March 14, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
NOM chief responds to ‘second-best option’ remarks
Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage, gay news, gay politics dc

NOM President Brian Brown on Thursday responded to the view that adoption is the “second-best option” for children (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The president of the National Organization for Marriage on Thursday maintained children do better when raised by biological parents when asked to affirm whether he believes U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to adopt children was the “second-best option” for them — a view articulated by his organization’s board chair.

“Well, the reality is that on any indicator we’ve been able to measure since the explosion and the break down of the family from the 60s to the present is that children do best with both their mother and father,” NOM President Brian Brown said. “Obviously, we need to encourage adoption, we need do everything we can to help single motherhood.”

Brown was asked the question by the Washington Blade during the question-and-answer session at a panel at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor.

While promoting the idea of children being raised by biological parents, he also said he encourages adoption.

Brown later drew a distinction between adopted children being raised by opposite-sex parents or a single parent and same-sex marriage.

“It’s entirely different when you put into the law the notion that either mothers or fathers are completely expendable,” Brown said. “And that, at it’s nature, is what same-sex marriage is all about: two moms or two dads are essentially the same as a mother and a father. That is not the case. Children have rights, too. Children have a right to have a chance to have both a mother and a father.”

The Blade’s question to Brown was whether he shares the views expressed by NOM Board Chair John Eastman in an Associated Press report that Roberts’ decision to adopt children was the “second-best option” for them as opposed to being raised by their biological parents.

After his initial response, the Blade asked Brown to clarify whether he shares the views articulated by Eastman with a “yes” or “no” answer. Brown replied, “I just answered you.”

After the question was asked, panel moderator Cleta Mitchell, a conservative activist who’s on the board of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, expressed displeasure, saying the panel was about the bullying of conservatives and not marriage.

Mitchell then asked whether the Blade has a practice of outing people who are gay and whether such practice should be considered bullying. This reported replied, “It depends on the circumstances.” Mitchell retorted, ”I think that’s bullying.”

“Can we go to the next question?” Mitchell said later. “Let’s go the next question. I’m going to be the bully here.”

Mitchell was among the conservative activists who called for the gay conservative group GOProud to be expelled from CPAC.

It was banned in 2011 and hasn’t been allowed back since.

Eastman’s quote is particularly noteworthy because Roberts, who has adopted two children with his wife, is one of nine justices on the Supreme Court who will be deciding the issue of same-sex marriage as part of litigation challenging California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

NOM, among other anti-gay groups, is urging the court to uphold the measures.

“You’re looking at what is the best course society-wide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases,” Eastman was quoted as saying. “That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts’ family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option.”

As noted in a statement by the Human Rights Campaign, Eastman’s comments are in opposition to testimony during the 2010 trial for the Prop 8 case from David Blakenhorn, who was an expert witness on the Prop 8 side.

Blakenhorn, who has since come out in favor of marriage equality, admitted that certain studies show children may do better when raised by adoptive parents or biological parents.

“The studies show that adoptive parents, because of the rigorous screening process that they undertake before becoming adoptive parents, actually on some outcomes outstrip the biological parents in terms of providing protective care for their children,” Blakenhorn said.

Michael Lamb, the head of the Social and Developmental Psychology Department at the University of Cambridge, also rejected in trial testimony that adoptive parents are less capable than biological parents.

“Those studies showed that children are just as likely to be well adjusted as children who are being raised by their biological parents,” Lamb said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

15 Comments
  • “The bullying of conservatives” Since when? Clearly the conservatives are out to prevent anyone not the same as them equal protection under the law. Bullying? I think not.

  • This man looks as gay as can be.

  • Cleta Deatherage Mitchell's attitude may be informed by the fact that her first husband, Duane Draper, was gay and died of AIDS after they divorced.

  • Children do best when raised in loving families. Sexual orientation does not matter one bit. NOM is just a closeted hate group intent on depriving Gay people of all rights and all recognition. They and their brethren have tried to pass laws making being Gay illegal, and have done nearly nothing to prevent divorce or strengthen Marriage.

  • I dunno, seems like specifically excluding GOProud from CPAC constitutes bullying to me…but not by liberals!

  • I no longer have the energy to point out this man's lies and misinformation…let's just agree that he never has anything of worth or charitable to contribute to the discussion…he states the status quo of family make-up as it exists and then denies allowing it…he continues to quote non-existent studies and refers to earlier bogus comments as valid…the end…

    • I think I did just fine growing up. I had awesome parents and they weren't biological. I was adopted as an infant. Good parents are parents that love their children with all their heart and care for them in the childs best interest. Race, colour, creed, sexual orientation etc does not account for a good parent. LOVE does.

  • David in Houston

    Children do *not* have a right to a mother and father. Otherwise, divorce would be banned, giving your children up for adoption would be banned, single-parent families would be banned. I have yet to hear a speech from Brian Brown condemning (straight) single-parents on how they are depriving their children of the *other* parent. It’s abundantly clear that NOM is simply using children as a means to demonize gay people.

    This is aside from the fact that procreation has NEVER been a requirement nor an obligation in order to get married.

  • What he stated could be summed up with: Derp dee derp dee derpity derp.

  • Research has shown that the more siblings a child has, the less successful they are likely to be in academic performance and other areas. Brian Brown has eight children – eight! He and his wife must divide their parenting resources up into eight tiny pieces. Factor in the the amount of time the extensive travel required by Brown’s anti-gay lobbying keeps him away from home and you realize that each child is getting a fraction of the parental attention he or she needs. So I’d ask Brian – what fraction of a child’s biological mother and father’s resources does he have a “right to”? Is it 1/8, 1/12, less? Is Brian actually going to stand there and suggest that a child who competes for 10% of her parents’ attention and resources is better off than her peer who gets 50 or 100% simply because her parents are straight and her peer’s are gay?

  • "Children have a right to have a chance to have both a mother and a father.” No, they don't. But they do have the right to be loved by a same-sex couple who want them, even if you don't like it. That's the right these children have –

  • If talk about same-sex marriage goes away, fat boy will need to find a real job.

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