Equality for All

I was actually going to hold off on this topic for a while. But with the recent progress made in marriage equality across the United States, I can’t think of a better time to discuss this issue, and how millennials can discuss it with their children.

And no doubt millennials (and their under-40 cohorts) are supporting gay marriage at record-high percentages. In the most recent CBS/NYTimes Poll, 31% of those polled over age 40 said they supported gay marriage. By contrast, 57% of those under age 40 supported gay marriage. Only 19% of those under 40 opposed any legal recognition of gay couples, in comparison to 35% over 40.

My wife and I are, undoubtedly, pro-gay marriage. None of this civil union stuff, but full marriage equality. The same rights afforded to a man and a woman. And no doubt, that as more and more millennials enter the voting ranks, marriage equality is within reach.

And, as my wife and I are demonstrating, these millennials will soon be bringing their own offspring into the world. We were each raised in families that, more or less, didn’t really talk about homosexuality that much. I somewhat remember realizing that it existed all on my own, and not because of a conversation I had with my parents.

We want our children to know that marriage can exist between a man and a woman. But also that marriage should be afforded to two men or two women. If millennials truly want to change the landscape of our social environment, to ensure that gays are treated equal in all aspects of life, including marriage, than it is up to us to change the way we teach our children.

By helping our children understand the many different lifestyles in American culture, we can create school environments that are inclusive, we can end bullying of gay students, and most of all, we can send a message to our children that is it okay to be gay, that no matter what lifestyle they choose, straight, gay, etc., that they will have parents that support their choice.

Marriage equality is finally within the grasp of our nation. It has started with millennials, and will finally be achieved in cooperation with our children.

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5 responses to “Equality for All

  1. I think you’re not really presenting this in the right way, based on what you say your goals are. You’re still drawing a line between same-sex and mixed-sex marriage, where I think none should exist.

    If you really want “equality for all,” then the right way to present it to your kids is something more like “people fall in love with, and sometimes marry, other people.” Anything that sounds like “men and women marry each other, but oh yeah, it’s OK for men to marry men and women to marry women, too” still draws a distinction.

    The next generation will change the world, and as parents, we have the opportunity to shape their perceptions about how that world ought to be.

  2. millennialdad

    That’s easier said than done, Linda.

    I think it goes without saying that I hope, one day, there will be no distinction between mixed-sex and same sex marriage, that it will all be just ‘marriage.’

    Unfortunately, we live in a country where attitudes towards this issue are sharply divided. For 200 years in our country’s history, marriage has been ONLY between a man and a woman. We have relatives that are staunchly against gay marriage, and that may cause battles in our family.

    Everything in our society (except for the select few states where gay marriage is now legal) points to marriage as a union between one man and one woman (my state has a constitutional ban on gay marriage).

    Bottomline, I absolutely hope there will be a day where marriage is marriage, where there isn’t a distinction. But for now, and in the foreseeable future (at the very least until it’s granted legal recognition across the US), there will be a distinction between the two marriages. And until that happens, I want my children to know that, no matter what others might say, that it is okay to love a person of the same sex.

  3. It’s only easier said than done until you just start DOING it. You have the power to change your own language, and you have the power to put your own spin on the things that your children learn. Language has power, and it’s something that is very much in our control.

    I live in one of those “select few” states, and same-sex civil marriage has been a reality here for 5 years now. Of course, same-sex religious marriages were a reality for many years prior to that.

    One of the most interesting things here is that when the first same-sex marriage licenses were issued, it was all pretty unremarkable. Not quite boring, but almost. You know you’ve really arrived when you’re boring…and you’re boring when people stop drawing distinctions.

    I won’t be telling my child(ren) that it’s OK to love a person of the same sex, because I’ll be telling them, and they will witness when they look around them, that people love and sometimes marry *people*, and that gender is irrelevant.

  4. millennialdad

    Again, I wish it were as easy just to tell my children to ‘look around’ and see that people love and sometimes marry people.

    I live in a midwestern state where gay marriage is ‘strongly opposed’ by 46% of the population (that doesn’t include another 20% who are ‘somewhat opposed’). I wish my state was as progressive as states that allowed same-sex civil marriage, but four years ago, my state enacted a ban on gay marriage by a 3-2 ratio.

    I’d like to say that gay marriage is a possibility in the next five years, but that seems entirely too optimistic. The reality is, my child will be raised in a place where homosexuality is greatly frowned upon, even by his closest relatives.

    I think that, bottomline, I feel that my child needs to know that there is a distinction so he’ll know what people are fighting about…and what he should be fighting for. You may have the unique opportunity to raise your child in a state where same-sex marriage is almost considered ‘boring’ by now, but I assure you, in many other parts of the country, this is a hot-button issue that is going to be fought out over the course of my generation and the next.

  5. Pingback: Millennial Parenting and Family Values « From None to One: A blog about a Generation Y dad

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