Breaking My Silence
Dear Supreme Court of the United States,
On November 6th, I woke up to find out that my state still ignores the promise of liberty and justice for all. The 6th Circuit Federal Appeals Court upheld Kentucky’s constitutional ban against gay marriage, ironically punishing two women who’ve taught me the same sanctity of marriage they supposedly destroy.
My moms have been as married as they can be for almost 20 years; growing up, I was often the only one of my friends whose parents weren’t divorced. I laugh at the thought of a “gay lifestyle” because other than being led by two women, my family is about as traditional as it gets. After I told one woman about my parents, she prefaced her response with, “Well understand, I’m a straight, conservative, Christian, raised in the South.”
“Yes, ma’am. So am I.”
Okay, maybe not that conservative, but likely far more so than people expect. I don’t believe in casual sex, I go to church every Sunday, and know at least once, I’ll vote Republican. I'm not implying being straight, Christian, or conservative is an achievement, but it astounds me just how many values I share with some of the people who think I shouldn’t have been born, as children brought up in “that environment” will surely suffer.
Did having two moms affect who I am today? Absolutely. It made me kinder, more accepting, and far more courageous. I empathize with all marginalized people, because I understand how it feels to know your family remains invisible in the eyes of the law. I doubt with straight parents I’d be Macklemore’s biggest fan, or buy CoverGirl makeup exclusively out of loyalty and gratitude for their hiring Ellen DeGeneres. I wouldn’t have watched nearly every movie with a gay protagonist, from Philadelphia to I Love You, Phillip Morris — not because my parents wanted me to, but because when it’s so hard to find families that look like yours, you seek out every single representation you can find.
I want to give Kentucky credit for being far more accepting and diverse than its reputation suggests, but our fight is far from over. In high school, I met two girls who “wouldn’t judge gay people on Earth, because God will punish them in Hell.” They are not truly ignorant or cruel, but almost always sweet and intelligent. They believe gay people are second-class citizens, not because they are inherently hateful, but because that is exactly what our laws tell them to believe.
Tomorrow, I could marry a stranger, divorce him in 72 days like Kim Kardashian, and get married five more times after that, like both my straight grandmother and straight grandfather did. Yet my moms, who promised each other their forevers two decades ago, who have raised three children and built their lives together, who embody the sanctity of a lifelong commitment every day — they cannot get married. Our country is approaching full equality, but we are not there yet; not in the 15 states that still don’t allow same-sex marriages, and not even in the 35 states that do. We are close. But “close” isn’t good enough.
It’s not good enough for more than a thousand gay children who commit suicide every year; it’s not good enough for my moms who want to get legally married on the 20th anniversary of their commitment ceremony; and it’s not good enough for kids like my sisters and me who sometimes stay silent, not because we are wrong, but because we are afraid.
This is me breaking my silence.
I have never suffered because I have gay parents; I have only suffered because I live in a nation that does not always live up to its own self-evident truths.
When my parents took on $250,000 worth of medical debt to save me from the bone-marrow failure disease predicted to kill me in four weeks, they gave me life. When they built a house filled with laughter, traditions, and immense love, they gave me liberty. And when they sacrificed every day to make my dream of attending Stanford a reality, they fought for my pursuit of happiness.
When I was born, my moms set out to be good parents, and to give their children both roots and wings. The proof they succeeded isn’t that I got into my dream college, but how excited I am to come home. My parents, like all Americans, were created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. And that’s all they ask for. Not special rights — equal rights. The same rights, for the same love. You have the opportunity give my parents what I cannot. Please choose to stand on love’s side of history.