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Same-Sex Marriage:Good for Kids?

As Maryland's highest court prepares to hear a same-sex marriage case on Monday, a group of psychologists, social workers and child welfare advocates spoke out yesterday in support of families headed by gays and lesbians.

At a news conference in Baltimore, the professionals highlighted an extensive body of scientific research supporting the idea that children raised by lesbian and gay couples develop as well as children raised by heterosexual couples.

They stressed their belief however, that the children of gay and lesbian couples would enjoy additional benefits if their parents were allowed to marry.

Laws that limit marriage to heterosexual couples, "provide a state-sanctioned stigma against children and families," said Ruth Fassinger, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland.

Extending marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples would offer societal supports their families now lack, said Daphne McClelland, executive director of the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

"We know its best for children if their parents have a legal connection," McClelland said.

There are more than 15,000 same sex couples in the state of Maryland and between one quarter and one third are raising children, according to Susan Leviton, founder of the Baltimore-based Advocates for Children and Youth. Couples who are not allowed to marry face barriers such as getting insurance coverage for their families.

In January, a Baltimore Circuit judge ruled in favor of the gay and lesbian plaintiffs, finding that a 33-year old state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman was discriminatory and could not withstand a constitutional challenge. The case was appealed to the state's highest court.

Mary Otto

By Phyllis Jordan  |  December 1, 2006; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Same-Sex Marriage  
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