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American Academy of Pediatrics backs gay marriage

On Thursday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most influential U.S. pediatrician's group, endorsed gay marriage, saying a stable relationship between parents regardless of sexual orientation contributes to a child's health and well-being. (AP Photo)

The nation’s most influential pediatrician’s group says gays should be allowed to marry to help ensure the health and well-being of their children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ new policy, published online Thursday, cites research showing that the parents’ sexual orientation has no effect on a child’s development. Kids fare just as well in gay or straight families when they are nurturing and financially and emotionally stable, the academy says.

KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross said, sarcastically, this new study will surely change the minds of all doubters.

Co-host Luke Burbank referenced a study that was released earlier this week: ABC News – Washington Post found 81 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 now support gay marriage. Fifty-eight percent of Americans support gay marriage.

“That is a tidal wave,” Burbank said. “That’s something that is very, very hard to argue is going to change or go away in the coming years.”

Ross believes these studies are all coming out because the Supreme Court is getting ready to issue its decision on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 case.

“We wanted that policy statement available for the justices to review,” said Dr. Thomas McInerney, the academy’s president and a pediatrician in Rochester, N.Y.

The pediatricians’ gay marriage stance is not surprising. They previously joined other national groups including the American Medical Association in supporting one of the Supreme Court cases, which contends the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The academy also previously supported adoption by gay parents.

Dr. Ben Siegel, a Boston pediatrician and chairman of the committee that developed the new policy, said its focus is on “nurturing children. We want what’s best for children.”

The academy believes that a two-parent marriage is best equipped to provide that kind of environment. Their policy says that if a child has two gay parents who choose to marry, “it is in the best interests of their children that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so.”

The policy cites reports indicating that almost 2 million U.S. children are being raised by gay parents, many of them in states that don’t allow gays to marry.

The academy has a history of taking a stand on politically touchy issues. It has discouraged families with children from having guns in their homes and urged pediatricians to give teens advance prescriptions for emergency birth control.

Burbank is optimistic about the academy’s announcement and the latest studies that indicate a change in the country’s attitude toward same sex couples.

He’s convinced that simply knowing or becoming friends with someone who is gay can drastically change one’s opinion.

“I do really think that a lot of the people who are dead set against what I consider to be equal rights for gay Americans, their lives, for whatever reason, are constructed in such a way or have evolved into such a thing that they don’t really meet a lot of people who are gay,” Burbank said.

“Knowing someone who’s gay makes it really hard to assume that gay people are somehow abhorrent,” said Luke, using his prejudice of Mercer Island residents, until he met Dave, as an example of life-changing events.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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