With Memorial Day just a couple of weeks behind us, I have taken residence on the weekends
in a pool side lounge chair, at the local swim club my partner, Kristen Henderson and I joined
just a mere month ago. I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy the picturesque views of the Long
Island Sound as our two year old twins splash in the water.
As I was adjusting their life jackets
this past weekend, my mind wandered to how much time parents spend worrying about their
children's well-being. The safety checklist that rolls through my mind on these warm summer
days: Did they drink enough water in this hot sun? Do they have the proper amount of SPF
sunscreen on? Are their life jackets fastened properly? But then my thoughts segue into larger
safety concerns that I can't control and are in the hands of the politicians of New York State.
The hotly debated Marriage Equality Act, that is creating such divisiveness among politicians
and the citizens of New York State, denies me the right to marry my partner. And as I checked
to make sure that my daughter's life jacket was tight enough and my son's was buckled
correctly, for the first time, I wasn't angry. Instead I was heartbroken, for my children. With all of
the countless precautions I take to nurture and protect my children, I cannot guard them against
the deep ramifications the non-passage of this bill would have on them.
My partner and I have been together for six wonderful years. We met through a mutual
friend, became domestic partners two years later and started to try to have a family almost
immediately. I ran into one devastating infertility issue after another and before long we
decided we would both try for a baby in the hopes that one of us would succeed. And then the
improbable happened, we both became pregnant on the exact same day. Kristen gave birth to
our boy and I gave birth to our girl in February, 2009.
We moved from Manhattan to a small town on Long Island and were welcomed with open
arms. Soon after arriving we enrolled our kids in a top notch preschool, signed up for the
recommended Music Together class and most recently joined the swim club in town. All of this
we are doing to ensure that our children have the best possible life we can offer.
And now I realize that the life jackets I am meticulously adjusting and re-adjusting signify what
marriage equality is to me -- shielding my children from danger and giving them the best possible
chance in this life. In a few years time, my children will be aware enough to know that their
moms aren't married.
Without the Marriage Equality Act our children are left in a very dangerous position, with the
stakes higher for them than anyone else. As it stands now, they need to go through the courts
to be adopted by their non-biological parent (even when they were born into a committed
relationship). They are at risk of being torn from their non-biological parent and separated from
their siblings. And they can run into inheritance challenges.
My children will come to realize the state and country they live in does not consider their moms
as equal, and that, I fear, will damage their self-esteem. That they will, without their young minds
even knowing it, feel less important. As they move through their daily lives they will subversively
learn that they are second to the boys and girls in their classroom, at their swim club, and on
their little league fields.
At the center of the Marriage Equality Bill are our children. The children of gay and lesbian
parents who deserve the same chance at a life that all children deserve and by denying their
parents the right to validate their relationship they are being marginalized. I am not asking the
church to recognize and validate my relationship and family. I'm asking for the same right from
my government that every other family in America is afforded.
It is a mother's instinct to protect her children, and without the Marriage Equality Act, my
children, and the thousands of children of gay and lesbian parents, will effectively be tossed into
the deep end of the pool without life jackets. We need to validate and protect them.