Email exchange between Dykstra and Rep. Maggart

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From: Sara Dykstra
Date: Feb 25, 2006 2:15 PM
Subject: Adoption and Foster Care Bill
To: rep.tommie.brown@legislature.state.tn.us

Dear Member of the TN House Committee on Children and Family Affairs-
 
I am writing to you in reference to the adoption and foster parent bills currently proposed in regard to parents who are homosexual. I am not gay myself, but I know a number of people who are.  They are brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, wives and even mothers and fathers.  Their lives are just as much a part of the human experience as someone who got the fortunate genes to be attracted to someone that is socially acceptable.  Creating legislation that would not allow them to adopt or be foster parents is unacceptable to be on a number of levels.
 
First, research shows that parents who are gay can provide the same safe, quality, enriching, loving parenting as those who are heterosexual.  Professional organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers recognize this and not only accept it but have pushed for policies and legislation that ALLOWS for parents who are gay to adopt and be foster parents.  Banning this is a blatant infringement of civil rights and is contrary to extensive research in the area.  There is NO evidence that children who grow up with gay parents have any distorted view of sexuality or grow up to be homosexual themselves.  Instead they grow up to be understanding, tolerant and accepting of people who are different than themselves.
 
Second, we have a crisis in our country in that we do not have enough loving, safe homes for the children who desperately need them.  The number one factor in a child’s development is a safe, loving home.  Limiting readily available homes by saying that people who are gay are unfit to have a child in their home is naive, and destructive to the development and livlihood of children in need.  I would never advocate putting a child in a home where that child’s safety could be harmed or where they would be exposed to inappropriate or abusive behavior.  However, being gay is not directly corrolated with those things.  
 
Please do what you can to stop these destructive and discriminatory bills.  The children who need safe, loving homes are depending on you to do so.
 
Thanks for your time,
 
Sara Dykstra
Master’s student in Special Education
Peabody College, Vanderbilt University


From: Debra Young Maggart  rep.debra.young.maggart@legislature.state.tn.us
Date: Feb 25, 2006 6:23 PM
Subject: RE: Adoption and Foster Care Bill
To: Sara Dykstra

Dear Ms. Dykstra:

Thank you for contacting me regarding this important issue that regarding  our children in our state’s care.  We have a  Same Sex Parenting Study committee in  place made up of members of the Committee on Children & Family Affairs which I am a member.  This past summer we met and heard testimony from researchers on both sides of this issue.  I am not convinced that just because our foster children desperately need loving homes that we should just place them in homes that are available when research also shows that most homosexual couples have numerous emotional  dysfunctions and  psychological  issues that may not be healthy for children.  Now, of course emotional dysfunction can be found in heterosexual couples homes, however, we as legislators are charged with the special responsibility to  care for these children who have already been taken from extremely dysfunctional and abnormal situations, (i.e., parents who suffer from  drug abuse and addiction ~these children have been neglected, and in some cases, abused and some have parents who have been incarcerated.) I don’t believe taking these children out of one precarious situation and putting them in homes where there is an abundance of evidence that homosexual couples do not make the optimum family unit.  We also have seen evidence that homosexual couples prey on young males and have in some instances adopted them in order to have unfretted access to subject them to a life of molestation and sexual abuse.  Some of the evidence we were presented showed that lesbian and gay couples have a higher rate of breaking up than heterosexual coupes as well as higher rates of promiscuity outside of their relationships.  Children in foster care have been taken out of extremely unstable environments and we should do everything we can to place them in the most stable situations as possible.

The  organized homosexual community in this country has worked very hard to promote the idea that their behavior is normal and should be accepted by society.  If you do not accept this propaganda, you are labeled as a bigot and guilty of discrimination.  For every study that finds that homosexuality is normal there is another study that proves otherwise.  Our task force studied some of the faulty premises in the American Academy of Pediatrics findings you may be referring and Chairman Brown has not called any meetings since we returned to session.

What a wonderful world we would live in if all mommies and daddies did the right thing and treated their children as the precious gifts they are from God.  But, we are all human and make mistakes. As a society we should do everything we can to teach and promote  personal responsibility so that every child in this state and nation grows up in a happy, healthy environment.

Again, Sara, thank you for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Debra


From: Sara Dykstra
Date: Feb 25, 2006 8:45 PM
Subject: Re: Adoption and Foster Care Bill
To: Debra Young Maggart  rep.debra.young.maggart@legislature.state.tn.us

Dear Congresswoman-

Thank you for writing back.  I appreciate your response.  I understand your dilemma and I appreciate your willingness to serve in public office. I agree with you that children should not be placed in homes where there is high level of emotional dysfunction.  However, just because one is homosexual does not mean they are emotionally dysfunctional.  You said there is a high level of emotional dysfunction with people are homosexual.  Well, there is a high level of emotional dysfunction in general.  These children are testimonies to that fact.  I would guess that the vast majority of families that these foster children come from have high levels of emotional dysfunction and I would also guess that very few have homosexual parents. If that is your logic than why not make a law that alcoholics or people with depression are not allowed to adopt or be foster parents.  Why don’t we need that?  Because those who are doing placements of children into those homes do screenings and decide on a case by case basis.  The same needs to be done for families who are headed by a homosexual, and not a blanket law that implies that no one who is born homosexual has a right to be a parent to a child who desperately needs a good home.  
 
As far as the fact that there is a high level of break ups, my understanding is that the law is for anyone who is homosexual regardless of their relationship status.  So the idea that there are more breakups really isn’t applicable with this law, since it would outlaw any person (regardless of relationship status) who is homosexual unable to foster parent or adopt.
 
An additional fear I have about this law is that people who are suspected of being homosexual (Ex. a 40 year old woman who’s never married) would be excluded from assisting children.  This is a frightening exclusion that will again leave children without solid loving families.
 
By not agreeing with the "gay agenda", you are indeed being discriminatory to a whole group of tax-paying law abiding citizens who have the same rights to raise children as any other tax-paying law abiding citizen.  
 
I have no idea, of course, what your experience is with gay families, but I ask you to take time to actually get to know people who are living their lives as gay and lesbian people in our country who are living happy healthy lives with their families, friends and children before you make this decision.
 
Thanks again for your time,

SARA


From: Sara Dykstra
Date: Feb 26, 2006 12:46 AM
Subject: Re: Adoption and Foster Care Bill
To: Debra Young Maggart  rep.debra.young.maggart@legislature.state.tn.us

Dear Congresswoman Maggart-

I have a few requests for you.  Could you please tell me who are the members of the "Same Sex Parenting Study committee" and the Committee on Children and Family Affairs?

Also, If you could direct me to the studies to which you referred I would be extremely grateful.  

Thanks again,

Sara Dykstra


From: Debra Young Maggart  rep.debra.young.maggart@legislature.state.tn.us
Date: Feb 26, 2006 2:15 PM
Subject: RE: Adoption and Foster Care Bill
To: Sara Dykstra

Dear Sara:

I would be happy to do so.  My list of representatives on the homosexual adoption study committee  is at my office at the Capitol.  Rep. Tommie Brown, Rep. Glen Casada, Rep. Beverly Marrero, Chair John Deberry & I are on the study committee and I know I left someone out.  The list of our main Children & Family Affairs committee may be found on the Tennessee General Assembly web site if you want to access it.

The studies presented so far were presented in person by the State Director, Hedy Weinburg of the ACLU and a representative from Focus on the Family.  Those documents are also at my office.  I have attended a few conferences on homosexuality and society separately from the legislature.

Our study committee has not yet completed its work to make a recommendation on this issue to the legislature.

Sincerely,

Debra