What if God, nature and thousands of year of human experience turn out to be wrong, and marriage between one man and one woman is not, in fact, the single best way to bring children into the world and raise them up to be healthy adults?
What if by next Father's Day, federal judges rule that children don't really need fathers -- or mothers, for that matter -- and that it is therefore a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment for states to stop lesbian and gay couples from adopting children and raising them exactly as if they were married couples?
This is what the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers are advocating.
Both groups have filed amicus briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit opposing Nebraska's state marriage amendment because it denies same-sex parents equal status under law to heterosexual married parents.
Nebraska's marriage amendment was approved by 70 percent of the state's voters six years ago. Last year, it was overturned by a federal district judge, who argued among other things that the law was unconstitutional because it prevented same-sex couples from seeking a statutory change by Nebraska's unicameral legislature that would allow them to adopt children.
The 8th Circuit is now reviewing Nebraska's marriage amendment, and it could end up in the Supreme Court. But, as arguments by the APA and NASW demonstrate, the battle is not ultimately about who gets to legally shack up with whom, it is about whether the distinct status of fatherhood and motherhood should be abolished in U.S. law. It is about how children will be raised.
The APA and NASW bluntly argue that children don't need both a mother and father.
"Over the last 20 years," says the NASW brief, "a considerable body of social science research has established that lesbian and gay parents have parenting skills that are at least equivalent to those of heterosexual parents."
"In addition," says the APA brief, "a growing number of same-sex couples are becoming parents through methods including donor-insemination (with either an anonymous or known donor), assistance of a surrogate mother and adoption. ... Indeed, the relevant scientific research has been remarkably consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are every bit as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents."