I've always had a checklist for my childrens' future mates. Gender never made the cut.
I can think of many words to describe myself. I’m a southerner. A Christian. Conservative. But most of all, I'm a mom. So when New York legalized gay marriage in 2011, my reaction was swift and predictable.
I was relieved.
Okay, maybe not so predictable. My husband, for one, was a bit surprised, even though he knows I'm an advocate for gay (translation: equal) rights. Once I reassured him that my relief was not due to some secret desire to divorce him and remarry a lady, we had a great talk about why, as a mother, the legalization of gay marriage is important to me.
For the sake of understanding my perspective, let me explain that I believe several things.
First, I don't think being gay is a choice. Secondly, I don't believe it's reversible. Third, I will always love my kids with my whole heart. No matter what. (I have an infant, a tween and a toddler. If I can love them at these ages, I know I can love them always.)
The reality of it is that sometimes straight, conservative, Christian moms who are amazing parents have gay babies. While my kids all seem pretty gender typical thus far and haven't given me any reason to suspect they're homosexual (although, shoot, remember they're a toddler, an infant, and a tween … they're currently non-sexual, period), I’ve asked myself how I'd react if they ever came out of the closet.
When you're pregnant you run through all kinds of scenarios in your head. You ask your partner if you'd keep the baby if it had Downs Syndrome. (Yep.) You wonder if they’ll go to college. (Damn well better.) And you spend a lot of time daydreaming about the amazing lives they're going to lead. So of course you consider their future mate.
My husband and I once defined what we expected out of our childrens' future spouses. It's a pretty short list. We're praying that each of our children finds someone who:
- Is a Christian
- Sees our child for who they truly are
- Loves every bit of that person
- Treats our child with respect
- Goes through life with integrity
- Is educated
- Is a non-felon
- Has likeable parents
(Okay, the last one may be pushing it, but I figured it was worth praying on. Liking the in-laws would make holidays much simpler.) The more we talked about this, though, the more obvious it became that race and gender weren't on the list.
If our children meet people they love with their whole heart who fit most of our qualifications, we’re going to consider the prayer answered.
My husband hadn't considered that our children could fall in love with someone who fit all these boxes but happened to be the same gender. I had.
Here’s where it gets sticky. I expect my children to live a life of integrity, and one led by their faith. (I do acknowledge that many people will think this statement makes my entire opinion hypocritical, but perhaps that's a different blog post.) So promiscuity doesn’t really factor in. I expect them to find a mate, commit to that mate, and treat marriage as if it's their lifeboat and life is their ocean.
How do you hold children to that standard, teach them that relationships are worth sticking with through thick and thin, if society tells them that for them, permanent relationships are illegal?
With the passage of gay marriage in New York, mothers can now teach their homosexual children that romance should involve the search for a life partner. Someone to commit to, to share life with, just as they would teach their heterosexual children.
I don’t know if my children are gay. Honestly, I hope not, because it seems like life is hard enough if you're straight. But it's a huge, huge relief to me that life for homosexuals just a got a tiny bit easier.
Because every gay man and woman is someone's child. Some mother loves them, and wants more than anything for them to be happy. And as a mother, I can’t seem to look at the world from any other perspective.