A 31-year old woman who was raised by her mother and her mother's same sex partner has caused a stir in the conversation around marriage equality by publishing a recent essay speaking out against gay marriage. While she claims same sex marriages are harmful for children, her own unresolved daddy issues appear to be coloring her opinion in the matter.
Heather Barwick is a married mother of four from South Carolina. She was born to a heterosexual couple, but her parents divorced when she was three. Barwick's father, who, in her own words,"wasn't a great guy," did not continue a relationship with her after her parents' divorce. Barwick was raised by her mother and her mother's same sex partner. Despite the fact that Barwick admits her mother's partner treated Barwick like her own child, and the fact that Barwick was formerly an advocate for gay marriage, Barwick has had a change of heart. In an essay for The Federalist titled: Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting, Barwick claims that same sex marriages are harmful to the children being raised within them.
From The Federalist:
Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.
If Barwick took a step back, maybe she could see that her issue isn't with gay marriage, it's with absentee parents. Her statements about another mother not being able to replace the father she lost are misguided, as they have nothing to do with the fact that she was raised by two women. Any child who is raised by a step-parent or adoptive parent, same sex or not, instead of their biological parent is "missing out" on the biological parental relationship. Recent census analysis shows that as of 2013, 15% of children in the United States are living with parents who are in a remarriage, meaning there are plenty of children that fall into the same category as Barwick. Denying same sex couples the right to get married won't change that statistic. She goes on to say:
We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father.
Actually, recent studies indicate that Barwick's claims couldn't be further from the truth. A 2014 study produced by researchers at the University of Australia and published in the BMC Journal of Public Health suggests that children of same sex couples are doing better than children in the general population in both physical health and social well-being.
According to Yahoo Parenting, Barwick has recently written for the conservative publication World and has signed a letter supporting Dolce & Gabbana after their statements condemning IVF this past weekend. Conservatives are surely knocking down Barwick's door right now to shake her hand, or at the very least sending her gigantic fruit baskets. But while Barkwick is entitled to her feelings, the idea that by denying same sex couples equal rights children would be better off is wrong.
Even if Barwick's wish came true and gay marriage were made illegal in the United States (in which case, I am so moving to Canada), her underlying concerns about children being raised by same sex couples remain. The right for same sex couples to cohabitate and have privacy in regard to their sexual acts has existed since Lawrence vs.Texas was decided in 2005. While the ability of same sex couples to adopt together varies state to state, same sex couples (and plenty of hetrosexual couples) still can and do raise children outside of a marriage.
Unless you are going to simultaneously make it a legal obligation that all heterosexual couples who have a child must also get married, remain happy, be invested, loving parents and never divorce, denying same sex couples the right to get married doesn't address Barwick's concerns about preserving biological relationships. Here's hoping next time Barwick shares her thoughts with a therapist instead of spreading more hate in the world. Or better yet, maybe she should reach out to her dad.
(image: Lucian Milasan/Shutterstock.com)