From Our Readers
July 16, 2013 6:00 am

We are all still waiting to hear the Supreme Court’s decision on the legality of Prop 8 and DOMA. Last March, when the Supreme Court listened to arguments for the first time, they spewed a bunch of lame excuses for not making a decision. They asked, “You expect us to make a decision?” and “Why should we make a decision vs. the states?” and “Why now?” The answers I have are, “YES, that is why you get paid $200K a year.” And then, “Duh, it’s your job? When the states cannot settle a case, it then comes to you – kind of how the legal system works.” And finally, “A decision is overdue, needed it yesterday.”

The lame excuse that really got me is “There is not enough data to prove that gay marriage and parenting are not harmful to children.” Being the child of a gay man, and a questionable mother, I have to say this is absolutely ridiculous. What are they worried about? That gays are crazy or subhuman? Oh no, they would never say that. BUT that IS what YOU ARE saying when you don’t allow them the same civil rights as every other U.S. Citizen.

“Oh no, we mean maybe their sexuality isn’t optimum for training a child to be a whole human being.” Okay. Let’s look at that. What do heterosexual parents do for children? Provide, Nurture and Teach Life Lessons? Can gay couples provide and nurture? UH YEEEAH.

“Yes, but what would they teach their children about love, life and sex?” Well, what do heterosexual parents teach about love, life and sex?

I may be the best or the worst person to respond to this, not sure. My mother and father were married for the first half of my childhood and for the second half, my father was in a committed relationship with a man – a man who played a huge part in raising me. So while I was not raised by gays the entire course of my childhood, I had both “heterosexual” parents and homosexual parents.

I say “heterosexual” because of course my dad is not heterosexual although he sure did give it a shot. Also, my mother does not fit the image of the stereotypical mom. My mom held hard labor jobs most of her life and didn’t care much about her hair, makeup or clothes. In fact, I would say I learned how to be a “woman” from my dad and from my mom, how to be a “man”.

What is a “man” or a “woman’s” role in marriage or life this day in age? These roles are changing in heterosexual relationships. Men are becoming the nurturers and women, the breadwinners. I know a lot of men who are far better cooks and cleaners than I. So what is it that a “heterosexual” mom or dad teaches that a homosexual parent can’t?

Life Lessons

My mom taught me to work hard, have integrity and use a “little elbow grease” when cleaning my bathtub. My dad encouraged me to learn how to cook so I can impress my future husband. He was born in the ‘50s, so I forgive him. But most importantly, he taught me to have a zest for life no matter what my pocket book says. Growing up, my father made sure we traveled. In high school, he financed my first trip to Europe even though he didn’t make that much money.

Love Lessons

So what did my “heterosexual” vs. homosexual parents teach me about love? I could tell from the time I started having memories that my parents did not like each other. My parents most likely “loved” each other. How can you not love someone you have spent a large portion of your life with and raised children with? But they did not have a romantic love. I never saw my parents kiss or have PDA of any kind.

When my dad started dating Dale, his significant other for 10 years, I never saw them kiss either, but it was for different reasons. My dad wanted to hide the fact he was gay, but as I got older I just figured it out. I could see the light in my dad’s eye. I could see the love and friendship between Dale and him. It made me much more optimistic about love.

When I was younger and witnessed my parent’s dissatisfaction with each other, I thought, “That is just how life is, you meet someone you can barely stand and marry them. Life is supposed to be hard.” But when I saw my dad with Dale, I thought, “Oh, you can marry someone you just click with and enjoy being with.” I hate saying all this, but it’s true. My parents were clearly unhappy with each other most of the time, but I respect their enormous efforts to make their marriage and our family life work.

The Birds and the Bees

So what did my parents teach me about sex? My dad taught me he would kill any man that ever tried to touch me. My dad is 6’1”, Dale is 6’4” and their best friends Chris and Greg, who were also a big part of my life, were well over 6 foot also. While it’s true, I didn’t have any real “sex conversations” with my dad, thank God, I did get the sense that my virginity was important; worth kicking ass over.

My mom taught me how to shave my legs. She tried to teach me about sex, because she was the mom, but it was awful and I blocked out the entire conversation because I didn’t want to learn about sex from her. Do kids even learn about sex from their parents – really? I doubt parents give their children a complete education on the matter. What parents offer in sex education is the emotional or moral lesson. “You shouldn’t have sex until you are ready. Or married. Or until it’s someone important.”

I hesitate to respond to this matter because my parent’s weren’t perfect and I didn’t grow up to be a perfect human being, but I’m okay. How much influence do parents have on a child’s life any way? Research shows that after a certain age, kids are largely influenced by their peers. Their communities also influence them. I had my parents but also many teachers, neighbors and my friend’s parents who raised me too. For example, my parents didn’t go to college, so they didn’t encourage me to go to college. They didn’t discourage it, but they didn’t know the steps I should take, since they had not taken those steps. But I went to college, twice! Mainly because I was encouraged at school and my best friend’s mom was a career counselor. That’s what being American is all about, despite where you come from; you have the choice to become what you want.

There is a lot we do not know about homosexual parents, but we DO know a lot about terrible heterosexual parents, and yet there are no laws preventing them. And, there is A LOT I know about homosexuals being treated as second-class citizens and how that harms people and families. My father was bullied his entire life by family members and peers. I’m glad he tried to be a heterosexual or I wouldn’t have been born, but sometimes I wish my father had the chance to be himself his WHOLE life. Denying marriage rights to homosexuals, damages the dignity of millions of people in this country. Treating homosexuals as second-class citizens makes them lead second-class lives, and in a country like the United States of America we should be better than that.

I think people are right when they say gays are redefining marriage. They are redefining it as an institution that matters. Matters so much, they would fight for it. Anyone who would fight for the right to marry honors it’s true definition more than us who take it for granted. People worry gay marriage and parenting is unnatural, but from my experience despite their lack of data on the matter, for all my parents, the basics came very naturally. I guess it’s just natural for humans to want to marry and have kids.

Read more from Elizabeth Collins here.

Featured image via Collins.

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