Saturday, November 1, 2008

How Many Mommies Does Heather Have?


Let me beat the Vote No On California Proposition 8 drum a bit more. Recently, on two different radio programs, I heard someone declare that children deserve a mother and a father. I understand the implication here: children raised without one or the other, and especially without a father, are deficient.

I understand that implication because it is the same argument that was used against my family when I was a kid. My lack of a father came from my dad's death by heart attack when I was eight. We moved to East Hampton to live with my Aunt, because three kids was a bit much for my poor mom, especially when one of them was an incorrigible pain in the ass like me. For the couple years we all lived together, in a sense I had two mommies, though they were sisters, not lovers. Even after my aunt remarried, she only moved a couple miles away, and we saw her all the time.

Various people, particularly certain school administrators, used my mom's status as a single mother against her constantly. She was told to remarry, that her kids needed a father. Without a father, they'd say, her children would grow up "wrong" in one way or another. All my teenage rebellion blew back on my mom in this way. Every time I did something obnoxious or stupid, and that was often, it was supposedly because she didn't have a man in the house. One particular school administrator mentally cudgeled my mom into backing down on issues we had with the poor quality of the school system by threatening to use his social status within the community to compel Child Protective Services to take her children away -- and he did this more than once.

It wasn't easy for my mom to raise three kids on a working class salary and schedule, and it was made much more difficult by the social attitudes of some of our neighbors -- unfortunately including some well-placed people in the school administration, and police.

Mandatory conformity is the attitude we faced, and it is the attitude that is threatening the families of thousands of gay couples (even though as two parent households those couples are better situated to shield their children from the financial and social burdens that we faced). When the Yes On 8 leaders say it's about the children, what they mean is it's about ensuring that the maximum number of children are raised in families which do not challenge social assumptions, or in any way threaten or make uncomfortable those whose power in the community is underwritten by their unwavering support of traditionalism.

And here is yet another take on why you should Vote No on Prop 8 from screenwriter John August, whose own marriage is threatened by this proposition. There really is no rational, compassionate reason for being in favor of Proposition 8, only an irrational unwillingness to deny power to the fearmongers who stand to benefit from its passage.

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