Family Matters

How the Gay-Marriage Victories Are (Slowly) Transforming the Notion of Family

Newly passed laws allowing gay marriage mean more children will have a broader view of what it means to be a family

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Rob Melnychuk / Digital Vision / Getty Images

On Wednesday, Colleen Ozolitis, and her wife, Lee Ann Martinson, drove together to their son’s Seattle preschool to share their family’s good news.

“We’re going to tell him we won and that all this work we’ve done means that in Washington, his moms can get married,” says Ozolitis, who served as the statewide volunteer coordinator for Washington United for Marriage, which led this state’s effort to get same-sex marriage approved. “I think he’ll understand.”

(MORE: New Study: Gay Parents = Great Kids)

With Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve gay marriage by popular vote on Tuesday and Washington poised to join them — as of Wednesday night, campaigners had declared victory though officials had yet to certify the vote — the nuclear-family stereotype of mom and dad and their brood may soon be outdated.

The victory in those three states mean nine states and the District of Columbia now allow same sex couples to legally wed; a sign, those couples hope, that attitudes toward what constitutes a family are evolving. Since 1998, initiatives to recognize gay marriage had failed in 32 states. But increasingly, there’s a sense that there isn’t one right way to go about living and loving.

(MORE: My Two Moms‘ Zach Wahls: Teen Advocate for Gay Marriage Goes from YouTube Sensation to Author)

Callum Martinson, who is 5, has never seemed to mind being the only kid in his class with gay parents. “We’ve always taught our son that there are lots of different ways to make families,” says Ozolitis. “One mom, two moms, one dad, two dads, one mom and one dad…families can look different ways and have different-colored skin.”

When Callum would spot signs supporting the gay-marriage campaign around town, he’d say, “Look, Mom, those people understand.” Says Ozolitis: “This victory means more and more people do understand that this is about love and family. The polls show that this is definitely the direction we’re heading.”

On Nov. 1, five days before the election, President Obama underscored that sentiment. He wrote a letter to 10-year-old Sophia Bailey Klugh, who’d sent him a handwritten note of appreciation for his support of gay marriage. Sophia told the President:

I am so glad that you agree two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other, but at school kids think that it’s gross and weird, but it really hurts my heart and feelings.

He responded:

In America, no two families look the same. We celebrate this diversity. And we recognize that whether you have two dads or one mom what matters above all is the love we show one another.

As gay marriage becomes more institutionalized, the concept is bound to raise fewer eyebrows. “These families have a new visibility,” says Dr. Nanette Gartrell, a visiting scholar at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. It wasn’t like that 26 years ago when Gartrell launched what is now the longest-running study of lesbian families.

(MORENew Volleys in the Gay Parenting Wars)

“At that time in 1986 there was much more discrimination,” she says. “We wanted to inform people in a scientific and rigorous way about this particular kind of family experience and how the kids do.” Last week, she released her latest report, which tracks the teenage children of lesbian mothers and asks them to assess their upbringing in their own words. The research, published in the Journal of Homosexuality, found that the teens had grades averaging between A to B+ and most planned to attend college. When asked “has your mother been a good role model?” 93% said yes. “That is a really phenomenal rate of admiration,” says Gartrell.

In Washington, where I live, the gay-marriage law is expected to go into effect Dec. 6, effectively making the terms “husband” and “wife” gender-neutral. Those revamped definitions will take a little getting used to, but as I tell my kids, if we all looked/acted/dressed the same, life would be pretty boring.

On Election Day, my daughter came home from school and told me with a 5-year-old’s incredulousness what she’d learned in school: once upon a time, women and black people couldn’t vote.

In the future, kids may be just as surprised to learn that once upon a time, government regulated who could marry and live happily ever after.

21 comments
delder
delder

According to the Center for Disease Control, at least one in five gay men is infected with AIDS and gay men account for 78% of all AIDS cases. Seventy two percent of all new AIDS cases are among young men aged 13 - 24. I wonder where the 13 year-olds are getting AIDS since propaganda tells us that gays don't like to have sex with children. I also question how Dr. Ben Siegel of the AAP can advocate putting a young child in a home with two gay men where there is a doubled chance of being infected with the AIDS virus if only by accidentally using one of his dads toothbrushes.

pendragon05
pendragon05

Historically, the purpose of marriage was for property transferal purposes. Had nothing to do with being able to breed or not.

Second, marriage today has pretty much lost its meaning among heterosexuals. Few straights marry anymore, since they think breeding is the only real purpose of marriage, not love. As it is I know more unmarried people with children than married people with children. And since marriage is not a prerequisite to breed......

Let gays marry. Chances are a gay couple has much more in common gender wise than a straight married couple, where the husband wants to pursue his own interests but his wife won't let him because she is too shallow and needs to be rescued from herself on an hourly basis.

doorman.doorman
doorman.doorman

The Nuclear family is based on nature.   When laws throughout different countries and cultures recognize Marriage as a unique relationship, they are recognizing what is natural and reasonable.     'Gay marriage' is the complete inversion of this.  To recognize it, is for a society to loose grasp of what is based on reason and nature, and fall victim to a twisted and deformed understanding of humanity.  It's to posit an understanding of the human family that is not based on reason and nature, but what is based upon sentimental absurdities which flow from deformed sexual appetites.   Whenever societies base their laws not on what is natural, reasonable and right, but rather on their twisted passions and deformed sentiments, that culture is moving away from civilization, and towards dissolution.   

One of the fallouts from so called 'gay marriage' is the affect on children's sexual behavior.   A gay couple cannot base delaying sexual activity on moral or reason grounds (without being completely hypocritical), so they must try and base it on grounds of sentiment.   Of course, sentiment as we've seen, will not restrain sexual activity, but merely feeds it as sentiments change.    A lesbian couple trying to explain to a 10yr old child that they should not be sexually active because they lack maturity, or because it may cause them emotional pain, merely posits to them that when they feel emotionally mature or when they feel emotionally ready, that it's OK then.    Of course, we all know that once the 10yr old becomes 12, 13 or 14 and now 'feels' very mature compared to when they were 10, they make the decision that they must now be ready.   The twisted sentiment of these lesbians cannot offer a reasonable explanation as to why this child should not become sexually active at a very young age, since they themselves have resorted to twisted sexual appetites.   

Of course, trying to reason with Homosexual's usually proves to be futile, since the vast majority of them have abandoned reason for sentiment.    It's like arguing with a 5 yr old about why they shouldn't have candy for dinner.

theScreamS
theScreamS

I wouldn't 'go biblical' on this but its like Angelina & Brad,Madonna etcetera taking kids from one social arena and dropping them in another.Socially it can't be good for a kid to be 'a fish out of water' and I think its actually quite selfish of a gay couple to 'have' a child that it is physically impossible for them to do naturally between each other.Gay is fine.A couple fine.A wedding,best of luck.A child,frankly is ridiculous,as it can or will stereotype any hazard or misdemeanour that child may encounter and maybe form a sounding board from which the gay citizens can cry foul.It's difficult to foster and/or adopt a child but then for a child to be facing this situation for the remaining years of his or her entire life cannot be a prospect to relish,

OIZNA
OIZNA

And then what' next? Human and animal are allowed to get married too? Bcos it's clearly written in the bible that marriage is for man & woman. I don't agree with their twisted & confused mind & lost understanding about what 'LOVE' really means. (Eros, ethos, philia, agape). In my wildest prediction, if one day many claims to be in Love with their animal & marry them too, would the government allow it too. Bcos from here is the trigger to another rebelion of humans's true nature. And please don't use kids to add sentimental feeling for this wierd gay 'love'. They know a little, and their mind can still be brainwashed by any egocentric ideology you feed them with.

georgeolds
georgeolds

Sorry, but the "notion of family" is NOT being "transformed". It is being ACKNOWLEDGED.

President Obama is correct: "In America, no two families look the same." And, they never have been the same.

Your notion that the "terms “husband” and “wife” are being made "gender-neutral" is nonsense. Husbands are male spouses, and wives are female spouses. It's just tht in same-gender marriages there are TWO husbands or TWO wives. (Why that seems to bother anyone astounds me, but why it is any of anyone else's business simply takes my breath away.)

PlumbLine
PlumbLine

The Lord does not change........the same yesterday, today, and forever.......

.......Romans 1:24-27...........24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

Onesimus
Onesimus

"the nuclear-family stereotype of mom and dad and their brood may soon be outdated"

Signed, 

Sodom & Gomorrah

delder
delder

@pendragon05 Wow, did I just read hate speech against women from a gay progressive? ..."because she is too shallow and needs to be rescued from herself on an hourly basis." Interesting bit of hypocrisy. You just lost your high ground bud.

dobe
dobe

@doorman.doorman Yikes, you need help. By the way, homosexuality is found throughout nature - sorry to burst your sentimental bubble.

theScreamS
theScreamS

 Its nothing to do with same sex husbands & wives,It's to do with gay mothers and gay fathers in the definition of 'family'.The implications are huge actually and it has every reason to bother and concern anyone.Its everyones interest,not only on the basis of civil rights alone but on the rights of the child.Can you guarantee the child the same treatment or development as a straight natural family? Of course not.Here is what I've posted below.1.What right do you or I possess to ensure that a child will have an equal or better future in a different social environment.2.Will every couple who have a child who's adopted or fostered by a gay couple feel emotionally capable of comprehending the same treatment as a natural couple or feel that they are discriminated against because of their home situation? 3.It's also a fundamental question of the natural conception and birth of a human being.How can anyone in the entire population of the planet honestly describe the birth of a child between a same sex couple claim it to be a natural thing? There are surrogates & donors.To a child to face Mommy and Mommy or Daddy and Daddy knowing one is neither while both claim to be both is fundamentally untrue.I believe we've come to a stage for gays & straights to resolve this and say,well y'know,maybe it's an idea that needs more time.The first test tube baby wasn't so long ago and look how he's turned out? (thats a joke by the way) 

pendragon05
pendragon05

@PlumbLine So a couple need not love or care about each other, so long as they produce (crotch)fruit for the Lord?

No wonder more than 50% of marriages in this nation end up in divorce!

It's "let's breed" then the "relationship" is over with. I use that word relationship very loosely for those who get together only to breed. 

As for the "family", Jesus was against it, said he came to earth to destroy the family unit (Matthew 10:34-35) and even praised celibacy over marriage (Matthew 19:3-12). 

Marriage is indeed changing in America, with gays being allowed to marry, as well as childfree marriages being recognized.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

@PlumbLine So you only support 9 out of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution? Or are there more things than freedom of religion that you don't support?

romano70
romano70

@PlumbLine Marriage as "As God designed it"?!? Do you mean when "He" commanded Abraham to have as many wives as he could? Or do they mean the subservient relation between man and woman the Bible pushes -that states that a woman should obey her husband, and stoned if she cheats? If you mean the marriage as we know it today, know that it was invented by the church in the 1200's to TAX this sacrament.. Because before that if you wanted to form a family, you would offer two goats to the head of family and you would take home her 12 year old daughter. Marriage per se was always a contract between two RICH families to ensure inheritance and property rights to the descendants. Period. Otherwise you can take it with the Mormons, the original Christians who wanted to re-define marriage. Until they didn't. Stop pushing your beliefs on the rest of us, we don't care. I guess this means more elbow room for you in heaven, no? If heaven exists, I don't want to share the space with your kind anyway....

PlumbLine
PlumbLine

@Onesimus         Genesis 19:24.........Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens..........

........Luke 17:28-30.........28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

doorman.doorman
doorman.doorman

@dobe  Dobe, I'm sorry, but it's you who need help with your poor reasoning skills.   Male Dogs 'mounting' male dogs is not homosexuality, but 'play acting' for the real thing.   The incidence outside of zoo's of same sex animals choosing one another for sexual gratification, at the exclusion of truly sexually compatible partners (opposite sex) has NEVER been found.  Do Male lions pair for mutual protection?  Have Penguins helped hatch an egg?   None of these are examples of homosexuality.   The zoo observation of male penguin's supposedly 'bonding' is a week example because it is in an unnatural environment.  Zoo's have proven to be a poor model for natural behavior of animals, that's why true animal studies happen in the wild where animals are in their native environment.    The fact is, in the wild, any male animal will willingly mate with an opposite sex partner if given the chance.   The same is true for female's when they are in their fertile period.   Most of this psuedo quack science bandied about by homosexual activists trying to show same sex animals engaging in mock sexual behavior is just wishful thinking.   Show me one study which shows same sex animals engaging in ejaculatory sex to the exclusion of available compatible opposite sex partners in the wild.  It doesn't exist.   

Besides, animals often engage in unnatural, unhealthy behavior when stressed or put in situations of extreme competition.   They can act contrary to their own good and contrary to their own nature.    If we were to use all the perverse animal behavior seen in the wild as a model for human behavior, then we would accept all sorts of heinous acts as valid behavior for humans.   We are supposed to be creatures which act according to reason, not subject ourselves to every whim, desire and compulsion, as it seams you are an advocate.

theScreamS
theScreamS

@romano70   Saying "Stop pushing your beliefs on the rest of us, we don't care,If heaven exists, I don't want to share the space with your kind anyway...." Achieves nothing except polarisation between gay and straight communities.The questions are essentially social ones.1.What right do you or I possess to ensure that a child will have an equal or better future in a different social environment.2.Will every couple who have a child who's adopted or fostered by a gay couple feel emotionally capable of comprehending the same treatment as a natural couple or feel that they are discriminated against because of their home situation? 3.It's also a fundamental question of the natural conception and birth of a human being.How can anyone in the entire population of the planet honestly describe the birth of a child between a same sex couple claim it to be a natural thing? There are surrogates & donors.To a child to face Mommy and Mommy or Daddy and Daddy knowing one is neither  while both claim to be both is fundamentally untrue.I believe we've come to a stage for gays & straights to resolve this and say,well y'know,maybe it's an idea that needs more time.The first test tube baby wasn't so long ago and look how he's turned out? (thats a joke by the way)

dobe
dobe

@doorman.doorman  doorman.doorman - I am sorry for you that you are so closed-minded. You state, "Show me one study which shows same sex animals engaging in ejaculatory sex to the exclusion of available compatible opposite sex partners in the wild. It doesn't exist." C'mon, man, get your head out of the sand (or out of your a**) - google "same sex behavior in animals" and ScienceDirect.com will return you 101,232 results - and this is only ONE source. Now that same-sex behavior in animals is not the career-ending risky academic move that it was not so long ago, scientists are finding same-sex behavior throughout the animal kingdom, including not only "ejaculatory sex to the exclusion of available compatible opposite sex partners in the wild," but also raising offspring, a.k.a., "having families." It's a beautiful thing - wake up, set your old, tired, wrong moralistic biases aside and appreciate it: it's a beautiful thing.

dobe
dobe

@theScreamS @romano70  Ahem, you're repeating your tired arguments. Your questions 1 and 2 are not asked of ANY parent - and raising children is far less about biology than it is about nurturing, loving, teaching, and protecting, qualities that are not exclusive to gay, straight, or otherwise.