Warring with Wardle: Morality, Social Science, and Gay and Lesbian Parents
Carlos A. Ball & Janice Farrell Pea   |   1998 U. Ill. L. Rev.

In 1997, this journal published an article by Professor Lynn D. Wardle of Brigham Young University where he argued that gay and lesbian parents who are in ongoing homosexual relationships may be harming their children and that, as a result, there should be a codified rebuttable presumption that parenting by homosexuals who are in relationships is not in the best interests of children. In this article, Professor Carlos A. Ball and Ms. Janice Pea argue that normative critiques of gay and lesbian families, such as Professor Wardle's, are based on fundamental misconceptions of why thousands of gays and lesbians choose to have or adopt children. The authors explore the different reasons why heterosexual couples want children and conclude that the motivations of homosexual couples are not significantly different.

Professor Ball and Ms. Pea also conduct a point-by-point rebuttal of Professor Wardle's assessment of the social science literature that has studied families headed by gays and lesbians. The authors contend that the research does not support Professor Wardle's view that children raised by gays and lesbians are harmed by the sexual orientation of their parents. They also argue that there are practical, normative, and constitutional problems with Professor Wardle's proposed rebuttable presumption. It is the position of this article that gay and lesbian parents should be evaluated individually on the basis of their ability to be good parents instead of being assessed on assumptions based on their sexual orientation.

* Assistant Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law. B.A. 1986, Tufts University; J.D. 1990, Columbia University School of Law; LL.M. 1995, Cambridge University.

** Law Clerk to Justice Rita B. Garman, Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District. B.S. 1971, University of Illinois at Chicago; M.B.A. 1979, Case Western Reserve University; J.D. 1997, University of Illinois College of Law.