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New Rights For Gay Parents

New Rights For Gay ParentsA scientific review by a Tufts professor helps provide the foundation for the American Academy of Pediatrics' first-ever endorsement of legal adoption by same-sex parents.

Boston [02.04.02] In a widely-reported announcement today, the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] unveiled a new policy supporting gay and lesbian parents who want to legally adopt their partner's children. The position -- which was shaped in part by the work of a Tufts Medical School professor -- is expected to have a major impact on courts and lawmakers nationwide.

"Saying the children of gay parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexuals, the nation's largest pediatric group will call for state laws that allow homosexuals to adopt their partner's children," reported USA Today.

The announcement marks the first time the highly respected organization has taken a stand on the heavily debated issue.

"[The policy as written is] not saying we think that gay or lesbian people should be adoptive parents," Tufts' Dr. Ellen Perrin told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We're saying that when a family has already been formed and it consists of two parents of the same sex, those children deserve to have two legally recognized parents."

Perrin -- a behavioral pediatrician at the Tufts-New England Medical Center -- "wrote a scientific summary used by AAP as the basis for its new policy," reported USA Today.

While it will likely come under fire by critics, the AAP's statement should have a major impact.

"Many experts said the academy's endorsement was likely to carry weight in courts and legislatures because the group, which represents 55,000 pediatricians, enjoys wide respect," reported The New York Times.

According to Perrin, a change in state laws is necessary to give gay parents the legal right to adopt their partner's children.

"In most states, there's no assurance that the court will agree to adoption," Perrin said in a Bergen Record report. "In many, many, many states, lesbian and gay couples who have sought co-parent adoptions have been denied. In a lot of places, judges still believe that same-sex parents can't be good parents."

But scientific research indicates otherwise.

"[Perrin said] there are more similarities than differences in parenting styles and attitudes (among) gay and non-gay parents," reported Reuters.

In a report published in this month's issue of Pediatrics, Perrin analyzed current research on the effectiveness of gay parents.

"Perrin's review of the research concluded that 'children who grow up with one or two gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual,'" reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Using her work as a foundation, the AAP compiled and released a new set of recommendations for physicians and lawmakers to consider.

"In its report, the academy calls for legal and legislative efforts that allow gay adoptions, saying they ensure a child's eligibility for insurance benefits and entitlements such as Social Security survivor's benefits," reported the Bergen Record. "Adoption also provides legal grounds for either parent to provide consent for medical care, and establishes the requirement for child support from both parents if they separate."

The health of the child is the top priority, said the AAP.

"The key factor in healthy development, the group concluded, has more to do with the quality and nature of relationships within a family than with the particular family structure," reported the Record.

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