At age 27, I, and my husband, soon to be thirty, wed. We, knowing of my infertility, walked down the aisle anyway because we wanted to “love, honor, and obey.” Years later, eight to be exact, we adopted a baby boy from a well-known adoption agency in New York City. Five years later, we adopted an infant girl from the same agency. Our family was intact and we were entitled to all the federal benefits the government gives heterosexual couples (1,200 federal rights that come from marriage such as immigration equality, veteran’s benefits and adoption rights.) Isn't it a shame that Edie Windsor had what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dubbed a "skim milk marriage" while we had a full one? Edie Windsor's Supreme Court case challenged DOMA two weeks ago because it didn’t recognize her marriage to Thea Spyer in New York state and billed her for for $600,00 in state and federal estate taxes upon the death of Spyer. (Ginsburg was one of seven justices who heard oral arguments last Wednesday about the Defense of Marriage Act, the law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for purposes of federal benefits.)
The day before, the Supreme Court heard arguments about the standing of Proposition 8 that denies same-sex marriages in California. Charles Cooper, representing the proponents of California’s Prop 8, defended his argument that “responsible procreation "was a good reason for not granting same-sex marriage to couples. It doesn’t further the interests of the state and would be redefining marriage in a way that undermines the responsible procreation of children. Yet California allows same-sex couples to adopt children.
Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans and a solicitor general under President George W. Bush, argued that marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” “When same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required. “ This is also true for heterosexual couples who adopt and are subjected to sometimes two years of interviews, home visits, delayed court cases as I experienced.
What About the Children?
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the case Lawrence v. Texas that struck down sodomy laws, and is considered a swing vote, remarked “there are some 40,000 children in California” with same-sex parents and “they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”
I am lucky to be in a heterosexual marriage. If I had been gay and living in a state where same-sex relationships aren’t legally recognized, my children would have to be adopted by me first and then my husband in order to have two legal parents. According to the Family Equality Council, only thirteen states and Washington, D.C. allow same-sex parents to petition for “second-parent adoption” statewide, while the availability of the practice is uncertain in most states and can cause what Kennedy calls “immediate legal injury.” Medical organizations such as The American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association have found that same-sex couples are just as adept in child rearing as heterosexual couples.
My motives for marriage and adoption are similar to same-sex couples, yet I wasn’t punished for trying to realize them.