Now children's doctors say it's time for same-sex marriage to be the law of the land.
For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a policy statement Thursday that it favors "civil marriage for same-gender couples — as well as full adoption and foster care rights for parents regardless of their sexual orientation ...."
The leading group of doctors serving kids said the policy is best for them. "Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage," said a statement from Dr. Benjamin Siegel, chair of the group's committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health, and a co-author of the policy pronouncement.
Previously, the pediatricians had supported "second-parent adoption" as a method for partners of the same sex to safeguard children's relationships with both parents and to assure eligibility for health benefits and financial security.
The new policy statement, citing 2010 census data, estimates that same-gender couples are raising about 115,000 children in the U.S. and that these families can be found in just about every county in every state across the country.
The group said the policy is supported by decades of research. "Many studies have demonstrated that children's well-being is affected much more by their relationships with their parents, their parents' sense of competence and security, and the presence of social and economic support for the family than by the gender or the sexual orientation of their parents," says the technical report accompanying the policy change.
Some say the evidence isn't clear enough. "National policy should be informed by nationally representative data," Louisiana State University's Loren Marks, told The New York Times. "We are moving in the direction of higher-quality national data, but it's slow."
But the group of pediatricians argued that the benefits of the policy change could be significant and that now is the time to act. "If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it's in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so," said Dr. Ellen Perrin, a Tufts Medical Center pediatrician and co-author of the policy statement and technical report.