As the final minutes of 2014 tick away, thoughts come rushing to my mind. Thoughts about the 2014 marriage equality milestones. Thoughts about my wife and our sixteenth holiday season together. And thoughts about my kids and the strides they made in 2014.
Marriage Equality Milestones
When the champagne corks popped at midnight on Dec. 31, 2013, only 8 U.S. states and Washington D.C. offered marriage equality for loving couples. As 2014 draws to a close, there are now 35 states on that list—including my state, Indiana.
The fact that Indiana now has marriage equality is a supernatural marvel. Conservative Indiana politicians have tried for a decade to add “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” or something similar to our state constitution. In fact, just one year ago, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) Hoosiers thought the question to amend the state constitution would be on the 2015 or 2016 ballot. We were worried.
Thankfully, fair-minded legislators—including a local Republican state representative—played an integral part in delaying the amendment another year. I’d like to think it was due to a meeting my charismatic and likely future president (as he’s told us for years now) 11-year-old had with this Republican representative. My son handed him a Christmas card with a photo of him, his brother and two moms and then shared his family story. The delay of the amendment allowed time for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to rule in favor of marriage equality.
I’m grateful for all of the families who shared their stories across Indiana. They made a difference in my state. I’m also thankful for the part that Family Equality Council played in this case as well as many others across the country. In the Seventh Circuit’s opinion, Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner mentions the Family Equality Council’s amicus curiae brief “Voices of Children” in which children from LGBTQ families share how marriage inequality affects them. They, the children and Family Equality Council, made a difference.
Sixteen years ago I knew I found the love of my life when I discovered her love of children. I had a 5-year-old from a previous marriage and she truly enjoyed spending time with him. We spent many dates at the park or the movies with Jesse and Amy’s nieces and nephew. Amy was funny, caring and loved kids. She also loved my attempt at cooking and ate my bland Chinese meal with a smile.
Fast forward to today. She’s still the funniest person I know and makes me laugh nearly every day. She still eats meals I cook but is a little more forthcoming with her reviews.
Amy is loyal, caring, sensitive, empathetic, very intuitive and, I’m delighted to say, a fantastic cook.
Over the years we’ve remodeled nearly every room in the house—some of them more than once; found outfits for Amy to wear when she was pregnant (why does every maternity top have a bow or a ruffle?); taxied the kids to sporting and school events; watched our oldest graduate from high school; traveled to Florida, Canada, New York City, Provincetown for Family Week, and even Alaska; married on the Capitol lawn with the DOMA and Prop 8 crowds and the Supreme Court as the backdrop; shared laughs and wiped each other’s tears and our relationship is stronger for it all.
The boys are now 22 and 11 and Amy jokes (although she says it’s not a joke) that it’s time to add another child—one each decade. But that’s a topic for another blog.
The oldest, Jesse, is in the midst of his personal investigation stage and doing what most young 20 something’s do—hanging out with friends, working at a not-so-great-job and not calling their mothers as often as their mothers would like. Amy and I are trying our best to be there for him when he needs us but not be “Smothers.” He has an apartment with two buddies and works as a server at a popular sports bar chain. While he was a good athlete growing up and really enjoyed many sports, the fact that he works at a sports bar is quite ironic. He doesn’t understand much about football and couldn’t care less about who is in the World Series. And he’s never really been one to eat chicken wings. When he visits our home I usually end up asking him “Do you have food at your apartment? Are you sleeping enough? Are you taking care of yourself?” and then I send him off with a collection of random items from our pantry and refrigerator. A parent never stops worrying.
Jesse is kind, brave, quick-witted and intelligent.
Our youngest child, Leo, is in some ways the oldest. He’s like raising a little old man. He’s intuitive like his other mother and really cares about others. He loves history and asks lots of questions that this art-major-mom has a hard time answering without Google. He really wants to understand issues and wants to fix them. 2014 brought exciting new challenges for him. He was elected student council vice president of his intermediate school (remember the earlier mention of his political aspirations?) and played Randy in a “big stage” production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” Amy and I enjoy watching him discover new passions, such as acting, and conquer obstacles, such as his math homework. A parent never stops appreciating the gift that is a child.
Leo is gregarious, inquisitive, bright and fearless.
My Hope for 2015
I look forward to 2015 and the promise it brings. A new day and a chance for marriage equality to come to the remaining 15 states. LGBTQ families in those states, including my home state of Ohio, are not protected. There is still much work to be done.
As you ring in the New Year, resolve to share your story in 2015. Share it as often as you’re able. You can make a difference. Support Family Equality Council and the work they do. If you’re able to give financially, do so. If you are able to give your time, volunteer to help with an event. Get involved. Attend a Family Equality event near you or travel to one. I’m not overstating it to say their events are life-changing for the whole family. Family Equality Council is making a difference but they can’t do it without your support.
All children should know, “My state and country values my family. My family values me.” Together we can get there.
Best wishes for a fabulous 2015!
Midwest Advisory Council, Chair