This week the decision handed down by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker striking down California’s Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage made him my hero. Not because I am a resident of California, or because I am a lesbian, which I am not (not that there is anything wrong with that). It is because I am the proud adult child of a lesbian mother.
My mother and her partner have been in a committed relationship for over thirty years. Growing up in Texas with “two moms” in the late 70’s and 80’s was an experience that, as you can imagine given the time and location, made me the strong woman I am today. It’s where I first learned the meaning of fight or flight. It is also the time and place that I first learned that I was in fact a fighter.
The media gives a voice to the beautiful and passionate gay and lesbian couples who just want to be recognized and protected as the families they are, the morally offended and threatened, and even the quiet ho-humming of those who are laid out spread eagle in the middle of the road just wishing that the controversy will swerve around them and keep on going have a voice.
The voices I rarely hear however are those of the children of gay and lesbian parents. There is a new generation of children whose voices deserve to be heard. A generation that is exponentially larger and unhidden than the one I grew up with in the 70’s and 80’s. I grew up in a time where we were silent. We learned to keep the nature of our families a secret knowing what would result with our sharing of this information.
When I was nine or ten I shared the news that I had two moms with my two best friends. Shortly after the sharing of that information they were not allowed to play with me or have sleepovers at my house any longer. It was at that moment that I learned to just shut up. It was a different time and place, it was hard, it was painful, it was the result of fear and ignorance. It didn’t have to be that way.
When I see the strides being made in gay and lesbian rights today I think of their children and my heart breathes a sigh of relief. When I hear of the losses in their parent’s battle for human rights I think of them as well and I feel their pain. I was that child, the child just wishing that all of the world, not just a select few, would see my family as whole, as conventional as theirs.
We are now living in a new time, we’ve moved forward, but we haven’t moved forward enough. Every small victory is a win for these children and the children that these couples have yet to have but will, either way. I am watching a new generation of children growing up in families that defy convention but define the true meaning of love, perseverance and acceptance. As I sit here, now a thirty eight year old mother myself, I long for the world to hear the voices, the wishes, the hopes and dreams of inclusion of the children of gay and lesbian parents. These children equally deserve to have their families recognized, accepted and not discriminated against.
I leave you with a passage from page 95 of Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that struck me most for it is in these words of wisdom that I know that these children now have a voice and that someone is now in fact listening.
70. The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s adjustment. The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent. Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful and well-adjusted. The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology….
71. Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted, and having both a male and a female parent does not increase the likelihood that a child will be well-adjusted….
I know the above to be true. I am the end result, I am the proof.
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