5 days ago
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY
So it is not surprising that 30% of Americans actually count pets as part of the family when polled. The very sad thing is that only 40% of Americans think a gay couple are a family.
New research on the topic how a family is defined is contained in a book-length study, "Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definition of Family" and in a separate 2010 survey overseen by the book's lead author, Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell.
Only about one-third of those surveyed said they considered same-sex couples without children to be a family. And in 2006, when asked if gay couples and pets count as family, 30 percent said pets count but not gay couples.
"The sheer idea that gay couples are given less status than pets should give us pause," Powell said in an interview. (At least the gays have come up in the polls by 10% since 2006 - good job America...)
In the 2010 survey, 83 percent of the respondents said they perceived unmarried heterosexual couples with children as a family; only 40 percent extended that recognition to unmarried straight couples without children.
The problems with this isn't really just about bigotry - there are real life altering issues for people which flow from attitudes about what makes a family. Among other matters, it affects income tax filings, adoption and foster care practices, employee benefits and inheritance rights.
I think of all those kids out there waiting for a good foster home; waiting for an adoptive mom or dad and the attitudes of people stuck in "Ozzie and Harriet" mindsets which are denying them the warmth and safety of those family bonds.
We really need to get over ourselves and let everyone open up their homes and hearts to the kids out there, just as we encourage people to open their homes and hearts to all the little animals out there. There are all kinds of families and all kinds of family members.