Just last year, the US Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA and returned marriage equality to California. Today, 19 states (32 states as of Nov 13, 2014) and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to legally wed, and the ban on same-sex marriage is being challenged in every state in our country. We are witnessing an historical moment in the fight for marriage equality, and at the heart of the overturning of several same-sex marriage bans this past year, are our children’s voices.
In the Supreme Court’s ruling, there was nothing more telling than Justice Anthony Kennedy’s remarks about the harms children of same-sex parents endure. Back in August, 7th Circuit Court Republican Judge Richard Posner — a Regan appointee — also expressed concern about the injustices children of same-sex couples experience. The source of both judges’ points, and the credited factor in the overturning of the marriage bans, were the Voices of Children Amicus Briefs filed by the Family Equality Council. The briefs not only brought to light that same-sex couples are successfully raising the next generation, but that the ban on marriage indicates to children with same-sex parents that their families aren’t legitimate. Through the use of children’s personal stories, the briefs unveiled the inequality children of same-sex couples feel, simply because the law won’t acknowledge what they already know — love makes a family.
In my lifetime, I never thought I’d get a chance to marry my partner. So long before the possibility of legal recognition, she and I committed our lives to each other, like many of our same-sex peers. We now have two wonderful daughters, Sanibel (6) and Brennan (10), and my home state of Wisconsin has stayed a court ruling that could eventually allow my partner and I to join in matrimony. The thought alone makes me well with tears. The reality that our family may finally be equally recognized under the law is one that comes with great happiness. However, each day I go to work, I am reminded that the LGBTQ community does not universally feel the joy I’m feeling, and I am reminded that there is still much work to be done.
As the Midwest Regional Manager at Family Equality Council, I work daily to ensure that LGBTQ parents and their families are able to connect and celebrate as well as support each other. We work to promote both their lived and legal equality and we host annual events across the country. Our largest event — Family Week — drew over 500 families this year alone. Families joined us from almost every one of the 50 states, affirming our presence across the country and my personal commitment to fighting not only for my own family, but for all LGBTQ parents and their families.