A few months ago, I wrote a blog piece in anticipation of the Supreme Court review of marriage equality and the Prop 8 and DOMA cases. In that piece, an open letter to Justice Anthony Kennedy, I invited the jurist to dinner so that he could meet my family. While thousands of people read the article, I have no information to indicate that he did.
He apparently heard me however, and families like mine. He made this statement during the discussions about Prop 8: “What about the roughly 40,000 children of gay and lesbian couples living in California? They want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”
Thank you, Justice Kennedy. Those voices are important. Two of the forty thousand California children voices in LGBT households belong to my sons.
I cannot say that either of my ten year olds are equipped to air their voices in front of the Supreme Court. They would be pretty succinct about the principles of equal rights in regard to marriage equality and family protections. Jesse, in his own voice, would furl his brow and say “It’s NOT fair!”
The fact is, like the information about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, certain concepts have been undisclosed to them up until now. They do not know that my partner Jim and I cannot get married. They do not know that their friends’ families are better protected and societally accepted than ours.
In the view of my sons, we are fully equal and their expectation is that we should be. Apart from a few comments about moms, our family has received full respect from all our associates. At this point, I am not going to correct their perception. I am hoping the Supreme Court rectifies the situation before such a conversation is necessary. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny…those are other stories.
Here are the things that have been voiced by my sons in the last week that, to me, characterize the nature of our family and what they expect from the world around them:
Jesse: Dad, if you and Jim get married. Can I be your ring bearer?
Me: No, Pal.
Jesse: What?! Why not??
Me: Because when Jim and I get married, you and Jason are going to be my Best Men.
Jesse: Really? Cool. What about Jim? What if he wants one of us to be his Best Man?
Me: Mmmmmm good point.
Jesse: Jason can do it. I’ll be yours.
Jason was working with his speech therapist who helps him deal with language issues that stem from his drug exposure in the womb. She was teaching him adjectives and how to apply them.
Therapist: Give me an adjective that would describe your brother.
Therapist: Give me an adjective that would describe me.
Jason: “ Smart”
Therapist: Give me an adjective that would describe your dad
And another was a conversation that I overheard from my bedroom between my sons in the next room. The first things they said were inaudible but then I could hear this clearly:
Jesse: Jason, come on, I have it all planned. I really want to do it.
Jason: I don’t get it though. It’s not his birthday.
Jesse: It’s EASTER. And they do things for us all the time…I want to do this for them
Jason: Oh… ok (Jesse has now realized their voices have gotten too loud.)
Jesse: Dad? Can you hear what we are saying?
Me: (from the bedroom) NO, Pal! I can’t hear a thing…!
That is what the “voice “ of my sons sounds like. It is a voice that expects a family of love, respect and mutual support and generosity. It expects a world around us that allows us to live in harmony with all other families.
Justice Kennedy wants the states to make their own determination of marriage and family. I want to remind him that there are children, just like mine, in all those other states as well. And they too all have voices.
It is clear that he heard us. The biggest question is, will he now listen?
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.