Saturday, October 29, 2011
Protect The Children
Isn't that how the mantra goes when the tide turns to recognizing equality for the LGBT community? No matter what the issue at hand might be, instead of making their stand on religious grounds, those who oppose acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual,and transgendered people twist the conversation around to one of protecting children. What really cheeses me off however, is that they are not really for protecting children at all. Few, if any, of the people who have criticized Jay and myself for raising children will ever open their home to a child in need of a family. Many would rather a child age out of the foster system never knowing a family, than see them raised by a loving same-sex family.
But the reality is that we DO have families and those children can be equally as harmed by the lack of legal recognition and protections as their parents are. A recent video from the Family Equality Council highlights this issue and shows how bans on same-sex marriage and attacks on gay rights can have a serious impact on the most vulnerable people of all....kids like mine. Check out the video after the jump and ask yourself who is really being protected by anti-gay laws?... because it's not children. I can guarantee you that.
When it comes to family building for LGBT people, the state you live in matters. The U.S. has a very complicated patch work of laws surrounding who is and is not recognized as a legal parent. For instance, many states will allow for single parent adoption but not adoption by a same-sex couple. That often puts one parent completely out in the cold when it comes to making decisions for their children or providing for them in an emergency. As the video states, if a child is hospitalized and the available parent is not the one that legally recognized on paper, they can denied he ability to make critical medical decisions for their kids. Other issues faced by the lack of legal recognition are access to health insurance, survivor benefits, and custody determinations. Can you imagine the helplessness and horror any parent would feel if this was happening to them? Wanting to provide for you children or even be with them in a time of crisis and not being allowed to? It's too much for me to even contemplate.
From my own experience....I feel very fortunate to live in California, where Both my husband and myself are recognized as legal adoptive parents to our children. There have been many issues where Jay's health insurance has been essential. It has helped Daniel when he broke his arm and had to go to the emergency room and when Selena got a frightening fever of 103 degrees. They have both had the benifit of regular check ups, vaccinations, and dental care that can be such a difficult things to obtain without decent health insurance. Another thing I am thankful for is that health professional acknowledges us both as parents, able to seek treatment and make decisions on their behalf of Daniel and Selena. That is such a huge thing because I can't even get other things common to Jay and myself, like our cable company or credit cards to speak to me because Jay's name may be the one on the account. It's little things like that sock you in the gut and remind you that not everyone recognizes our relationship together. Even though we are legally married in the state of California, to some we are still cohabitating strangers. If that issue extended to the medical care of my kids I would be pulling my hair out. For many gay families in states across the U.S. this is a reality of life that must be dealt with and a tangible demonstration of how DOMA treats LGBT Americans and their children differently.
So I think it's about time that those who oppose marriage equality and gay adoption drop the pretense that they are doing so to protect children. Their version of protection is only from what they regard as a moral harm. They do not say one word about the more immediate topics like the massive amounts of kids in this country that need a home right now....or the kids who are harmed because of the laws they push against same-sex families...or the homeless kids living on the streets that were kicked out of their homes for being gay. Their only version on "protection" is preventing kids from ever having to be exposed to the fact that gay people exist. And if they happen to be your parents?...too bad for you.
So when they bring up gays indoctrinating kids in schools....perhaps we can remember that there are already gay kids in our schools that need our help dealing with bullying, loneliness, and isolation. When they haul out the mantra that kids need a mother and father...lets remember the thousands of kids in the foster system they are making no effort to take care of...as well as the 2 million kids currently being cared for by gay and lesbian parents like myself all across the United States.
These are the faces that America needs to see...real gay people, couples, and families. They need to understand what it is they vote on when anti-gay groups haul out the hysteria machine and begin making us into threatening monsters out to destroy family and country. We have families...we are family...we might even be your family. Isn't that worthy of protection?
Until next time dear readers....