At work a long time ago a former office mate of mine, let’s call him Buster, expressed in hushed tones his disapproval of same-sex couples raising kids. I say hushed tones because another colleague of ours had recently become a mother when her partner gave birth to their daughter. I guess Buster didn’t want her to find out what he thought of such things. Buster’s beef was that he felt children raised in such households would become targets for bigotry and ridicule. It’s fine for same-sex couples to get together, he opined, but they shouldn’t drag kids into it. Sigh. Buster also read the Weekly Standard, but that’s another story.
People who have issues with all things gay typically run to the “Won’t somebody please think of the children” defense to buttress their bigotry. Even if such people are “OK” with the gay in theory, as Buster proclaimed, their “tolerance” ends where the children are concerned — we mustn’t expose them to such things, so the argument goes. It’s a load of hooey, of course. As many have noted, the only ridicule children of same-sex couples face come from folks like Buster. The children aren’t the problem. Their parents aren’t the problem. Buster is the problem.
This week the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments about two key cases in relation to marriage equality. One case is a challenge to the terminally stupid Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that forbids US recognition of same-sex marriage, even if the couple’s marriage is recognized by their state government. The other case is California’s infamous Proposition 8, which ditched the state’s nascent marriage equality court ruling just five months after it took effect. Getting rid of DOMA could open the door to all sorts of things for same-sex couples, from survivorship benefits (like Social Security) to immigration rights for non-citizen spouses. These are not special rights. Heterosexual couples have enjoyed them for ages.
Getting rid of Prop. 8 could at the very least bring back marriage equality to California. However, if the Court rules broadly enough, all state amendments and statutes banning same-sex couples from marrying could be ruled unconstitutional, thus opening the door to marriage equality in all 50 states. Many view this as a long shot, but it is possible.
As we await the arguments to begin in the Supreme Court, it is to the children of same-sex couples that we should turn our attention. Two have received much press for their articulate defense of their families’ rights under the law.
We have 12 year-old Matthew Lannon from Rhode Island, who spoke before a committee in the Rhode Island legislature. He has two fathers and two mothers. During his passionate, composed speech, he noted that only families like his have to come before politicians year after year to ask for something that families headed by heterosexual parents take for granted. Well played, Mr. Lannon. The double standard burdens his family and others like his financially and emotionally.
And we have 12 year-old Daniel Martinez-Leffew. With the help of one of his two fathers, Mr. Martinez-Leffew wrote a very engaging and endearing speech directed specifically at Chief Justice John Roberts. He notes that his fathers adopted him and his sister very much like the Chief Justice and his wife adopted their two children. He urged Chief Justice Roberts to keep this commonality in mind while hearing the cases this week.
Kids have a wonderful way of cutting through the BS of double standards and getting to the heart of the issue. These two young men certainly presented themselves very well doing just that. Only a hardened heart or duplicitous double-talker could counter their messages. Sadly, Buster’s opinions on these things live large on the Court, particularly in the form of Justice Scalia. No doubt the press will prick up its ear this week waiting for him to say something outrageous, like he did during arguments over the Voting Rights Act.
Let’s not let Justice Scalia’s antics, which he clearly does for show, overshadow the importance of the cases being heard. Mr. Lannon ended his speech urging the Rhode Island legislature to “choose love.” We should all follow his counsels.
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