Okay, quick twofer here (not that you asked for it) on former Arkansas Governor Michael Huckabee’s interview last week.
He talked about more than just Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, of course. In fact, his most consequential comments were in regard to gay adoption. About gays who wanted to adopt children, his comments were, in full (well, as in full as reported online by the newspaper):
I think this is not about trying to create statements for people who want to change the basic fundamental definitions of family…
And always we should act in the best interest of the children, not in the seeming interest of the adults.
Children are not puppies
This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?
Now, I’ve never met Huck, so I’m not going to try to delve too deeply into his motivations. I think he’s likely a very good man who just sees the world (having been a Baptist minister) very differently than I do. That said, I can’t help but read his comments as being suggestive that he believes gay couples who wish to adopt see doing so not as a loving extension of their family, hoping to bring joy and stability to an otherwise orphan, but simply as a novelty or trophy of some sort.
Of course, I imagine if I put it that way to him, he’d have a more gentle way of putting it, but I think that’s generally where he comes down, and I think he’s wrong.
But here’s where the cool twist comes in:
I don’t watch TV, but apparently there’s a show on the Food Network (apparently, there’s a “Food Network”!) hosted…get ready for this…by a couple of gay dudes. The hosts, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh are adoptive fathers of a son. They, rightly, take offense at what Huck had to say and Steve posted this letter to the governor on his blog:
You may know me from Food Network. My partner, Dan Smith, and I are The Hearty Boys. We’re Chicago caterers, restaurateurs, cookbook authors and most importantly, dads. Dan and I have been in a stable, monogamous, loving, positive, nurturing and healthy relationship for 13 years. We were blessed to adopt our son, Nate, at his birth 4 1/2 years ago.
Sir, your comments likening my parenting my son to adopting a pet are beyond hurtful and dangerous. My love, passion and commitment to Nate is not one iota different than what you have for John Mark, David and Sarah. Our son is loved and cared for just as much. He feels just as loved and cared for. He is a happy, well adjusted little guy whom I fiercely love.
Mr. Huckabee, I invite you to spend the evening with us at our home in Chicago next time you come through. You need to understand and see firsthand what a family like ours is like. We are no less a family than yours, and in fact, we are healthier and more stable than most.
Americans are no longer going to sit silent as our families are attacked. And even though I find your comments reprehensible and irresponsible, I will open my home to you and pray that we might help you better understand the damage you could inflict.
When I first read it, I was put off slightly by the choice of words (“beyond hurtful and dangerous“, “sit silent as our families are attacked“, “the damage you could inflict”) as a bit over-the-top. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured, Ya know what? That’s fair, because it’s how he feels. Just as the governor was free, and felt free, to voice his opinion, these guys, while a bit melodramatic in their choice of words (although I don’t doubt for a minute they come straight from the heart), should be honest with Huck in describing how they feel.
Okay, all that softy-stuff out of the way, here’s the thing:
BRAVO for these guys to have the GUTS (are you listening, Constance?) to invite a guy like Huckabee to their home to learn about their family. I’m also heartened by the reaction on the web. As I peruse other blogs who have written about this, most responses are dubious that Huckabee would RSVP ‘aye’, but very few think these guys are wrong to invite him.
I’m sure many others who read this blog have a story like mine with some of my relatives: They live in a part of the country wherein they come into very little contact with openly gay men and women. When word went around my family about my coming out, they were intrigued at first, and once they felt more comfortable (“He’s the same Nick we’ve always known”), they were inquisitive and eager to know more about me; about us. To a person, they’ve all been welcoming, and in fact, I feel it’s because they now know a gay person with a steady job who’s not strung out on drugs or otherwise doesn’t fit the negative stereotypes, they’re likely more accepting and respectful toward all of us.
Now, I wouldn’t expect this dinner to unfold like some sort of after-school special (wrong network, for starters). And Governor Huckabee certainly has a constituency. But I believe in the redemptive power of the human nature. I also believe Michael Huckabee is a good man. I honestly feel that exposure is what he needs.
More importantly, the usual suspects (from whom I’m sure we’ll hear in 3, 2, 1…) could take a lesson from these two Chicagoans. In an age where the first inclination for so many gay men and women is to accuse someone who has a problem with the “gay” “lifestyle” of being ignorant, here are two people who are hoping to educate. After all, isn’t that the way to fix ignorance?
Now, that’s refreshing.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from TML)