What Is A Family?

This week, the supreme court will hear arguments to overturn both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. These two pieces of legislation have brought injustice to a segment of the population for many years now and it is time to end the inequality.

A poll that came out this past week showed that in the 20 years since DOMA was signed into law (Bad Clinton. I love you, but c’mon man. What were you thinking with DOMA and DADT?) that public opinion of gay marriage has shifted greatly to the side of being for, not against, it. Just ten years ago, only 37% of the population would say they were for gay marriage, whereas, 53% say they are today. This is a huge stride and one that can make anyone who survived Stonewall proud. These are the days of change. We WILL see it in our lifetime and times are good.

But, there is always an opposition to good sense and that is where the lawyers defending prop 8 come in. The basis for their claim that upholding Prop 8 is the right thing to do comes from a traditional view of marriage. To quote them directly, “The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus, refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples” (Charles J. Cooper, lawyer representing the proponents of Prop 8).

This got me thinking about my Sociology of Family class, from a few years back, and the first question we were asked and discussed in depth.

What is a family?

Of course, the first answer that was yelled out, from the back of the room, was two parents and their children. Ah ha! Two parents. Not a mother and a father, but two parents. This is telling. Later, this same person went on to say that he believed two parents were a mother and father, but the first reaction was two parents. This definition, although inclusive of same sex couples, does leave out many other people.

How about single moms or dads and their children? How about same sex or opposite sex couples with no children? Are these not families? Are a woman and man that want to get married, but hold off on having children (possibly never having biological children at all), not a real family? Well, if that is the case, I guess the writer and I will have to hand in our marriage license pronto! By defining family in such narrow terms as two parents and their children, it leaves out legions of others. We all become outsiders in this pursuit of narrowly defined family.

This is why DOMA and Prop 8 must go and that no new bills should be brought to any legislature in any state that try to define marriage as one woman one man. This is too narrow a definition for marriage, which also leads to an even narrower definition of family. So, go go Supreme Court! Do us justice now, so that we don’t continue to slide back into the injustice that was around when the country was formed.

We are supposed to be always looking ahead in America. Leading the world with innovation and equality. Well, we have fallen down on the promise that is a free society and if we don’t pick up the pieces and start making it right we might as well forget about that promise.

After all, this same day in history, 26 March 2013, North Dakota passed the most sweeping restrictions on choice since prior to roe v. wade released us from the burden of laws on our bodies. They are attempting to roll back women’s rights, but hopefully the voters won’t let it stand. Two steps forward and one step back.

We will get there someday, slowly but surely, rights for all living, human beings. And by the way, that means breathing on ones own, not just the potential to do so. Just sayin’.


Full transcript of Supreme Court Arguments On California Gay Marriage Ban – 26 March 2013
‘It’s Bad For Business’: Employers Side With DOMA Opponents – a reason to actually LIKE Starbucks.

love is love is love.

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