A Gay Dad Invites a Supreme Court Justice to Family Dinner

Some of us are nervous to exhale.  Same Sex Marriage is before the Supreme Court.

Just like the election had the “swing state factor,” so does this.  Justice Anthony Kennedy. Justice Kennedy was nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan but has also been on the progressive side of two key LGBTQ cases,  Romer v. Evans, and Lawrence v. Texas.  Now, with the question of Same Sex Marriage before the Supremes, Kennedy, with the right decision, can eclipse the likes of Streisand, Madonna and Lady Gaga as the greatest gilded eagle for gay equality ever heard.

Propaganda-like written amicus briefs from the Anti-gay community seem to be papering the walls of the Court on a daily basis.  The Westboro Church, the Republicans of the House of Representatives, the Catholics … they all have one. Progressive briefs are due in March.

I am just a gay Dad.  We gay Dads tend not to file amicus briefs.  We do, however, jot notes, make lists, write letters.   Sometimes we invite people to dinner.  I think that will tell him more than all the anti-gay briefs put together.

Dear Your Honor,

This is an invitation to dinner.

I thought that would be the best way for you to decide how to vote on whether my family deserves the same protections that other people’s families enjoy.

If you come, you would meet my ten year old sons who will likely impress you as being personable, articulate, polite and bright.  You might ask, as many we meet do, if they are twins.  The answer will be, “They are ‘almost twins’.  Their birthdays are four months apart.”   That will bring a “huh, come again?” look, and I will explain how I adopted them from different drug addict birth mothers from foster care as babies.

Many of the briefs you’ve been receiving suggest that other families deserve legal protection over mine because of that fact (“Marriage is thus inextricably linked to the objective biological fact that opposite-sex couples, and only such couples, are capable of creating new life together,” says Dennis Hollinsworth)—that they were created more spontaneously or accidentall,y rather than by someone deliberately going out to help children and save them from real danger.  I would just ask you to meet my sons, look them in they eyes, and see their smiles before you decide if the “procreation advantage” briefs are correct.

You will also meet Jim.  He is the new man in my life.  We dated until we were serious before he met my sons, but now he has taken up running a lot of the day-to-day needs of my family, and has been an incredible support.  The boys and he have already established a terrific bond.  You will be able to see by the way I look at him, and how my sons do, that we love him.  Deeply.

Jim had a property and financial life before he met me, as I did before meeting him.  You and I can chat how complicated blending all that would be, and what a terrific hardship to Jim or me would occur should either of us die.  Where opposite gender couples would have protections, we would not, and our attempted financial blend would fall apart, pensions would be lost, and enormous taxes imposed.  This is the scenario even if our marriage were approved at the state-level.  If any of our biological next-of-kin interfere, then things are susceptible to go badly very fast.

Some have claimed to you that we are politically powerful.  Paul Clement claims, “Gays and lesbians are one of the most influential, best-connected, best-funded, and best-organized interest groups … than virtually any other group in American history.”

Around our dinner table we can discuss how it sure does not feel that way.  You will see pictures on the sideboard of dear friends of mine who passed away from AIDS, a disease that ran rampant for years because it was not politically defensible enough for the President  at the time, the one who appointed you,  to say its name.  We can brainstorm on any health crisis in history to receive such lack of immediate action.  I don’t think we will come up with one.

We can also talk about my relationship with Jim, and how, before I met him, millions of strangers voted for me not to be able to marry him.  Neither of us has yet brought it up, but you will see by looking at us, that one of us probably will want to in the near future. We are happy and love each other that much.  Even if one of us were to propose however, that person would need to ask millions of people first.  Somehow that does not make us or my kids feel particularly “politically powerful”.

Men from the House of Representatives have asked you not to decide on the same-sex marriage issue as “a matter of sound social and political policy while the American people are so actively engaged in working through this issue for themselves.”  As I look across at the man I love, I would ask you in fact to decide on it so we can work  on our lives and our feeling for ourselves.

We can chat about how you also started in California, and wonder how you are liking your home in McLean Virginia.  I would tell you how I envy you.  You see, even if Jim and I were allowed to marry in California, we could not move to Virginia as you and your wife have done.  If we were to do so, all of our legal protections would fly out the window and our family arrangements into turmoil.   Even if we could marry in California, we would be effectively under statewide house arrest.    We do hope you are enjoying your time and freedom to move state to state and continue to be married.

We will probably then verify your taste in food and beverage, so we can make last minute changes if we need to in the serving of the meal.  It is interesting how deep instinctual tastes are set in what we are drawn to eat, desire, and what our systems can tolerate.  Those do not seem to be learned, but something we were born with.  Some have tried to tell you that being gay is just an act of chosen taste and behavior.  “What lower courts have understood to be a homosexual “orientation” is not a trait attributable from conception or birth. Rather, particularly as framed by Respondents here, it involves a species of conduct,” states the Catholic Church in their brief.  You will see me furrow my brow, not just because every biologist I have read does, in fact, state that orientation is biologically based as it is in most species of animals, but I will also mutter under my breath “Gee, I don’t recall scientists declaring the discovery of the gene that makes one Catholic.  Yet, they are crying that this decision impedes on their right to be one. If they have rights from their chosen religion, I should have rights from my innate nature.”

You may hear my comment, and that will enhance our conversation as we serve the ham.  As I cut the boys’ meat, and try to convince Jesse that he does actually like it, he just forgot, I will mention that I am glad you did not turn out to be Kosher.  Some of our friends are, and serving ham to them would have been a faux pas.  It is a sin in their religious beliefs.  They do not seem to feel a need, however, to make it a federal law that others must avoid it , nor will they think that because we eat it, that society will be coming to an end as they know it.

Over dessert, I just hope that you sit back and take us all in.  We are not perfect, but we are a family.  We love and plan and live just like any other family.  Jim and I do not want anything special, we just want what we have worked for our entire lives to go to the benefit of each other and our loved ones.  We do not consider ourselves better because of how we came together, but we also do not consider ourselves any worse.  You will see, my kids have been raised with standards, just like those in other families have, and manners, and they too have bedtimes that we hit like clockwork.

With that, we would get your things, and I would walk you out to your car.  I would look at you and say:  Thank you Justice Kennedy for coming.  We were honored to have you.  We know that the future of our family rests in your hand.  You have the power to make it devastatingly difficult.  You can make it confusing and convoluted. Or you can do the right thing.  Please, Justice Kennedy, please, please do the right thing.

Be a Rock Star.


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ROB WATSON is Director of Partners and Alliances Communication for Hitachi Data Systems, and blogs at evoL= . He has served as the president of the board of directors for Santa Cruz AIDS project, is a dedicated activist for the LGBT community, and a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. He is the proud father of two sons he first fostered then adopted. They reside in Northern California.