Pete and Chasten Buttigieg have chosen life.
In case you missed the happy announcement, the Transportation Secretary and her husband have become the proud dads of adorable twins. Breaking the news over the holiday weekend, the couple said they were “delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family,” with Joseph named in honor of the secretary’s late father.
It’s a heartwarming statement, and, as a nationwide debate rages on abortion and women’s reproductive choices, you’d think the right would tout the Buttigieges as an example of adoption being the best option.
You thought badly. Conservatives on the internet have gone apoplectic, reminding Pete, Chasten, and the rest of us that when they say “adoption is an option,” they don’t mean gay adoption. Rather, they only refer to those who fit their own narrow definition of what a family is or should be. In denigrating the Buttigieges, however, the Right shows its true face – and it’s ugly enough to scare a baby. Clearly, anti-choice policies are not about saving babies, but about controlling women’s reproductive work and reinforcing heteronormative concepts about who and what a family wants to do.
It’s annoying to have to rehash this, because the data is conclusive and has been for decades, but here we are. To study after to study shows that children raised by same-sex parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual couples. As an example, a 2010 study reported by the American Psychological Association found that “children adopted from lesbian and gay families are as well adjusted as children adopted by heterosexual parents and follow similar patterns of gender development.” In 2014, researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia found that children raised by same-sex couples are even “happier and healthier” than those raised by heterosexual couples. Research by European economists in 2019 found that children raised by same-sex couples do better in school also.
Obviously, collectively, gay parents are doing something right. Yet the contempt with which many so-called “pro-life” activists have reacted to the announcement that the biological mother of these children and the two men who will become their fathers “have chosen life” is shocking. “Where are the mothers? My heart goes out to these infants, ”said Lila Rose, an anti-choice activist and right-wing commentator. tweeted to the secretary in response to his announcement. Liberty Hangout, which bills itself as “the official home of Kaitlin Bennett,” another right-wing commentator, tweeted that “Pete Buttigieg had no children. He stole them from a mother who did.
Meanwhile, right-wing gadfly Michael Knowles published a homophobic screed to Daily thread bellowing that “a child has the right to a mother” and regretting the days of yesteryear when “Pete Buttigieg’s gender identity would have thwarted his natural desire to have a child.” Oddly, Knowles baselessly speculates that the Buttigieges may have used an egg donor and surrogate rather than adopting. Granted, there are legitimate critiques of commercial surrogacy exploiting female bodies, but they don’t apply here. Each report mentions the adopted Buttigieges. Pete and Chasten themselves have been open about their struggles for adoption. “It’s a really weird cycle of anger and frustration and hope,” Chasten said. said to Washington post in July.
Disguising this as a concern for women and children, as Knowles and Rose try to do, is as insulting as it is misleading. That they resort to innuendo and guesswork – all without merit – betrays their game. Knowles, Rose and the rest of the right-wing critics are not motivated by the concern that children will be adopted into a loving home. and stable, but out of animosity towards homosexuals and a world in which alternative family structures to the nuclear heteropatriarchal family is more and more accepted.
This is particularly shocking given the current national abortion debate in light of Texas’ new law granting a premium to pregnant women. Many anti-choice activists, including Rose, defend adoption on abortion and speak as if they were doing it out of concern for mothers and pregnant women. However, they don’t want to pay for an expanded welfare state that could help struggling mothers in poverty. They don’t want to pay for a better reception system. And, as their reaction to the announcement of baby Buttigieg shows, they don’t want gay people to adopt either.
After all, Pete and Chasten seem to have done exactly what anti-choice supporters claim to want to see: they adopted. They chose life, just like the mother of children. A public figure as visible as a cabinet secretary choosing to adopt would be an example the pro-life movement touts and encourages others to follow if it was really about saving babies. But this is not the case.
I’m thrilled for Pete and Chasten, just like I’m thrilled for every new parent. It’s a shame that not everyone can be so gracious and polite, and even more ashamed that some let their homophobia and misogyny rain down on such a happy occasion – especially when it has the outcome they claim to desire.
By rushing to condemn the Buttigieges, the Conservatives have done us a service by betraying their true motives. Anti-choice activism is not about saving babies or ending abortion. Rather, it is about controlling the lives of others, whether they are pregnant teens or cabinet secretaries.