Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Family Values

Thanks to you all for your comments on my post on Prop 8. Amy rose to the occasion and linked to an article that does not use the Bible as a means to justify Prop 8. (Thank you, Amy! I appreciate it very much.) I've read the article several times, and I feel compelled to respond.

First of all, I grew up with the traditional notion of family being made up of a mother, a father, and kids. That's what I knew growing up, and that's what worked. But issues related to Prop 8 weren't in the forefront of my consciousness back then. During my undergrad days, I began my exploration of what family is and what it means to me. I took a class called Perspectives on Gender, and this was my very first introduction to different types of families. One of the professors who taught the class was bisexual, and her sexuality resulted in her having a very different family than what I had previously been exposed to. We spent one day discussing the notion of family, and honestly, it was the best class period of the whole quarter. I thought her family structure was very cool.

Little did I know then that I would marry into another different sort of family in a few short years. As I discussed before, my husband's mother is a lesbian, and, together with her partner Cherie, they are raising Cherie's three grandchildren. The specifics of why my two mother-in-laws have custody of these kids are not really relevant to this, but I will say that the kids were not receiving adequate care from their parents.

But according to the article in question, "[every] child being raised by gay or lesbian couples will be denied his birthright to both parents who made him. Every single one. Moreover, losing that right will not be a consequence of something that at least most of us view as tragic, such as a marriage that didn't last, or an unexpected pregnancy where the father-to-be has no intention of sticking around. On the contrary, in the case of same-sex marriage and the children of those unions, it will be explained to everyone, including the children, that something wonderful has happened!"

Knowing what these kids went through at the hands of their own biological parents, and knowing how my two mother-in-laws rescued them from a very destructive and dysfunctional family life, the points made in this article piss me off. They piss me off more than anything else I've read on the issue. There is just so much that is wrong with what's being said here. And frankly, I take it personally.

And here's why: Prop 8 threatens my own family. Yes, I am a straight woman who is married to a straight man, and we plan to add to our own little "normal" family. But these kids, although they are not blood relations, are my family. And I love them. And I love my mother-in-laws for giving them a wonderful home, even though they are both in their 50s and should be planning for retirement. And actually, I would say that when these kids were adopted by my mother-in-laws, something wonderful did indeed happen. If, by being adopted by a gay couple, the kids are being denied their birthright (of abuse and neglect), then I say, "Screw birthright. Let's focus on love."

Besides all this touchy-feely stuff, what is this nonsense about marriage being designed for procreation? What century are we living in? What of those married couples who don't want to have children? Does this mean they shouldn't get married? What of those couples who suffer from infertility to the point where they may need donor eggs or sperm in order to have a child? Should they just forget their dreams of having children because they have a medical condition? After all, if they resort to using donor eggs and/or sperm, they might be denying their child his/her birthright! It's absolute rubbish.

As the author himself stated at the beginning of the article, "[marriage] as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its features vary across groups and cultures." And this is exactly right. Our notions of marriage and family have changed. My family is not threatening anyone else's family by being a little outside of the norm. But if Prop 8 passes, it will hurt my family. How is this fair or right? How can anyone justify this?

Bottom line: children primarily need love. We all do. It is simply not right to deny others the right to love and to have a family structure that reflects that love. I don't mean to belabor the point, but this is really an issue of human compassion and decency. I will lose so much faith in the human race if Prop 8 passes. It's just not right.


WeezerMonkey said...

I hate that article. I've read it over five times since its original printing. It is the same damn article everyone cites when asked to provide a non-religious argument for Prop 8.

I didn't think it was possible, but this viewpoint could be even more offensive than blind Biblical reference.

And I think this "liberal democrat" should be ashamed of himself.

Angie Eats Peace said...

My thoughts exactly when I read the article.

Foster parents are hereos, in my eyes. Unfortunately, there are too many kids in need, and not enough families.

Going into a separate issue, how many people who vehemently oppose gay couples adopting ever step up to the plate to adopt themselves, or take in foster children? Not many, beacause if they did, there would not be such an overflow of children in the system!

What Roy's mom and Cherrie have done is somethhing to be applauded, I consider any opposing views immoral.

inflammatory writ said...

Oh god, Leslie, that article almost made me cry. I left a comment but I don't know if it will be published.

It was along the lines of this...

I love how bigotry is couched in the guise of "liberal Democrat", as if that somehow excuses it. Any child who is loved is a lucky one. No matter if a child has one parent, two moms, two dads, or a mom and a dad - for all the children who are abandoned, beaten, abused, and forgotten, these children - conversely - are safe and loved.

Birthright is just biology. Love is what makes a family.

Anonymous said...

ugh i hate that article too. there is nothing more important for a family and for children than love, whether it comes from a single parent, a mother and father, two mothers, two fathers, adopted parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, whatever!

i hate how opponents of gay marriage defend 'traditional' marriage as the most pefect union in the world. what about marriages that don't work? marriages break up, people get divorced, marraiges can get abusive, parents fight. marraige is not perfect. as you mentioned in your post, your mother in laws are raising their grandchildren, who are better off NOT being in a sacred, pefect, heterosexual marriage.

man, i sort of wish i lived in cali just so i could also vote NO on prop 8

amber said...

i think your MILs are doing a really wonderful thing by raising their grandkids. it takes a lot for a person to step up to the plate like that and it's something that the kids are going to ever forget.

amber said...

um, that should read "aren't ever going to forget"

sherthebear said...

a wonderful post! There are so many different types of family and who is to say one type of family is better than another. I don't understand why people care about other people's lives so much. I don't see how who someone marries affects other people's lives. We are individual with the ability to make our own choices, as long as we don't hurt other people who cares if I marry a man or a woman. I just don't understand why people fear things that are different from them. It is selfish and narrow-minded.

Jessica said...

I can't even bring myself to read that article right now. I have been thinking about this issue so much for the past few hours that I am almost in tears right now, and I'm afraid that reading that article will send me over the edge. I really can't handle it.

I want to vomit when I think about people being opposed to this issue. Honestly. I am sick to my stomach over it. These are basic rights for human beings. Who are we as a people if we take these rights away?

Thanks for writing this. I think it's wonderful what Roy's mom and Cherrie are doing for those kids.

Claire said...

I will also lose faith if this prop passes. Faith in California, faith in our future, faith in the people of our generation who choose to vote yes -- all of that is going to wither.

Thanks for writing so passionately.