APRIL 2, 2013
The American College of Pediatricians (College) affirms the importance of the institution of marriage for the well-being of children with release of its statement supporting the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Marriage exists in virtually every known human society. In all flourishing varieties of human cultures, it has been a universal human institution that functions to regulate the reproduction of children, families, and society. Across societies it is a publicly acknowledged and supported union which creates kinship obligations and sharing of resources among men, women, and the children that their sexual union may produce.
Declining to have federal programs reflect the various novel definitions of marriage in states, Congress created the DOMA to preserve the good that marriage has provided through time and across cultures. The wisdom of this understanding of marriage is borne out by a large body of social science research which indicates that “family structure matters for children.”
“Decades of scientific research and the whole of human history demonstrate the significance of the institution of marriage between a father and a mother to the well-being of their children, and to the health of society,” states Michelle Cretella, MD, Vice President of the American College of Pediatricians.
In concert with testimony from “experts” biased in opposition to DOMA, some recent courts have cavalierly discounted the child-related interests served by marriage that amply justify the definition of marriage retained by DOMA. Studies that purport to establish equivalence in child outcomes for children raised by a married mother and father compared to children raised by same-sex couples are severely flawed. There is far stronger research to indicate that children derive substantial benefits from the unique contributions of men and women, mothers and fathers, as opposed to just any two adults. Finally, while social science data may be a helpful resource in resolving legal disputes, courts should be very cautious in interpreting and applying this data which is fraught with severe limitations that prevent professional consensus about its implications. This is the case regarding the consequences of same-sex parenting upon children.