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Marriage for same-sex couples -- and the right for all parents, regardless of their sexual orientation, to adopt or provide foster care -- is the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children, according to child health experts.
The stance is outlined in a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), published online March 21 and in the April print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
"Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage," policy statement co-author Dr. Benjamin Siegel said in an AAP news release.
"The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children," added Siegel, who is chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health.
Another policy statement co-author, Dr. Ellen Perrin, pointed out that the "AAP has long been an advocate for all children, and this updated policy reflects a natural progression in the academy's support for families."
Therefore, Perrin said in the news release, "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."
Studies have found that important factors that can affect children's development and mental health include parental stress, economic and social stability, community resources, discrimination, and exposure to "toxic stressors" at home or in the community. However, there is no evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between a child's well-being and the sexual orientation of their parents, the authors noted in the news release.
The AAP "supports pediatricians advocating for public policies that help all children and their parents, regardless of sexual orientation, build and maintain strong, stable and healthy families that are able to meet the needs of their children," according to the policy statement.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has more about same-sex parents and their children.