CALIFORNIA Gov. Pete Wilson's latest flip-flop over the issue of gays being able to adopt children is yet another example of how so-called moderate White House wannabes are reading the moral barometer of the American public.
Last December, the state's Department of Social Services announced it would "no longer deny applications, withhold consent or recommend disapproval of an adoption petition based solely on marital status."
But by March, even Mr. Wilson, the Republican version of President Clinton, belatedly got the message from November's elections: Americans want not only lowered taxes but also higher morals. After 30 years of liberals promoting a philosophy that promotes self-gratification over family needs and a system that rewards unrestricted self-indulgence, Americans have said enough is enough. They do not want their military institutions, their school systems and especially their families being used as testing labs by social engineers seeking to further the agenda of homosexuals -- less than 2 percent of the population.
While being married should certainly never be the sole qualifying factor in the ability to adopt, being unmarried should always be the sole disqualifying factor. The most basic, rudimentary instinct of any civilized society is to protect its young and to invest in the well-being of their future. By robbing a child of a two-gender upbringing, we are not only failing an individual child's future, but also failing to invest in the future of society as a whole.
How many more years do we need to view the catastrophic rise in crime, the staggering increase in gang membership and the rapid growth of sexually transmitted diseases among teen-agers before we say -- politically correct or not -- that children need both mothers and fathers to become complete and well-rounded individuals?
It does not take a psychiatrist or psychologist to explain that every child needs an emotional balance that comes from both masculine and feminine input. It was long ago discovered that children get affirmation in their sexual identity from the parent of their opposite sex: girls from their fathers, boys from their mothers.
Yet the same liberals who complain about children being deprived of hot lunches are willing to starve their psyches and run the risk of crippling them with psychological rickets by allowing same-sex couples to adopt. The argument "better a loving gay couple than an abusive heterosexual couple" is beside the point. Abusers come both straight and gay.
All things being equal between a monogamous homosexual couple and a married heterosexual couple, only the heterosexual couple should be allowed to adopt.
Today's narcissistic attitude of "it's my right" must be replaced by a new determination to place self second and the child's interest first. Don't our children deserve dual gender guidance, dual gender discipline and dual gender nurturing? An unwed teen-ager who wants someone to love her, a 40-year-old single career woman whose biological clock is running down and a monogamous gay couple who want to "complete their family" all are prime examples of the warped logic that typifies placing selfish wants above a child's needs.
We do not have children so they can love us. We have children so we can love them and further the good of society. True maternal love will always recognize when it has become harmful and deny itself. Selfishness, on the other hand, is a force that would willingly deny others.
Certainly gays who already have children from a prior heterosexual marriage can remain loving and caring parents and should not have their biological children taken from them. But that does not mean that the state should use children as pawns in a social movement to legitimize a chosen lifestyle that is incompatible with the emotional well-being of a child.
They used to say that what is good for General Motors is good for America. Maybe a better analogy is that what is good for the family is good for America.
But simply trying to change the definition of family by allowing gay men and lesbians to adopt is like calling a cubic zirconia a diamond. It doesn't change what is. Nor does it help the basic problem: The future of our nation and the stability of our children are completely dependent on the protection of the genuine family unit, which begins with a committed, married heterosexual couple.
Susan Carpenter McMillan is a television commentator, spokeswoman for the Woman's Coalition and a founder of ShE LIST, a conservative women's political action committee. She wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.