One of the favorite arguments of "marriage defenders" in opposing gay marriage is that they're doing it for the children – that each child needs a mom and a dad. This is a good example of a specious argument.
Specious: 'spee-shus; adjective; 1. Having deceptive attraction or allure. 2. Having a false look of truth or genuineness. (from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specious)
What gives this argument its gloss is the very real truth that every child needs positive, emotionally and physically close role models from both primary sexes, male and female.
What makes it specious is the idea that the only way to get them is in the heterosexual family – that only mom and dad can fill these roles.
In my own experience, I learned the role of woman very well from my mom, who is a devout Christian Scientist, who worked hard, had fun, laughed and loved us unconditionally. But even though I lived with my dad (family intact), I had to look elsewhere for positive male role models. I learned the role of man from people like my neighbor Ron Blake, who taught me woodworking in 4-H, and who gave me lessons in life specifically targeted at the holes my dad was leaving by example. And from Connie Hansen, and old rancher who leased us his ranch for a few years.
While statistically, children in broken families fare worse than those in intact families (duh), many exceptions abound on both sides – kids from intact families who are messed up, kids raised by single moms who turn out to be well-adjusted, high-achieving, independent adults. Many others are raised by a step-parent, some well, some not.
Kristin recently attended a lecture by a woman from Senegal. She was raised in a village where the children had free access to all the adults in the community, and all the adults shared in caring for the children regardless of whose child it was. She didn't realize that she had a single mother until she was twelve – and when she guessed who her real mother was, she guessed wrong. Yet this woman turned out to be very well adjusted, and is touring the US talking about parenting and sustainability.
In some cultures, the father has little to do with the child, and the uncle is the primary genetic male contact and role model the child has. And those kids, more or less, turn out all right.
Again and again, everywhere you look, you see extensive examples of two basic facts: the emotional and developmental damage done to children who don't have positive role models from both primary sexes, and people of both primary sexes who are not the parents providing positive, powerful role models for children who, either because of divorce or dysfunctional parents, don't have that role model supplied by their parent.
Which means that, for this argument at least, the real issue is not preventing gays from civil marriage or forcing biological parents to raise children together, but, how do we ensure that every child, regardless of the makeup of her family, has the positive role models she needs.