Over the past couple of weeks, our focus along with many other LGBTQ individuals has been at the Supreme Court of the United States. As a collective group, we are awaiting decisions on two different cases. One case involves California’s Proposition 8 and the second involves the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA. These two cases are front and center in the movement for equality and the very apparent shift in public opinion.
Since the beginning of June, I have caught myself reading live updates via the SCOTUS Blog on each and every opinion day. If you aren’t familiar with the use of SCOTUS, it stands for Supreme Court of the United States. I consistently set a reminder on my phone to make the loudest possible noise to remind myself to join the 15,000+ other individuals that watch for instant updates. The SCOTUS Blog has a representative (Lyle) in the Supreme Court press-room providing information as it happens. Every time there is an update in the “chat window” you hear a specific sound. When I hear this sound, it seems as if I begin to hold my breath.
I am writing this blog on Monday June 17, 2013. Today is my birthday, my 34th birthday. For the first part of the year, I was telling everyone it would be my 33rd. It was either Matthew growing tired of telling everyone that I actually would be turning 34 or I finally accepted the fact and started welcoming the idea of 34. I think one thing that has made adding another year to my age easier is the quirky fact that my father was 34 when I entered the world and made him a father. That day was Father’s Day (June 17th) in 1979. Want another fun fact? Matthew is the same age as his father was when he was born. This September we will become fathers at the same age as our fathers became fathers for the first time. Can you say that three times fast?
This morning at 10:00, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hand down opinions on cases from this term. I am multitasking and trying not to miss any updates. It is currently 9:56 EDT and there are only a couple of minutes left before the information starts coming in from today’s proceedings. The landscape of marriage equality and the lives of so many could change within the next few moments. Just heard the sound of an update, and I immediately caught my breath. It’s Lyle from the SCOTUS Blog, and he is providing information on the first opinion. I am going to pause writing and take in the moment and watch and hope for what today might bring.
Today wasn’t the day. We now focus on the next scheduled decision day which is this Thursday. There isn’t any insight on when we might get a ruling. Most experts point to the end of the current term, which is the end of June. If it isn’t this Thursday, we will wait for Monday and possibly the following Thursday to find out the Supreme Court’s opinion(s) on Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop 8) and United States v Windsor (DOMA). We are so close.
June is National Pride Month and there are pride events going on every weekend throughout the United States. Seeing the news and images from these different events reminds me of my first pride experience. It was last October when we were beginning our adoption journey to become dads. Matthew and I had just travelled to Atlanta to meet with our adoption agency and had no clue that Atlanta Pride was happening the same weekend. You can click here to read about that journey. I am amazed how much progress Matthew and I have seen in just a few short months. This progress would not have been possible if it were not for the LGBTQ individuals that educated and pushed the need for equality in the past five decades.
When mentioning those that have paved the way, I have to mention one particular individual. Matthew’s Uncle Dan. He epitomizes all that one would desire or need in a role model. Dan has spent a majority of his life working towards equality in our community and does not shy away from an opportunity to educate about the lack of equality.
In 2008, I can honestly say I was clueless about the Stonewall Riots or the equality movement in general. I didn’t even know that some of it revolved around Judy Garland. Uncle Dan, as I now call him, eagerly and eloquently shared his story and the history I felt embarrassed not to know. During a longer than the usual car ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, he opened the door to things I hadn’t really thought of and things I hadn’t even noticed. It was obvious that this community has come a long way but still has a long way to go. Oh, I also got to see a burning RV.
Dan and his husband Josh were present and wed the first day California granted same-sex marriages. That was five years ago today, June 17, 2008 (my birthday by the way). They have travelled across the United States showing their support by getting married again and again in each of the states as they legalized same-sex marriage. Dan and Josh demonstrated by saying “I Do” over and over that we are getting closer and closer to being able to say “I Do” just once and it counts 50 times. Dan and Josh thank you for making this moment in history possible. As silly as it sounds, if it wasn’t for couples like you, I wouldn’t be getting excited to watch the SCOTUS Blog and patiently (not really) wait for decisions on marriage equality.
By Rob Watson
My mother just turned 86, and my father turned 88. I am now parenting my parents in many ways. This past week, I was working at my parents’ house to move them closer to me so I can care for them on a more consistent basis.
I love my folks very much. I have noticed for many people, myself included, we have one parent that we tend to put on a pedestal and one who seems to know each and every one of our hot buttons, how to find them, and how to do a regular happy dance on them. My dad is my pedestal guy. We can have a knock-down, drag-out fight, and an hour later, all is forgiven and flowers seem to spring from his every step. My mother, on the other hand, can catch me with the wrong turn-of-phrase and I will see red for days.
Red colored my vision the other day as I was packing a box of old papers in preparation for their move. The files I had to go through seemed endless. As I neared the bottom of one stack, I came across a beaten brown manila folder that stopped me dead. It was labeled “Rob’s homosexuality.” This was certainly a subject for discussion that my parents and I have had for over thirty years now. I was not aware, however, that it had warranted its own special file.
Even so, the folder was a pleasant surprise. In it was a letter from early 1992 that I received from my cousin asking me pointed questions about my sexual orientation. The file also contained a copy of my response to him. (My cousin must have sent these to my parents; I don’t recall giving the letters to them.) The last item in the file was a letter from my mother to her cousin, written in November 1992, a full decade after I had come out to my parents.
The letter my mother wrote was a follow-up, apparently, to a visit they made to their families that summer. From the story the letter told, my parents had done their own coming out, about me, to the rest of the family. It did not go well. In the letter, my mother described the “distinct disapproval of some factions of the family.” Her cousin had not been one of them, instead offering my parents acceptance and support. In the letter, my mother elaborated on her own viewpoint. She stated, “It is a complex subject, but the main issue of misunderstanding with society at large seems to be the matter of ‘choice.’ As Rob succinctly explained it, he ‘chose’ to be heterosexual since no one chooses to be the butt of scorn and rejection, but that it just isn’t there for him…After a number of unhappy years of struggling with his own private hell, he finally came to the conclusion that God made him this way for a reason—that rather than giving into suicide like a number of his friends, his life IS worth something . . . The bottom line is that we have not seen Rob this happy since he was a little boy.”
The impact of this understanding from my mother twenty years earlier floored me. It reflected a decade of fights and evolution on her part, not only in terms of her perspective, but also her willingness to come forward about it to our relatives and defend me in the way she did. The fact that she did so at a time when homophobia was at an all-time high was not lost on me.
Then, like the screech of a needle being ripped across a melodious LP, or an MP3 recording skipping—depending on your generation—there it was—THE PHRASE. She wrote, “Having been through the gamut of emotions and ten years of soul searching, study and counseling, we have finally arrived at a peaceful acceptance. We are now convinced that Rob was born with a handicap and all we can do is love and support him in the same way we would with any other kind of handicap.”
There is nothing in me that believes that an LGBT person is handicapped by his or her sexual or gender orientation. We have no challenges caused by who and what we are.
That being said, and with a few days’ reflection, there is one aspect in which I can see homosexuality being treated as a handicap, especially from a legal perspective. That “handicap” would be in the area of a couple’s biological fertility. Just as some heterosexual couples are biologically and hormonally blocked from procreating, gay and lesbian couples experience the same kind of “handicap.” Each person may be completely able to procreate with some partners, just not with the one with whom they happen to be sharing their lives. One course of action for the heterosexual couple is hormonal therapy, surrogacy, or adoption. For the gay or lesbian couple it may be surrogacy or adoption.
This of course speaks to the major crux of the current anti-gay, anti-marriage equality position: that gay and lesbian couples should be denied marriage because they are unable to physically procreate with their spouses. If one defines this as a handicap, however, that nullifies this point as a legal argument against marriage. In all other cases dealing with handicaps, viable accommodations and work-arounds are mandated. Handicap issues are not grounds for disqualification when the accommodation mitigates the issue. People with physical challenges are not prevented from driving or walking into buildings; handicapped parking and walk ramps are provided. Persons with workplace challenges by law must be given accommodation and access so that they can effectively exercise their professions.
Even if a gay or lesbian couple has an inability to physically procreate, and that condition is seen as a handicap, the legal precedent is to protect their rights, and enable them to participate fully. As too many studies to cite or count have amply demonstrated, gay and lesbian people are fully capable of parenting.
Blogger Angela Peene of evolequals.com observed, “The definition of ‘handicapped’ is having a condition that markedly restricts one’s ability to function physically, mentally, or socially. In the social context, because of the condemnation and exclusion LGBT individuals have received in the past decades, maybe they could qualify under this heading. However, I am sincerely hoping that this label of handicap is on its way out. Equality is in the air.”
There is an argument that homophobia might qualify, but that is another article.
So, Mom, I am going to give you this one, especially in light of your complete willingness to evolve these past three decades. You have stood up and allowed yourself to challenge an avalanche of misconceptions from your past, and many from your current peers. You are brave, you are fair, and you are my honor and one of my greatest heroes.
If you want to think of my homosexuality as a handicap in terms of my biological fertility, so be it. As we often assert in our fight for equality, a family is made from love, and love makes a family. And it’s a well proved fact that you adore your two grandchildren (my sons), who came to us by adoption.
Now, if you can just try to remember that I hate being served lima beans, then we will be good. Love and kisses forever.
By Jason Howe
By Brandy Black
Katie Acosta is a Sociology professor who specializes in the areas of gender, sexuality and family; she devotes her research agenda to queer families and their unique needs. She is doing a lesbian stepparent study that I found interesting for our readers. Here is a little more about Katie…
Research is a really important part of my job and I have had the good fortune of being able to devote my research agenda to queer families. I have a book coming out this fall on how lesbian bisexual and queer women of Latin American descent negotiate the families they are raised in and the families they build for themselves as adults. With that book project coming to a close, I have decided to start a new study on families which include children being raised in same sex stepparent households. This project is inspired in part by own my family. My partner Hilary and I are raising our son Josiah. I am Josiah’s birth mom and he is the result of a heterosexual relationship I had in college 14 years ago. My interest in this study stems in part from recognizing some of the unique challenges my own family faces but also my interest stems from recognizing the limitations in the existing research on same sex families that doesn’t account for familial change.
The Next Family community of readers is made up of several different versions of the modern parent and throughout the years we have heard from some of our writers on parenting kids who stem from a heterosexual relationship. TNF decided we would give our readers an opportunity to be a part of a new study that could shed light on some of the unique challenges these parents face.
More Information on the Lesbian Stepparent Study:
The Lesbian Stepparent Study is designed to explore the unique needs of these families. Participants are asked to do a 90-minute phone interview where I ask them questions about how their families came to be and what their experiences are raising children within these family forms. I find that research participants are often interested in learning more about my family during the interview and at times I find myself sharing experiences, offering and receiving troubleshooting techniques from other families, and laughing at the similarities in our children. Those who have participated have noted that the interview process has led them to think about their roles as stepparents, co parents and/or bio parents in news ways. Everyone has asked that I please share the results of the study with them in the future so I am currently considering maintaining a blog where I write about some of the trends I am finding from the interviews I have done.
Who Can Participate?
Any woman who is in a same sex relationship which include children from a previous relationship and who have been members of this family form for at least one year. It does not matter if the children are from previous heterosexual or same sex relationships. The race or ethnicity of family members does not matter. Research participants can be stepparents, bio parents, or co-parents. All research participants must be at least 18 years old. Individuals who are in doubt about whether or not they are eligible to participate in the study should send me an email at email@example.com
All of the interviews are confidential. Every effort is made to protect the privacy of the participants and every participant is assigned a pseudonym after they have been interviewed.
This research project is approved by the Institutional Review Board of Tulane University which means that the project has been evaluated by the university’s review board and they have found that it meets the university’ s standards for ethical and responsible research.
Should any of The Next Family readers decide to participate in this study you can reach out to Katie Acosta at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also if you would like to follow up and share your story with us, please reach out to the editors of The Next Family and we would be happy to share your story with our readers.
By: Shannon Ralph
I have come to the conclusion in recent weeks that my youngest son may just be gay. Or not. One or the other. The important thing, of course, is that I love him regardless. But I am beginning to wonder.
Why do I think my son might be gay?
Well, there are several reasons and every single one of them is a broad, sweeping generalization about gay men. Of course, all stereotypes have to have an infinitesimal grain of truth to them, right? Or else, how would they ever come to be broadly (and unfairly) accepted to apply to an entire group of people? So while the below list may be ripe with stereotypes, they do have me wondering about where my young son will eventually fall on the gay/straight spectrum.
1. All of his friends at school are girls. He gets along better with girls, as he seems to have little in common with rough and tumble seven-year-old boys. “Rough” and “tumble” are words that would never be used to describe Nicholas. As a matter of fact, the vision of Nicholas “tumbling” with anyone makes me smile. His twin sister could totally kick his ass.
2. He told me recently that there is a “boys” table and a “girls” table at lunchtime. He is the only boy who regularly sits at the girls table because, frankly, he says the boys’ table smells. The heady testosterone-infused aroma offends his delicate sensibilities (that is not a direct quote), so he prefers to sit with the girls.
3. He wanted, and of course received, a yoga mat for is birthday. In what was, by far, the strangest conversation I have had in a good long while, the gay boy stocking shelves in the yoga aisle at Target gave us a knowing look, a wink and a nod as he told us, “You two look like you would be the accepting parents I always wished I had should your yoga-loving (wink, wink) son one day tell you he is gay.”
4. He effusively tells his sister how beautiful she is. Often. As a matter of fact, I have a picture of Sophie as the wallpaper on my phone, and just yesterday Nicholas was waving the phone around to anyone and everyone who would look saying, “Now this is what true beauty looks like!”
5. He is overly effusive about everything. Seriously. Everything. Every tree is the most beautiful tree he has ever seen in his life. His blanket is the warmest blanket he has ever felt in his life. Every grilled cheese sandwich I make his is the best grilled cheese he has ever eaten in his life. Every puppy is the cutest puppy he has ever seen in his life. I want to say, “Dude. Everything can’t be THE BEST.”
6. He is incredibly orderly. There is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Though his bedside nightstand may look like something from a particularly horrifying episode of “Hoarders,” he knows every single thing that is stored there. God help the poor soul who makes the egregious mistake of thinking his Dum-Dum wrapper collection is trash!
7. He is particular about his clothes. Whereas I believe his older brother, Lucas, doesn’t even see the clothes we hand him to put on each morning, Nicholas is quite selective about his clothing. And he has a style that only be described as Nouveau Nicholas. Though it has been known to occasionally involve tube socks and crocs, I see a possible designing career in his future.
8. He helps his sister pick out her clothes. And of course, everything she puts on is “fabulous.”
9. He is the biggest cuddler we have and constantly tells us how much he loves us.
10. I come from Kentucky where every young boy gets sheered like a sheep come summertime. My hometown is rampant with skinny little knobby-kneed boys running around with buzz cuts this time of the year. Nicholas, however, is quite fond of his hair. Whereas his older brother cares not at all about the shape of the hair on his head, Nicholas likes his long. He likes to be able to brush his bangs from his eyes with a mere whip of his head. He likes it hanging over his ears. He does NOT, however, appreciate being called a hippie—a fact I earned the hard way.
11. He gets his feelings hurt easily. Every perceived wrong is met, not with loud arguments, but with quiet tears that he tries his best to blink away before they are noticed. But I notice them. His other mom notices them. And they worry us.
How will our sweet, gentle, effusive, beauty-loving, oddly particular, someone rigid little style maven be accepted by the world? Will he be considered “weird?” The world is changing, but Nicholas is growing older every day. Is it changing fast enough for him? Wherever he ends up falling on the sexual identity spectrum, I will always and forever adore him. And like every mom who ever wondered “maybe…?” I will pray every night for a more accepting, tolerant world.
TNF: How did you meet your wife?
Sara: Sam lived accross the street with her parents when I and my ex-husband purchased a house. We became good friends (platonic) and helped each other through many relationships including the breakup of my marriage (he cheated). Over 4 years of friendship we realized that we were growing jealous when the other was going on dates, but not jealous of each other, jealous of the date for getting to spend that time with the person we loved. One evening we kissed (7/25/03), and we’ve been together as a couple since.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families? If so, how so?
Sara: No, other than the inability to get married and have the security that provides to our property and children. Although in most cases hetero couples would never need to adopt their kids.
TNF: Is it tough being a gay couple where you live? Do you feel accepted?
Sara: Our city, Appleton, WI, is a very accepting and progressive city. We have a prominant private performing arts college, Lawrence University, and that draws in people from many walks of life. We live in a historic neighborhood close to the University that has a large concentration of gay families. We can easily walk hand in hand with our kids and dogs downtown and in the parks. The only time we felt discriminated against was by a fertility doctor when we were in the planning stage of getting pregnant with Graisyn. He was incredible rude and flipant with us.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
Sara: We enjoy the normalcy that family provides us. We are really no different than the hetro family next door. We go to work, we raise our kids to be respectful, caring, responsible humans, we maintain a home and vehicles, pay our bills and taxes on time, we have both gone back to school to better the future for our family. I guess we almost feel that we need to prove to others how normal we really are.
Thank you Sara and Samantha for sharing the story of your beautiful family.
Just a few days ago our idyllic beach town experienced tragedy that in the past we had only read about or saw in the news when it happened “somewhere else.” And the proximity of the event in relation to our home, our neighborhood, and our life is too scary for words, but I’ll try anyway.
This particular day was within a week of the end of the school year for both boys. After school activities had wrapped up for the year earlier in the week, so Dylan would need to be picked up from preschool (two blocks from the house) at 11:30am, and Devin would need to be picked up from kindergarten at 1:30pm.
After picking up Dylan and yapping it up with the other parents about vacation plans and kindergarten plans and how are we going to make it through the summer, Dylan and I jumped in the minivan. I decided that since President Obama was arriving at any moment for a lunchtime fundraiser at a home which happened to be very close to Devin’s kindergarten on the northeast side of Santa Monica (while the preschool and our house are more on the southwest side), I would immediately drive up to the kindergarten neighborhood. Previous visits by Obama and other presidents produce gridlock of epic proportions in Los Angeles, especially here on the Westside, and I didn’t want to be late for Devin’s pickup, so I took no chances.
I almost drove right past Santa Monica College to get to our lunch spot, but decided at the last second to head for another eatery even closer to Devin’s kindergarten than my first choice.
It ended up being a good choice. At around noon, the events unfolded something like this:
At 11:52 a.m. Friday, residents of a quiet neighborhood on the northeast side of Santa Monica reported hearing gunshots. Eyewitnesses saw a man in all black, wearing an ammunition belt and holding a semiautomatic rifle, standing outside a home engulfed in flames. Firefighters later found the bodies of two men inside the home, bodies that ended up being the perpetrator’s own dad and brother.
The gunman then accosted the driver of a Mazda hatchback, got in the car and told her to drive him to Santa Monica College. The gunman fired several rounds at random into the neighborhood with the semiautomatic rifle. Nearby, the gunman fired on a city bus from front to back, shattering windows. Passengers dived to the floor for cover. Two passengers were injured, treated at local hospitals and released.
At a parking lot at 20th and Pearl streets (our house is essentially at 7th and Pearl, and I was heading up Pearl before deciding otherwise) the suspect fired at a red Ford Explorer, hitting the driver, who died at the scene. A passenger in that vehicle later died.
Campus police intercepted the gunman on the edge of campus and exchanged gunfire with him. They continued to trade shots as the man ran toward the school’s library and shot a woman outside the building’s entrance before disappearing inside.
The woman outside the library later died at a hospital.
Inside the library, a group of people hid inside a “safe room” when they heard or saw the shooter coming. The group barricaded the door with materials found inside the room and dodged bullets the gunman fired through the drywall.
Three police officers chased down and shot at the shooter. He died of multiple gunshot wounds.
There are two handfuls of public elementary schools located in Santa Monica, a couple of which are located a stone’s throw from the areas where the tragedies took place. The district took the wise step of putting every single school in Santa Monica on lockdown, a word that by now has become a part of the vernacular of most kids in this country, including my own kindergartener. Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear him say lockdown for a couple of hours, because lockdown means no one gets out and no one goes in.
As a crowd grew in front of Devin’s school, one filled with parents who were just as eager as I was to hug their children and get them home, helicopters flew overhead and police cars with loud sirens zoomed by, adding to the surrealism of the situation. At one point all traffic came to a screeching halt right in front of our school as Obama’s motorcade passed by. Really? Today?
At that moment I felt some anxiety building up inside of me, but I had to keep my preschool son calm, which wasn’t difficult since he was pretty much oblivious to the whole situation. We began to receive text messages from inside the school saying all the kids were fine, and robo-calls from the district with warnings that the perpetrator had not yet been subdued and that the situation was definitely a dangerous, ongoing one. I was hesitant to leave the school area and my son, but since my preschooler was aching for a restroom, and I needed to feed my almost 7-month old, I retreated with another parent back to her nearby home until we received word that all was clear.
It wasn’t too long before we got that word. We practically ran back to school, and all I wanted to do was grab Devin and get back to the safety of our own home.
“Can you believe we were on lockdown, Daddy?!? Obama was nearby, so they put us all on lockdown.”
I kept all the TVs off when were all finally safe under one roof, and quickly things returned to normal. To this day my sons remain oblivious to any tragedies that have occurred around our town or even the nation for that matter, and I’m happy about that. But I know that one day they will understand when the next Newtown or Columbine or Seal Beach happens, and their innocence will be destroyed forever. And that makes me very sad.
By Brandy Black
I realized as soon as I had three kids that balancing attention is a tough job. I worried that they would all blend together in my mind and I wouldn’t notice the little things that I always had with my first born. In some ways that feels true, I haven’t written down the first sneeze or the first smile or the first laugh or the twins discovering their toes. But what I hadn’t prepared myself for, having been an only child, was the very distinct personality differences they would all have at such a young age. Bella, 17 months old, is obsessed with shoes. We may have our very own Carrie Bradshaw in the house. She picks out different ones every day. She not only picks them out for herself but for of the rest of us too. Her concern is constantly about shoes. Why aren’t we all wearing shoes all the time? She insists on wearing them with her pajamas. She waddles around with a confidence like she runs this place. She has also recently taken a liking to a particular floral (floral is in you know) cover-up for her dresses. Yesterday in the hot heat she would not let me take it off. When it’s wet from washing her hands she screams if I try to remove it. This morning, she dug it out of the laundry basket and held it up to me. I told her it needed to be washed and she began screaming. When I put this wrap on her, she smiles and pets it and then waddles off to something else.
There is no blending in for this little girl, she has her own ideas and everyone will listen to them. She has begun what friends of ours have coined “the Bella drop” in which she drops to the ground back rounded and head to the down, screaming when something goes wrong. I remember learning a version of this for Drill Team in high school and it’s quite hard to drop yourself from standing like that. We think she may be a cheerleader. She’s got the moves already.
She is a foodie. She loves any kind of food and fully expects to be fed when anyone near her is eating. She is that kid that will follow other kids to their treats assuming their parents brought enough for everyone.
She sits on my feet every morning while I blow dry my hair. Her brother wanders around picking up toys, babbling but Bella plops down on my feet, stares up at me and waits patiently for me to be done. She is a little lover, she will walk right up to you and sit right down on your lap. She loves to be held and could ride around on my hip forever.
Bella Bell, you are our sweet baby girl.
As a parent, my job one is the protection and care of my children. It is my job to be vigilant over their self-worth, to keep them physically safe, to show them how to be moral and productive citizens, and to empower their spiritual growth. It is a duty that I take very seriously.
It is distressing when total strangers launch an attack against all those things specifically targeting my kids. That is exactly what author Amber Lee Parker and illustrator Hannah Segura have done with the release of their children’s book “God Made Dad & Mom.”
The colorful children’s picture book seems pleasant. It never uses the word “gay” or “hate.” Many LGBT facebook pages have rightly described it as being about both. The point of the story clearly is meant to deride LGBT families as the ones that God did not “make,” even though it uses the most illogical and inaccurate plot to attempt to make its point.
Amazon.com describes the plot as: “Michael learns that God made men to be fathers and women to be mothers. After school, his father takes him to the zoo, where he learns that animal families consist of a male, a female, and their offspring. Upon observing these phenomena, Michael asks his father two questions: 1. Why does his friend have two fathers? 2. Am I adopted? His father sensitively addresses both of these questions with love and compassion, and he tells Michael that he needs to pray for his friend and his friend’s two fathers. His dad lets him know that he is adopted and that he and his mother love him very much.”
The plot makes no sense from beginning to end. It implies that LGBT are not as “male and female” as heterosexuals. It theorizes that animals in nature are exclusively heterosexual, monogamous and dedicated to their children. It argues that a male and female who adopt are more suitable as parents solely because they have the ability to procreate. The fact that those things are all ridiculous does not matter since the book is targeting, according to author Amber Lee Parker, children from age 5 to 8 who are not likely to put the plot to the test of any kind of critical thinking.
The book’s illustrator, Hannah Segura, is a Nebraska home-schooled teen. Parker also resides in Nebraska. She was motivated to write the book over her concern that some laws in Nebraska might benefit LGBT families. She states, in an interview with BridgeLogos, “I had just went to a committee hearing in front of the judiciary committee to listen to a few bills that have been introduced and even though we as a state do not have same sex marriage, it was very clear the attack on traditional family values. One bill, would be, I believe it’s LB380, would allow any couple to adopt children, LB385 is a bill, same thing but was with Foster Care. And then LB485 was a bill which would allow telling businesses that they could not discriminate against LGBTQ which is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and the other two bills I shares, the bottom line was you could not discriminate, they would be a protected class and you could not discriminate in these areas… there were those who were definitely infiltrating the family areas traditional values and basically, through this, making it look like the heterosexuality way was not normal.”
Beyond her fear that LGBT people might be accepted in Nebraska, Parker’s stated effect on LGBT couples and families is more disturbing. Convinced that such families are not “what God’s views are of family,” she describes the reaction she would like to see: “Well the first step would be to turn away from the behavior that dishonored God, so in practicing homosexuality, I would say one of their first steps would be kind of difficult because we have people who are getting mortgages together, but they would have to separate themselves from that relationship so they could flee the temptation from the old yoke.”
From personal experience, I can assure Ms. Parker that her hopes in this area are delusional. Divorce in LGBT families is no more to be hoped for than it should be in heterosexual ones. My sons have had to deal with the loss and grief over the departure of my ex-partner several years ago. It was by no means a God-given blessing. They, like children of many divorces, still hold out hope that their parents will come back together.
Blogger and Gay Marriage USA founder, Murray Lipp, describes the philosophical elitism Parker projects, “The assumption that all people are heterosexual is a central feature of heterosexism. Biological diversity is ignored within a heterosexist context… The favoring of straight people in positions of political power ensures that those with the power are able to maintain it… The exclusion of gay people from a seat at the main table of society communicates the erroneous message that gay people are ‘less than,’ not worthy, not good enough. It lays the foundation for homophobia to flourish.”
Parker hopes to inspire an innate heterosexism and homophobia in the young peers of my kids. When homophobia flourishes it inspires violence, self-destruction, and tragedy. In biblical terms, these are the “fruits” by which authors like Parker will be known, and they are not Godly.
Ms. Parker’s brand of “God’s-view-of-the-family” heterosexism was not my first such encounter. It was first said to my face as I interviewed a school for my sons to attend. I knew the school, which had an excellent academic reputation, billed itself as a “Christian school.” I wanted to be very upfront with the nature of my family and deal with any potential issues up front. “I am a single gay dad. I want to make sure you don’t have an issue with that if my sons were to come here,” I said to the school’s administrator.
A condescending look crossed his face. “Well,” he said smugly. “It will not be a problem for us at all, but I am not sure you are going to like what we would tell them.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“Well, it is just like what I told a friend of mine who is divorced whose children come here. We just tell them that theirs is not God’s best plan for a family.”
It was one of those times, where for a moment, I sat in stunned silence. We continued talking about academics and special education.
As I started to leave, I paused and looked back at him. “You know, both the biological couples that had my sons had the opportunity to reunify with them and raise them. I turned over my will to God to help them, and do the right thing by my sons. It became apparent to all concerned, and presumably by God, that being with me was the right thing. I don’t know you, and I don’t know what God’s best plan for your family is, but for ours, we are it. Thank you for your time today, but I can’t enroll my sons here. They are very special little boys and I can only entrust them to a school that is dedicated to helping them be the best they can be, and helping them take pride in who they are. This school is clearly not God’s best plan for that.”
I did not bother checking for a reaction as I left the room.
For a list of LGBT friendly books go here: http://www.stop-homophobia.com/lgbtbooksauthors.htm.
June is here. I am truly excited! June has always been one of my favorite months of the year. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls in the month of June. Is it possible to have two favorites? Just consider it a tie between June and December. I love the excitement and happiness people show around the holidays and not to mention the cooler weather. The heat and humidity in Tennessee can be a little too much, and I have already reached that point this year. This June is going to be much different from any before.
We both have settled back into routine following our wonderful visit to Abilene to meet the expectant family that we have matched with. I can honestly say that some part of me is still there emotionally, and I guess physically, I think I left a sock at the hotel. Today marks 98 days from the anticipated due date. 98 days! That seems so soon and yet so far away. What do we do? What needs to get accomplished between now and then? We turn our focus to the month of June.
June 2013 has the potential to change everything as we currently know it. The LGBT community is no longer years and months away from a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on issues surrounding marriage equality. We are now only days away from the decisions on California’s Proposition 8 and the much broader Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is time for forward movement and time to leave inequality behind. No longer talks of separate but equal. It is time for just equal. There are a lot of people anxious for the month of June to hurry along.
I have always tried to figure out a way to celebrate June as my birthday month, and I have been unsuccessful. This year it will be somewhat a month long celebration. June 2013 has been designated as LGBT Pride Month. That is exciting. An entire month! The 17th will be my day though. A day I will be celebrating my 33rd birthday (34th as Matthew would say). We plan to use this month to spend time with family and friends as we continue to prepare for the arrival of Baby T-Rex in September. Since it is officially LGBT Pride Month, I wanted to share an excerpt of an interview we did in the first couple of months of our adoption journey. Sometimes it is good to look back and reminisce. You can read the whole interview here. We are so happy to share our story with you and are excited that you are a part of our journey.
Q What obstacles have you run into as a hopeful adoptive gay couple?
Finding the right agency for us was a definite obstacle. There are a lot of Christian-based adoption agencies in our region as well as in our surrounding states. We both are Christian, and we were shocked about how we were received when it came to our desire to adopt. One agency offered to let us pay them their fee, but they would not promote us like other families. If we found the birth family, they would proceed with the steps to complete the adoption. This was very disappointing to both of us, but we didn’t veer off course.
Q What’s been the best part?
When you make the enormous decision on what journey you will take to growing your family you then learn what it will take to get there. You basically open up your life to be reviewed. Everything from medical history and medical tests to financial stability is scrutinized. Someone even comes into your home, on multiple occasions, and decides if you are going to have a child. Then you create marketing material. The text gets reviewed and edited along with pictures and layout. You read books and attend a weekend intensive course. It takes months to complete.
You might be thinking how does this have anything to do with the best part? The day when everything is complete, and you are an approved waiting family, you feel like an overnight success. An overnight success that took four months. We received our Dear Birthmother Letter when Matthew was working. I waited what seemed like days for him to get home so we could share the joy of opening them together. This is no joke, it felt absolutely amazing to see our very own letter after seeing so many of them of the families before us. We felt like we truly worked hard to represent who we are as individuals and as a couple, and we were truly happy how it turned out
Q Why do you think there’s still so much opposition to gay adoption?
I personally think that the opposition comes from misinformation as well as ideas and a thought process that is outdated and taught. There are a lot of people and organizations that are working hard to educate people that there isn’t any difference in a child raised by a heterosexual couple versus a same-sex couple. While you have one group using recent data from research saying there is no issue, there is another group using data from research several decades ago that didn’t even include same-sex couples in their research.
Q Do you think attitudes are changing?
We both feel positive and optimistic about new studies and commentary that show the tide is changing among individuals in the United States. It is also encouraging by all the changes happening around the world. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on DOMA and Prop 8, as well as the push for equality is full steam ahead. We have great representation and positive images of gay individuals as well as couples in numerous television shows and media outlets. I guess I will use my chance to reference Dan Savage. I honestly believe that every day it gets better.
Q What do you know about the open adoption process now that you wish you had known when you started?
I wish we had known that we didn’t need to worry about “the what-ifs.” We didn’t need to fit into a certain box to become parents and we didn’t need to say this or that to become parents. All we had to do was be ourselves, and everything else would happen when it is/was supposed to. Fortunately, we learned it truly early on in our journey.
Thanks for reading. You can read the rest of the interview here.