Talking to children about marriage equality

I have been gratified to see my facebook news feed full of celebratory responses to today’s Supreme Court decision which finally granted marriage equality throughout all fifty states. With a few specific and expected exceptions, my friends and family are excited and proud of today’s decision. Perhaps I just hide in my little corner of the internet with like-minded people, but the only negative responses I’ve seen (other than my two fundamentalist relatives who I only keep on my newsfeed because their political conspiracy theories greatly amuse me) have cited the bible rather than the Constitution, and have only appeared in my view because I have friends arguing with the original posters.

In those few negative anti-equality postings, the concern that people keep repeating is ‘what about the children?’ and ‘now will schools have to teach about gay marriage?’ and the apparent fear that, if exposed to an openly gay person, the gay virus will spread and contaminate previously heterosexual children.  That last one, obviously, is too stupid to waste time addressing.

However, we do need to think about the children.  As parents right now, in this historic moment, we do have the responsibility to tell our children what is happening and what it means for them.  We are the only generation of parents who will have to do so – our children’s children will grow up in a world where marriage between two people who love each other regardless of their respective genitalia will be normal.  Our children’s children will look back on the marriage equality issue with the same ‘oh how quaint and outdated’ attitude that we look back on the ban on interracial marriage before Loving v. Virginia.

So we have this responsibility, and we need to take it seriously.  I’ve already had the talk with Wildling.  It went like this:

Me: So there was some big exciting news this morning.

Wildling: What? Is it something for me?

Me: No, news from the Supreme Court.  You know what the court is, right? [she’s been to the courthouse with me numerous times so she vaguely understands the concept] Well, there’s a really important court that decides the major issues for everyone in our country.  And they decided to allow marriage equality.  That means in all the states, if a boy wants to marry a boy, he can, and if a girl wants to marry a girl, she can, and if a boy and a girl want to marry each other, they can.

Wildling: That’s good. I’m probably going to marry Helena.

Me: I thought she hadn’t been being nice to you lately.  You can only marry her if she’s nice to you and is a good partner for you.

Wildling: Yeah, ok, I’m probably going to marry a boy instead.  I’m going to marry Cortez.

Me: You can only marry Cortez if he’s nice to you and is a good partner for you.

Wildling: I know! You already said that!

Me: Sorry.  But it’s good that everybody can marry the person they want, if that person is a good partner for them, right? So today is a good day.

Wildling: Everybody is going to be so happy today!

Me: Well, not everyone, but we’re not going to worry about those people.


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