Congressman Accused of Saying Gay Households Are Not Healthy Environments for Children to Grow Up In
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) visited a New Jersey high school and told students gay people shouldn't be allowed to adopt. Rep. Smith, a 19-term lawmaker first elected to the House of Representatives in 1980, also suggested orphanages are preferable for children than same-sex parents, as The Washington Blade first reported Wednesday.
During a recorded exchange with the high school students, Hannah Valdes, a senior at Colts Neck High School, can be heard telling Rep. Smith that her sister and her sister's partner are considering adoption. Smith begins his response by acknowledging that legally it's a "moot" issue, since the Supreme Court has ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry.
But Valdes in the audio (below), presses Smith, apparently based on remarks he had made earlier. He can be heard suggesting that different-sex couples should have priority over same-sex couples.
“I do believe that there are many others who would like to adopt who can acquire a child,” Smith tells the student. He adds, “the waiting periods are extremely long,” suggesting that same-sex parents would be taking children away from different-sex parents, forcing them to wait longer to adopt.
Another student then challenges Smith, asking what makes different-sex parents "more legitimate" than same-sex parents.
Smith, who holds an extremely anti-gay record, pivots at that points, admitting that he believes orphanages are better for children than same-sex parents.
"Well you know, in my opinion a child needs every possibility of –" he stops, then adds, "you mentioned, somebody mentioned orphanages before. I mean, orphanages are a possibility for some kids," he told the students.
The Blade spoke with Valdes, who says, “Rep. Smith responded by saying that he does not approve of gay adoption because gay households are not healthy environments for children to grow up in.”
“He then stated that ‘numerous household studies’ show that children that have heterosexual parents have better lives than children that have homosexual parents.”
Smith's claim is entirely false. No reputable study shows that children raised by different-sex parents do better as adults than children raised by same-sex parents. In fact, Cornell and Columbia Universities both have collected dozens upon dozens of studies that show there is no discernible difference.
Valdes also says that a school administrator cut the Q&A with Rep. Smith short after it was clear the students would try to ask him other questions about LGBT people. The audio was recorded in May.
“After I asked my question and challenged him, an administrator cut in to change the topic,” Valdes told the Blade. “Rep. Smith started to discuss a recent project he was working on, but the auditorium was already filled with tension, and most of the audience was already talking about what Rep. Smith had just said. More students began to raise their hands, and the administration quickly realized that their students would likely be asking more questions regarding LGBT rights. Instead of taking further questions, the assembly was promptly ended and all of us were sent back to class.”
Valdes, the Blade adds, "said Smith exhibited 'prejudice and homophobic views' that 'were offensive,' and the entire student body of Colts Neck High School was 'in shock that someone had come to our school with these opinions.'"
Over the years, Rep. Smith, who holds a more bipartisan record than most Republicans, has made clear the degree to which he opposes LGBT people.
In 2015 he made news by announcing that gay rights are not human rights.
"I do not construe homosexual rights as human rights," he said. At the time he was Chairman of a Republican House subcommittee on human rights.
Rep. Smith received $10,000 from the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council in the 2014 election cycle.
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