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On blogging & the gay marriage conversation

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:18 am - June 29, 2011.
Filed under: Blogging,Family,Gay Marriage,Random Thoughts,Travel

Sometimes, we bloggers find that our schedules do not allow us the time to write about breaking news of interest to our readers in a timely manner.  When the news breaks, we may have other plans and lack a paid staff or readily available understudies to fill in when we are away.

In the wake of the New York legislature’s vote to recognize same-sex marriages, I would have liked to have blogged more on the topic and have scribbled countless notes for a number of blog posts.  But, I had planned a trip, first to Santa Barbara for a friend’s going away party and thence to the Bay Area to spend time with some family members.  In the coming days, I will try to bring some order to my notes and write those posts, but for now, I write from the kitchen in my sister’s new house in the San Francisco ‘burbs, having just concluded a lengthy conversation with that spirited mother of a most energetic two-and-one-half year old.

For the past three days, I would have rather spent my time, dining with my mother (whose visit to SF was the occasion for my trip), hiking with my sister or playing with my nephew than organizing my notes and writing (hopefully) thoughtful posts on gay marriage.

Those three paragraphs were supposed to have served as the introduction to the first post I had wanted to write on gay marriage.  Perhaps, I should leave them as a reflection on blogging, but I do want to add one more thing.

Part of the “play” with my nephew involved a trip to Traintown, a railway-themed mini-amusement park featuring “a quarter scale railroad on 4 miles of track.”  On our twenty-minute ride, although I focused on my nephew, I did notice a (presumably) lesbian couple and their child.  One mother who had the short hair and very matter-of-fact manner of many lesbians I know and showed the same solicitude toward her daughter that my sister regularly shows her son, gently, at one time, offering her a sippy cup when the child seemed thirsty and not letting it fall when she rejected it soon thereafter, thrusting it at her Mommy (without regard to her willingness or ability to hold onto it).

Knowing from observing my various siblings raise their progeny how challenging parenting is, I wondered at the hoops this woman and her partner resolved to jump through in order to face those challenges (since most gay people can’t become parents the natural way as do our straight counterparts).  That is, they went through all that trouble in order to undertake additional responsibilities and increase their household expenses.  Unless that day was an exception (and I doubt that it was), that woman did not shirk from the duties she had assumed in agreeing to raise a child.

Nor do most (but alas not all) of the gay and lesbian couples who have adopted children (or otherwise chosen to become parents).

Like that “butch” lesbian with her daughter’s sippy cup, they freely undertake the (often frustrating) responsibilities of parenting.  As do many who seek state recognition of their unions.  And many who do not seek such benefits.

All too often in the debate on gay marriage, we miss the simple fact that with or without state recognition of our unions, many gay couples have assumed the responsibilities of marriage — and parenthood, with many (if not most) acquitting themselves quite well of their duties in often challenging circumstances.

The state could neither make her a good mother nor prevent her from raising a child to the best of her ability.  Nor could it prevent her from being a devoted spouse to her partner.  The legislation in the Empire State will certainly make it easier for such couples to live together and raise children, but it will not erase the challenges of married life nor its responsibilities.

But, then again, we’ve long understood that state recognition of traditional marriage doesn’t erase the difficulties of such arrangements nor does it guarantee an easy life for those who agree to undertake the responsibilities of that ancient and institution.

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8 Comments

  1. Dan,

    I think that lesbians or gays are as good parents as any others and potentially as insufficient parents as any others. People succeed and people fail.

    Honestly, I have a squirrelly mind problem when I see two guys pushing a stroller with a tot. I wonder about the tot as “different” in the school setting.

    So, then I immediately ask myself why this “bothers” me. And I realize that I have accepted gay relationships, but not gay couples as co-equal partners in the grand scheme of things.

    I was “radicalized” by Heather Has Two Mommies and Jocelyn Elders masturbation training goofiness. I don’t “want” the details of sex or gay sex as chit chat at the water cooler or a general breezy topic. I am outraged when a person on a cell phone has a graphic conversation of any type in the midst of strangers. We have the right to our privacy from other’s “stuff.”

    Keeping your private business private is probably as far as my “tolerance” extends.

    Gays that promote their gaydom in obvious ways are not trying to join the society so much as to get acceptance, however grudgingly it may be given. But, then, I have to struggle with a same sex couple with a child and realize that I am pre-judging the situation simply on my prejudices. I am particularly hard pressed to be open-minded when one of these arrangements falls apart. After all, lots of kids get victimized by bad parenting in the heterosexual world.

    My continued resistance to gay marriage is because it does not occur as the next step after civil unions. I accept the logic of civil unions because the states have made laws that deny gay couples the benefits accorded heterosexuals.

    The marriage issue, in my view, is something more in the minds of gays and lesbians than clearing up the next of kin, tax categories, etc. I believe it is all psychological and aimed at some false assumption of achieving acceptance and respect.

    If Hitler had been able to kill all the gay and lesbian people in the world, he would only have caused a small blip. Each generation of gays and lesbians more or less exterminates themselves with no help from a Hitler. But we seem to always have about the same small percent of gays and lesbians.

    The theory is that there is a genetic marker hidden somewhere that sets the course toward sexuality. Over the years, I have attempted to prod people into how they would deal with this “knowledge” if they could control the outcome of genetic testing.

    I mention this, because I am confused as to how comfortable gays and lesbians are in their own skins and how much of any discomfort they feel is caused by a hostile society.

    It has been a long time on this site since I have been called a homophobe. I wonder if I have changed or if others have understood me better or if I am an incurable homophobe and to call me one is a waste of breath.

    Hopefully, others will accept these comments not as “all about me” and understand that the general “divide” between homosexuals and heterosexuals needs some serious airing.

    What continues to astound me is the rabid insistence that religion is the culprit.

    Comment by Heliotrope — June 29, 2011 @ 8:46 am - June 29, 2011

  2. @helio thank you for the honest post, I can understand where you are coming from a little better. I hope you get over your discomfort at seeing two guys holding hands or pushing a baby carriage one day. I wish it wasn’t such a big thing, you have no idea how nice it would be to just not feel self conscious doing either in public can be let alone giving a kiss or trying to be romantic in a public place. It wears at a lot of relationships including mine, the constant looking over ones shoulder is not conducive to happiness.

    Comment by Tim — June 29, 2011 @ 3:39 pm - June 29, 2011

  3. Tim, my discomfort over two guys holding hands, huh?

    Where have I ever expressed discomfort with that image? And if you actually check this blog’s archives, you will find that I expressed an opinion exactly at odds with this assumption of my reaction . . .

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — June 29, 2011 @ 3:45 pm - June 29, 2011

  4. It doesn’t matter, and should not matter, what others think of one’s relationship. If what others think bothers me, then that is my own insecurity and I have chosen victimhood. I am guilty.

    Comment by Az Mo in NYC — June 29, 2011 @ 4:23 pm - June 29, 2011

  5. And by demanding that others call my relaionship marriage, by forcing my viewpoint on someone else, I am doing 2 things: I am giving all of the power over to someone else. I am violating the rights of others who disagree. A more constructive thing to have done is push for reforming the law so that families cannot move in and try to override power of attorney and wills and reform the law so hospitals must allow whoever is supposed to be there as per legal contract.

    Comment by Az Mo in NYC — June 29, 2011 @ 4:38 pm - June 29, 2011

  6. @Dan is your name Helio cause I clearly marked that post? I was responding to the comment not your posting sorry for any confusion.

    Comment by Tim — June 29, 2011 @ 5:13 pm - June 29, 2011

  7. Well, Dan answered perfectly for me. I didn’t say a thing about holding hands. I have held hands with my male friends in Egypt out of respect for their customs. I was neither self conscious nor feeling “icky.”

    Please do not scramble my words to fit your agenda.

    I do not believe that children raised by two mommies or two daddies are in for an easy time in middle school. I am more concerned about the child that the adults who created the potential problem.

    Please do not patronize me. I am far from a sniveling fool. I laid out my biases in plain detail. I would rather be called stupid or a homophobe than to be pitied for recoiling from things that don’t begin to rattle my cage.

    Comment by Heliotrope — June 29, 2011 @ 7:10 pm - June 29, 2011

  8. Tim, my apologies, I read @helio as @hello, thought it was a general greeting.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — June 30, 2011 @ 1:40 am - June 30, 2011

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