(Photo: Iowa House Democrats via The Christian Post)
A 19-year-old’s testimony before Iowa state lawmakers this week that being raised by lesbian parents had “zero effect” on his character has gotten nearly a million hits on YouTube.
In the video-taped testimony of Zach Wahls, he argued in support of same-sex marriage in Iowa, saying the "sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.” Wahls also described his home life as “normal.”
"I'm not really so different from any of your children," Wahls told Iowa legislators. "My family really isn't so different from yours."
Wahls shared his story at the Iowa House hearing on Tuesday in an effort to dissuade lawmakers from trying to amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage. He argued that they should not block gay marriage for fear that it will result in maladjusted children. He pointed to his own life as an example that children of gay couples turn out fine and that gay families are just as normal as heterosexual ones.
Wahls described his family as a close-knit unit that does many of the same things as traditional families.
"My family eats together, goes to church on Sunday and goes on vacations, just like you," he revealed.
Dawn Stefanowicz, author of Out from Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, agrees that children of homosexual parents do have normal facets in their lives, such as membership in social clubs like the Cub Scouts, church visits and family vacations as Wahls described.
However, her personal experience has shown her that children of homosexual parents do struggle.
"I come from a stand point having grown up since infancy with a father that has had various male partners that came into the home," shared Stefanowicz to The Christian Post.
As a child of a homosexual father, Stefanowicz described feeling very different from and not accepted by other children. She said that experience hurt her and her twin brother very deeply.
"One of our deepest needs is to belong and to feel accepted not only in our family of origin, but in the minds of those closest to us: those who would be considered our family, what would be considered our schoolmates and as we get older, our colleagues," she said.
She never shared these feelings with her father for fear that she would offend her parent and his partners. Stefanowicz said many children growing up in homosexual households are forced to censor their feelings for fear of being politically incorrect.
"As children growing up in this environment, we are not allowed to share anything that would hurt the feelings of our parents and their partners," she said.
Research findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledge that children of homosexual couples may "experience social marginalization and become the objects of ridicule and harassment by other children." However the study places the blame for these things on society's failure to accept same-sex marriage.
The July 2006 AAP study continues, "Children born to and raised by lesbian couples seem to develop in ways that are indistinguishable from children raised by heterosexual parents."
However, the American College of Pediatrics has concluded in a study that "children fare best when reared by their two biological parents in a loving, low conflict marriage" over any other form of parenting relationship be it that of a single homosexual parent, committed homosexual couple, or single heterosexual parent.
The ACP found that mothers and fathers parent differently and make unique contributions to the overall development of the child. In homosexual parenthood they found, "children reared in homosexual households are more likely to experience sexual confusion, engage in risky sexual experimentation, and later adopt a homosexual identity."
Additionally, Dr. Sharon Quick of the ACP has revealed that over half of the references in the AAP's 2006 report are inaccurately quoted.
Stefanowicz and her brother's childhood experiences match the ACP's findings. She felt and could sense that one gender was not valued or not loved as much as the other. She said that sense deeply affected her and her sibling.
As a result, they suffered depression and bouts of anger, Stefanowicz shared. They also engaged in self-destructive behavior. She began dating boys at age 12. Her brother attempted suicide in his late teens.
Though both Wahls and Stefanowicz both were raised by homosexual parents, there is a key difference between them. Wahls expressed that his lesbian parents were largely exclusively committed to each other. Stefanowicz 's gay father had multiple partners throughout her childhood.
Through her experience and that of others like her, Stefanowicz states that Wahls experience is a rarity. Gay couples in general have a higher risk of splitting up than heterosexual couples, she stated. Allowing them to marry lawfully would raise the divorce rate as well as increase the number of children brought up in a divorced households, Stephanowics contended.
She also said gay couples that stay together often allow each other to "cruise" or openly engage in sexual activity with other people.
The New York Times documented this tendency in an article entitled, "Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret."
In the story, the NY Times quoted research from San Francisco State University that about 50 percent of the 556 couples surveyed reported having sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.
"The risk of abuse increase when you grow up in a highly sexual environment," Stefanowicz noted.
Some viewers of the YouTube video seemed convinced by Wahls' argument for gay marriage and parenting. However, a 2007 Pew Research poll shows the majority of Americans believe that allowing gay and lesbian couples to raise children is bad for society.
To that end, the Iowan House has already approved a ban same-sex marriage laws by a 62-37 vote. The vote was bi-partisan; three Democrats joined the 59 Republicans to vote in favor of amending the Iowa Constitution to ban gay marriage. The state Senate now needs to pass the amendment. An effort to do so last week failed.