Dynamist Blog

Prop. 8: A Father's View

After my post on the South Pasadena ads, Larry Riesenbach of the Pop Luck Club, a group of L.A.-area gay fathers forwarded me this YouTube ad and an email from its creator, William Lucas Walker:

As many of you know, Kelly and I were married on June 17, after nine happy years together. Next to the births of our children, it was the most joyful day of our lives. For our 7-year-old daughter Elizabeth, it was the high-point of our family's life. She was bursting with pride all summer. Until she heard about Proposition 8.

Our most compelling reason for choosing marriage had less to do with romance than with the benefits marriage would provide our kids. Not just the many legal protections marriage automatically confers on children, but the more real, everyday benefit of knowing that their family is equal, not in some different, lesser legal category than all their friends' families.

In the May 15 Supreme Court decision that lifted the ban on marriage, the word "family" is invoked over 70 times. A careful reading of that document reveals that families like ours were the main reason the judges came to the decision that a ban on marriage violated the California Constitution's equal protection clause. The Court recognized that by denying our families equal access to marriage, we would always be separate and never equal.

As I mentioned, our daughter is upset about Proposition 8. The other day we passed a newspaper stand that had a "Yes on Proposition 8" bumper sticker on it. She became visibly agitated, as she has recently whenever she sees one of the ubiquitous "Yes on 8" yard signs. She asked if I would stop the car so we could take down the bumper sticker. I explained to her that there's a thing called freedom of speech in our country, and that everyone has the right to express their opinion, as long as they're not hurting anyone. She said, "But they are. They're hurting our family. Why would anybody want to do that?" Try answering that one.

So I made the video. As you've probably read, polls show both the pro and con sides of Prop 8 in a dead heat. But oddly, the one element you won't see in any of the ads, pro or con, is how our children, the over 52,000 California children being raised by gay or lesbian parents, will be impacted.

The Yes on 8 folks don't want our families mentioned because it will expose the lie that their main concern is protecting children.

For the No on 8 folks (our side), apparently it was a tactical decision; they don't want our families mentioned because they're afraid that if undecided voters realize we're actually raising children, they'll freak out.

I guess I have more faith in people.

I like the ad's point--that there are lots of kids with gay parents who would benefit from the protections of marriage, and that these families aren't going to disappear if Prop. 8 passes. I don't like its misleading suggestion that only 14% of California's families are married people with kids. Slightly more than half of California households were made up of married couples, according to the 2000 census, and more than two-thirds of families with children had married parents. Even excluding divorced people, it's hard to imagine how you get the total down to 14% unless you exclude older people whose kids are grown.

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