Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When two dads or two moms are better than one

(Billie Stanton is a writer and columnist for the Tucson Citizen, from which this is reprinted.)

Arizona, California and Florida now have joined 27 other states in banning gay marriage.

That means three-fifths of our nation formally, officially deems gay marriage illegal.

Whew! That was close!

Imagine if we had let social chaos erupt - men marrying men, women marrying women.

What next? Interracial marriage and mixed-race children? Women and blacks getting to vote? Single-parent families?

It's a good thing we nipped that nonsense in the bud.

Besides, gay unions would seriously jeopardize our sacred institution of marriage between a man and a woman.

We can't have that. Marriage is a national value. Americans value it so much, they usually try it two or three times. Sometimes more.

A lot of kids can scarcely keep up with all their stepparents, step-stepparents, stepgrandparents, half brothers, semi- sisters and so on. Those children and their ever-changing families make up a big chunk of our population.

Another significant portion consists of kids, like mine, being raised by one parent.

And while one good parent beats having two lousy ones, nothing's as good as having a harmonious duo of parental units at the helm.

We all know such families. Parents together for decades, kids nurtured and guided into responsible adulthood, all ending with a dazzling array of happy, healthy grandchildren frolicking amid rainbows and Teletubbies.

My friends Mary and Bubba are a great example. Happily devoted for nearly 25 years, they're raising son Michael with all the love and care a lad needs.

Ditto D.J. and Timothy, whose two daughters blossom into more loving, accomplished young ladies every year.

These are families I envy; they're the sort of loving couples I wish I were in, for my daughter's sake more than my own. But I never married.

Of course, neither did they. Mary and Bubba are lesbians; D.J. and Timothy are gay men.

The children they're raising were discarded, abandoned, thrown away by their biological parents - those heterosexuals we so sanctimoniously enshrine in our laws.

The irony would be hilarious if it weren't so damned tragic. But despite Barack Obama's election and Hillary Clinton's serious bid, we can't yet claim victory in civil rights.

Insecure people still ferret about for ways to feel superior; the fearful recoil from anyone "different."

They brand homosexuals as sinful and immoral; they can't acknowledge that many gays and lesbians, like my friends, lead more honorable lives than some of their straight counterparts.

Close-minded citizens deplore other people's "sexual preference," as if anyone "prefers" to be the victim of discrimination and hate crimes.

These citizens deny the biological predisposition to sexual orientation, even when the National Academy of Sciences publishes the research results, as it did yet again this June.

You didn't get to choose the color of your skin, and you didn't choose your gender. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals didn't choose, either.

Remember how women, children and African-Americans were once considered property? How adjectives such as lazy, devious or greedy were used to label various groups?

Back in the day, my Irish ancestors would "need not apply." My Cheyenne forebearers would be called "savages."

And some of my daughter's Jewish ancestors were lucky to escape Europe alive. Others weren't so lucky.

The contemporary contempt toward our lesbian sisters and gay brothers is the very same stuff.

This animosity is every bit as evil, ignorant and dangerous as those earlier forms of bigotry.

Just ask the parents of Matthew Shepard, a young man beaten, tortured and left to die tied to a barbed-wire fence in the frozen fields of rural Wyoming in the wee hours of Oct. 7, 1998.

Their son, a smiling, friendly optimist, couldn't have imagined the hateful homophobia he was to encounter. No one should ever have to imagine such a thing.

Maybe by the time my friends' kids are grown, their parents will have been able to marry. Those are the weddings I want to attend.

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