This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Families Continue to Diversify

Pew Research reports that public support for gay marriage has increased quickly over the past few years, with nearly half of respondents (48%) favoring it, while 44% are opposed and the remainder are undecided. This is a huge leap forward from just 2004 when the ratio was 31/60. This is a phenomenon that is closely linked to birth cohorts. Among people born in 1945 or earlier, only 33% favor gay marriage, whereas among those born since 1980, 63% are in favor, with in-between cohorts being in-between in their approval.

The next logical step is children within gay marriage and acceptance of this is also on the rise, as noted by a story in today's New York Times. Lesbian couples have always had an easier time having children than gay males couples, who obviously have to go the adoption route, but male couples are now actually facing some pressure from friends and family members to think about building a family.

Popular culture is helping rewrite that script. Gay men who have children, or are considering having children, are becoming increasingly visible on network television. In “Modern Family,” the nation’s most popular television show, the couple Mitchell and Cameron considered adopting a second child this past season. In “Scandal,” a new ABC series, a middle-aged White House staff member groused about his partner’s desire to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. And this fall, a new NBC sitcom called “The New Normal” will feature a gay couple and their surrogate.
The shift is also reflected in census data. Between 2000 and 2010, among same-sex couples raising children, the percentage of couples with adopted children increased to 20 percent from 9 percent, according to an analysis by Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. (Most same-sex couples with adopted children are lesbians, but gay men make up a growing share, accounting for nearly a third of such couples in 2010, up from a fifth in 2000.)
“The definition of family is unquestionably evolving,” Dr. Gates said.
But as Gates also notes, this doesn't mean that these changes are going to be universally accepted without a fight from those who are deeply opposed to homosexuality in general, starting with people in states like Utah and Mississippi, where it is illegal for gay couples to adopt children.

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