A Parent’s Journey: A Lesson for the Next Generation
May 10, 2012 by Ellen Kahn, Director of the Children, Youth & Families Program
All of us who believe in and work for LGBT equality are elated about President Obama’s announcement about marriage equality. While the media frenzy spins around the politics, what I am most struck by, as a parent, is the very personal family story behind the president’s position. His evolution on this issue was largely informed by his role as a parent. Even the leader of this country understands the awesome responsibility he has as a parent to teach values to his children.
Like millions of children across the U.S., Sasha and Malia Obama go to school and dance class and soccer practice and birthday parties with friends being raised by two moms or two dads. For their generation, different types of family structures is the norm. The two girls see the ways in which families are alike; parents work, shop for groceries, pack lunch and cook dinner, cheer on the sidelines, help with homework, drive a lot, and take care of their kids when they are sad, hurt or sick.
And so it is no surprise that Sasha and Malia, like my daughters and their friends, just “don’t get” why same-sex couples are treated differently and locked out of the many benefits of legal marriage. And it is no surprise that his children’s everyday experiences, and the world through their eyes, had such a powerful impact on the president.
Every day, parents have to answer hard questions and help our children make sense of the world around them. Most parents will eventually be asked about two-mom and two-dad families, maybe in the form of “how” our families came to be, or about our laws and justice and equality. It is our children and their questions that will teach us, help us evolve, and move that needle of public opinion toward support for LGBT equality.
President Obama did what was in the best interest of his children, and all children -- to tell the truth and to stand for justice and fairness. And that is the gift we can give to Sasha and Malia’s generation, and to the millions of children being raised in loving two-mom and two-dad families.
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