Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who is a Family?

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a new study tracking American attitudes toward "family:"
As much as Americans revere the family, they differ sharply on how to define it.

New research being released Wednesday shows steadily increasing recognition of unmarried couples — gay and straight — as families. But there's a solid core resisting this trend who are more willing to include pets in their definition than same-sex partners.

How "family" is defined is a crucial question on many levels. Beyond the debate over same-sex marriage, it affects income tax filings, adoption and foster care practices, employee benefits, inheritance rights and countless other matters.

The new research on the topic is contained in a book-length study, "Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definition of Family" and in a separate 2010 survey overseen by the book's lead author, Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell.

Between 2003 and 2010, three surveys conducted by Powell's team showed a significant shift toward counting same-sex couples with children as family — from 54 percent of respondents in 2003 to 68 percent in 2010. In all, more than 2,300 people were surveyed.

Powell linked the changing attitudes to a 10 percent rise between 2003 and 2010 in the share of survey respondents who reported having a gay friend or relative.
OK, I admit it, I'm not a huge pet person.  Sure, growing up I loved my cat, Smoky, enough to run away and take her with me when I thought my parents' grumbling about some Smoky infraction meant they were really going to give her away (I didn't get very far, but what do you expect of an eight-year-old with really inadequate planning skills?!).  But I cringe with every post on APC where a waiting parent lists their "furbabies" in their description of their family. And I'm shocked that this study shows that "there's a solid core . . . who are more willing to include pets in their definition than same-sex partners."  Sheesh.  Can we get some perspective, please?! A gay couple raising two children isn't a family, but an old lady with a houseful of cats is?!


Von said...

Life is full of people with some predjudice or another.Dont' suppose they've even considered the cross-gender people and other groups who probably ahven't even featured on their radar yet.Sad.

Mahmee said...

Whatever! A family is a family. Gender, race, religion, blah, blah, blah...who cares?
This kind of stuff really pushes my buttons.
I have a relative in a same-sex committed relationship. She and her partner have a 1 year old son who was born via donor sperm. Her family refuses to even acknowledge that her partner is a parent.
They consider the child has only one parent.
It is so messed up the way our country is currently stating what makes up a's frightening. And well, disappointing, disgusting, etc.
A family is a a family. None of that other crap should matter one iota!