My daughter, Mary Lou (my phantom name for her), came out at age fourteen, ten years ago. I can’t say I was totally surprised after years of her tearing the heads and couture off my vintage Barbie dolls, favoring WWF wrestlers and Ninja Turtle figurines instead, as well as her collection of matchbox cars. She also refused to wear dresses and any shoe other than Converse high tops to the symphony, opera, or even my wedding to Number 2, in which she was the flower girl. She was the only girl on the flag-football team, the only girl playing point guard on the church basketball team, and plays a mean slide guitar. Before and since the defining moment, I’ve always been and always will be her biggest supporter. I took her to hundreds of youth pride meetings and marched proudly carrying my PFLAG banner at the Atlanta Gay Pride Parade. She graduated from one of the top business schools in the country, magna cum laude, a year ago and has a fabulous job in the financial services industry. Oh, and I forgot to mention she is tall, blond, and looks like a supermodel. She’s my love, my heart, and my pride and joy.
Mary Lou has had two serious relationships. Her first was with a wonderful Latino artist type, Lola (also not her name). I still adore her to this day, and hate that their relationship ended so badly. Lola, I hope you and Mary Lou will connect in the future because you were so special in her finding herself as a lesbian. Her current girlfriend just graduated from a prominent women’s college and is heading to law school. They have been together for two years. Whether they end up together long-term or not, I know that my daughter wants to live the life that all Americans long for. This means building a life with a loving partner afforded the same rights and privileges as any straight married couple. It means having children who are shown acceptance in their schools, living in neighborhoods akin to those of their straight counterparts. It means freedom from any form of discrimination against those that live the gay lifestyle.
My gay friends who are parents are devoted and nurturing to their children and live their lives indistinguishable from those of their straight neighbors. They are loyal to their mates as monogamous, devoted partners, they honor and abide by the law, and they are committed to making their neighborhoods and communities safer, being the first to volunteer on boards and charities.
This whole idea that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman is ridiculous and antiquated considering that over 50 percent of traditional marriages end in divorce. Who gets to decide this? This is more an expression of prejudice than a real argument to deny gays basic human rights.
Why do I care about this for my daughter, her potential wife, and my grandchildren?
- In most states, gays can’t make medical decisions for their partners in an emergency even if the gay couple has been in a long-term monogamous relationship. Often these decisions are left to family members who have the legal right to make those decisions even though they are often hostile and have been estranged for years.
- Upon death, in many cases, even carefully drawn wills and durable power of attorneys have been overturned by a family in cases of custody, funeral wishes, visitation, and property rights.
- In most states, there are no medical, life, or disability insurance benefits for same-sex partners.
What does this mother want?
I want my daughter, upon finding the love of her life, to be able to have all the rights and benefits of heterosexual couples that marry. I want my daughter to be able to bring children into the world that will always know they have a stable household with a loving mommy regardless of what happens to the other mommy. I want a grandchild that is not ostracized by society for being brought up different. I want my child and grandchild to be legitimized.