Supreme Court DOMA and Proposition 8 rulings good for kids, by accident?

The Supreme Court struck down DOMA – the Defense of Marriage Act – and handed Proposition 8 back to a lower court – which both legitimize gay marriage. But, the routes the court took don't suggest a high court pro-gay marriage or pro-child crusade – yet.

AP
William, Knott, 7, son of Kelly Bryson and her wife Erika Knott, right, participates in a celebration rally in Jackson Square in New Orleans after the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act was published.

If you’ve followed the news over the past week, you've probably noticed a shift in the very definition of the American family. As public opinion and state laws have evolved increasingly to tolerate and embrace gay marriage, so has the legal system – the Supreme Court this week invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act and effectively ended California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.

Gays and lesbians who want to marry and receive recognition under the law are the obvious winners. But that the Court has been expanding marriage recognition, rights, and protection to same-sex couples is a part of a bigger trend – an expansion of marriage that has positive effects for children specifically, says Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York.
 
 "The fact is, there's lots of research indicating that the biggest beneficiaries of marriage are children," Mr. Pertman says. "They get social benefits, economic benefits – they get a big range of benefits from marriage. The list goes on and on."
 
 Pertman, whose organization researches policies that affect adoption and works to improve adoption laws, doesn't think that the court has been swept up in a pro-gay marriage, pro-children crusade. He points to the different ways that justices arrived at their two important decisions this week.
 
 "If you look at it ruling by ruling, the California [Prop 8] ruling, for instance, it has a very different rationale than the DOMA ruling," Pertman says. "Both seem to be saying: 'All families are created equal, and all children should be protected' — but [the] California [decision] didn't really say that, [it] said the litigants didn't have standing." (The court ruled that proponents of a ban on gay marriage passed by California voters did not have the right to defend that law in federal courts).

The court also ruled that the backers of California's Proposition 8 didn't have standing to challenge lower-court rulings about the 2008 ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in the state.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/How_this_weeks_Supreme_Court_decisions_affect_Pa_NJ.html#Ktv31eVBwAR5XHEP.99 Pertman's stance is that the positive impact on children's lives is a good thing, but one that has come about haphazardly and not through any beneficent design on the part of the country's top court.

 "The powers that be — the courts, and the legislatures — I rarely think they put their money where their mouth is," Pertman says. "What they say is, 'The children are the future, children are our more valuable resource, children are this, children are that,' but the truth is when push comes to shove, it's the adults and adult concerns that take priority."
 
 The story, Pertman suggests, leads back to the ancient currency of Washington: clout.
 
 "I wrote an op-ed saying children don't lobby and children don't vote, and they pay the price for that," he says.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.