Last March, I wrote a story for Parenting in which I relayed my own experiences as a gay mom and posited that same-sex parents are creating the “new normal” families of today (“Meet the Same-Sex Parents Next Door”). Hundreds of people weighed in online and the piece was even mentioned on the New York Times website. But despite some negative comments and a few cancelled Parenting subscriptions, I’ve always felt—and continue to feel—that our family is accepted and welcomed socially by our community and country. Legally, though, it’s been a different story.
Emily and I threw a wedding back in 2005. Emily’s brother and our brothers-in-law held up the chuppa, our nieces were flower girls, we signed a ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract), and we were toasted by our parents, siblings, and friends. But the ceremony did nothing to bind us legally. We still had to check the “single” status on any official form. And when we had our twin boys, we had to jump through many legal hoops to ensure that our family would be protected in the event of an emergency.
But this past June, New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage, and Emily and I knew we would make it official. A few weeks ago, we all got dressed up and headed to Brooklyn City Hall. We waited in a long line with a dozen other brides and grooms, paid $25, and were pronounced married by a man appropriately named Angel.
Did it feel monumental? Not really. Did I feel different afterwards? Nope. Did the boys give a crap? Not at all (they climbed on the pulpit and begged to leave throughout the 3-minute ceremony; they’re only 4, after all). Emily and I have been married in our hearts and minds and the hearts and minds of our family and friends for almost 7 years, so having a flimsy piece of paper that says it didn’t evoke too much emotion.
But that piece of paper IS a big deal. More than the rights it grants to Emily and me (though the hundreds of dollars a month we’re now saving in state taxes and health insurance each month doesn’t hurt!), my sons deserve to know that the love that created their family is legitimate, recognized, and honored. They may not appreciate it yet, but they will.