Change the World

An Anti-Gay Letter to the Editor - And the Many Responses to It

As recently as a few days ago we were reminded that in some corners of American society our gay dad families are viewed with suspicion and contempt.  The following anti-gay letter to the editor of the Centre Daily Times, a newspaper in State College, Pennsylvania, makes clear that we need to be ready to protect our hard-won rights. Fortunately, as the reactions to the homophobic letter show, many more people than before are willing to help us defend the dignity of our families.

An important part of what we do here at Gays With Kids is to advocate for our families, such as normalizing our family experiences for those who otherwise wouldn’t understand just how similar our families are to their own. When you become aware of something of importance to our gay dad community, please let us know by sending an email to dads@gayswithkids.com!

Thanks for Greg Hutch for alerting us to this story. 

The Anti-Gay Dad Family Letter to the Editor of the Centre Daily Times

Last year, on November 18 – National Adoption Day – two Philadelphian dads finalized the adoption of their 7-month-old daughter. It was one of the happiest days of their life as their family became official in the eyes of the law. The day was reported on by the Centre Daily Times (CDT), a newspaper in State College, Pennsylvania, while "the magnitude of the moment was on full display as family members shared hugs and shed tears."

On January 28, 2017, a letter to the editor was published in the CDT that considered the adoption of the young girl by her two dads, and any adoption of children by same-sex couples, to be "detrimental to the emotional well-being of children."

PUT HETEROSEXUAL COUPLES FIRST

It was with sadness and dismay that I read of the adoption of a 7-month-old girl by two men (CDT, 11/19).

Sadness because the little girl will not experience life in the home of a mother and father. A similar situation occurred in the past year in Pennsylvania when two men from Brazil paid a surrogate mother in Pennsylvania to carry a baby and then adopted the infant and took him to Brazil.

No credible social scientist would deny that the best environment for children to be raised is a stable, heterosexual marriage. I am dismayed that adoption agencies, knowing that married, heterosexual couples are the best homes for children, would act otherwise.

I have written state Sen. Jake Corman and Rep. Richard Irwin asking that they sponsor legislation instructing adoption agencies to give preference to married, heterosexual couples when placing children. I also requested that they sponsor legislation outlawing the practice of paid surrogate adoption. This is already illegal in many states but legal in Pennsylvania.

I urge readers to write to their state representatives and request similar legislation. Otherwise, we permit actions by adoption agencies that are in fact, detrimental to the emotional well-being of children.

Greg Hutch’s Response to the Anti-Gay Dad Family Letter

The letter spurred a great uproar within the readership of the CDT as many comments streamed in from the LGBT community and our supporters, asking the author of the letter to cite academic references to support his claims. We were heartened to see that the vast majority of comments came from those supporting this two-dad family's rights and denouncing the letter to the editor which called into question their competency, and legitimacy, as good parents.

Greg Hutch, a gay dad from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, wrote a very touching response, a shortened version of which was published by the CDT. We are quoting the heart of his letter:

Eleven years ago, this great guy named Tim and I met at a school function. We are both educators and fate somehow brought us together at an event two hours away from my school and home. Like many of you, one of the very first conversations that we had was how important our own families are to us and how important it was for us to create a family of our own someday. Eleven years later, we are paying off a loan from an international adoption scam that involved twenty-six families, but didn’t discourage us, and we have a perfectly loved, handsome, smart, amazing seventeen-month-old son who we are living our lives for every day.

Early in my career, I watched a student walk into my classroom completely soaked. It was raining outside and I knew that he was a walker. When I asked him why he did not use an umbrella that morning, he said, “Because my dad won’t let me take it. He’s afraid that I’ll leave it here at school.” That grown-up, poor excuse for a father was more worried about his umbrella than about his son. That was the moment in my career as a teacher that I knew that I had to follow through on my aspirations of adopting a child. I knew that I could do better and that that struggling young man would be thriving in a home like my own.

Seventeen months ago, a woman walked into a hospital and gave birth to a son who she was not prepared to care for. At that point, an agency gave her a binder full of families who were looking to share their love with a child. She went through all of them and HANDPICKED us! We could barely contain our excitement and our entire family was overjoyed at the thought of us finally getting to start the family that we had been hoping for. Today, our son’s birthmother is in touch with us on a regular basis. We have a private photo account set up so that when we take photos of our boy, they go directly to her. She comments on almost every one of them. Whenever we meet with her so that our son grows up knowing the woman who made such a loving decision, she brings her family who showers him with as much love as our own family does. He has one HUGE family that is filled with more love than you can imagine. He is healthy, he is happy, he is cared for, and he is raised by TWO DADS.

There are a lot of people in this world who are afraid of what they don’t understand or who are self-righteous enough to think that their way of doing things is the only way of doing things. As I stated, Tim and I are educators. We see plenty of examples of great parenting and unfortunately more and more examples of awful parenting on a daily basis. We are both working so hard to be amazing parents and letters like the “Put Heterosexual Couples First” letter that you published on 1/28/2017 provide us with even more inspiration to not just be better parents, but to aim to be better parents than any of the naysayers ever could be. Our son is loved, is cared for, has a huge family to support him, and will always be our number one priority. I would encourage ANYBODY who loves children and who is willing to sacrifice themselves for the life of a child to adopt, no matter what their sexuality is.

Juliet Cawthern’s Response to the Anti-Gay Dad Family Letter

Another reader, Juliet Cawthern from Boalsburg, wrote a passionate letter as well:

PUT THE CHILDREN FIRST

I was appalled by a letter to the editor published Sunday in response to two local men adopting a 7-month-old girl. The writer says he feels sad for the child, who will not experience having a mother and father, yet he does not cite any sources backing up his claim that children are better off with heterosexual parents.

The latest statistics from Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports 427,910 children were in the foster care system in 2015, with 111,820 waiting to be adopted. Many of these children do not form healthy attachments to their caregivers, especially if the child experiences multiple placements in foster homes, group homes, or treatment facilities in a matter of months (which is not uncommon).

I don’t believe that reader’s letter was written out of sadness for the child. I believe it was out of prejudice and lack of knowledge of how adoptions are arranged. Adoptions are granted when adopters prove that the child will be going to a loving, nurturing and stable home. Adoption agencies ensure a good fit for everyone involved and that the child trusts his or her adopters. Denying anyone the joy of parenthood because of their sexual orientation is unacceptable and prolongs the uncertainty of the child’s future.

So, no, do not put heterosexual couples first. Put the children first.

More Responses to the Anti-Gay Dad Family Letter

One from Heather Corbally Bryant from Massachusetts:

I want to add my voice of protest to those of others who have already spoken out against the letter published in the CDT regarding families of same-sex parents.

It is a fundamental human right of everyone, regardless of their sexual preference, to be parents who can make a loving and safe home for their children.

To believe anything else is narrow minded and ignorant.

Another one from Bennet Ulmer, from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania:

We are a two-dad family who have been navigating the long and difficult road to opening our home through adoption for several years. We want to provide a loving home to a child in need based on the wishes of the birth family who are placing that child for adoption. Adoptive placement is a deeply personal choice involving both the birth family and the adoptive family with a host of counselors and lawyers and social services agencies thrown in the middle. There simply is no part of the adoption system that can give preference to any one adoptive family over another.

Columbia University has compiled 79 studies whose research “forms an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on over three decades of peer-reviewed research, that having a gay or lesbian parent does not harm children.” We encourage the letter’s author to review the research, and sit down to meet families like ours. Our door is open. I disagree with commenters disparaging the CDT. I think it provides an opportunity to open dialogue with folks that are basing ideas on assumptions that are ill informed. Dialogue and discourse make a world of difference.

I do agree with the author that concerned citizens should reach out to your elected representatives and make your voices heard. Let them know that we believe in evidence-based, peer-reviewed research and that children need loving parents no matter what size, shape, or color that family looks like.

Some Comments to the Anti-Gay Dad Family Letter to the Editor

There are also numerous comments on the letter itself, the vast majority in support of the dads:

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