(PRWEB) March 27, 2013
The national narrative on the impact that gay parents have on their children is different from the fact-based evidence courts use, as demonstrated in the Tuesday, March 26, arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.
How to blend the topical discussions most people have with the fact-laden decisions courts make is being examined by Professor Anthony Niedwiecki of Chicago’s John Marshall Law School.
Niedwiecki, director of John Marshall’s respected Lawyering Skills Program and a gay activist, has been examining the issue for an upcoming article titled “Save Our Children: Overcoming the Narrative that Gay People Harm Children.” He found the bias against gay couples dates to the early 1970s.
Storytelling is a form of communication, Niedwiecki explained, and people tend to view the world around them as a series of ongoing narratives. The narrative that gay people harm children started more than three decades ago during a time when gay people weren’t generally visible in society. The views of some—like anti-gay activist Anita Bryant—that gays and gay-rights laws would endanger children, remained unchallenged. And that narrative was useful in promoting anti-gay ballot initiatives, in part because few people had knowledge of gay couples or gay parents.
But as gays became more visible in society, the narrative began to falter, Niedwiecki said. People had their own positive experiences with gay friends and relatives that disproved the storyline that gay people harm children.
And as gay rights issues entered the legal system, a more fact-based view of the issue has emerged. Judges in several cases have noted sexual orientation doesn’t impact parenting abilities.
But the questions raised Tuesday in the Supreme Court hearing on California’s Proposition 8 case brought to light the disconnect. In Justice Antonin Scalia’s questioning, he was looking for data on the relationships of same-sex couples and the children they raise.
“The impact on children is still part of the debate, as seen by some of the questions by the Court in the Prop 8 case,” Niedwiecki said. “Justice Scalia was worried that we don't have enough information about the impact same-sex marriage has on children.”
By contrast, he said, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s questions from the bench “turned the harm to children issue around. He focused on how Prop. 8 harms children raised by same-sex couples” because the couples cannot have a marriage recognized by the state.
About The John Marshall Law School
The John Marshall Law School, founded in 1899, is an independent law school located in the heart of Chicago’s legal, financial and commercial districts. Through classes, clinics and special programs, students develop the strategic, analytical and transactional lawyering skills that are so valuable to employers. Its excellent curriculum, coupled with outstanding skills and experiential learning, help make John Marshall graduates practice-ready from day one. For practicing attorneys, John Marshall offers nine LLM degrees, more than any other law school in the Midwest. John Marshall is also a leader in providing distance education options in intellectual property, estate planning and employee benefits at the advanced graduate degree level. John Marshall offers six clinical experiences, including the nationally recognized Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic and the Fair Housing Legal Clinic. U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Graduate Schools 2014 edition ranks John Marshall’s Lawyering Skills Program second and its Intellectual Property Law program 12th in the nation.