A new study shows that for some 30% of Americans, pets can be considered family. But not so much for gay partners.
According to the AP, sociologist Brian Powell and his team surveyed 2,300 Americans for the book Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definition of Family, released today. When asked what groups of people constitute a "family," 80% of respondents counted unmarried straight couples with kids — however, only 68% extended the "family" definition to gay couples with children. And while 40% said unmarried straight couples without kids could still be a family, only around a third said the same for childless gay couples. Perhaps most upsettingly of all, 30% of respondents said pets count as family, but gay couples don't.
There's some hopeful news — the percentage of people who count gay couples with kids as family has grown from 54% in 2003, which Powell attributed in part to 10% rise since then in the number of people who say they have a gay friend or relative. Still, says Powell, "The sheer idea that gay couples are given less status than pets should give us pause." Glenn Stanton, director of something called "family formation studies" for Focus on the Family, counters,
We're moving in this headlong direction toward same-sex families without any intelligent discussion about whether it's actually good for the children and the adults. This whole issue has boiled down to, 'Are you a bigot or not?'
But if you're treating a life partner and possibly co-parent as less important than, say, a Pekingese, "bigot" seems like one of the nicer words for you.