Category Archives: LGBT Family

DOMA Privilege

Last week the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  This historic move will grant same-sex couples in states where queer marriage is legal federal recognition.  Couples like me and my spouse in the liberal state of Massachusetts, for example.  We should jump for joy, right?  We can now file our taxes jointly and glean the same financial benefits straight, married couples do.  We can get on the same health insurance and not be slapped with a hefty fee (likely around $2000-3000 for our family) come tax time because of being a same-sex couple and getting fined the discriminatory “imputed income” fee.  We can have the peace of mind knowing that our family is recognized not just in our teeny-tiny, east coast state, but on a federal level too.  Partly, we did celebrate, it’s a big deal, it’s progress.  But it is only that- progress- and not a full swing to something fully just and liberatory.

And that brings me to my dear friend, fellow blogster, and non-gestational mama, Betsy.  She’s awesome, right?  Her family is awesome, right?  We love them.  They are clearly raising their little guy with care, integrity, and love.  COOL.  Besides sharing a blog, Betsy and I also share several things in common amongst our families and I’m not just talking about the obvious ones like how we both are queer or how we’re non-gestational, non-bio mothers.  We share small, but strange, coincidences that I think are a mystical sign of our connection, like the fact that we have many family dates in common (as in, dates on the calendar): anniversaries that overlap with birthdays, etc.  But even more central to this post, we share the fact that we both were married in Massachusetts to our dear sweeties, we both had our children and filed for second-parent adoption in Massachusetts, but have most of our family living in western North Carolina.  Betsy and her family moved there soon after their son was born to be closer to them- totally understandable.  My parents are lucky if they see my daughter two times a year- something that I know pains both us and them even though we cherish the time we do have together.  We have chosen not to move there for a number of reasons, but I do feel sad thinking about how my parents and my sister and her family, won’t get regular connection with my daughter and our family.  It’s a sacrifice.  Here’s the thing though:  remember what I started talking about… DOMA?  Families in North Carolina, including my dear friend Betsy’s, won’t get to benefit from DOMA being stricken down because NC never did recognize or grant same-sex marriages.  And although Betsy and her spouse are all set with “second-parent adoption” (hate that term) rights for Betsy since they filed in MA before they moved, couples who have their child/ren in NC and stay there can’t file for second-parent adoption rights so that the non-gestational parent is protected because NC is one of the few states in the nation that doesn’t allow for same-sex second parent adoption.

So while we were all parading around Facebook with gleeful posts, singing in the streets, and hugging each other after the Supreme Court’s decision, these families, sadly, were still in the exact same position they were before (or at least things are murky for them in this regard).  It’s important to recognize this because I can already see how it could be easy to stop here; to say we’re about to cross through the finish line of this race towards queer liberation, but we’re not.  And of course there’s the reality that even if marriage were granted to all same-sex couples, regardless of where they lived, that there are still so many other hurdles to be overcome for queers.  Marriage equality was never where our fight stopped.

Tonight, a week past DOMA, I am recognizing the privilege that I have as a queer person living in Massachusetts.  I have so many privileges- race, class, ability, and more- but I also have this privilege now.

– Charlotte
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SCOTUS: Watching and Waiting

imgresThe Supreme Court of the United States.  That is what is on my mind tonight.  I spent an hour from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. with a rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms as I and millions of other Americans awaited two Supreme Court decisions that could have a huge impact on the lives of LGBTQ folks all across this country.  Waited and waited and waited and…nothing.  They are poised to make rulings about the constitutionality of marriage equality in the state of California and the denying of federal benefits to couples who are legally married in one of the 12 states and the District of Columbia.  (For you legal folks, I know I WAY oversimplified what the rulings are about.  But that is the best I can do.)

I have spent today reflecting on what it means for me to be married and what the possible outcomes could mean for my family.  For the past 9+ years, S and I have navigated marriage well.  There are ups and downs, as with any relationship, but we are strong together.  We negotiate the minutiae of daily living and spend many hours together laughing and enjoying the company of each other and our amazing boy. (Right now, in fact, he is playing his kazoo along to Some Nights by Fun.)

As we think about adding another child to the family, I am constantly reminded of the fact that, regardless of how much my family is like that of my straight friends’, we are unequal.  If we are able to have another child, we will have to spend thousands of dollars to ensure that I have health care power of attorney over the child in case something happens to S in childbirth.  Otherwise, I would have no recourse to make any medical decisions for MY child.  In the state where we live, I will have to sue S for joint custody which is the closest I can come to having a legal relationship to MY child.

I know that many of you know all these things.  That is just what is on my mind tonight.  Watching, waiting, wondering and looking forward to the day when people stop fucking debating about my rights.

-Betsy

PS.  Now M is naked and dancing to Frank Sinatra, Old New York.  There is a little can-can thing going on.  S is dancing with a giant sock monkey.  Really, what is there to debate?

“That feels like fun!”

As all parents of young boys can attest, there exists a certain fascination between a boy and his penis.  My son, lucky enough to have two moms, has been blessed with parents who talk about his relationship with his penis.  We tell him that it is ok to play with his private parts when he is alone.  He has known the word erection since he could talk.  It’s all good.  Sometimes, though, I am blown away by the things he says in relation to his penis.

Take tonight, for instance.  (Too much information coming…) After M’s bath, he was sitting on the potty and he started to play with his penis.  With a huge grin, he looked up at us and said, “M is playing with his private parts.”

“What does that feel like?” I innocently asked him.

With an even bigger grin, “That feels like fun!”

I know this is one of those blog posts that, if brought to his attention, will embarrass him to no end.  Maybe he will never read this.  If he does (if you do, M), I want him to know why I wrote it.  As someone who has struggled with body image issues for the vast majority of my life, I am pleased to hear my son so effortlessly and shamelessly explain how he feels about his body.  Yes, I know that as he gets older that will probably change, at least for a little while.  For now, I love that he loves himself and all his parts.

-Betsy

Two Mamas

images-4Yesterday at the playground I could tell M was working something out.  He would look at the family next to us, three kids and their dad, then smile a little.  I didn’t think much of it.  He was more than content on the tire swing, so we just kept swinging.  After a few minutes went by, he looked at me, smiled and said, “Their daddy is pushing them.  That’s funny.”
“Why is that funny?”
“Just funny.  M doesn’t have a daddy.  M has two mamas.  A Mama and an Ima,” as he threw back his head and laughed a big open mouth laugh as he continued to spin around while he flew back and forth.

The other day, my mom told me that a friend of hers asked what we are going to tell M about not having a father.  She apparently said it like “that poor thing”.  We have always been honest with M about having two moms and not having a dad.  Of course we will explain what a donor is one day, but M is being raised to know that there are all kinds of families.  His Ima has one dad and no mom.  I have a mom and a dad.  He has friends with one mom, a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads.  We surround ourselves with loving people from a variety of contexts.  So, to my mother’s friend, we tell him he has two moms who love him more than anything.  Seems to me, he’s gotten the message.

-Betsy