The first wave of legal challenges to same-sex parents came during the so-called "lesbian baby boom" in the 1980s [source: Gottleib]. Women who came out after being in heterosexual marriages and having children with heterosexual partners frequently encountered roadblocks in the court during subsequent custody battles. Today, though legal obstacles are still an issue, lesbians are more likely to have children than gay males, because the hurdles to gay men becoming fathers -- adoption, foster care and surrogacy -- remain higher by virtue of their biological sex. Out of legal and social lesbian mothering debates have come the contention that, in order to thrive, a child needs both a mother and a father.
In heterosexual household contexts, studies have linked the absence of dads to higher rates of delinquency, drug abuse and lower educational attainment [source: National Center for Fathering]. But as New York University sociologist Judith Stacey pointed out in her 2010 study on gender and parenting, conflating single motherhood with lesbian motherhood is inaccurate. As the American Psychological Association has similarly stated, Stacey's meta analysis of 33 studies found that parental gender had little bearing on kids' well-being. The most influential variables were resources and childcare commitment, and those hold even greater sway than the number of parents in a home [source: Pappas]. In other words, two invested parents are the best case scenario, but even one involved parent is better than a detached couple -- no matter their sexual orientation.