Two Daddies or None?

Are two daddies better than none?

Not according to Dina Matos McGreevey, the estranged wife of former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, who left office in November 2004 after he admitted having an affair with a male employee. Soon after she filed for divorce in February, the couple feuded over custody and visitation rights for their 5-year-old daughter, Jacqueline.

In her latest filing, Matos McGreevey claimed that the young girl was exposed to erotic artwork at the eight-bedroom mansion her estranged husband shares with his partner, Mark O'Donnell. She wants to prevent Jacqueline from seeing the "life-size photograph of a nude male model," which McGreevey took down from his master bedroom after she threatened to take away his visitation rights.

Matos McGreevey, who denied she was homophobic, also objected to Jacqueline sharing a bed with McGreevey and O'Donnell, according to The Associated Press.

Child psychologists are split on the potential harm of erotic art on children and the risks or benefits of kids sharing a bed with either straight or gay parents.

But many of them agree that it doesn't make a difference if a child is raised by a man and woman and then later raised by one parent and a gay partner. New Jersey allows second-parent gay adoption.

"The bottom line shows no significant difference in terms of mental health outcomes," said Dr. Jack Drescher, a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. "And the sexual orientation of the parents doesn't seem to have any impact on the children's eventual sexual orientation."

Two years ago, President Bush told The New York Times that "Studies have shown that the ideal situation is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman." Many political leaders agree with that assessment, but the leading professional associations take a different approach.

In 2002, the American Association of Pedatrics issued a position statement that supported same-sex second-parent adoptions, emphasizing that "children of gay and lesbian parents function just as well emotionally, cognitively and socially as children of heterosexual parents."

Although there is no difference in general between the two sets of parents, children can experience a negative impact when their families exercise poor judgment and when custody battles turn negative.

"Gay people can be just as good or bad parents as straight people," said Amity Pierce Buxton, the director of the Straight Spouse Network, a group that supports people who are or were married to gay or lesbian spouses. "There are stories of straight parents being very loose in their control of curfew hours and gay parents bringing the kids to gay bars.

"Harm can be done if either parent starts bad-mouthing the other," said Buxton. "It feeds into issues of loyalty and betrayal. And if they're in any kind of community where it's not looked kindly on [for gay couples to be parents], that could have an impact on the children."