Question: What is the position of Objectivism in regards to children in gay marriages? How does one reconcile the duties of a father and a mother to their children into the duties of two mothers or two fathers? As only a father and mother can naturally create children, it seems that nature has built in a bias against homosexual relationships—nothing is produced (physically, i.e., a child, romantic life notwithstanding) by the union of two homosexuals. What ethical and moral issues are raised when, say, two gay women want children and use artificial techniques to become pregnant? Or two men request a surrogate birth? What responsibilities lie with the actual biological parents—the father, in the case of the two gay women, and the mother, in the case of two gay men?
Answer: As discussed by Will Thomas in his Q&A answer Parental Obligations, “By creating a dependent child, [parents] assume an obligation to see the child through to independence.” Independence is the level at which a human being can live by the use of his own mind and body. The question then becomes, Are gay parents able to accomplish this task, and are there any other special conditions of the obligation due to the unique nature of homosexual relationships?
My own cursory review of the relevant psychological research suggests there is no reason to believe that gay and lesbian couples are somehow inherently incompetent to raise children, or that their children will be at a disadvantage of any kind. For more on this subject, I recommend consulting the American Psychological Association’s summary
There are really two ways a gay couple could have children: first, by adoption, and second, by the means of artificial insemination or surrogate birth that you highlighted. In the first case, there is really no essential difference between whether a child is adopted by gay or straight parents. In the second case, a gay couple is analogous to a heterosexual couple that is unable to conceive and seeks assistance from willing donors. So while it is true, as you point out, that nature seems biased against homosexuals having children, the same principle applies to any infertile couple. Thanks to adoption, new technologies, and the availability of willing donors, these couples can have the opportunity to raise children where that was once impossible.
Obviously, children should only be given up for adoption with the consent of their biological parents (except for cases such as parental neglect or abuse). But I think it is quite clear that a child is much better off in the care of two loving parents than at an orphanage or moving from foster home to foster home. Among the potential new homes for a child, every attempt should be made to treat gay and straight couples equally, and to find the environment that will best love and nurture that child to self-sufficiency and adulthood.
As long as everyone participates voluntarily, there is nothing wrong with homosexual couples raising children.
You also asked what sorts of responsibilities lie with the biological donor. This depends on what sort of agreement he reaches with the couple in question. If a sperm donor or surrogate mother wants no part in raising their offspring, the adoptive parents should follow that condition and not expect or ask for support. Of course, this goes both ways. Individuals who donate their biological material to help other couples in conception should not expect to see or regain custody of the child (unless the couple agrees).
Out of respect for a child’s unique need for assistance and support in reaching independence, sperm donors and surrogate mothers should not provide their assistance to just any couple seeking assistance in conception. They should make sure the couple is both financially and mentally prepared for the task of child-rearing, and reach a clear agreement with the adoptive parents as to what their responsibilities will be and what will be expected of them in raising the child.
As far as Objectivism
in concerned then, as long as everyone participates voluntarily, there is nothing wrong with homosexual couples raising children either through adoption or with biological help from others. Like all parents, this couple must recognize and accept their obligation to raise this child to a productive and healthy adulthood. As far as I have seen, there is no scientific basis to conclude that gay couples are unfit for this responsibility.