Australian researchers have been conducting the world's largest study of how children from same-sex couples stack up against those from heterosexual parents. The findings so far? These boys and girls are doing fine—better than fine, in fact. According to the preliminary report from The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, boys and girls with two moms (or dads) have tighter families than those raised in traditional homes. (Most kids in the study are being raised by two women: Out of the 315 gay, lesbian, and bisexual parents participating in the research, 80 percent were female.)
The research, which involves 500 kids from across Australia, is still underway, but an initial report says same-sex couples' kids have no measurable differences in key areas like self-esteem or emotional health versus their peers. In fact, they've even got an advantage: Their families get along more than conventional ones generally do. According to the study's lead author, Dr. Simon Crouch from Melbourne University, it may have to do with the bonding that occurs as these household cope with bullying and homophobia. As parents and kids sympathize and talk things through, forming coping strategies, it could increase their overall communication with each other, and by extension their closeness too.
Could these key findings ultimately affect the country's attitudes towards same-sex unions? It remains to be seen. Last fall, the Australian Senate voted down marriage equality, and the issue won't be addressed again until afte the country's general election, scheduled for this coming September. Recently the country's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, changed his previous opposition to marriage equality, explaining that he'd previously been concerned about how the kids of such unions would fare. Armed with new science, advocates may be more effective in swaying other lawmakers as well the next time equal marriage is put up to a vote.