We lost the marriage battle because we got a few critical things wrong.
First, we thought that studies, logic and tradition would be enough. The reality is that none of that holds a candle to the persuasive power of story. The other side won the day, because they were able to humanize their arguments, while we often responded with cold statistics.
Second, we allowed the other side to frame adults as victims. And while many adults on both sides of this issue have experienced hardship and loss, the real victims of the marriage battle are children.
Third, those of us who rightly argued for traditional marriage on behalf of a child’s right to be known and loved by both their mother and father, were called hypocrites. And in large part they were right. Many on “our side” were willing to passionately speak up when it came to opposing gay marriage. And yet that passion was strangely absent in discussions about divorce and the billion-dollar fertility industry that many heterosexuals are using to create mother- and fatherless children.
So what’s the solution?
The right way to fight for both marriage and children is to use story to highlight the true victims, and fairly apply our critique to all adults who violate child rights. We need to put children before adults.
We need to put Them Before Us.
Them Before Us exists to advance social policies that encourage adults to actively respect the rights of children rather than expecting children to sacrifice their fundamental rights for the sake of adult desires. We aim to equip all adults to defend the rights of all
children. We support any adult- straight or same-sex attracted- who are sacrificing for children. And oppose any adult- straight or same-sex attracted- who expects children to sacrifice for them.
Children are not items to be cut and pasted into just any romantic adult arrangement. Rather, children are vulnerable individuals who deserve to have their inherent rights to their mother and father respected and protected by the only people in society powerful enough to do so – adults.
The battle for children’s rights didn’t end with Obergefell- it intensified. When I said that the right to marry would lead to a right to children, I wasn’t playin’. From birth certificates to the battle over surrogacy, to laws recognizing “three parents“, the rights of children to be known and loved by both their mother and father are under attack.
So I’m closing this chapter of writing askthebigot, and launching Them Before Us so that the stories of children can take center stage.
Here are some of their voices:
“I think I had these [disturbing] dreams not just because of their arguing, but also because of the inconsistency of the two homes I was living in and how they would interact with me about the other parent. This was poignantly experienced in the car rides between houses, which would take about an hour. On the way to my dad’s my mom would tell me how stupid she thought my dad was, and really seemed to try to work me against him. On the way back from my dad’s my dad would give me a ride and I would often cry. My dad would ask me why and I would say, “Because I miss you and wish you were in my life every day.” – Nate
For 5 years I had built a facade on the hope that [my father] wanted a relationship with me just as much as I had wanted a relationship with him. To learn that he never thought about me and that his mom had to remind him to contact me hurt more than I can adequately put into words. I went from being confident in my worth, to feeling completely unlovable. At a time when all my friends were starting to date and going to dances, I had the words of unlovable and unworthy defining my self-talk. I believed that if the one man on this earth who is supposed to love me unconditionally doesn’t, then no man will. – Kelly
I spent about six weeks mourning the loss of biological connection to my dad. I’m not sure how I survived that season, honestly. I couldn’t take care of our young children beyond the basic necessities, and I had to be reminded to take care of those things. My mind and heart were in a dark place, where nothing seemed to be true and stable. I felt as though the foundation of who I was had cracked and I no longer knew who I was. By the grace of God, those feelings passed, but there were days when it felt like it never would. After the shock of “losing” my dad, I realized that there was a man out there who I did look like who fathered me. I then began to mourn the loss of a man who I never even knew existed until a few weeks earlier. – Stephanie Blessing
I am one of the fortunate children of donor conception because it only took me nine years to find my birth mom, however those of us who are conceived through surrogacy do not have the right to have this information. Often we are lied to, and never are even told our stories of origin. When we are conceived it comes across to me that only the adults involved have their interests looked after. The intended parents might be threatened that their child won’t view them as parents if they know who their biological parents are, or the surrogate possibly did the surrogacy for financial reasons and does not want to be tracked down. From where I sit this is a painful thing. – Jessica Kern
Even more difficult to express and communicate was the other loss I felt over my Mom being gay. The culture doesn’t give this type of pain permission. While it’s pardonable for a kid to feel sad over their mom and dad splitting, it’s unpardonable for them to feel regret over their parent’s coming out as gay or lesbian. This type of pain can’t have a voice, because it’s given no permission to speak, you’re even made to feel ashamed for hurting. In my mid twenties, I would be forced to deal with another kind of pain. I found out from a letter he wrote me and dropped off at my front door that my Dad felt like he was really a woman. The hormones and surgeries followed. Honestly, the changes were difficult to stomach. – John King
I struggled with thoughts of: “If my mom is lesbian, why was I conceived? Was I born just to show the world that my mom was “normal”? Why was she married to my father for 20 years if she was really lesbian? Either she was lesbian all along, or she isn’t now and is living that way. The result in either case is her lying to me and all her family for many years.” I still love my mother very much and her partner is a great person, but being the child of a lesbian mother can be very difficult. Emotionally, I deal with the ramifications of what her decision means for my life. I am wading the waters of how I explain their relationship to my young children. Trying to figure out how to make sure she knows that I love her, without leading her to believe that this means that I agree with her views on gay/lesbian marriage and parenting. – Melody
So friends, I want to say thank you.
Thank you for following me in this blogging journey. Thank you for your articulate and insightful comments. Thank you for your encouragement and support. When I started writing about how children should be the focus of the marriage debate and how Christians must love their LGBT friends and family, I thought I was the only one trying to hold on to both of these truths at the same time. This blog showed me how wrong I was. I’m grateful to have become friends with many of you who are living in the tension of radically loving your friends who disagree while holding unswervingly to your convictions.
If you are passionate about defending the rights of children, to please join me in this next phase of advocacy.
The battle for children’s rights has just begun. It’s time to fight smart.