Friday, October 7, 2011

Making Nice

Your teen has been in school for almost a month now. As a parent, you worry about him being treated as an outsider. Is he being bullied? Does he only hang out with only girls? Are his only friends, like him, forced into a segregated minority of gays and lesbians?

What is a parent to do? How do you make sure that your gay or lesbian child mainstreams socially with the straight kids in their middle or high schools? If he/she joins a Gay-Straight Alliance, will she make lasting friends with the straights? How can you ensure that your child at lunch will sit with the straight kids and not be relegated to a table deemed “losers”? You can’t hover like a helicopter parent over their daily lives.

What has worked for you? If you have a suggestion or comment how gay and lesbian teens can successfully navigate the heterosexual groups in their schools, please post here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What Cuomo Has Wrought Let No Town Clerk Put Asunder

Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti at work

Deirdre DiBiaggio, who owns a Finger Lakes working farm, decided she wanted to get married to her lover of ten years, a filmmaker. So, she went to the Town Clerk’s office in nearby Ledyard, New York, to apply for a marriage license.

The Town Clerk, Rose Marie Belforti, declined. You see, Ms. DiBiaggio and her partner, Katie Carmichael are gay. Yet as of July 24, 2011, they were legally allowed to wed in New York State. Ms. Belforti, who has worked as Town Clerk for ten years, told the couple that they should make an appointment and return later when a deputy could issue the marriage license. If the couple had been heterosexual, would they have been told to wait? Was Belforti shirking her duties as Town Clerk?

The issue has divided Ledyard: a religious freedom claim by a local official against a civil rights claim by a same-sex couple. Belforti believes that the state’s Marriage Equality Act, the measure that approved New York’s same-sex marriage, violates her religious beliefs. She cites a passage from the Bible’s first chapter of Romans which, she interprets, condemns homosexuality as her underlying cause célèbre. To Belforti, state law protects her right to hold both her job and her beliefs.

But DiBiaggio and Carmichael believe that the law requires all clerks in New York to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Governor Cuomo is not sympathetic with Belforti and told a New York Times reporter, “when you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose.” The State Health Department issued a memorandum to clerks (two clerks resigned rather than comply with the law) that it is a misdemeanor to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

How do you stand on this issue? Should Rose Marie Belforti be reelected in November? Does the right to religious freedom give a person liberty over the law? If DiBiaggio and Carmichael are issued an apology and marriage license immediately, do those legal actions eclipse Belforti’s religious beliefs? Please post your beliefs here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Caspian Julius, Welcome!

The announcement read: “Baby and parents are doing well, baby has learned to cry already. No gifts please, just nice thoughts for Caspian, humankind, the planet, and the universe.”

Caspian Julius was born on September 30, 2011. I don’t know if he was produced by artificial insemination or adoption. Nor does the public. What we do know is he made headlines because he is the son of the first openly gay member of Congress to become a parent, Jared Polis (D-Co), and his life partner Marlon Reis.

In the baby’s photo, he looks earnest, with eyes wide open. Caspian wears a knit newborn cap and is swathed in an animal-printed blanket, typical accoutrements of infants. He looks innocent, but will probably be judged by those who deem his family of two “daddies” unconstitutional and blasphemous - an assault on “family values.” By his very existence in this modern family, he will become, if he hasn’t already, a poster boy for the religious right who regard marriage as solely a union between man and woman. Caspian, without lifting a finger, has become a symbol of controversy.

He is not alone. According to The Family Equality Council, an organization that advocates for LGBT families, there are one million LGBT parents raising two million children. Yet, Caspian will know that having two dads is different. Although studies have shown that children of committed same-sex couples fare just as well, if not better, than heterosexual couples, it will take more than his snowy village to raise Caspian. His well-meaning parents will have to fight for his acceptance in mainstream society, from day one.

Is it smart for same-sex couples to adopt if they know they are exposing their children to ridicule by mainstream society? Please post your answer here.