Viewing Supreme Court’s Rulings from a Child’s Eyes
June 28, 2013 by Ellen Kahn, Director of the Children, Youth & Families Program
I typically don’t have the TV on when my kids are awake, but last night I was eager to see and hear coverage of the historic and momentous SCOTUS rulings on same-sex marriage. My ten-year-old daughter was home with me and I asked her to read in bed while I watched the news.
This was out of the ordinary, so she predictably asked for an explanation, to which I responded that something very important and very big happened and I wanted to know what the news channels were saying about it. And predictably, she proceeded to know precisely what had happened.
Having been raised in a very out, proud two-mom household, including a mom who has worked “in the movement” for many years, she knows the story of same-sex marriage. She knows that just a handful of states allow it, including our home of Maryland, and she understands the concept of legal discrimination. I told her that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled today in favor of same-sex marriage. Her response was simply, “I love the Supreme Court for that, but I think they should have done this 100 years ago.”
And that is when I realized that not only had we raised a very wise child, but that the impact of the rulings yesterday will resonate very differently with our youngest community and family members than with those of us at middle age and older, for whom such a day never seemed possible. I was also struck with her very measured response—there was appreciation and happiness at the “good news,” but some measured ambivalence because this was a “no brainer,” and why go crazy celebrating something that you should have been entitled to in the first place!
My daughter’s very honest reaction reminds me that today, all across our country, members of our community are experiencing a wide range of reactions and emotions in the aftermath of yesterday’s historic steps toward legal equality, some elated and crying tears of joy and others feeling alienated from the celebration because their foremost need is for housing or safety at school. For many, federally recognized same-sex marriage in and of itself is not the pinnacle of equality or ultimate achievement for our movement.
There is no doubt, however, that for my daughter and others who are less “blown away” by the SCOTUS rulings the message is clear that as a community, as a movement, we are heading in the right direction and gaining support along the way. I look forward to celebrating with my daughter many more big steps toward full equality, and when those moments arrive—passing an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, for example, I’ll be sure to invite her to watch the news coverage with me.
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