The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Maryland: Marriage for Making Babies

“Looking beyond the fact that any inquiry into the ability or willingness of a couple actually to bear a child during marriage would violate the fundamental right to marital privacy recognized in Griswold, 381 U.S. at 484-86, 493, 85 S. Ct. at 1681, 14 L. Ed. 2d 510, the fundamental right to marriage and its ensuing benefits are conferred on opposite-sex couples not because of a distinction between whether various opposite-sex couples actually procreate, but rather because of the possibility of procreation.”
-Judge Glenn Harrell, Jr.

One week ago today, our daughter was born. One week ago today, we were waiting at the hospital and I was standing in the delivery room waiting to be born. We were there because her birthmother chose us, from 20 or so families, to be her adoptive parents. We were there because, when she chose us we said yes. We said yes to raising, loving, and caring for a child that we did not and could not conceive. I don’t know all of the reasons why our daughter’s birthmother chose us. All I know is that the biological parents who conceived her were not able to raise her. Their circumstances were less ideal than those they want her to grow up in. So, they chose us and, before she was even born, we said yes. And we will continue to say yes to loving her, caring for her, protecting her, teaching her, guiding her, and giving her every opportunity we can to help her grow into a happy, healthy, successful (however she defines success for herself) adult.

Now the Maryland Court of Appeals is telling me that because the hubby and I did not biologically produce the son and daughter we are raising that we do not deserve the protection and benefits of marriage, and that our children do not deserve the protection and benefits of having legally married parents. It takes very little time to conceive, nine months to bring to term, and many hours to deliver an infant into the world.

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Having not experienced any of the above, I cannot speak to the difficulty of any of the above. But I do know that we have sent well beyond the amount of time it took to conceive, gestate and deliver our son, loving and caring for him. Not to mention teaching him the skills and values we hope will lead him to a happy, healthy life. Parker will be five in November, and — as our daughter’s birth mother noted last week, when Parker read the sign outside her hospital door — he’s already reading, and counting higher than some six-year-olds. He’s shown kindness and generosity to younger children that’s been noted by other parents. He’s incredibly gentle with the new baby. That’s all because of how we’ve raised him, and every day is a new opportunity (and responsibility) to help him take one more step towards becoming an adult who takes care of himself and his own, cares for others, and walks through the world doing no unnecessary harm and leaving it at least a little better than he finds is.

We do all of that because of our commitment to him, and to the new baby; because we have taken on that responsibility, asked for it, and happily accepted it. We can do it because of our commitment to each other, which makes the home that our kids are growing up in and from which they will launch themselves into the world, a stable, happy, and healthy home. Every day, in countless ways, we shore one another up, help each other, teach each other, support each other, and strengthen each other. We are each the first in line to take care of one another and carry one another through difficult times. The result is that we are able to be the best parents we can be, and our children are much more likely to get the best of both of us.

And they may also learn something about commitment as well. That’s one of the things I — a gay man — learned from my own parents’ 50 year marriage, that lasted until death parted my father from my mother.

Our commitment to each other makes our commitment to them possible, and home that they will grown up in — the home that was chosen for them by the parents who conceived them but, for whatever reasons, couldn’t care for them in the manner they wanted to — the best possible starting point for their lives.

In its primitive ruling, the Maryland Court of Appeals has reduced the foundation of marriage — love, commitment, responsibility — to little more than the possibility of biological functions that anyone capable achieving puberty will probably also achieve, in some cases without even knowing it, or understanding the implications.

Put crassly, any teenager who can achieve and erection or get her legs open can reproduce. Compared to the time and effort required to raise a child to a happy, healthy, productive adulthood, reproduction is the relatively easy part. The world is full of stories of people whose parents were able to accomplish the above to become parents, but were ill-equipped for the task of parenting itself. I’ve compiled only a small amount of them in parts one, two and three of my “poisonous parenting” series, and the stories keep coming. Pam posted about another story of poisonous parenting in Texas.

A Navarro County man is a suspect in the death of 6-year-old Hanna Mack, who was found hanged Monday inside her family’s garage, a sheriff’s department official said Thursday.

Kevin Anders was identified as the live-in boyfriend of the girl’s mother, Chief Deputy Mike Cox said at a news conference in Corsicana.

…Anders was arrested on a charge of possession of child pornography, however, and was being held Thursday at the Navarro County Jail, Cox said. The man’s bail was set at $100,000, he said.

Cox said that Anders is the “current primary suspect” in the girl’s death.

Investigators have said Hanna was sexually assaulted before she died. Her mother found her Monday morning hanging inside the family’s garage, according to reports.

Whatever else you may think of Anders or the murdered girl’s mother, at least they are heterosexual, and thus could marry each other tomorrow if they both wish. They could have a jailhouse wedding the same way serial murders like Richard Ramirez and Tex Watson, and a number of death row residents have done.

Prison weddings in California are a regular occurrence. In general, about 20 inmates get married in ceremonies held on the first Friday of even-numbered months at San Quentin, and usually at least one condemned inmate is among them.

And Death Row inmates have no shortage of suitors. In fact, the more notorious the murderer, the less he has to work for female companionship, San Quentin spokesman Eric Messick said.

“You take our five highest-profile killers here, and you’ve got your answer about who the most popular inmates are,” Messick said. “I think it’s just the publicity that attracts people.”

Letters of adoration flow in daily to Death Row inmates from all over the world, some of them 20 handwritten pages long.

…Ramirez married Doreen Lioy, a freelance magazine editor, in 1996 after an 11-year courtship in which she wrote him 75 letters in prison. He was attracted to her, one of her friends said on her wedding day, because she said she was a virgin.

The right to marry is so fundamental that even the most heinous crimes against the most innocent victims aren’t cause for taking it away. They, no matter what, meet the minimum requirement for accessing the protections and benefits of marriage according to the Maryland Court of Appeals. My husband and I do not. They are worthy of the protections and benefits of marriage. My husband and I are not. And, by association neither do our children.

Whose families, then, is this ruling protecting. Whose values?

12 Comments

  1. Ah HA! That’s why you couldn’t post on 9/11!! Congratulations on your ever growing family.

  2. Perhaps it’s my attorney instincts – oh and the fact that my sexual orientation passes without notice before Maryland’s highest court – but my focus is on the next case, the next fight.

    I have not been overly impressed with Equality Maryland to date but perhaps I need to stop criticizing and start supporting them more. It’s a new session and it would be great to see progress in this area, especially since the wingers no longer have the “librul court done us po’ folks wrong” trope. I suspect that some of the Republicans and conservatives who opposed the plaintiffs in this case will drop out of the argument under the “Eminem” argument.

    What is the “Eminem” argument? Eminem fans will recall a skit on his Marshall Mathers LP when his manager/lawyer Steve Berman complains that while other rappers are rapping about “big screen TVs, blunts, forties & b&&&&&es” Eminem is rapping about “homosexuals and Vicodin.” While some of the GOP is certainly stirred up by antigay rhetoric, their Goldwater, libertarian and fiscal conservative elements of the party, i.e. their funding core, could not care less, especially when jurisprudence is no longer a “meta-argument.” They want to hear about big screen TVs (and the libertarians want to hear about blunts….)

    Peace

  3. Compared to the time and effort required to raise a child to a happy, healthy, productive adulthood, reproduction is the relatively easy part.

    This is so, so true. And both Parker and his new sister are very lucky to have y’all as parents. You’re both nurturing, intelligent, thoughtful people: they have wonderful role models in two adults who respect and care for one another. Congratulations on the new family member!

  4. …there’s also the reality, which the judge neatly ignored, that many heterosexual couples never even had the potential or possiblity of conceiving for various physical reaasons. Are their marriages no longer legally valid?

    Your family sounds so beautiful. Even though I’m with a (trans)man now, we both are more interested in adopting as you and your husband did- as a conscious choice to be connected with a child who needs a loving family.

  5. Pingback: Mombian » Blog Archive » Juxtapositions of Parenthood

  6. Congratulations on your daughter!

  7. A daughter! Congratulations!

  8. Congrats Terrance! Girls are great. Is it too early to encourage you to sign her up for Girl Scouts when she hits kindergarten?

  9. And in my attorney mode, I failed to say – Congratulations Papa!

  10. Hi Terrance. I’ve been away for a bit, and just read this entry. Congratulations on your new addition. I certainly can understand why the birth mother chose you three to raise her little girl. I will pass the word along.
    Lorin

  11. Congrats on the new member of the family!

  12. Congratulations Theah!!

    May the love and guidence of the hight power embrace you and yours as it has been over the years.

    Joanne

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