25 October 2012

Should homosexual marriage be allowed in France? Should adoption by same-sex couples be allowed?

Marianne is for...

Our debate is about homosexual marriage, but it is also about what allowing same-sex marriage is related to, which is allowing adoption and parenting by same-sex couples.
As regards the question of allowing gay couples to get married, it is virtually decided in France, as 65% of the population is for. Homosexuals are already allowed civil unions, and the polls show that French people don’t have anything against a real marriage for gays, especially as marriage is losing importance anyway... Same-sex couples are simply asking to have the same rights as heterosexual couples (civil unions already impose the same duties).
I think the controversy is more about adoption and parenting by same-sex couples; the main reason why people are against same-sex marriage is because they do not want gay couples to be allowed to become parents.
I am going to explain why gay couple should be allowed to adopt kids.
First of all, studies have been made on children raised by same-sex parents and the results show that those kids appear to have no more mental or development problems than kids adopted by heterosexual couples or by single parents.
Secondly, there is the issue of the lack of a male or a female presence for a child adopted by a gay couple; according to some people, this could cause a problem of identification. Surely, it is important to keep in mind that the kid won’t spend all his childhood only with his adopted parents. He or she will see his grandparents, uncles, aunts, the teachers at school or even the baby-sitter who could be chosen from the other gender on purpose. Moreover, in same-sex couples, one parent will always tend to adopt the traditional role of the “mother” and the other the role of the “father”. In this way, kids won’t have any particular problems identifying with one or other of the genders.
Thirdly, what about possible discrimination at school against kids adopted by gay couples? Mentalities are changing for the better thanks to the efforts of the media and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual (LGBT) community itself. There is less homophobia today, so children should not suffer from being mocked at school too much, not in the long term at least.
My fourth point is: adoption by same-sex couples is allowed in many countries including the UK, Spain and some States of the USA. Do you really think they took the decision to allow adoption by same-sex couples without thinking thoroughly about it first? Of course not!
If you think about it, people used to have the same prejudices about divorce, there was a lot of debate about that too, and now we don’t see anyone having problems about it anymore. I am convinced that we are going in the same direction as regards same-sex marriage and adoption.

Thibaud is against...

Gay marriage is totally absurd!
Marianne thinks people are against gay marriage because of the adoption issue. It is an argument (just imagine Mother's Day or Father's Day celebrations!) but it is not the only argument against gay marriage... Look at the definition of marriage. Marriage has always described the union of a man and a woman, the aim of which is to procreate and raise children. Same-sex marriage does not comply with this definition. An M6 survey shows that 57% of the French are against it. Marriage is a tradition which can’t be transformed.
Homosexuals already have the "pacs" civil union and thus the same rights as heterosexuals. So why do they need to get married?! They are already accepted in society and allowing them marriage status can only upset society... Why not also allow polygamy whilst we are about it?!
I do not think children adopted by homosexual couples will learn about the opposite gender through the presence of family or friends. Do we live with our uncles our grandmothers or our babysitter?! They will spend most of their time with people of only one gender and, study or no study, it will obviously have an impact on their minds...
Love between two people of the same sex and their desire to start a family, even if sincere, is not sufficient to allow them to get married and certainly not to have the right to adopt.  From a legal point of view, marriage is not about feelings or a desire for social recognition. It is exclusively a legal framework to guarantee a stable environment for the child. This is why marriage bans incest for example. We are not talking about the right to have a child, which is about what the adults want, but about the rights of the child. The fundamental right of the child to have a father and mother must be guaranteed. This right is, in the end, in everyone's interest.

Laurie is for...

You stated that the main aim of marriage is to procreate and bring up children, but should we forbid sterile people or couples that just don't want to have children from getting married? I think marriage is not just about having kids, it is essentially a private matter between two people, regardless of their gender, who love each other and want their union to be recognized and legal.
The M6 poll is just numbers thrown about without any details; what kind of people answered it? Was it young or old people? You can't say that the majority of French people are against homosexual marriage based on this, especially when there has been a recent poll, carried out by the French Institute of Public Opinion, which stated that 65% where in fact in favor. It shows that mentalities are changing. Homosexuals are now seen as a legitimate part of the population, with laws to defend their rights (like the anti-homophobia law adopted in France in 2004). Homosexual couples are depicted in popular TV shows like Plus Belle La Vie. Grey's Anatomy and Modern Family even show gay couples raising children.
Unlike what you said, the “PACS” civil union is not the same as marriage. For example, in the PACS, if one of the partners dies, the other can't inherit. But, it's not just for the legal advantages that homosexuals want to get married; it is mostly because they want to be given the same consideration as straight couples.
The polygamist argument is not valid, because polygamy is totally different from same-sex marriage claims; there is no equality in a marriage involving three or more people. Equality is necessary in a union like marriage, so it would be impossible for polygamists to get married.
I agree with Marianne when she says that adopted children will not spend most of their time with people of the same gender. Thibault says that they will spend most of their time with their same-sex parents, which can be true during the first years, but then there is school, friends, other members of the family. I don't spend my entire time with my parents, I see other people. Children will, at a certain age, discover new things, new religions and ideas, make friends from different backgrounds and learn from this experience probably as much if not more than from his or her parents.
There are a lot of orphans and abandoned children in the world. Don't you think that it is also their right to have a loving family? And don't you think that they would not care if this family happened to be two men or two women?

Lucas is against…

First, I'd like to thank our friend for sharing her point of view. Does she know that, in the Netherlands, same-sex marriage has been allowed since April 2001 but that only one in five Dutch gay couples actually do get married? Gay couples just don't want to get married apparently!
Nobody doubts the capacity of homosexual couples to raise children. And nobody pretends that so-called traditional families are necessarily more competent to raise children. But adoption should be by a couple as close as possible to the biological parents of the child to be adopted. Legalizing adoption by same-sex couples would mean that gender differences do not matter. We have to study all this from the children’s point of view. But they seem to be rather absent from this debate… Gender difference is an essential element of a child’s psychological construction allowing him to build his identity. Gender difference is one of the first limits the child encounters: “if I'm a boy, I can't be a girl, and if I'm a girl, I can't be a boy”. Putting into questioning gender difference would make children live in a world where everything goes: women can be “dads” and men can be “moms”…
I particularly want to insist on the necessity for a child to have a mom and a dad. A study carried out by researchers from Oxford University on 192 families from two maternity hospitals in Great-Britain has shown that interactions between the baby and the father in his very first years reduces behavior problems afterwards. Other studies have already shown that these interactions are very beneficial for the child, because he will be more confident and enterprising in the presence of a stranger. Moreover, it's obvious that parents’ behavior towards their children is gendered: a mom doesn't raise her child the same way as a dad would. A woman has a more sensitive approach based more on learning, while a man acts as the driving force and he shows the child how to take risks.
The love between two people of the same sex and their desire to start a family are not sufficient reasons to legalize their union and the right to adoption. I agree with Thibaud when he says that marriage isn't intended to promote the right to have a child, but the rights of the child.

Amandine is for…

My dear Lucas, you don’t seem to be aware that people get married because they are in love! Not all gay couples want to get married (not all heterosexual couples either) but a lot of them are in love and will probably want to make their relationship official sooner or later. So why shouldn’t they be allowed to formalize things, just like heterosexual couples?

And, as you admitted, a gay couple could raise a child just as well as a heterosexual couple. What more can I say?!
Among young gays the suicide rate is particularly high, and one of the main reasons is the guilt they feel at not being able to feel part of a family. I think this is one more argument to allow same-sex parenting!

Concerning same-sex parenting and adoption, I agree with Laurie: we all know that a lot of children are orphans in different countries and they are just asking for love and affection. Do you think they prefer to stay alone, raised in terrifying conditions or wouldn’t they prefer to be loved by parents, even if they are of the same sex? I think the answer is clear for all of us, isn’t it? Moreover, a recent poll realized in August by the French Institute of Public Opinion (Ifop), has shown that 53% of the population support adoption by gay parents. So what are we waiting for?
Some people claim that an adopted child has a “right” to be welcomed into a “natural” family with a mom and a dad. However, it’s not a duty anymore. Parents, homosexual or heterosexual, have to be able to meet the needs of the child and to ensure his happiness. A child needs love and love has no gender! It is not because a child has been raised by a heterosexual couple that he will necessarily be happier than a child raised by a gay couple.
I also think that children living with a gay couple will be more open-minded about homosexuality than other children.
At last, I disagree with you, Lucas, when you say that a child needs a father and a mother to build his personality. Indeed, studies have shown that children raised by same-sex couples have no particular deficit and they do not show differences in development or psychological adjustment. And more importantly, they are not trying to imitate their parents as regards their sexuality.
Homosexuality is not transmitted by identification with the father or the mother. Otherwise, there would never be gays in heteronormative families…
People do not become homosexual; they simply are homosexual, which is sometimes as unsettling for them as for many of us. Depriving them of marriage and the possibility of adopting is a punishment they don’t deserve.

Victor is against...

You said that people get married because they are in love, and I agree, I don’t contest the fact that two homosexuals can be in love. But civil marriage concerns first and foremost the legal field and not just matters of the heart. Marriage is a legal framework providing as stable an environment as possible for the growth of the child. Moreover, if it were a simple question of love, marriage would be redundant; couples can be in love without having to be married.
Gay couples cannot raise a child as well as heterosexual couples because the adopted children of same-sex couples will lack self-confidence and the understanding of gender differences.

I find that anyone who is against giving homosexuals equal rights is denounced as a homophobic, which is wrong.
You said that children living with a gay couple will be more open-minded about homosexuality; it’s possible in some cases. But in many other cases children will be more close-minded because they will feel like the victims of their parents’ choice. Children will suffer from discrimination.


15 October 2012

Malala Yousufzai now fights for her own life... By Ilana Abergel

Read the CNN article!

Malala Yousafzai is a 15 year old girl from Pakistan from an area called the Swat Valley. On October 9th 2012, she was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by a group of men. These men belong to a group called the Taliban.

The Taliban are a group of men who ruled Afghanistan for five years until 2001. They imposed very strict rules especially for women who weren’t allowed to work outside their homes, had to be covered from head to toe in a veil when they were in public. Girls weren’t allowed to be educated. People had to respect these strict rules otherwise they were punished harshly.

In 2001, the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan and ended up in the Swat Valley, an area near the border of Pakistan. Since then, in Pakistan, hundreds of schools have been destroyed and school banned for girls.

Malala’s father is a teacher so she really wanted to study and therefore had to go to school secretly because of the Taliban. Unfortunately she had to stop. She wrote a diary and in 2009 she wrote a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym explaining her life under the Taliban.

A BBC reporter from Pakistan asked if any woman from Malala’s father’s school would write about life under the Taliban. First a girl called Aisha accepted but then her parents stopped her from doing it because they feared the Taliban too much. The only solution was Malala (she was only 11). Fortunately around May 2009, the Taliban were driven out of Swat Valley and life became more normal for Malala but also for everyone else. Girls were able to go back to school. Afterwards she became a big supporter of girls’ education and in August 2009 she appeared more often on television and mentioned her wish to become a politician. In 2011 she was given a peace award by the Pakistani government, which upset the Taliban. She started receiving threatening messages and in the summer 2012 the Taliban threatened to kill her…

Because of the attack on her last October she was sent to the United Kingdom for treatment. Malala received support from the public and celebrities like Madonna who dedicated a song to her.

I think Malala is very courageous and I hope she will continue to defend women’s rights. One day women will be given their rights in Pakistan because of people like her.