As you know I am now an Official Bonafide Jet-setter and as such I was in DC (people who move and shake drop the Washington part and now that I am so worldly, well, you know) last weekend for a panel discussion hosted by Alliance Defending Freedom called “What about the children?” They invited me to speak alongside marriage law expert Caleb Dalton and Dr. Paul Sullins who happens to be The Go-To Man on the impact of same-sex parenting. He is responsible for studies that capture data representative of more than all of the oppositions studies represent combined. So basically, with a legal expert and social scientist at my side I just got to show up and blather. Here’s a few blather-inspired video clips:
The day after the panel was the national March for Marriage. In Seattle, we don’t have marches – we have protests- so I was intent to get my full-blown tourist action on and do me some Marching.
Armed with my tourist badge, you know the concierge-marked-up-map, I set out for my first Official March.
And March I did.
About an hour into what turned out to be the most multiracial event I had ever seen, I began to hear the monkey on my back whispering sweet nothings about hot coffee. So I grabbed my March Standard “A CHILD needs a MOTHER and a FATHER” sign and bee-lined to nearest Starbucks.
Her: “Are you fighting against equality?!?” she said edgily, invading my personal bubble.
Me: “No, I’m fighting for the rights of children to be in relationship with both their mother and father.”
Her: “But you’re against gay marriage, right?”
Me: “Yes, because it promotes fatherless and motherless households.”
Her: “Lots of kids don’t have that. I grew up without a dad and I did fine.”
Me: (Full stop. Mentally on my knees – Oh Lord, help me be sensitive to this woman. What do you want me to say to that?)
“How did that go for you?” I asked, with as much softness as I could muster and still be heard. “Most kids long for their missing father.”
Here she paused, but only for a moment. “I just decided that I was probably better off because he wouldn’t have been a good father.” (Interpretation: she spent a lot of time thinking/longing/wondering about that before she came to the self-protecting conclusion that did not involve her father’s rejection which would have been entirely too painful to bear because that relationship actually mattered a great deal to her).
In short? Same as it ever is.
Switching tactics, she turns to the woman next to her. “This is my fiancée, Adeline.” We greet and shake and then she dives back in, “but what about couples who can’t get pregnant on their own? How are they supposed to have children?”
Me: “Well, children have a natural, self-evident right to be in relationship with both parents. It’s a right recognized by the United Nations. Adults should not willfully break those bonds. So however people choose to become parents, they must do so in a way that doesn’t violate a child’s rights.”
Her: “Oh. So you must be against divorce” she says with a smile, “because that really separates kids from their parents.”
Me: “Actually, I am. Most divorces take place in low-conflict marriages, where the adults “fall out of love” or just get bored with the relationship. When they move on, the adults are often fine. But we know that kids suffer long-term effects, especially in relationships and in work, after divorce. While there are circumstances that merit divorce, those represent a small percentage of cases. I wish the marriage movement would focus more on divorce reform.”
Now the two of them are looking more baffled than hostile. “So what can be done about all that?”
I talked with her about the two organizations I work with, CanaVox and International Children’s Rights Institute, and how both are taking a holistic and long-term approach. One on the grassroots level and one at the policy level. “I want reform in the fertility industry so kids cannot be created with the express intent to deny them a relationship with one or both natural parents, first of all. And I want ethical adoption, so that every placement will be child-centered and not primarily about adults getting kids. And I want marriage laws which protect child rights and well-being.”
They got their coffee and we gave each other a final hand-shake and goodbye. As we were leaving, she asked, “So what are you trying to accomplish? I mean, what do you ultimately want to have happen?”
Me: “Basically, I want us to stop expecting children to act like adults and sacrifice their rights and needs. And I want us to start expecting adults, heterosexual and homosexual, to sacrifice so children don’t have to.”
It was I N T E N S E. But what started as a confrontation ended up being an actual discussion.
Hey “my side” of this issue, can we do more of that? Let’s go with yes.