Thursday, March 11, 2010

“It’s OK, my father’s gay” – Rainbow Families in Germany

Roughly 7,300 children and youth in Germany live in households with two mothers or two fathers. As part of the first study on daily life in these rainbow families, 700 parents and children were surveyed from Germany’s same-sex domestic partnerships.

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Elke Hof has been living with her partner for 11 years. Five years ago they officially registered their domestic partnership. They live with their 13-year-old son Stefan who she brought into the relationship when he was two. Michael Lott and his partner Peter have a total of five children from previous heterosexual relationships. After meeting eight years ago they lived for several years with two of their sons. At this point all of the children have moved out of the house, but they all get together for family events – even Michael’s ex-wife comes with her new partner. Stephanie Gerlach and her partner have a seven-year-old daughter together. Gerlach, who even published her own book about children from rainbow families, was able to have her daughter thanks to a sperm donation from a good friend.

“Homosexuals are not worse parents”

According to the study, the overwhelming majority of rainbow families (93 percent) have two mothers. As with the family of Hofs and Gerlachs, most of the families only have one child – who gets comparatively copious amounts of love and attention. “Homosexual couples are not worse parents. Children develop with two mothers or two fathers just as well as they do in other family configurations,” is how Federal Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries sums up the study commissioned by her office. Led by Dr. Marina Rupp from the State Institute for Family Research at the University of Bamberg, the study also revealed that duties such as gainful employment, housework and child rearing are more equally shared in same-sex partnerships than in heterosexual ones.

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