Mamablogger365 – New Beginnings by Mindy Stokes

The word family has seen a transformation in the past couple of decades. At one time, it meant only those biologically related to you. In this day and age, it’s been expanded to include those with whom we have shared values or choose to spend much time with. For me, family represents those people who have become near and dear—those who’ve found their way into my heart in profound and deeply meaningful ways. This list includes my mother, grandmother, aunties, uncles, cousins, brother and dear friends. My nuclear family, those with whom I wake up every day, and who bring me joy, are Katie my partner of 13 years, and Soleil our vivacious five year old daughter.

Unfortunately, the concept of family has been hijacked by certain individuals and organizations in our society who wish to define what “family” is. Far too often, these individuals and organizations claim they have the Good Book and God on their side and that He is the ultimate authority, thus rendering them experts on a particular issue. The issue I speak of is marriage equality.

These religious folks assert they must protect the “family” from special interests and only their definition of “family” qualifies for this protection. They broadcast that marriage equality will bring mayhem to the traditional institution of marriage between one man and one woman. And that if same-sex couples are granted the civil right of marrying, then our nation’s morality is at stake and finally our children will suffer. According to them, the welfare of these children is at the center of this argument.

They are erroneous for three reasons: 1. Heterosexual marriage is not in need of protection. Heterosexuals are part of dominant culture, privileged with being represented in all areas of society, which includes being able to get married anywhere in the country at any time. 2. Heterosexual marriage is in danger due to divorce, violence, lack of equity between the sexes, and adultery not because of queers. 3. Children are actually left unprotected because of this agenda, placing them nowhere near the center of their argument.

There are between 8 to 10 million children of gay and lesbian people in the US today. If our most precious resources don’t have access to full equality because their parents are gay, what does that say about our nation? Our morality? Our Christian beliefs?

When gay parents are denied full access to rights, the entire family suffers. This is seen in a myriad of ways: decreased access to health care, decreased social security benefits, decreased tax benefits, increased money paid for insurances for home, health and vehicle, increased bullying and violence in schools, churches, language and on the streets, decreased security in the community and invisibility of one’s family in language, textbooks, literature, music and other forms of popular culture.

People in this country believe in taking care of those who are most vulnerable. This is evident in our Medicare system, in the Social Security Administration and unemployment benefits. Our values are also expressed when we reach out to neighbors, no matter what religion they may be, or if they are democrat or republican, or even if they have a different sexuality. We are good people—moral and just.

I say we redefine “family” in a way that reflects our belief system. Our values require us to feed the hungry, help the poor, take in strays, volunteer at hospice, donate books to the public library, pick up trash in the streets, read to at-risk youth, build homes for the homeless and speak up for those most vulnerable. And those who need our help now are the LGBT community and their children.

We are talking about new beginnings. It’s time to reclaim that which is rightfully ours. Not to let something as precious as family be used as a political tool to drive wedges between members of the community. I ask you to pledge to yourself, to those you love and your neighbors the following:

• I will speak up any time a person devalues another
• I will work in some way, no matter how small, to help those around me
• I will fight against prejudice in all its forms
• I will act even though I might be fearful

Is this too tall an order? I think not. It is in finding your truth and voice that you find freedom. Because in the words of Audre Lorde: “We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.”1

We cannot wait. We must transform our silence into language and action—because you will be afraid whether you are silent or not.

It is time for new beginnings. A time for creating a more just society. Time for making those lives around us better. A time to rejoice.

Hear us world! Hear us now!

1Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider. Freedom: The Crossing Press. 1984. (44).

Bio: Mindy Stokes is a feminist, lesbian, author, and mother. She teaches women’s studies at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon. Mindy and her partner of 12 years live with their very sassy daughter, Soleil in the Pacific Northwest. Mindy’s blogs have appeared in HIPFiSHmonthly. You can read about her adventures at http://www.knockeduplesbian.blogspot.com or you can buy her memoir Momma Baby Mama: Story of a Knocked-Up Lesbian at www.mindystokes.com.

The Museum Of Motherhood is the first and only facility of its kind, celebrating the “her”story of mothers around the world. We need your help — please make your tax-deductible contribution today!Visit the Museum of Motherhood, NOW OPEN in NYC – Tues.-Sun., 10:45-6:30.

Photo credit: anon | MorgueFile

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