definition.

The Justice Department filed a brief July 1 in a separate case arguing that the gender of parents does not matter: “There is no sound basis for concluding that same-sex couples who have committed to marriages recognized by state law are anything other than fully capable of responsible parenting and child-rearing.” It further said gays have suffered a history of discrimination and that DOMA is driven by prejudice.

Read the story in its entirety by visiting Baptist Press online.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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4 Responses to Do Children Need Fathers and Mothers?

  1. Michele Beck says:

    You know it is funny but 6 years ago when my first grandson was born I noticed that the childs show Seasame Street would show the children pictures of families. The majority of the families were same sex parents. I told my children then that this country will work hard to push same sex marraiges and familes and they way they will do this is by teaching your chidren that same sex is the normal. They will sneak that message into every show a child watches. They justify this by insisting that they teach diversity.
    I am sure that this begun long before I became a grandma and now here we are a country that is trying hard to stop our President and his cohorts from passing laws that will enable same sex not only to be married but to legally raise children.
    Now more than ever, we need to fall down on our knees and pray for God to forgive us and heal this land. Then we need to raise up from our knees and get out there and fight our President and let him know that we do not want same sex marraiges and each child does need both male and female parents to raise them.


    • Michele,

      I also believe that children need fathers and mothers. Too many children grow up in families where one of the parents is absent. There are many reasons for this unfortunate situation, but one can understand the kinds of problems that create one-parent family. What we have to learn is this: unless there is a father and a mother, children cannot be born.

      Claude Mariottini


  2. Michele, thanks for your words. Praying and then doing is wisdom. I teach Sunday School for primary and middle school ages and am active in public education. I enjoy observing and teaching that formative age group. Though they don’t often initiate conversations on this subject, I’ve noticed that the kids are aware of it: whether in religious settings or not. Their comments don’t give the perception that they view same-sex partnerships as an ideal, and they’ve had no indoctrination to draw that response. There is a natural moral compass there to come to terms with through one way or another.

    Dr. Mariottini, I agree that is the essential component. Thanks for that. I think natural revelation speaks volumes about God’s ideal. I know believers understand that those unfortunate situations can indeed create functional, alternative households. But I think what we’re agreeing to affirm is that both are not equal when one is clearly preferred. That is of course assuming both parents are actively involved. A great example has been shared by Sowers’ book, “Fatherless Generation.” The need for both parents, especially one’s own father, is great.

    Thanks for your writings. Keep up the good fight.


    • Paul,

      I agree with you that in some cases, same sex households can provide an alternative to children whose parents are not there for them. However, you and I agree that God’s ideal is a home where children can grow and enjoy the love of a father and a mother.

      Thank you for your words of encouragement.

      Claude Mariottini


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