Attitudes toward gay marriage are changing fast. This week’s Washington Post-ABC News poll shows support at an all-time high and that comes, of course, just after the president announced his own support.
Surely the news might affect gay couples who want to become parents, no?
I called Catherine Tuerk, a longtime activist in D.C.’s gay advocacy community to ask if the top-level acknowledgment and public backing would empower more gay couples to adopt and have children.
I thought she would have insight on the issue because the former president of the D.C. chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is poised to publish a book on her thoughts about the changing landscape for gay advocacy, “Mom Knows: Reflections on Love, Gay Pride, and Taking Action.”
I was right, and I was wrong.
Right that Tuerk would have an interesting perspective. But wrong on my premise.
It’s not that public perceptions are empowering gay parents, she said, it’s the other way around.
“Gay parenting has normalized the idea of gay marriage,” Tuerk said.
“That parenting piece helps people understand that this is not about sex — God knows, you don’t have kids if you want to have sex. It’s about love. Sex is a part of love, but it’s not all of it.”
She said the increasing public presence of gay parents raising children has given younger Americans, in particular, a different perspective on gay life.
Older generations grew up with the notion that gays were obsessed with sex, Tuerk said, because when the gay community was more marginalized that was sometimes all their secret relationships could be about.
But as many now live more openly, they have been able to act on their “human” instincts to fall in love, live together and, sometimes, raise children, she said.
Changing public attitudes certainly support her analysis.
The Post-ABC poll found that 53 percent of respondents think gay marriage should be legal compared with just 36 percent six years ago.
Separately, the Pew Research Center has found that those ages 18-29 support gay marriage at consistently higher levels than their older counterparts.
In fact, Obama himself spoke of how his “evolving” idea of gay marriage was affected by his daughters’ attitudes. He said his daughters don’t see a difference between the gay and heterosexual parents they know.
“It wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently,” the president told ABC’s Robin Roberts in his now-famous interview.
“It doesn’t make sense to them. And — and, frankly — that’s the kind of thing that prompts — a change of perspective.”
It’s not just the young who have noticed that gay parenting looks just like heterosexual parenting. Obama also said his attitude was shaped by, “members of my own staff who are incredibly committed, in monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together.”
What do you think? Has gay parenting changed the public perception of gay relationships and gay marriage?