F: Daddy, are we going to eat that artichoke or let it make a flower?
D: Well, look at it, Fisher.
F: What do you mean? (Pause.) Okay, Daddy, I’m looking at it.
D: This year that plant’s gone nuts. So…
D: We could eat some of the artichokes and let others turn into flowers.
F: Oh! You’re right, Daddy. That’s a good idea. Ep-cept…wait…Daddy, can I ask you a question?
F: Do I like artichokes?
D: I don’t know if you’ve ever had one.
F: Oh. I don’t think I like artichokes. We could just let them make flowers.
F: Daddy, are we going to eat that artichoke or let it make a flower?
At dinner, Fisher holds up his word ring.
F: Daddy, Mrs. Powell said that I get to go to the ice cream party.
D: Right on, Fisher! So, you showed her that you know those last four words?
F (big smile): Uh huh. So, I get to go to the ice cream party.
The prize for learning all the sight words on the ring is an invitation to the year-end ice cream party.
C (bursting into tears): I don’t get…(sobs)…to go to the ice cream…(sobs)…party because they won’t…(sobs)…put any more words on my ring…(sobs)…because Mrs. Lamb said that I didn’t bring my folder to class…(sobs)…so I can’t go!
D: What the what!? Cory, you know your words. I know you know your words. Ima have to send Mrs. Lamb a note because…
F (interrupting, leaning forward on the table for emphasis): Cory, if they say that you can’t go to the ice cream party, I will just tell them that you are my twin. I knew my words, so I get to go to the party, and you are my twin. So, you can go to the party, too. That’s what it is, Cory. That’s just what it is.
C (having forgotten to bring her ring to school on some key days): But, I can’t go because I don’t have all the words on my ring.
F (holding his word ring out): Here, Cory! You could use my word ring to practice.
C (sobs abating): Can you test me some? They make me spell them.
F: Sure, Cory. Do you have to spell them?
F: Okay, so how do you…
C: Don’t show me, Fisher. Just hold it so I can’t see.
F: Okay, sure, Cory. So, how do you spell “have”?
F: You’re right, Cory. How do you spell “one”?
F: Good job.
They continue as Daddy prepares the dogs’ food. Cinder is going nuts. Daddy vaguely listens to their quizzing, mind freed by their amazingly cooperative mood to drift back to a radio story, heard in the car on the way home, about the Irish marriage equality referendum that passed on Friday. The story noted that many of the ads run in opposition to marriage equality focused, as they often do, on a theme that children have a right to both a mother and a father, and granting marriage rights to gay couples somehow denies good children that right.
F: How do you spell “little”?
F: You’re right!
Setting aside for a second whether marriage rights are (or should be) about children, these particular children, Cory and Fisher, do not have some right to a father and a mother. They could not exist, would not exist, without their parents deciding to bring them into this world. It is not true that, had two men not made the decisions that led to their birth, Cory and Fisher, as they live and breathe today, imperfect and beautiful, would have otherwise existed. They would not have. There is no “control group Cory” out there that she could have been if only laws had been in place to prevent Daddy and Papa from having her. There’s no straight family out there that had to have some other child because the ur-Fisher is here. That’s stupid. They are who they are, they live, they exist, because we, two men, made it happen.
There may also be grace in the fact of their existence, but to argue that marriage rights should not be extended to gay couples because…well, because, children…is to say that gay couples, in general, should not have children and that Cory and Fisher, in particular, should not exist. They couldn’t be anyone else’s kids. This was was the only way they could ever have been. And it’s a good thing, a very good thing, that they exist.
F: Cory, how do you spell “they”?
C: Cinder! Off! T-H-E-Y.
F: You’re right, Cory.
Cory and Fisher did not have a right to both a mother and a father. What Cory and Fisher had, and have today, is a right to good parenting. They have a right to good “mothering” and good “fathering.” And, they are getting that…most of the time…probably more of the time than most of the children born to straight couples on this planet. They were wanted before they were born, and they have been loved and supported since in a household with the time and resources necessary, more than is necessary, to devote to them.
Marriage is demonstrably not about kids. This litany is beginning to sound like a broken record. Old couples can marry. Infertile couples can marry. Couples who don’t want children can marry. People unfit to be parents (for all kinds of reasons) can marry. But, as soon as gay folks want to marry, conservative religious people trot out, over and over, well, it’s all about the welfare of children. No, it isn’t.
The US Supreme Court is writing what will be a historic opinion (either way) right now. The likely swing vote author, Justice Kennedy, should be putting together a straightforward opinion granting marriage rights to gay people based on the equal protection clause of the US Constitution (because refusing to do so discriminates based on sexual orientation, not on gender, as Justice Roberts tried defensively to suggest at oral argument). The opinion should only mention the welfare of kids in rebuttal, to knock down the arguments made in opposition to marriage equality. Such a straightforward opinion would be easy to write and satisfying to read. “Stop discriminating against gay folks. You have no legitimate, much less compelling, reason to do so. You say that gays should be kept from marrying to protect kids (or something). Bullshit.” QED.
When weighed against weird, phantom versions of themselves who supposedly could have been raised by straight couples, as imagined in the minds of right wing nut jobs, a very real Cory and a very real Fisher clearly benefit from a stable, accepted, run-of-the-mill, yawner, your-next-door-neighbor, ho-hum home. (Okay, their home isn’t that ho hum, but still…) Extending marriage rights, although not about children, is good for children.
F: Cory, how do you spell “play”?
C: Play? P-L-A-Y.
F: Oh, that’s right!
Cory smiles. Fisher takes a bite of chicken salad. Cinder digs into the yummy mess in his bowl. Boston and Quincy start whining for theirs. And…
…hopefully, those Kennedy fingers (Kennedy is a very Irish name, no?) are putting the finishing touches on that historic opinion (with the Notorious RBG standing over him, pointing, “yah, no, that’s good, Tony” while she stuffs some popcorn in her mouth with the other hand). While fantasizing, let’s go ahead and throw in a conservative-leaning advertising exec out there counseling the forces opposed to marriage equality that the “gays bad because…children” argument didn’t work in Ireland and won’t work here anymore either. Gay people are children. Some of them have children. And, the world still turns.
F: Cory, how do you spell “good”?
F: You got them all right, Cory!
C: Daddy?! Daddy!?
D (putting down Quincy’s bowl): Yes, Cory?
C: I got them all right!
F: Yah, Daddy, she’s right. She got them all right. I’m going to tell er, eh, uh them that Cory gets to go to the party because she got them all right and she’s my twin.
D (cracking some eggs): Good job, guys! G-O-O-D job!
C: Daddy, can you text Mrs. Lamb about the ice cream party…?
Well, the world’ll still turn as long as Cory gets her ice cream party. That turning shit’s gonna stop good and fast if this girl doesn’t get her ice cream party.