Rick Santorum has never been a legitimate threat to win the GOP’s presidential nomination, but after an apparently moonshine-fueled day of voting in Iowa last week, his campaign rose to prominence just long enough to remind Americans that Republicans really, really hate gay people.

At a campaign stop shortly after the Iowa Caucus, Santorum implied that allowing gay couples to marry would be similar to legalizing polygamy—a stupid argument sure, but one that allowed him to rile up his base’s fear of gays and Mormons at the same time. While speaking at a private school the following day, he again teed of on the LGBT community, suggesting a child with gay parents would be better off with heterosexual parents even if the father was in prison. That’s silly, of course, because once that dude gets to prison, he’s gay whether he likes it or not.

Surprisingly, New Hampshire voters weren’t moved by Santorum’s attempts to defend the sanctity of marriage. Receiving only 9.4 percent of the vote, his fifth-place finish strongly indicates that even Republican voters understand A., how to Google, and B., that social issues should not be a major focus of a nation at war and in the midst of a prolonged recession. Still, Santorum’s homophobic trek across America got me thinking about the importance of family and, more importantly, who and what would make the best parent.

Generally, I’m the last person you’d want to turn to for advice on raising children. For starters, I have no children of my own, so my opinion—which is blissfully unencumbered by the emotional attachments and damage that cause most parents to make so many retarded decisions—is a largely uninformed one. Plus, I don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about the well-fare of children. Don’t misunderstand: it’s not that I dislike kids; it’s that I dislike them so much I occasionally wish I were a woman just so I could abort a few of them.

What can I say: I’m a bastard. But that brings me to my point.

I’m legally a bastard. Born out of wedlock, my birth certificate doesn’t even list a father, nor have I ever met the man or spent a dime of the child support he never paid. It never mattered to me, but the notion that a father in the pen was better than one in a chartreuse blazer got me wondering how deadbeat dads fit into Santorum’s rubric for parental efficacy.

As far as I know, my biological dad never spent time in jail or in the arms of another man. So kudos to pops, but based on his firm belief that fatherless homes lead to increased criminal activity and drug use amongst children, Santorum would undoubtedly say my absentee father was worse than one in prison (regardless of the nature of the crime involved). But would Santorum be willing to concede that a gay parent was better than no parent at all? That there might be some cases where having a gay person at home, paying the bills and taking care of a child is better than a kid raising him or herself?

Because in most situations where a gay couple has a child, the child is adopted. In fact, recent numbers suggest that over four percent of all adopted children are adopted by gay couples, and that represents over 200,000 children who, according to Santorum, would be better off getting bounced from one foster home to the next than being raised by two gay people who truly want to be parents.

And a person who truly wants to be a parent is probably better than one who simply happens to be one.

In my own life, I was lucky because my mother was an amazingly loving woman. But as amazing as she was, she was also brutally honest and stricken with a mean streak, which meant she really got a kick out of letting me know how much of an accident I was (particularly around Christmas when I was hinting at what I’d like to see under the tree).

Not only was I not planned for, I was conceived in Phoenix, AZ, in August. If you’ve ever been to Phoenix in August, you know that the only thing you want to do less in such oppressive heat than have sex is to die first, then have sex. Seriously, on most summer days in Phoenix, I’d rather be waterboarded than have sex*.

So, did my parents love each other? Did they want to build a life together? Were they swept away on waves of romance and poetic sentiment? Hell no, it was so hot and sweaty they smelled like livestock, but they were too horned up to care. And nine months later, in May of 1973, my unwed mother gave birth to a byproduct of pure, unadulterated lust.

And the way I see it, though that makes me a bastard it also makes me an honest baby. Planned for? No. But I’m the result of two people earnestly digging what each other had to offer, and even though Santorum’s God may frown upon the procreant urge, I’d rather be the product of lust than a Hallmark baby.

And statistically speaking, most of you reading this are Hallmark babies.

Let me explain: If you, like damn near everyone I know, were born between the middle of August and the middle of November, you were conceived in the midst of a hurricane of consumer-driven special occasions we call the holiday season. Whether it’s Halloween and the taboo costumes that come with it, New Year’s Eve and its mandatory and drunken kiss at midnight, or Valentine’s Day and its guarantee of either a sexual hookup or a relationship-destroying fight, the holiday season is a time when colder temperatures, excessive booze, and consumer-driven festiveness come together to form an environment in which it is nearly impossible to not conceive a child. Hell, it’s so easy to get pregnant during the Christmas season, some people get knocked up without even having sex.

Or at least that’s what the Bible says.

This is not to say your parents didn’t love each other, or that they weren’t even all that worked up over one another when you were conceived. But let’s face it: it’s easy to feel more amorous toward your significant other when you spend Christmas morning showing off your new two-carat diamond ring or setting up a bitching 55-inch TV.

That doesn’t mean I’m better than someone born between August and November, just that my parents had to overcome a rather inhospitable environment to conceive me, whereas a Hallmark baby pretty much spontaneously combusted in his/her mother’s womb.

But regardless of how a child comes into being, what matters is how the parent treats and cares for the child, not just today but forever, as a child is a lifelong commitment that will test you, try you, and depend upon you far beyond the age of 18.

Can a gay couple pass those tests better than a straight one? There’s no way to know for certain. One thing we do know though is that a gay couple raising a child—whether it’s adopted or the outcome of surrogacy—had to pass more tests, endure more trials, and fight harder to bring a child into their lives than Rick Santorum ever had to with all seven of his children combined. The same is true for my mother, and, frankly, for most parents.

To be fair, a gay couple’s willingness to put so much effort into parenting before they even have a child is not a guarantee that they will be good parents, but there’s no question that they’ve done more to prove that they’re deserving of the responsibility than most parents ever do.

*This is a complete falsehood that in no way, shape or form should prevent you from having sex with me in the summer.

  1. Lois says:

    As a single person, I am sick of having to work to support someone else’s children. I am sick of having my car vandalized by someone’s underage brat and not being able to retaliate. People like the Santorums shouldn’t be allowed to leech off the taxpayers. If you took away all their spousal benefits and child tax write-offs they would be living in grinding poverty–where they belong. Imagine how some gay person feels who is taxed to death to support and educate everyone else’s children, then these very same brats assault them and their property.