We, the people, hold these truths to be self evident.
- First truth. Last week, as many of you know, the Supreme Court of the United States overruled the Defense of Marriage Act. Outlawing gay marriage at the federal level has been found unconstitutional.
- Second truth. Today is the Fourth of July, America’s national holiday.
- Finally, a less important truth but germane to my point, I am directly descended from one of the Signers of the United States’ Declaration of Independence. His name was Lewis Morris. I am also descended, albeit secondarily, from Gouverneur Morris, who was in large part responsible for the drafting of our Constitution.
Here it is. I believe that both of these men, were they alive today, would approve of the Supreme Court’s recent decision. And as a parent, so do I.
Let’s back up.
First of all, there is a tendency in America for the Red (the conservative half that is), to claim the Founders of our country as their own. I cannot say that that’s incorrect. I do not know what the Founders might think of politics today; balanced budgets, credits for schools, single-payer healthcare, et. alia.
But I do believe that the Founders, or at least two of them, would approve of DOMA’s overthrow. Why? Several reasons.
If you look through the Pew Forum’s recent study on same sex marriage, statistical truths emerge.
- A college education makes support of gay marriage more likely; Lewis and Guvvie were Yale and Columbia men, respectively.
- New Yorkers like Lewis and Gouverneur favor gay marriage 51-41 percent.
- Religious beliefs are the single strongest determinant of disapproval for gay marriage; both Lewis and Gouverneur advocated religious tolerance.
But most of all, America in its entirety is becoming more and more supportive of gay marriage. And, universally in this shift, we are twice as likely to approve of gay marriage when we have a gay family member.
My son is gay. So Lewis and Gouverneur have a gay family member. That in and of itself is just a truth. It’s self-evident. Keep reading, please.
Let’s ignore the Founding Fathers for a moment. They won’t mind. What about the regular fathers, and the mothers? And most of all, our children? The overturn of DOMA matters beyond health care benefits, beyond consenting adults, and beyond law. It matters to our children in the first human task, constructing a self, and to us, the parents, in our scaffolding of their efforts.
Remember how the very young imagine their future. How they learn about the faraway land of grownups. They say, “When I grow up, I want to marry Harry. Or Courtney. Or Mason or Anju or Tsien or Fatima or Isabella.” They don’t have any ideas about marriage, or falling in love, or desire. But they do know that grownups seem to get married an awful lot. To help them grow up, we have to let them imagine marriage in a way that is true to their being.
One day when my son was little, 3 maybe 4, my ex-husband said to him, unknowing, “When you grow up, I hope your wife is as beautiful as Mommy.” “Me too,” he replied. What if we had said instead, “When you grow up, I hope you marry someone as beautiful as Mommy.” Gender-neutral. Open to all possibilities, just as we’re open to Radiologist, Lawyer, Optometrist, Cop.
Well now my son can marry someone as beautiful as me. However, that someone is going to be a man.
The Supreme Court’s DOMA decision gives our children more space, more words to understand themselves. “Mommy, when I grow up, I might marry a girl or a boy.” It gives us the adult words in response. “When you grow up, sweetie pie, you shall marry whoever you choose.”
Happy 4th everyone. I’m proud to be an American. With a wave to Lewis and Gouverneur, over the generations.
Note: Here, for the first time ever, I’m going to moderate the comments very carefully. In this case, because of the particular personal component, I do not want to entertain even civil comments of disagreement. Thank you in advance for understanding.We will revert to the usual discussion policies going forward. BTW, I could not find attribution for the photo, if anyone knows where it’s from, please advise..