The Kids Are All Right: How Being Raised By Two Mothers Shaped My Life
On Tuesday, November 10, a judge in Utah took away a lesbian couple's daughter.
He claimed the 1-year-old would be "better off" with heterosexual parents.
When I first heard the news, I was absolutely livid.
Let me explain why this issue cut so deep for me. I am the child of 1990s lesbians, and I turned out absolutely fine.
I have a full-time job, an amazing boyfriend whom I love dearly and an Ivy League degree in history.
How would I be "better off with heterosexual parents?"
Would I be into neuroscience? Would I have a career helping low-income dogs?
Would I have invented an iPhone that doesn't lose battery after a night of drunk texting?
I don’t think so.
There is an 1-year-old girl in Utah who could have turned out fine, just like I did, with two kickass moms.
In 1993, gay people could not get married in any state in American, as well as he oh-so progressive, forward-thinking Canada.
The year of 1993 also happens to when I was born.
In a hospital room in Berkeley, CA, a young couple (my parents) welcomed their daughter into the world surrounded by friends and family.
They reached for the birth certificate. The boxes read, "Mother and father."
My lesbian parents' joy was temporarily interrupted by the stifling rigidity of paper work.
In 1993 in the state of California, you could not put two women’s names on a birth certificate.
The process was finally changed in 2014, and now there are boxes with ungendered "parent" markers.
California (a queer promise land of sorts) has got this covered, but in some states, including, Indiana, Florida, and Wisconsin, birth certificates (unlike marriage) still have to be between a man and a woman.
But now, it’s 2015.
You will see queer men, women and everyone else on the gender and sexuality spectrum running around with their little ones. Most children of the LBGTQ+ movement are younger.
However, there is a small handful of us "first generation" LGBTQ+ children.
At the age of 22, I have only met two others born and/or adopted to a lesbian couple around my age.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
First of all, there were a lot of things standing in LGBTQ+ parents way in the early 1990s. As our world becomes more accepting, the LGBTQ+ community expands.
The other reasons were more legally based.
There were laws about adoption, custody, foster care and sperm banks. The only way to get a child was a fight.
Even worse, there were absolutely no laws protecting LGBTQ+ parents.
The narrative of one mother and one father was so pervasive that there didn't need to be a law saying you couldn't put two women on a birth certificate.
Again, there were just two boxes. One box for men, and one box for women. End of story.
In 1993, my father was in the room when I was born. This is the part of the story where most people get confused.
"Wait? You have a father?"
"He was, like, a sperm donor?"
"So, like, one of your mom's is bisexual?"
"Oh, so your mother was married and then turned into a lesbian. I get it."
The answer to the aforementioned questions remains the same: no.
I have a father. Until science creates a way to make two eggs into a baby, everyone has a parent with sperm.
He's really more than just a guy with sperm. He raises chickens, helps build cabins in Michigan, wears a lot of old, worn t-shirts with the arms cut of.
You know, dad stuff.
So, I really should say I have three parents. I have two moms and a dad.
My dad, by the time I was born, was a close, dear family friend. After I was born, he was actually became family.
My mothers had met him several years before I was born. One of my mothers and my father worked together.
Oh, and they worked with his wife, too. My stepmother.
By now, you have probably figured out that my family situation is extremely unique.
I don’t have two parents. I have four parents.
My family consists of two moms, one stepmom (the good kind, not the evil Disney movie kind) and a dad. Oh, and let’s not forget about my father's kids, my three siblings.
My family has many wonderful, colorful characters. We are a massive, big, unconventional family.
We are like a tree with a slew of intricate branches.
They say it takes a village, and boy are we a village.
Our village is teeming with musicians, comedians and selfless people who devote their lives working with high-risk kids.
There is an old joke that lesbians are “do-gooders.” Lesbians are always thought of as kindergarten teachers or people work at an NGO.
It's probably the nicest stereotype about the LGBTQ+ community.
However a stereotype, regardless of how “nice” it is, is always harmful.
Both of my mothers have “do-gooder” professions. They have spent their lives working in either in public education or in the protection of at-risk youth.
In my opinion, their hands-on experience of working with high-risk kids make them far more qualified to raise children than a lot of straight couples I know.
When conservatives were debating gay marriage, they argued "gays" would ruin the "sanctity" of marriage.
Listen: Anyone, including straight people, can ruin the sanctity of children.
The 1-year-old who was taken from her lesbian mothers in Utah was already stuck in the foster care system.
It's a system that nationally is understaffed and riddled with issues like abuse, neglect, overcrowding and bullying.
The worst targets of bullying are often LGBTQ+ children.
The lesbians fostering this child didn’t put her in foster care. They helped her and cared for her when no one else would.
For over 22 years, I have heard horror stories about nearly everything that can happen to people in the LGBTQ+ community.
The community is overcome with everything from legal cases to hate crimes, slurs and simply existing in the world.
In 2015, it marked the deaths of 21 trans women.
A lesbian couple in could face prison time in Costa Rica for marrying after finding a loophole. (One of them was accidentally issued a male birth certificate.)
Nearly half of bisexual women experience sexually assault in their lifetimes.
When the lesbian couple in Utah was interviewed by a local news show, one stated, "I was kind of caught off guard because I didn’t think anything like that would happen anymore."
Sadly, even in 2015, when gay people can get married in this country, the fight is far from over.