Monday, June 29, 2015

Parenthood: Week 107 - 6/26/15, When Love Won

Dear Ollie,

Seven years ago, I wrote this letter to you about what it meant to truly love the people in our lives and how for some, the issue of homosexuality effects the way they value the lives and experiences of other people.

Last Friday morning, was a tough morning of me. I was facing a 7-hour road trip with you and your mom. There were tons to do to get ready and it was difficult to make these preparations and take care of you the same time. At a certain point, I decided that I would take a break from packing and take you to a play space.

As you were running around, I checked my phone and the headline came up. On Friday, June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states in America. I felt tears of joy welling up, and grabbed you as you were trying play with a toy car and hugged you tight.

Why do I care so much about other people’s right to marry who they want? Yes, we have friends who are gay and yes, some of the people I admire the most in this world are gay as well. But there is no one in your immediate family who is gay. So how does marriage equality affect those of us who aren’t gay?

Marriage is an institution as old as civilization itself, however it’s been constantly evolving. Your grandfather’s grandparents in Taiwan had concubines, which were a way that a man could have multiple wives. One generation down from that in Taiwan, your great-grandparents had arranged marriages. This meant that a person’s parents decided whom they would marry as a business agreement when that person was a child. There was no love involved in this decision.

In the history of America, marriage has also evolved. Widows used to regularly marry their brother-in-laws and woman in their early teens, often married men twice as old as them. It was in relatively recent American history in 1967 that Miscegenation laws, which stated that people of different races could not marry were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

It’s incomprehensible that our country once thought that my marriage with your mom was so morally wrong and damaging to society that it should be illegal.  But that was the case in America for the most of our countries existence.

Marriage equality is one more step in the direction of making our country a more perfect union for all of its citizens, but there’s more to be gained here than simply the rights of people who want to marry people of their own gender.

The bravery of homosexual, bisexuals and transsexuals to come out to their families, churches, communities and workplaces has allowed heterosexuals to expand the definition of what it means to be straight. Male identity for so long was simply defined as what was not feminine. With the work of men in the gay community to be more visible and respect, it has allowed straight people to be more than a jock stereotype.

As we have learned to accept the diversity of the gay experiences, our society has also learned to embrace a higher level of plurality on what it means to be straight. While the queer community has gained rights the straight community has taken for granted, the straight community has gained a freedom of expression throughout this own process that has allowed men like me to redefine masculinity as a beautiful spectrum and not an effort to not be feminine.

All of this stuff was happening before last Friday, but when same-sex marriage was legitimized in our entire country, it puts all of this in a different light. There’s an affirmation, a promise that this movement is in fact at the core of what it means to be American. It connects the fight for marriage equality to all of the battles we have fought as a country to protect the rights of all citizens. Whenever any group of Americans gain rights, it reaffirms the rights that we all deserve and through this examination, and through these decisions, we all benefit as Americans.

The main reason I was so happy when I read this news is because what it would mean for you. It is to early to us to know whether you will want to marry a boy or a girl. While we know you like pink socks and purses, you are also really into your toddler t-ball set and your little tool set.  Whoever you love and whatever you are into, your mom and I will always support you.  With this news, I know that no matter what kind of person you grow up to be, the spirit of the highest court in our land has your back as you discover who you are and learn to love yourself as we love you.

Racism didn’t disappear with the Civil Rights Act and bigoted homophobic people will always be around. However with this Supreme Court decision and the movement towards wider acceptance of people of all sexual orientations, there will be less of them. Your kids will have just as hard time comprehending why someone would not want two woman to marry as you have a hard time understanding miscegenation laws

There is no greater pride that I can have in our country than knowing that your America will be a more free and just America than the one that I grew up in.

Thanks for all beauty and love that you bring to not only to our lives but also to everyone that you touch.

- Dad

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