Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Despite claims, children of same-sex parents doing no worse than other children

By Erica Zaiser

In Mexico the Supreme Court just decided to uphold gay adoption despite some arguments that children of gay parents are at risk of increased discrimination. Meanwhile, Australian senate hopeful, Wendy Francis, stated on her Twitter account that children of gay parents suffer from emotional abuse. She argues that gay parents deprive their children from having either a mother or a father and that this is tantamount to abuse. She isn’t the first politician to try to argue that homosexual couples should not be allowed to have children because non-straight parents can’t be as good as straight parents. However, there is little evidence to back up claims that children of gay parents are deprived or less well-adjusted than children from straight couples. In fact there is ample research showing just the opposite.

Beyond the research that has shown that gay and lesbian relationships are no less stable than heterosexual relationships, there is also research showing that the benefits children receive by being raised by two parents of opposite genders are the same for children of two same-sex parents. In fact if there are any differences, many researchers are now finding that gay parents might have even more well-adjusted children than some straight couples (especially when two women are raising a child). Very recent work looking at adopted children of gay couples versus adopted children of heterosexual couples finds that when examining their development and behaviour, children of gay couples do just as well. All this research supports what seems entirely obvious to me: children from two loving parents of any gender will probably turn out better than children of parents who don’t want them or can’t handle them. It does seem reasonable that on average children of gay couples would be even more well-adjusted than many other children because usually the choice to have children for a same-sex couple is very conscious and particularly, when adoption is involved, can require a great deal of time and resources. So, two parents who work so hard to have a child can’t possibly be worse than two parents who don’t really want a child in the first place but happen to fill the 1:1 male female quota that makes up a traditional “family.”

Guns and aggression

By, Adam K. Fetterman
A Supreme Court decision once again sparks debate of gun control. The Court decided that citizens have the right to keep guns in all states and cities in the United States challenging some strict gun bans, like those in the Chicago area, according to the Associated Press. Guns are one of the hot-button issues that always seem to lead to great division. Some proponents argue that it is their right to own and carry guns and therefore, want to exercise that right, while others proclaim they want guns for fear of victimization. Opponents of guns argue that guns cause more harm than good and sometimes fear the people that want guns for protection.

While there are some anecdotal instances when citizens carrying guns have resulted in positive outcomes, these are quite rare. However, there has been research on the negative effects of guns. For example, Klinesmith, Kasser, and McAndrew (2006) found that interacting with guns led to increases in testosterone and aggressive behavior in males. While the aggressive behavior in the experiment, adding hot-sauce to a cup of water, is not all that reflective of real-world aggression, the effects show some increase in the willingness to harm others. There are probably not many people that would promote getting rid of guns altogether, however, some questions need to be further researched. For instance, should states and cities be able to ban guns if the area is deemed particularly aggressive? What type of people cause a threat to safety if they have access to guns? And on the other side, what are the benefits to the presence of guns?

Justices extend gun owner rights nationwide, by Mark Sherman – Associated Press

Klinesmith et al. (2006). Guns, Testosterone, and Aggression: An Experimental Test of a Mediational Hypothesis. Psychological Science, 17, 568-571.

Retribution or rehabilitation?

supremecourtThe Supreme Court on Monday began hearing arguments on two cases involving life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders. In Graham v. Florida, Terrance Graham pled guilty to burglary and assault or battery. He was sentenced to probation, but then at the age of 17, he was arrested for home-invasion robbery and eluding police. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for violating probation.

The upcoming decision has implications for social psychology because of presumptions about the impact of prison on rehabilitation, as well as the potential distinction between young (highly transformable) and older minds.  

While the Court seems to be leaning toward allowing for a legal distinction between adults and juveniles in sentencing guidelines, Justice Scalia expressed early dissent, suggesting that sentencing is not only for deterrence: “One of the purposes is retribution, punishment for just perfectly horrible actions.”

But the judge who sentenced Mr. Graham did not seem to have retribution in mind when he told the boy, “I don’t understand why you would be given such a great opportunity to do something with your life and why you would throw it away … if I can’t do anything to get you back on the right path, then I have to start focusing on the community and trying to protect the community from your actions.”

The New York Times published an editorial expressing disapproval of such strict sentences for children. While Roberts and Gebotys (2006) found that “the public is more concerned with the principle of just deserts than with the utilitarian sentencing aims,” there is little support for sentencing a child for life. In fact, Scott, Reppucci, Antonishak and DeGennaro (2006) found that adults in their study believe there is a significant and consequential difference between juveniles and adults, and that sentences should reflect that difference.