Friday, 6 February 2009
A rant for a rant: on Hitchens and gay adoption
Today’s rant is courtesy of Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday. And before you ask, no of course I don’t read it. The article – or rather an article denouncing the article – was forwarded to me by a friend. And then I did my research. And now I’m going to rant. Because Hitchens said what he said and because he’s not alone in believing it.
Hitchens claims that ‘the Thought Police’ forces him to ‘wave [his] little rainbow flag as the "Gay Pride" parade passes by.' It seems that he inhabits a different universe to me. Of course what do I know? I am heterosexual and may have missed the revolution of tolerance and open-mindedness that has swept Hitchens with it. Only you and I both know I have not missed the revolution because there hasn’t been one. There has been change in attitudes, but not enough of it and I have friends whose sexual preferences (a private matter if there ever was one) still cause problems at work and on the street. Insurance premiums remain higher for gay men even if they are in stable, long-term relationships and gay men and women still don’t have the universal right to protect their relationships via marriage – which, apart from a cake and confetti, actually means that everything they build together belongs to them equally and they can make medical decisions for each other, as partners should be able to.
Go wave your little flag at that Mr Hitchens.
But back to the point.
Hitchens’ gripe is that two Edinburgh children were taken away from a heroine-addict mother and put in the care of a childless couple in a stable long-term relationship and not in the care of grandparents that were deemed by social services to be too old and too ill. I don’t know if the assessment is fair. And neither does Mr Hitchens. But he goes out on a limb on this one and says the kids would be better off with their grandparents. Why? You guessed it. Because the couple that took them in is gay.
What’s his problem with homosexuality, you ask?
Well. First of all, homosexuals ‘tyranise’ him. Yes you do. ‘We show tolerance to “gays” and get tyranny in return’ he claims, because the entire gay community (in quotation marks, always, because he doesn’t like the cheeriness of the word ‘gay’ – his words, not mine) wants all of us to know what they do in their bedrooms. As I said, he inhabits a different universe to me.
But there is more. Hitchens continues:
‘We are forced to say that we think homosexuality is a good thing, that homosexual couples are equal in all ways to heterosexual married couples. Most emphatically, we are compelled to agree that homosexual couples are just as good at bringing up children as the children's own grandparents. Better, in fact.’
No, Mr Hitchens.
First of all, you are not forced to say any of those things and you are not actually saying them. Secondly, the question of ‘good’, ‘bad’ and fair is one that interests you and you alone. The rest of us just want to get on with life. And homosexuality is a fact of life. Has been for a few thousand years and does not need to be assessed as good or bad to be real. By you, least of all.
But yes we would like you to accept that heterosexual and homosexual couples are equal in all ways before the law. And as common law marriage is a bit of a sham, we would like people who spend their lives together to be able to get protection before the law and be married if they wish to be.
As for bringing up children, well, I wouldn’t say gay couples are better. I would say they are just as good. Because parenthood is about personal commitment, not sexual preference. A stable home is about love, care, attention, safety. What your parents do in their bedroom does not affect how they love you, as their child. With more and more cases of child abandonment, abuse, neglect and violence every day, I’d say we need to grab hold of love and stability where we find it and entrust children to people who can care for them, whatever their colour, creed, football team or sexual preference.
And, yes Mr Hitchens, I know several gay parents.