Tag Archives: Marriage Equality

Confused Children (Or Not…)

What is it about lesbian moms and gay dads that sends thoughtful and rational folks off the rails? I’ve had versions of the following conversations too many times.

Conversation #1

I draw the line at gay parents.”

Why?

“Because the children will be confused.”

Conversation #2

Children need a mom and a dad.”

Why?

Because the children will be confused.

Conversation #3

“It’s one thing to be gay, and another thing to impose it on children.”

Why?

“Because the children will be confused.”

At this point, faced with a National Epidemic of Confused Children, I ask the same question: “Do you know any same-sex parents?” Almost always, the answer is NO.

But I do. I know families with two dads and two moms. Down the line, the kids are quite clear about the identities of each parent, about their own identities, about their places in their families. Of course the kids have issues, and if you’re bound and determined to Blame The Gay, then I can’t stop you. But honestly, all kids have issues; it’s the nature of growing up.

So let’s reconsider. Are these children truly confused?

NO. And YES.

As a parent of three, I’ve seen the world through the eyes of two developing boys and one developing girl. I’ve learned that the world is a confusing place. Why do we eat in one room, but not another? Why are some words fine at home, but forbidden at school? Why do we say “thank you” to a friend for candy, and the same “thank you” to our doctor for a shot? If kicking is wrong, why isn’t soccer illegal? How can bite and sight possibly rhyme, and what in the world is an irregular verb?

Every day presents challenges, and many are confusing. But the issues that confuse a child are not always the same issues that confuse an adult. If you know any kids who have two moms or two dads, then you know that these children are not at all confused by their family constellation. However, other people’s reactions are quite problematic. Other adults look in, hunting with determined tenacity until they find a sign that the child is somehow at risk, or the parents are somehow deficient. The issue here is not a confused child, but rather a confused adult. What confuses the child are the baffling reactions of these adults, and of the children who follow their cues.

Each subculture has its own set of unspoken, unwritten, complex rules and expectations. But same-sex parents are just moms and dads, raising their kids, forming a family. As a mother of three grown children, I can count on parenthood to remain extremely straightforward and totally confusing. I’ll always welcome all parents of any gender to help me figure it out.

 

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Filed under family, LGBT, Marriage Equality, parenthood, same-sex parents

Rainbow Cake

On the evening of June 26, 2015, my daughter and 2 of her friends baked a rainbow cake. They chose a complicated checkerboard pattern, which involved fitting smaller cakes into larger cakes, layering them like a 3-dimensional puzzle, using the colors of the rainbow. The project involved precise measurements, strategic food dyes and most important, continuous celebration.

That morning, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld Marriage Equality. Same-sex marriage was finally validated and respected, supported and protected — long overdue, here at last, a constitutional right. When the news hit, my husband shouted for me to come to his study, and pointed to his computer screen. My daughter tore around the house to find me and relay the news. Her friend was visiting, and he barreled into the hallway. We all hugged.

Since then, I’ve found myself thinking about the people I knew as a child, friends of my family, same-sex couples who shared their lives until parted by death. They couldn’t marry, but they paved the way for those who now can. I like to think they’re smiling down on us. I’ll bet the rainbow cake in heaven is ambrosial.

Now, days later, our kitchen has still not quite recovered. A few minutes ago, I stepped on something sparkly and sticky. Earlier today, I found a bit of dried icing spattered on the refrigerator door. I brushed off my shoe, cleaned up the fridge, and smiled.

As they grow older, my daughter and her friends will remember June 26, and each of their stories will be different. One might focus on the chills that ran down her spine as the immensity of this historic moment took hold. Another might grin, recalling how he held the electric mixer too high, and rainbow icing spattered all over the kitchen. My daughter might remember the shot of triumph when she cut the first slice, and saw the perfect checkerboard pattern. Each memory will be both shared and unique, the experience of living history.

Before my daughter’s friends left, I took their picture. As the years go by, when they look at that photo, they’ll think back to June 26, 2015. They’ll all remember standing together, arms thrown around each other’s shoulders, celebrating that their world had just become a better place.

When I look at the photo in the days ahead, I know I’ll think of Marriage Equality and living history. I expect to think about my parents’ friends from my childhood and my own friends from today. I’m pretty sure I’ll remember something sparkly and sticky on my shoe. I’m absolutely certain that I’ll always carry the love radiating from my daughter and her two friends, and the finest cake I’ll ever know.

 

 

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Filed under Love Is Love, Marriage Equality, SCOTUS

All Love Is Created Equal

I was raised in a home with straight parents, whose friends were bi, straight, lesbian, gay and one trans couple. All were in committed relationships. Most stayed together for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until parted by death.

These couples shared homes, triumphs and failures. They celebrated holidays and birthdays. They went out to dinner, to concerts, to sports events. Sometimes they chose a quiet evening at home, reading by firelight. They formed a group of friends who often gathered in my parents’ home. During good times, they relaxed and celebrated. During tough times, they united in support.

One couple gardened. Another lived at the beach and collected sea glass. A third loved antiques. Can you guess which was the gay couple? The lesbian couple? The straight couple? Does it matter?

I was 8 years old when I discovered that I was supposed to view LGBTQ+ folks and LGBTQ+ love as damaged. I remember saying to my parents, over and over, “It doesn’t make sense.” They agreed. They tried to explain ignorance and bigotry, but I became more confused.

To sort it out, I began an observational research study. For two weeks, I watched my parents’ friends — how they behaved, how they spoke, how they interacted. I asked questions: What’s your favorite color? Favorite ice cream? Favorite song? Favorite pizza? I entered my data in a yellow binder with silver glitter, using a color coded system and a new box of crayons. I pored over my results. After several days, I arrived at my conclusion: I couldn’t find one single significant difference between LGBTQ+ love and straight love.

As an adult, my perspective on many aspects of relationships has changed. I now understand that long-lasting love takes work. I now understand the extremely private, powerfully passionate piece that renews the bond again and again. I now understand that each love is a unique, complex, multi-dimensional tapestry. But the view that LGBTQ+ love is fundamentally different from straight love, that it’s somehow lesser, that it’s a distortion of “real” love – that made no sense to me as a kid, and it still doesn’t.

Back then at age 8 and today at age 59, my conclusion remains the same.

All love is created equal.

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A Real Couple

In 2004, Gavin Newsom (San Francisco’s Mayor) became a soldier for marriage equality.  For a brief window of time, before lesbian and gay marriages were temporarily shut down, same-sex couples obtained licenses and exchanged vows throughout California.  My husband and I were living in Mill Valley, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and we attended two weddings during that pivotal period.

Hillary and Kathy walked down the aisle wearing classic black suits. My husband sang an a cappella Hebrew prayer. The wedding took place before fifty people, in a restaurant, with many guests participating in the ceremony.  I was honored to officiate, standing under a huppa (a hand-stitched canopy).  Hillary stomped on a glass, and Mazel Tov filled the room. People heaped their plates from the buffet, and mingled on the deck.

A few weeks later, Trixie dressed in a traditional wedding gown; her bride, Carla, wore a tux. They were married by a judge, in City Hall, with a sit-down dinner for 200 guests.  They walked down the aisle to The Crystals, “Going To The Chapel.” Carla led Trixie through the first dance, replete with twirls and dips.  They invited “anyone who is married, who couldn’t marry before” to join them. Five couples walked onto the dance floor, two gay, three lesbian. Nobody dancing, not a single person, grew up expecting to marry.  Not one of them took this moment for granted.  The quality of joy was elemental.

At a certain point, both couples toasted their guests.  Curiously, these women, so different in style, chose the exact same words.  “We want to thank all of you for always treating us like a real couple.”

As a straight woman, I never experienced the casual chipping away at the spirit, being treated as less than a full person, less that a real couple.  Now, two couples, four fine people, stood empowered before their loved ones, celebrating their unions, finally recognized as real.

Today, nearly two decades later, both of these couples remain together and strong. I carry their weddings within me, the validation they experienced, the empowerment. They were a part of history, today’s yesterday, two real couples paving the way for a better tomorrow.

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