When you’re a kid growing up with LGBTQ parents, you don’t realize that your family unit is “different” until you’re told. For me, this came in the form of some first grade biology experts, who, when I told them I didn’t have a dad and that I had two moms, declared it to be impossible. “You can’t have two mommies, you need a mommy and a daddy to have a baby,” they said, arms crossed, faces smug with their own self-assuredness. I never brought this interaction up with my parents, nor any of the other increasingly vile homophobic vitriol I would hear as I got older. But at such a young age, the confidence with which those kids made their statement, coupled with my own 6-year-old ignorance, left me questioning whether or not my family was normal, and even worse, if there was something wrong with us.
Lucky for me, it was right around this time when one of my moms sat me down and gave me “the talk” all LGBTQ parents have with their kids at some point. She told me some families have two moms, some have two dads and some have a mom and a dad. She said it doesn’t matter what your family looks like as long as there is love. I knew my parents loved each other. I knew they loved me and my sister. And that was all the explanation I needed.
Since then, a lot has changed for my family and families like mine. In 2008, two years after that conversation, gay marriage was legalized in our home state of Connecticut. My parents had been together for 17 years at that point and were finally able to exchange rings and vows and have their love recognized in the eyes of the law. While that was certainly meaningful, marriage also held more pragmatic benefits. When both me and my sister were born, my mother had to go through the process of legally adopting each of us so that if anything happened to my other mother, she would have legal custody. Additionally, before they were married, the other would not be able to make life or death decisions if something tragic did happen to either one of them, or in some cases even be allowed in the hospital room, as they wouldn’t be considered a “family member.” It would take another seven years before this right to marriage, and the right to the benefits that come along with it, was extended to LGBTQ couples all across the country, when the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples are entitled to the same right to marry as straight couples.
Now, all that may seem to be a great deal of progress to be made in nine years, and that’s because it is. It’s undeniably easier and safer to start a same-sex family today than it was in 2006. But there remains a vocal minority who, just like those first-graders, staunchly believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman and a family should consist of “a mommy and a daddy.” From the moment Obergefell v. Hodges was decided, these individuals have been attempting to sidestep the protections it affords with their ultimate goal being its reversal.
And a mere five years later, this goal appears to be in reach, as one of their number, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is a Senate confirmation away from becoming Justice Amy Coney Barrett. If confirmed, she would join justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who just last week publicly criticized Obergefell v. Hodges and called for the case to be revisited on the grounds of violation of religious liberty. Barrett, a religious dogmatist herself, would almost certainly side with Thomas and Alito, as would the other two conservative justices already on the court. If confirmed, Barrett would serve as the vote needed to overturn the case.
While Barrett’s confirmation hearings have already begun, there is still hope that her confirmation and the potential confirmation of more conservative justices over the next four years, which could have disastrous results for LGBTQ families, can be prevented. So when you cast your vote this November, think about the lives that vote could directly and fundamentally impact. I hope that you choose to vote for kindness, for compassion, for families and ultimately, for love.
Jaden DiMauro, a freshman majoring in English, is an opinions writer.
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