October 29, 2008

“When I grow up, I don’t want to marry you,” our friend’s young son told Lee for the third time in two days. No one had ever suggested he might be interested in her (or me, since I’d also gotten reassurances the night before) but he clearly wanted to set the record straight. He is, for the record, considering marrying his mom (and it’s an age-appropriate Oedipal response, not a creepy one) or his best friend’s baby sister. But not till he grows up, he reminds us.

When asked why he wouldn’t consider Lee, he told her it was because she was already married and he could tell because she wears a ring. “Do you know who I’m married to? Thorn!” And he gave her a skeptical look and said, “Actually, I think you’re both girls.” He’s right about that bit, and I immediately got annoyed with Lee when she told me this for lying to a child, but she said she thinks of what we have as being as close to marriage as she’s ever going to get and she didn’t even consider that she wasn’t being truthful. She just wanted to make sure he acknowledges our connection.

We know he does, because he and his sister think of us as a unit and treat us like they do any other childless couple among their parents’ friends. We haven’t quizzed them about what they think of same-sex couples or anything like that, though when we and their mom explained adoption and our plan to the little boy he was relieved to hear there would already be a child available because he very solemnly informed us that he didn’t believe we could have a baby on our own without help.

Our little friend is right, we are both girls and the idea that we could get married raises some eyebrows and not just in puzzled glances like his. In fact, voters around us in their infinite red-state wisdom chose to amend our constitution to make sure we don’t even think of marriage as an option. And honestly, right now, we don’t. Right now I’m up in the middle of the night thanks to the caffeine in my migraine medicine and my beautiful partner is sleeping peacefully now that I’m not trying to read in bed next to her. I had to take the dog out of her crate unexpectedly to let her throw up in the back yard and one cat’s sleeping beside me and one downstairs. Oh, and we’re trying to adopt a child or children from our state’s foster care system.

That’s where things get messy. I know I’ve talked about this before, but we’ve been treated with nothing but respect and kindness from our social workers. We’ll both be certified and both be legally qualified to parent when our paperwork comes through. But we’ve made a difficult decision and decided that when we stand in front of a judge to finalize an adoption, we’ll be giving our child a hyphenated last name but that’s the only legal connection s/he’ll have to me. That’s not because I don’t want to be a mother; in part it’s because I’m more prepared to mother than Lee is and so my mothering will be immediately obvious day-to-day while hers will be both learned and legal. We’ve been doing plenty of research and talking to her family members to make sure it’s clear that in the event of anything happening to her we’ll have the guardianship plan we want in place. We’ve been talking about how we’ll deal with mediation and co-parenting if for some reason our relationship doesn’t survive, though neither of us anticipates that at all. We’ve been planning to move to a place where we could both be legal parents just because we want that safety, want that security for our children.

For us at least, marriage isn’t about us at all. That’s why we’re not particularly concerned about what people call our relationship or how they define it; we understand and know and trust our commitment to each other. But I’m writing here about wanting to become a mother, and our social workers have clearly told us that they think I could be an excellent mother. I’m also writing here about having to become a mother while remaining, technically speaking, just some random adult who happens to live with that child.

Everyone involved in adoption knows about the painful/tacky/common question of who’s a REAL mother. I want to be real, and not in a Velveteen Rabbit sense that a child loves me enough to pretend me into reality. I think Lee and I have the potential to create a great family and I want that family to have recognition. I want my someday children to have two loving parents even if they are two loving girl parents. That’s the reality we’re creating, but we’re trapped in a state where the rules tell us we’re not good enough even though the social workers and children’s advocates disagree.

In California next week, voters have a chance to support families like the one I’m trying to create. I’m not religious and I’d really prefer a system in which everyone who wants them has civil unions registered with the government and then marriages only happen in religious contexts according to whatever guidelines each religion has. Despite what some proponents of Proposition 8 say, voting NO against banning same-sex marriage won’t force churches to marry anyone who wants to set an appointment. Voting NO just says that same-sex couples can get the same wacky gifts they’d never register for from distant relatives that opposite-sex ones can. Voting NO means couples like us who want security for our children can get it, because there are already families — real families — like the one we’re creating that need support.

Lee had a dream about Ezra — the six-year-old our social worker thinks would be a good fit for us — the other night. If Ezra becomes our child, what I wrote in our “dear birthmother” letter will be true: he’ll have lots of REAL mothers — his first mother, a longtime loving foster mother, and two adoptive mothers in Lee and me. Regardless of what the law says, we’ll all be part of his history and reality. We’ll all be real. I support changes in the law that would give him access to his REAL birth certificate rather than the falsified one we’d get saying Lee gave birth to him. I support common-sense ethical parenting that would let him stay in touch with the woman who’s raised him these last three years. I support changes in the law that would protect our family, give us the rights that other committed couples have, make me REAL. If you care enough to read what I have to say hope you do too. In California, vote NO on Proposition 8; in the rest of the country keep pushing for justice reforms. And keep it real.


  1. [...] marriage [...]

  2. While there are strong similarities between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, believing that gay unions are equal to heterosexual unions and that opposition to gay marriage is equal to the discrimination of race is a misconception.

    If the state legalizes gay marriage, then suddenly marriage changes from a protected belief of a small minority, to the false impression that the state (which is an extension of the people) believes that it is morally acceptable to practice homosexuality.

    As individuals, law abiding homosexuals should be entitled to every inalienable right held by any heterosexual; but as couples, gay relationships no longer hold an equal stance to the synergy of a heterosexual relationship. The answer lies in procreation—the primary responsibility of a family.

    The gay agenda wants to redefine marriage as simply commitment, honesty, affection, and warmth between two loving individuals. If so then it simply becomes an equal protection issue and the gay couple argues they are being discriminated against for a relationship they claim holds equal commitment and value to the heterosexual relationship. This argument breaks down because it ignores posterity and procreation. Children are what differentiate the marriage contract from all other consensual adult arrangements. The state has always had a keen interest in the bearing and rearing of children. Indeed that is why the state got in the business of registering and recognizing marriage in the first place.

    The point, both legally and historically, the gay family can ONLY exist as a product of government policy and modern science, and a dependence on the natural family. It is very clear that there is no natural procreative ability between gay partners. The procreative ability between heterosexual couples is, by contrast, perfectly natural, and dates back to the start of recorded history. The natural family would continue whether the government or science became involved or not. Thus, we see that a homosexual relationship is not naturally equal to a heterosexual relationship.

    The Declaration of Independence proclaims that we are endowed with unalienable rights, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. John Locke, called this “natural law”. Natural law is not a creation or product of the state, but was to be protected by the state as these are the natural rights of all men inseparably connected to being human. Gays may argue that they are in the pursuit of liberty and happiness, yet there is no logical means by which they are naturally in the pursuit of life. Indeed we may argue that the gay movement, by its very nature, is a movement in pursuit of death, its own extinction, for without the intervention of the state and modern science, homosexuality results in the termination of posterity. Thus, from the perspective of both science and state we can see that the union of man and women, with their resulting children compared to the gay union are polar opposites both in origin and fruit.

    What about couples who are infertile? Many married heterosexuals choose not to have children, and others cannot because of medical problems or physical handicaps. But gays fought furiously to convince the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from their books as a “disorder”, or medical problem. The majority of the United States will now agree that homosexuality is not a medical problem or disorder. Even in perfect medical condition, a gay couple cannot procreate without the help of a third party. Therefore homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships are inherently, and naturally, unequal. Gays should NOT shunned because of their beliefs and tendencies. Nor does this fact infringe on their God given rights. The argument is that the two relationships are very different from one another and for that reason they should be defined differently.

    More here

  3. I really don’t like deleting comments, so I’m leaving the one above for now. If people are going to reply to me I’d prefer they actually reply to ME AND WHAT I WROTE, but it’s nice that someone thinks I’m in the same league as Shakesville and Lawrence Lessig.

    The short response in my case to the above argument is that since I can’t carry a pregnancy to term because my body isn’t built for it, not simply because I’m a lesbian. And I don’t believe in god-given rights because I don’t believe in god. But hey, it’s not as if Jeffrey was reading or replying to what I actually wrote.

  4. It really riles me up that there is still so much discrimination towards GLBT folks. And too many people cite the Bible stating that marriage should be between “a man and a woman”. Don’t we also have something in our laws saying there is a separation between church and state? And shouldn’t a good Christian not use the Bible to condone bigotry?? (But here I am getting off topic…good at that as this is something I am passionate about: equality and justice)

    Of course you two are REAL parents and a REAL couple and your marriage is REAL (regardless of it being recognized legally)! The wonderful thing about children is that they will accept that very simply.

    We are teaching our kids not to be boxed in by “gender barriers”. We are trying to instill the “Don’t think you can or can’t do something because you are a boy or a girl or because most other people do it that way”. And that includes who they love. I wish some of the people in our country could see how truly discriminatory Proposition 8 is…

  5. I totally agree with you, Torina. Really, I like having a “partner” because it describes what we’re doing very well: working together toward an equally cherished goal. But it sure would be nice to get some of the legal protection that married couples get.

    I absolutely hope that California will pull through and maintain marriage equity next week, but there’s going to be a long national slog. Lee keeps shaking her head and saying, “How can they have better civil rights in South Africa????”

    I’m almost embarrassed that I keep being so delighted and relieved when we’re treated like any other couple at each step of the adoption process. Because on the one hand, of course we think we’re just as good (in our own ways) and that it shouldn’t be an issue. But there are also plenty of other places in our region where we’d be in real trouble. I know how angry I’d be to face that kind of injustice on a constant and major level, but it’s strange to keep thinking, “Wow, they’re being so nice to us and treating us like we’re normal. Awesome!” I think someday it will be normal instead.

  6. Thorn, I totally agree. Equality for all should also mean equal protection under the law. Proposition 8 contradicts “the pursuit of happiness” and equality which are supposedly our inalienable rights. Grrr. Do you read Daddy, Papa, and Me’s blog? He wrote some great posts on this, too. I don’t have the link available at the moment but I will when I get home.

  7. I do read and I’ve loved that series of posts. There have been a lot of great posts on this topic, many of them by people unlike me who are actually married and parenting. I was afraid to start linking because I’ve read so many I’d certainly leave people out. But since it’s Write to Marry Day I wanted to add some of my own thoughts too.

  8. I live in Holland and we have had gaymarriage since 2001, so my son who is 6 now never has known anything else. I love, love the fact that he and most of his friends want to marry each other and no-one has to say that that isn’t possible. My uncles marry in december and it is so wonderful to really be able to teach our kids that love is love. I remeber asking why my uncle couldn’t marry if he loved someone and my mom saying because the law is stupid. It isn’t anymore and it is wonderful!

  9. [...] out of over over 400 blog posts who participated in Write to Marry day yesterday. I really liked Mijk’s comment about how her son has always grown up with legal gay marriage in Holland. She says, “My [...]

  10. definitely voting NO!

  11. Hey, CA Reader, I forgot to respond to you to say thank you. So THANK YOU!!

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