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.