This picture is my dear friend, Keith Merrill, right after he presented the HRC Equality Award to me in March.
One of the greatest honors I have ever received was the Equality Award presented to me by the Human Rights Campaign for my many years of being an outspoken ally in the fight for LGBT rights. One of the things that this award made me realize was that I am loved and appreciated by many people in the LGBT community. That feeling is certainly mutual. I sense that many people sort of look at me as a loving, open-minded mom figure, who is there to support and accept them. Since I have no children of my own I am not only happy to play this role, it significantly enriches my life. One of the things a loving, open-minded mom needs to do is counsel without judging.
I was incredibly thrilled recently when the Supreme Court acted on the right side regarding DOMA and Prop 8. I strongly believe in marriage equality, and equal rights in all other areas. I know so many strongly committed couples who have been together for years who can now legally marry if they choose to. I also know couples who are moving in that direction, and I am happy for the love you have found. As much as anything that has happened, the right to marry elevates LGBT love from a second class status, and brings it out of the closet.
However, and this is where “mom” starts talking, just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. If I did have a child, either gay or straight, I would have to tell them to take it slow. No rush. Marriage is a big deal, by far the most important deal you will ever enter into. You need to be sure you know each other well enough to know that you want to really share your lives, for the rest of your lives. If you have any hesitation about merging and sharing your life with this person–hesitate on the marriage. Do you feel confident that you can really trust this person with your heart? Have you been able to communicate well enough to know that you hopes, dreams, and definitions of what marriage should mean are similar. Do you know the areas where you might have to compromise, and are you willing to make those compromises? This list could go on and on. And while whether or not you have good sex is certainly important, a lot more than that is needed to make a marriage work over the years. But, don’t take this to imply that I don’t believe in true love at first sight. I do. I just think taking it slow is the best way to make sure you are really sure.
I suspect that now LGBT people will start to feel some of the same pressure to marry that straight people have felt. Marriage, while it should be available for everyone, might not be right for everyone. The same goes for having children. Contrary to what some people believe, marriage is about a lot more than procreation. Regardless of what your spiritual path is, it is very important to be spiritually compatible. You may not be “religious” at all, but you are spiritual. You may want to be married by a judge, or by a friend who has managed to get themselves ordained. You may want to be married in a church. Here’s some side advise; if you are going to a church that would refuse to marry you, I would urge you to find another church. That, of course, is a different conversation, and a complicated one as well.
It will follow that as soon as we see gay marriages we will see gay divorces. An unhappy marriage is a very bad place to find yourself, and divorce is painful. I would hope, if you were my child, that you would make a wise decision on marriage, and be able to skip the divorce part all together. And if you need a surrogate mom, I am more than happy to give the groom away.