Slippery slopes and the queer parenting Armageddon: normalising and radical responses to arguments about the importance of maternal and paternal influences in childrearing.
Lesbian & Gay Psychology Review, 8 (1).
In this commentary, I respond to Sir Mark Potter’s assertions about the importance of marriage as an institution and of maternal and paternal influences in childrearing. These are well-worn justifications for the denial of lesbian and gay rights, particularly with regard to relationship and parenting rights. Such arguments are readily apparent in discourses surrounding, for instance, efforts in the US to define marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution, lesbian mother custody cases, and lesbians’ access to donor insemination and IVF. There have been two main types of response to such arguments in legal/policy and academic contexts and in everyday discussions of lesbian and gay families: first, attempts to prove that fears about the absence of male (or female) influence, and the implications of this absence, are misplaced, and second, radical deconstructions of the assumptions underpinning these arguments. I provide examples of both these types of response and weigh up some of their pros and cons. This commentary concludes by highlighting the ambivalent legal status of queer parenting.
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