Counted OutA family includes same-sex couples with children, as well as married gay and lesbian couples.

That’s the belief of “a majority of Americans” who now include the above in their definition of family, according to a study by Brian Powell, a sociology professor at Indiana University, Bloomington.

The New York Times has a piece this morning about the study and Powell’s new book, Counted Out: Same-sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family. The book’s conclusion, as stated by the NYT, is that “Framing the equality of same-sex couples in terms of ‘the best interests of the child’ might prove to be a more successful political argument than others.” I’ve long argued the same.

Indeed, the article also quoted David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values and witness for the defense in the Prop 8 case, who told the paper, “I like the standard definition of family: two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption.” Interesting that he didn’t use the “one man-one woman” definition. Combine this with his statement during the Prop 8 trial that “I believe that adopting same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children,” and it’s no wonder the ultra-right is finding it harder and harder to come up with witnesses to support their positions. Even their “experts” seem to be moving towards equality.

More troubling (although believable) is Powell’s finding that “most Americans do not consider unmarried cohabiting couples, either heterosexual or same-sex, to be a family—unless they have children.” While that may also be a reason to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it seems unfair to exclude couples who do not, for whatever reason, wed or have kids. My opinion? A family should be defined by those who are in it.

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